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The Give and Go: The Give and Go

Charlie Zegers

Charlie has covered the NBA, NFL and MLB for RotoWire for the better part of 15 years. His work has also appeared on,, the New York Times, ESPN, Fox Sports and Yahoo. He embraces his East Coast bias and is Smush Parker's last remaining fan.

The Give and Go

From: Justin Phan
Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 2:23 PM
To: Charlie Zegers
Subject: Slow Starters

There's a certain point of the season -- where you cut those 'project' and 'upside'-type picks who are simply not performing up to par. Over at the Fantasy Basketball Cafe we field a wide variety of roster questions, and you start to get a sense of which players managers are starting to give up on (or at least starting to get skeptical/worried about).

Probably one of the most controversial guys that has been brought up is Anthony Randolph. The rationale there is largely tied to the maniacal Don Nelson, who has done everything within his power to keep him down. I can see why owners are concerned given that AR has been reduced from the Warriors' starting power forward to their third-string center in the span of two weeks, but still. It is astounding to me how impatient owners are and how unwilling they are to weather the storm for a few weeks. Rash decisions like cutting Randolph are the types of moves that could potentially cost an owner a championship.

We can even expand this query to all slow starters as to include guys like Paul Millsap, Thaddeus Young, and Raymond Felton. Who are some guys who have gotten off to slow starts that you think are worth holding on to? And conversely, who are some slow starters you have already jumped ship on (or are about ready to)?

From: Charlie Zegers
To: Justin Phan
Sent: Wed, November 11, 2009 1:02:00 PM
Subject: RE: Slow Starters

There are a lot factors that need to be considered when dealing with the "when do I give up on…?" decision. A few, off the top of my head:

Why is Player X putting up disappointing numbers? Is he on a simple cold streak? Have his minutes been cut? Is he hurt? Is he a bad fit with his current team, and if so, is the situation likely to change?

Then, there are issues specific to individual leagues and teams… in shallow leagues, I'll have a lot less patience with slow starters because I know there are good options for the taking on the waiver wire. In deeper leagues, you have more of a motivation to wait out a slow start. And sometimes, you just have to cut somebody - like in one of the leagues I'm in, where I just lost Kevin Martin for 6-8 weeks and needed a scorer.

As far as the players you mentioned… frankly, I've learned my lesson when it comes to drafting Summer League All-Stars, particularly those on Don Nelson's teams. (I wasted a draft pick on Marco Bellinelli a couple years back.) If I'm a Randolph owner at this point, I'm telling everyone who will listen that his production is set to skyrocket when Stephen Jackson finally gets traded.

I don't necessarily believe this. Honestly, I've given up trying to predict what the Golden State Warriors will do in any given situation.

With Millsap - if you drafted him, you had to know he'd be in a time-share unless/until something happens with Boozer. In a deep league, I hold on and hope the inevitable Boozer trade comes soon. In a shallow league, I might see what else is available on the wire.

I'm still high on Young - and on the Sixers in general. You have to remember, they're still getting the hang of Eddie Jordan's intricate offense. It'll be January before we really see what they're capable of. I have Young in our league, and I'm holding him for now. With Felton, you have to be aware of Larry Brown and the fact that his lineups and sub patterns can be very erratic. It's not a surprise that he'd get 23 minutes one night and 37 the next. That's not the sort of player I prefer having on my roster… Brown, like Nellie… is on my personal list of coaches to avoid… but Felton's production isn't that far from what I expected.

One guy that has disappointed me so far is Ramon Sessions. I thought he'd get more minutes playing alongside Jonny Flynn, but it seems Kurt Rambis doesn't love the idea of playing two point guards at the same time. It's possible that I'm giving up too early, but I'm gonna see who else is out there. I'm concerned about Elton Brand - his minutes are WAY down under Eddie Jordan - don't know if it's a matter of health or fit or the fact that Jordan really likes Mareese Speights. I've only seen the Sixers play once this season, and against the Knicks, he looked like the Elton Brand of old - but "against the Knicks" is an important qualifier.

I was also high on Terrence Williams as sleeper… but the last couple of games, with the Nets comically under-manned due to injuries and illness, have shown how far Williams has to go before he's a real fantasy option. (I just dropped both of them in our league, FYI… picked up Andray Blatche and Travis Outlaw.)

Speaking of which -- for fantasy owners, figuring out which hot starters are legit is just as important as deciding who to dump. So what's your take on Marc Gasol (currently ranked 6th in the Yahoo! Player Rater), Chris Kaman (12th), Danilo Gallinari (17th), Channing Frye (26th) and Blatche (37th)? I know Blatche's value will take a hit when Antawn Jamison is healthy - though I'm hoping he'll continue to be productive by cutting into the minutes of Brendan Haywood (who has been a bit of a fantasy revelation himself). You buying or selling those guys?

From: Justin Phan
Sent: Thursday, November 12, 2009 3:36 AM
To: Charlie Zegers
Subject: Slow Starters

Another factor to consider is the scoring style of the league. In a rotisserie-style league it makes a lot more sense to sit back and show a little bit of faith considering you don't have to rotate all of your players in. Plus winning the league is more of a marathon than anything. In head-to-head the wins come in the form of shorter week-long sprints so it makes a bit more sense to cut bait so you don't dig your team a big hole to start off the year.

The rationale for drafting Randolph based on his domination of Summer League was a bit unfounded to begin with. I mean wouldn't you expect a player of his athleticism and talent to trounce a pool of predominantly inexperienced rookies? All he really did was take care of business and do what he was supposed to do. It'd actually raise some red flags for me if he wasn't able to stand out from the pack.

Despite the overall dysfunction with the Warriors organization at this moment in time, I would hold steady on Randolph and take a chance to see where the wild roller coaster ride ends up going. Sure there will be bouts of inconsistency and stretches of extreme frustration (primarily with Nellie), but I really do believe that he'll be able to finish on the plus side of 14/8/1/1 when it's all said and done.

Considering Thaddeus is shooting just 8.3 percent from beyond the arc through seven games, I am strongly endorsing a buy-low on him right now. Normalize his three-point percentage and he'd be near his averages from last season. It'll take some time for that group to really get used to Eddie Jordan's pro-style Princeton offense, but when they finally get up to speed the payoff should be big.

Out of that group you mentioned I'm hanging onto Gasol and Frye, being cautiously optimistic with Kaman, taking a wait-and-see approach with Blatche, and selling hard on Gallo. Solid starting centers aren't that easy to come by so unless I'm getting another big man in return for Gasol and Frye (or am already stacked at that position), then I'm probably staying put. The 37 minutes per game are going to take a toll on Kaman eventually -- it's just a matter of when. We're less than 10 games in though so I wouldn't be seriously considering injury risk just yet. If the opportunity comes up just before the All-Star break to sell then I'd definitely consider it. Gallo is going to hit that wall hard in the near future the same way that Wilson Chandler did last season. My projected end-of-season averages for Gallinari: 14.0 points, 2.8 three-pointers made, 3.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.2 blocks, 1.5 turnovers, 40.8% FG on 11.5 attempts, 81.8% FT on 2.2 attempts.

It's a tricky thing to sell high on players early on though because most of the time owners are aware what you're trying to do and are flat-out suspicious that they're getting short-ended, even if it might not be the case. All you can do is throw out the bait and hope the fish bite.

From: Charlie Zegers
To: Justin Phan
Sent: Thu, November 12, 2009 11:35:00 AM
Subject: RE: Slow Starters

Good point about scoring systems... but here's the things about marathons and sprints (coming from someone who's run a couple of marathons). You can screw up a marathon in the first mile -- and that mistake will be much harder to correct at mile 24, when you have nothing left in the tank.

Maybe there's a little less urgency to fill holes in a roto-scoring fantasy roster in November/December than in February/March -- but you can't wait long. As Rotowire editor Chris Liss has pointed out on a few occasions, it's particularly tough to make up ground in percentage categories late in the season -- in many leagues, teams get abandoned, and teams that aren't being maintained actively will fall behind in counting stats but their percentages might not move all that much.

Rather than wait on a sleeper in a shallow rotisserie league, I'd rather load up on proven commodities, try to build up a lead, and then take some shots on younger players in the second half, when injuries start to open up opportunities that might not have existed early in the season.

Article first appeared on 11/12/09

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