Under the Radar
I decided to do one last (well, maybe) fantasy basketball draft last Sunday morning. There were a few reasons for this decision. First, it's tough to wake up on the East Coast on Sundays and figure out how to kill four to five hours of your day before football starts at 1 p.m., and it's even more difficult during fantasy playoffs. Second, with the holidays here and dreams of designer handbags floating in the air, the chances of catching the "you're doing another draft?" rhetoric from my wife is greatly reduced (if you have a significant other don't kid yourself, you know exactly what I'm talking about). Finally, I love the game. The fact that I can vicariously feel even more a part of it through fantasy teams makes it all the better. I was also curious to what players have moved and in which direction. I'm not going to go crazy with every detail of the draft, but a few things caught my eye. It was a standard, 12-team roto league, PG, SG, SF, PF, C, flex guard and forwards spots and three flex spots started each week. Three bench spots, here we go:
I had the eighth pick, here's my team in order: Deron Williams, Al Jefferson, Derrick Rose, David West, LaMarcus Aldridge, Stephen Jackson, Michael Redd, J.R. Smith, Charlie Villanueva, Corey Maggette, Jermaine O'Neal, Jerryd Bayless and Tyrus Thomas. Al Jefferson has been his usual, monster self since the return of Kevin Love. No Oden, and now Przybilla's injury puts LaMarcus Aldridge's stock through the roof. I was in position to get the steal of the draft in the seventh round - Jason Richardson - until he was taken two spots in front of me. This led to my "gamble," grabbing Redd and Smith with the next two picks to rotate in my shooting guard spot. I'm pretty happy with the team, aside from the lack of a No. 2 PG, which I'm counting on picking up through the waiver wire.
The rest of the draft and their positions that caught my eye:
Carmelo Anthony (10) - I predicted in preseason Anthony would win the scoring title and vault himself into a first-round pick next season. Apparently, averaging a career-high 30.5 points a game means he didn't have to wait until then.
Brandon Jennings (28), Tyreke Evans (46) - The two rookies went in interesting spots. I thought Jennings may have gone a tad high given his recent shooting woes and conversely that Evans was a steal in that spot given his consistency so far this year. Both of these guys will be picks in the first three rounds next year.
Monta Ellis (19) - Not surprising, he's the man in Golden State. The question remains, can he sustain the pace? (Insert moped joke here).
Marc Gasol (50), Joakim Noah (54) - I doubt either player went higher than 90 in preseason drafts. Take note, draft players who are in their first three seasons in the league with late picks, leave the predictable veteran to another team.
Paul Millsap (66) - This is either a really good pick here if some type of a trade happens, or a really bad pick. Right now his 10.9 points and 5.3 rebounds a night suggest the latter.
Wilson Chandler (126), Anthony Randolph (134) - Both popular sleepers to start the season but haven't lived up to lofty expectations. Each has shown the occasional solid fantasy game; don't give up on them quite yet.
Now onto our weekly look at player minutes, roto categories that waiver-wire players can help with and new position eligibility.
C.J. Miles, G, UTA - Back all the way from an early-season thumb injury, Miles has played his way into the starting lineup for the Jazz. He's played 32 and 35 minutes in his last two games and should continue to see similar playing time going forward. More important, he's had 31 shot attempts over those two games including 15 attempts from beyond the arc. He's going to make a nice pickup if you need three-pointers, grab him now before everyone else notices.
Damien Wilkins, F, MIN - Wilkins has played at least 32 minutes in four of his last five games after seeing minimal time off the bench. Over the last week he's averaged 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, four assists, 1.75 steals and one block a game. Son of Gerald and nephew of Dominique, he's made the most of the injury to Ryan Gomes. He is probably useful for a few more games, but expect to see him back on the bench once Gomes returns.
Tony Allen, F, BOS - Allen will likely join the starting five at small forward for the Celtics with Paul Pierce sidelined for the next two weeks. Allen will get a boost in minutes, see how he responds to his starting role before picking him up.
Here are some players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Jerryd Bayless, G, POR - I was asked in the comments section last week about Bayless, and after my recommendation he promptly scored 11 points in his next two contests. I still like him; he takes the ball to the hoop and ends up at the free-throw line. I can't think of a team that has been more decimated by injuries this early in the season, the latest to Joel Przybilla. No, Bayless won't be starting at center any time soon but wouldn't an Andre Miller-for-a-center trade make a lot of sense right now? If Miller leaves, guess who gets his playing time? At the very least stash Bayless on the bench for time being.
Earl Watson, PG, IND - Watson has supplanted T.J. Ford as the starter in Indiana. It would probably be a higher recommendation if Danny Granger was running with the starting unit, but even so Watson should be a decent source of assists. Don't count on him to carry your fantasy squad but grab him if you need dimes.
Rebounds and Blocks
Serge Ibaka, C, OKC - Serge who? He's definitely an "under the radar" guy who has responded well to more playing time recently. The 20-year-old from the Congo has averaged 10 points, nine rebounds and 1.3 blocks over his last three games. This includes a 14-rebound effort at the Lakers on Tuesday night. He's getting consistent minutes (in the mid-20s) and has become a decent option in deep leagues looking for big man help.
Every league has different rules regarding eligibility. Always check your rules to make sure your league recognizes the new position a player may be eligible to play.
Article first appeared on 12/24/09