Preview: Week 21
It’s almost shocking to hear it but the season is over 80 percent complete. That means the basketball world is focused on one thing and one thing only: the playoffs. Every single game is meaningful for the few teams that are lucky enough to still be in the mix for a playoff berth. Similarly, the fantasy managers that are clever enough (some might add lucky enough) to still be in the hunt for a title are focused on adding digits to the W column.
At risk of being called a homer, I’ve got to give Amare Stoudemire some love. Over the past two weeks he’s been averaging 30 and 10 and playing exciting basketball again. Welcome back, STAT. If there’s one thing to note with Amare at this point in his career, it’s that he is a post-ASB player. Check out his ASB splits from this season: 21.2 points and 8.6 rebounds pre-ASB and 26.4 and 9.8 post, for example. The post-ASB improvement applies to most of the seasons in his career. Mental note for next season. Buy Amare low during his early season “struggles.”
In a themed approach this week, take a look at some of the players doing work on awful teams. These guys can make your fantasy team a little less awful. Notice that these guys playing on terrible teams generally play in the Eastern Conference. Coincidence?
Guys playing for terrible teams
Jonas Jerebko (SF/PF – 24%) Yeah, the Pistons have been terrible since the moment Chauncey Billups left for the Rockies. Everyone knows it at this point. But they do have a couple of bright spots for the future after blowing their cap space on mid-level talent. The NBA’s sole Swede is proving that he belongs in the NBA while also proving that Joe Dumars can at least get something right.
Jason Maxiell (PF/C – 10%) Although Dumars overpaid him, Mad Max is starting to show some signs of life again. We’ve seen it before in his fledgling career but he’s never turned potential into production. He’s been having a very productive stretch lately and provides some big-man statistics for teams thin at center. With nothing left for the Pistons to play for, look for the kiddies to get burn for the stretch run.
Toney Douglas – (PG/SG – 7%) / Bill Walker (SG/SF – %) It’s often the secondary outcomes of real-life NBA trades that have large and often unexpected consequences in the fantasy realm. The arrival of Sergio Rodriguez has unintentionally opened up minutes for Toney, who is out-playing both Spanish Chocolate and the point guard that won’t be named. Boston throw-in Walker has been playing the best ball of his short career and was won over Coach Mike D with his offense. Snag either player for threes and points on good percentages.
Jrue Holiday (PG/SG – 25%) He’s been getting minutes lately and playing well enough to please his somewhat deranged coach. The Cancer is no longer with the team, freeing up guard minutes. The Sixers are terrible and have no reason to compete this season. In fact, the Sixers haven’t seemed that interested in competing much at all this year. Holiday is seen as an important piece for the future so look for the Sixers leadership (I assume someone is in charge there) to try and give their down-beaten fans some hope.
James Johnson (SF/PF – 1%) The Bulls just haven’t coalesced this season having dealt with nagging injuries to key front court players (Noah, Deng, Gibson). Bad for the Bullies and their playoff hopes, good for fantasy managers in deep leagues. Somebody has to suit up for the Bulls every night. Once the team’s playoffs dim just a bit more look for Chicago to give their first round picks more run to start preparing for next season.
Guy playing for a good team
Wesley Matthews (PG/SG – 5%) In the spirit of balanced reporting, we’ve got to consider at least one player from a not-so-horrible team. Enter undrafted (in both fantasy and real life) rookie Wesley Matthews. Until the Jazz end up selecting Evan Turner with the Knicks’ first round pick next season, Matthews is a decent play. After all, he wouldn’t be playing in Coach Sloan’s rotation at this point in the season as a rookie if he wasn’t a “Sloan guy.” He’ll net you points, steals and threes on good percentages for as long as he can stay out of Coach Sloan’s doghouse.