Since it's that time of year when people are doing a lot of giving and receiving of gifts, I thought it would be nice to look at some players to trade away and others to try to acquire, with slightly more selfish motives than the holiday season typically intends.
Most teams have played more than 25 games in the 2012-13 season, so there's a big enough sample size for us to start looking at players who are underperforming or over-performing with regards to their shooting efficiency compared to their past production and try to decide whether the change is for real, or if the production is likely to snap back to the norm.
Players To Give
Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers
Last three seasons: 26.6 PPG, 21.3 FGA, 44.7 FG%
2012-13: 29.5 PPG, 20.7 FGA, 47.7 FG%
Not only is Bryant shooting three percentage points above his average from over the past three seasons, but his current 47.7 field-goal percentage would mark his most efficient season of his 17-year career. This would be incredibly impressive given the fact that he's still attempting a high volume of shots and at 34 years old, he should be past his prime. However, it can all be explained by looking at Bryant's three-point shooting. He's hitting the long ball at a 38.1 percent clip this season. That's leagues better than the 31.9 percent rate he averaged over his previous three seasons. Will this renaissance continue and allow for Bryant's owners to finish the season with a top-five fantasy talent? I'm not buying it. At some point, fatigue must become a factor, and with Steve Nash about to make his return, Bryant should no longer feel compelled to dominate games from start to finish.
O.J. Mayo, SG, Mavericks
Last three seasons: 14.0 PPG, 12.2 FGA, 43.0 FG%
2012-13: 19.8 PPG, 14.6 FGA, 47.2 FG%
There were plenty of indicators that Mayo might be in for a big season, but he's certainly surpassed most people's expectations, in part because of a career-high 47.2 field-goal percentage. Mayo was barely better than a 40-percent shooter in his two previous seasons, but he was almost a 46-percent shooter in 2009-10 - the last time he saw 35-plus minutes per game. It may be that Mayo just shoots better when he sees big minutes, but there's enough doubt here, and coupled with the fact that Dirk Nowitzki is nearing a return, I'm inclined to say this is the highest Mayo's value will be all season.
Players To Receive
Stephen Curry, PG, Warriors
Last three seasons: 17.5 PPG, 13.8 FGA, 47.3 FG%
2012-13: 20.2 PPG, 16.2 FGA, 42.8 FG%
Curry is having a terrific season, but one might look at his numbers, specifically his field-goal percentage, and think that it could get even better, considering he's shooting well below the 47.3 percent he averaged over his first three seasons. One school of thought here would be that he's being asked to do more, taking a few more shots per game, meaning his efficiency was bound to take a hit. That could be the case, but I don't buy that 2.4 more shots equals a 4.5 percent hit in field-goal percentage. Not with a shooter like Curry. There are certainly questions regarding whether he will remain healthy for the remainder of the season, but if you're a believer, it seems that Golden State's leader could have even better scoring numbers the rest of the way.
Rudy Gay, SF, Grizzlies
Last three seasons: 19.4 PPG, 16.2 FGA, 46.3 FG%
2012-13: 18.7 PPG, 17.1 FGA, 41.7 FG%
Gay seems to be an obvious candidate for increased scoring the rest of the season. He's taking one more shot per game than he has in years past, but he has really struggled with his shot through 24 games this season. There's no apparent reason to think that Gay's shot won't start to drop with more consistency. With all of his other numbers remaining consistent with past years, he should be available right now at a slight discount relative to what you should expect from him the rest of the season.
Each week, this article highlights players who are widely available in standard leagues that can help in specific roto categories. However, the information is still highly relevant in points leagues and deeper leagues. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a specific category, there's no guarantee for production in other areas.
Shannon Brown, SG, Suns - Brown's back-to-back 20-plus point games last week may have felt like they came out of nowhere, but he had actually scored in double figures in seven of the eight games leading up that outburst, which makes him a safe own for those in need of points, steals and three-point shooting. He's available in 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Lamar Odom, PF, Clippers - This name may come as a surprise, given how disinterested and out of shape Odom appeared at the beginning of the season. But the former Sixth Man of the Year has played himself into shape and is now a major contributor for the Clippers. He is averaging 7.3 rebounds per game over the past two weeks, in addition to 1.3 blocks, which are very solid numbers from a guy who is small forward eligible and available in more than 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Alexey Shved, SG, Timberwolves - Shved has seen plenty of play in this space in past weeks, but the fact remains that he averaged 7.8 assists per game last week, which is ridiculous for a shooting guard, especially one who is owned in just 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs - Leonard had a couple steals in his first game back from a long-term knee injury on Friday. Even though he probably will be seeing closer to 20 minutes per game than 30 mpg, Leonard's ability to contribute across the board makes him a valuable option in roto leagues. He is still available in more than 50 percent of leagues, so now would be the time to scoop him up, especially in mid-sized and deeper roto leagues. Mario Chalmers and Tony Allen are also some enticing widely available options.
Bismack Biyombo, PF, Bobcats - Pumping up Biyombo is probably beginning to get old, but the fact remains that he's the best widely unowned player who consistently blocks at least a shot per game. Otherwise, as I mentioned above, Odom is becoming a great option in deeper leagues.
Shane Battier, SF, Heat - He was highlighted here earlier in the season, and after missing a few games earlier in December, Battier is back and he's rolling. Since returning to a major role in the rotation on Dec. 8, Battier has hit two or more three-pointers in six of his last seven contests and he's available in 88 percent of Yahoo! leagues.