Pacific Division Fantasy Preview (Part II)
In Part I, I had a look at the division as a whole and analyzed the Clippers and Lakers. Now we turn our eye to the division’s also-rans.
They went 23-43 last season but this is a pretty good team with a nice rotation and plenty of hope for the future. The Warriors have a lot of guys competing for time and space on the floor, and this means that you need to do some Kremlinology in the mind of Mark Jackson (not always the most salubrious place to be) to figure out who will get the minutes and shots. Chris Sheridan thinks that Harrison Barnes is the potential Rookie of the Year and Chris Bernucca thinks that Jarrett Jack might start alongside Stephen Curry. That might be harsh on Klay Thompson, who played extremely well in the second half and who was a big midseason free agent pickup for me in my points league.
David Lee. Power forward is a stacked position, but I think there’s good reason to prefer Lee to some of the other choices in the 10th-to-15th ranked power forwards like Kevin Garnett, Ryan Anderson, or Chris Bosh. Lee is going to play a lot of minutes, he rebounds better than those guys, and he’s a more reliable source of points. Worth a shot at the end of the 4th round.
Stephen Curry. An across-all-categories guy as a point guard who can also help you fill a weak SG position. The injury risk makes me leery as a fourth guy but if you can wait for Round 5 for him, you’ve done well. Has a lot of upside and could be a 25 PPG scorer in this league in the right situation.
Klay Thompson. A great second half and should get even more chances to bomb away from long range. I love his jump shot, might have the best stroke in the division. Not outstanding anywhere else, but improvement over the second half of 2012 can be expected.
Andrew Bogut. Injury question mark and a free throw butcher. But given that the Warriors wanted him, and their need for a center, Bogut should find a home and plenty of time to revert to his form from 2010. Will be a great source of blocks and rebounds as always.
Harrison Barnes. THIS IS THE ONE SLEEPER YOU CAN’T SLEEP ON. I’ve already talked about a lot of guys who deserve shots and minutes on this team, but there is no one who stands out as an alpha dog. Barnes could walk right into that role and that, combined with an easy path to regular playing time, is why you should be very interested in him. I think it probably won’t happen, as NBA defenders will deny him space to drive and will force him to rely on a still-inconsistent jumper. But he could be a star and his ADP of 125 is really low for a player of this quality.
Jarrett Jack. Obviously he won’t replicate last season’s brilliant fantasy effort given more competition for shots and minutes. Someone in your league will probably nab him too early because they just look at last year’s stats (there’s always one, even in a good league).
Richard Jefferson. Undrafted in 96% of Yahoo! leagues so far, he should get a lot of minutes and while I’ve never been a fan of his overall game, like a lot of other Warriors he is in the competition for shots and minutes.
Players to Avoid
Andris Biedrins. “Avoid” should be his middle name.
Brandon Rush. Another guy with an interesting risk profile. You know Rush will help you with threes and his game took a huge step forward last year, but I see him as the likeliest to lose out in the competition for minutes.
Jeremy Tyler. He’s a couple of years away.
High Risk/High Reward
Carl Landry. If Bogut’s body doesn’t respond to the long punishing season, Landry will capitalize. I like his all-around game.
Only a shell is left of last year’s Suns although the hollowing out of the team means that their best players, new man Goran Dragic and holdover Marcin Gortat (an early-season steal that helped a lot of players, myself included, win leagues). Sleepers abound on the Suns because of the shakeup.
Best to Own
Marcin Gortat. Now the Suns’ best player by some distance. Although he benefited from Steve Nash’s distribution and nous, his physical skills and fine rebounding mean that he should be owned. The Suns will look for him constantly. ADP of 45 is very good value.
Goran Dragic. I’m tempted to stick Dragic under “avoid” simply because of his draft position (ADP of 33 at Yahoo!) but a guy who will have as many shots and minutes is always worth owning if he slips enough. Dragic has feasted off backups in his career, his outside shot is iffy and while he’s a good physical competitor, life just got much tougher for him.
Luis Scola. A better real player than a fantasy player, but a good option if you’re looking for a third forward when the better players have been picked over. ADP of 79 means he’s unlikely to fall that far.
Michael Beasley. Everyone has been mystified by Beasley’s big contract, but the Suns wouldn’t have given it to him if they didn’t think he’d fit. The pressure of living up to expectations in a city used to good basketball probably won’t help. He remains a sleeper because although his career has been in steady decline, a change of scene can only help. I like him only because of his useful risk profile; an ADP in the 8th round for a guy who could be a #1 option is nice.
Kendall Marshall. Undrafted in 98% of Yahoo! leagues, Marshall might be a better player than Goran Dragic right now. Get him.
Players to Avoid
Jared Dudley. Likely to be squeezed by Beasley and was a big beneficiary of Nash.
Channing Frye. His heart condition makes him undraftable.
Shannon Brown. I don’t see how Brown helps you. He does nothing well and won’t have Steve Nash finding him. Big avoid.
Jermaine O’Neal. No one is more surprised than me at O’Neal’s mini-renaissance; that doesn’t mean you want any part of him in your team.
Markieff Morris. Morris could be a good source of hustle plays (rebounds, blocks, steals) at a forward spot, but he isn’t. Might be worth keeping an eye on.
High Risk/High Reward
Wesley Johnson. An interesting guy as a late round pick in deep leagues only. On the theory that someone has to play on the wings and everyone else is a massive question mark, he’s a useful wild card. Good source of blocks from a guard.
DeMarcus Cousins leads this team but there are some good fantasy plays here, especially because the Kings play at a high pace (and might be even faster this year). In real life, this is a dire team and although they are probably improving, it’s not as fast as the LA teams or Golden State, meaning it will most likely be a long 82-game slog for them.
They could be a genuine surprise, though, if they can somehow start to play some defence. What I said in Part I about making sure you stream guys against the Kings remains true. They will be lit up regularly.
Best to Own
DeMarcus Cousins. I think Cousins is the fifth-best center available; I actually like LaMarcus Aldridge more and Marc Gasol and Al Jefferson somewhat less. Cousins is a great source of hustle stats and I think he will get more shots as well. Very worthwhile player to own.
Marcus Thornton. Thornton has an ADP of 44.6, putting him at the end of the fourth round in a 12-team league. His value is better there than as your third guy primarily because he fills the basket but doesn’t really fill the whole scoresheet. Remains a very good guy to have in the weak SG position; I don’t like him as much as Stephen Curry but he is still top 8 of guys I think of as shooting guards first.
Tyreke Evans. Sometimes, there are guys who you realize you have no idea what to do with. Tyreke Evans is one of those guys, a player I’ve probably changed my mind about six times in three seasons. When he came in, I thought he couldn’t play, then he showed he obviously could, then I was in love with him and he betrayed my trust. The long and short of it is, Evans is a fine source of steals and assists from a guy rated at SF, and I have no idea what do do with him. Your guess is as good as mine, folks.
Isaiah Thomas. As the point guard on a team that pushes the pace and isn’t that long on ballhandlers, I think Thomas will outperform his ADP of 90. He’s an excellent guy to have as your second point guard. I am not a fan of Jimmer Fredette and am very suspicious of Aaron Brooks. This one could well blow up in my face; it’s a risky proposition (Brooks could be starting from day one) but I think Thomas is both exciting and promising as an offensive player.
Jason Thompson. Why not? We think he will start, he certainly can rebound even among power forwards, and he makes his shots. Undrafted in 92% of Yahoo leagues. He’s worth a pick.
Players to Avoid
James Johnson. I can say, as a Raptors fan, that James Johnson is the textbook definition of “flatters to deceive”. Kid is a heartbreaker.
Jimmer Fredette. Can’t play at this level, sorry. Obviously a fine source of threes if you need them later in the season.
Thomas Robinson. Obviously, in a keeper league scenario, this all changes. Robinson will be the starting power forward in Sacramento in 2013… that’s December 2013. As of now I do not believe he will outdo Jason Thompson, but if you do bite on Thompson as a sleeper, keep an eye on how Robinson is used ky Keith Smart.
John Salmons. I avoid John Salmons because he burns me every year I pick him. If you’re the guy who has him when I don’t, I hate you. Salmons is a poor selection because despite the potential to play some, his offensive game has seriously deteriorated and so he hurts almost all your ratio categories. The Kings will also move to younger players.
High Risk/High Reward
Aaron Brooks. Brooks’s fall from grace is inexplicable: a great 2010 in Houston, followed by an extremely difficult 2011 and played overseas all last season. The poor 2011 makes me very nervous about investing in him, but as your last player in the draft in a deep league, I’d take this “Avoid” tag off. High upside because Thomas isn’t a great all-round player in real life. Undrafted so far in 97% of Yahoo leagues.
Chuck Hayes. It’s hard not to love Hayes for his all-out play, but tough to pick him when DeMarcus Cousins rules the roost in the middle. Hayes could become a big source of hustle stats, though, especially rebounds, should the Kings be unable to settle with Thompson, Johnson or Robinson at the 4.
Thanks to Keith Allison for the photo of Stephen Curry.