February 22, 2012
NBA Fantasy: Coming off bench reinvigorates Felton
By RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The NBA all-star break arrives this weekend. It’s a good time to take stock of your fantasy team(s) and figure out what tweaks need to be made the rest of the way. This week we look at trends around the league, as well as select the first half’s fantasy superstars.
• Portland moved Raymond Felton to the bench after his horrible start and it seemed to agree with the point guard. Felton took to life as a reserve, scoring 16 points and adding four assists in his first appearance. Jamal Crawford, not a point guard, but masquerading as one, also excelled in his new role. Portland is an interesting situation. Since being shifted to his own starting role, Nic Batum has been lights out — at shooting guard no less — much to the dismay of Wesley Matthews fans.
• New Jersey is limiting centre Brook Lopez as he attempts to get back to top shape following his foot injury. That also limits his production. In Denver, another centre, Nene, is also less himself, which is leading to disappointing results.
• Wilson Chandler’s return to the NBA should impact things in Denver — if he lands there, SI.com is reporting six other teams are after him, they have until March 1 to make an offer. With Arron Afflalo finally heating up and Danilo Gallinari getting healthy, it’s unclear what kind of numbers Chandler will put up.
• Don’t look now, but John Wall is showing he might not be overrated after all. After starting the year in a sophomore slump of epic proportions, Wall has been brilliant the past two weeks. His teammate Jordan Crawford has exploded for averages of 18.5 points on 50.9% shooting and 92.3% from the line over his past four games. Washington might be terrible, but the Wizards boast some enticing fantasy options.
• J.R. Smith has added another deep option for the Knicks, who already have Steve Novak scorching. Carmelo Anthony has to wait his turn with his teammates doing so well. Baron Davis won’t see a lot of time because Jeremy Lin continues to surprise with his strong play.
• As for the all-stars, let’s skip the obvious candidates (like LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kevin Durant) and get to the top overperformers and then a few underperformers.
• Kyle Lowry (who saw Lowry taking a run at No. 2 point guard behind Chris Paul?); Ryan Anderson (The Grenade Launcher is hitting three treys a night and getting some steals); Marc Gasol (He’s an all-star with good reason); Marcin Gortat (Steve Nash has turned him into a star); Mike Conley (a steals machine); Tyson Chandler (a blocks machine) and Serge Ibaka (defensive monster).
• Dorrell Wright; Carmelo Anthony; Amare Stoudemire; Felton; Channing Frye; DeMar DeRozan; Jason Kidd; Lamar Odom; Stephen Jackson; Afflalo; Luis Scola; Hedo Turkoglu.
• The top performing rookies have been Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio, Brandon Knight, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker and MarShon Brooks, with Bismack Biyombo, Kenneth Faried, Isaiah Thomas and Markieff Morris making strong impressions of late as well.
• On the sophomore front, Greg Monroe has taken the biggest jump forward, though some owners are rankled by his lack of blocks. DeMarcus Cousins has been great, Blake Griffin too (though that free throw percentage is tough even for Dwight Howard to look at). Paul George has been solid, Greivis Vasquez has stepped up in New Orleans, while Landry Fields and Evan Turner are coming along.
TRAINER’S ROOM TICKER
Hawks G Joe Johnson will miss the all-star game due to knee tendonitis, but shouldn’t be out too long … Boston expects to get F Brandon Bass back following the break … Gerald Henderson’s absence is approaching 10 games, but he should also return soon … Denver PG Ty Lawson’s numbers could dip as he works through an ankle issue … Pacers G George Hill is close to rejoining the team after missing nearly a month … Nets F Shawne Williams is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his foot … New Orleans PG Jarrett Jack is playing, but coming off of the bench behind Greivis Vasquez … Carmelo Anthony and Baron Davis are now active in New York, but Bill Walker is out … Greg Oden will miss the entire season, again. He underwent his third microfracture surgery. Joel Pryzbilla has rejoined the Blazers, but shouldn’t have much of a fantasy impact … Thunder F/C Nick Collison is banged up like starting C Kendrick Perkins, but unlike Perkins, might miss a game or two … He just came back, but the Spurs have lost G Manu Ginobili again, for “several weeks” due to an oblique strain … The Raptors are being extremely cautious with both Andrea Bargnani and Linas Kleiza. Kleiza was questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. Detroit, while Bargnani is likely weeks away from a return.
With fantasy rating out of 5
Back from China but awaiting clearance from FIBA, Chandler will soon be back on an NBA court. The playing time picture in Denver is crowded so don’t expect him to match his New York Knicks numbers, but Chandler should still be solid. Raptors also battling for services of the restricted free agent.
You probably missed the boat on the final pick of the 2012 draft, but if he’s out there, pick him up. Booed by Knicks fans because of his name, Thomas is having the last laugh, looking extremely good as a starter. He notched five threes in a single quarter the other day.
Sure he won’t be available in most leagues, but about a quarter of leagues don’t have him on a roster. That’s a big mistake, especially with Stephen Jackson’s minutes being cut because of his differences with Scott Skiles. Delfino contributes in many categories and is heating up.
The former Raptor is a three-point specialist who can also hit the boards. He recently put up four double-digit games in a row and with Tim Duncan being rested at times, should continue to produce.
He’s missed a lot of time so people might have given up on him. That’s a mistake. Grab him now, before he comes back and makes an impact.
ATTACKING THE RACK
Over the past couple of weeks some players have been making a ton of trips to the free throw line. Here are the guys getting making the most of those trips.
Tony Parker Spurs – 8.3 FTM; Kevin Love, Wolves – 7.9 FTM
Rodney Stuckey, Pistons – 7.5 FTM; Deron Williams, Nets – 6.5 FTM
Kevin Durant, Thunder – 6.1 FTM; Dirk Nowitzki, Mavs – 5.9 FTA
John Wall, Wizards – 5.6 FTA; Kobe Bryant, Lakers – 5.6 FTA
HOT AND NOT
Surprises and disappointments (over the last two weeks)
Jose Calderon, G, TOR
6 GP, 18.5 PPG, 10.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, .565 FG%
Serge Ibaka, C, OKC
7 GP, 10.9 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 5.4 BPG, .620 FG%
Kyrie Irving, G, CLE
4 GP, 21.8 PPG, 4.0 APG, 1.5 BPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.0 3PM
Trevor Ariza, G/F, NO
15.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.9 SPG
Dorrell Wright, F, GS
7 GP, 7.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.4 3PM, ..328 FG%
Elton Brand, F/C, PHI
7 GP, 10.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, .397 FG%
Stephen Jackson, G/F, MIL
7 GP, 6.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.4 3PM, .333 FG%