Thursday, April 21, 2011
For player news throughout the NBA playoffs, please be sure to closely monitor
Thursday, April 14, 2011
In this fourth and final installment of the Fantasy Postseason NBA playoff preview, we’ll look at the five through eight seeds in the west. While I indicated yesterday that I was not optimistic about the first round of the eastern playoffs, it should be stated that I am often wrong and, as they say, there is a reason these games are played on the court and not on paper. Now that the western match ups are set, there are some intriguing pairings. While the teams with home court advantage should be favored, these series might continue past four games. There are values among the bottom four teams.
5. Denver Nuggets (vs. 4. Oklahoma City Thunder)
No Carmelo? No problem. Despite trading their somewhat disgruntled superstar at the end of February, the Nuggets finished the season by winning 17 of their last 24 games without Anthony. The post-trade Nuggets faced the Thunder twice in the last two weeks and lost to Oklahoma City both times. Nevertheless, coach George Karl’s team has an intriguing combination of talent. Ty Lawson, who left the regular season finale with a sprained ankle, finished the season on a flurry. He averaged more than 15 points and 6.5 assists in the last two months. Lawson will make for a nice value, even if he is matched up against Russell Westbrook. With Kenyon Martin and Nene, the Nuggets have size in the starting lineup to match up against the Thunder’s thunder. Martin averaged 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds against Oklahoma City, and Nene provided another 15.5 points and 8.8 rebounds. The wildcard, as always with the Nuggets, is guard J.R. Smith. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 12.3 points off the Nugget bench and hit 39.0% of his threes.
6. Portland Trailblazers (vs. 3 Dallas Mavericks)
If there is one series in which people are going to pick an upset, it is this one. The Blazers have beaten the Mavericks twice since March 15 and seem to have some individual match ups working in their favor. Even though their star, Brandon Roy, has looked like a shade of his previous self. He has only averaged 8.0 points after the All Star break and should not be drafted. Wes Matthews, however, has moved into the starting slot and averaged 15.9 points this season. He hit 57.1% of his threes against Dallas. The new ingredient in the Portland mix is Gerald Wallace who has averaged 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds since joining the Blazers. Without Roy leading the way, LaMarcus Aldridge has an opportunity to shine. He has averaged better than 20 points in every month since November and burned Dallas for 27.8 points. Finally, Marcus Camby returned for the season finale after struggling with a neck injury. The 14-year veteran averaged 10.3 rebounds this season.
7. New Orleans Hornets (vs. 2. Los Angeles Lakers)
Against the Lakers, the Hornets have an advantage at one position: point guard. Granted, the difference between Chris Paul and anyone the Lakers put on him is cavernous, but Paul will have to play above his usual greatness to help the Hornets be competitive against the two-time defending champions. In the regular season, the Lakers swept the four games. Paul did play well against the Lakers: He shot 56.1% from the field, averaged 15.8 points and 10.3 assists, and made 55.6% of his threes. With David West on the sideline with a torn ACL, Carl Landry has stepped in. He had 24 points and ten rebounds in his one appearance as a Hornet against the Lakers. If your league requires a center, Emeka Okafor could be a possibility. The former Connecticut Husky averaged 12.3 points and 10.3 rebounds against Los Angeles. Keep an eye on former-Laker Trevor Ariza who played well in the playoffs for Los Angeles in 2008-09.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (vs. 1. San Antonio Spurs)
The Grizzlies feel like the feel-good story of the west. They beat out teams like the Suns and Rockets for the eight seed and the right to meet the Spurs. Memphis split the season series against San Antonio and power forward Zach Randolph is a load for any team. Randolph made the most of his time against the Spur frontline and averaged 23.0 points and 14.8 rebounds in the four games against San Antonio. He is almost guaranteed you to get four double-double bonuses. Unfortunately, Randolph’s great play has caused Marc Gasol to quiet down. The Spaniard averaged 8.0 points and 7.3 rebounds, and probably should not be drafted. In the backcourt, the Memphis surprise has been Tony Allen. The former Celtic averaged 17.0 points against the Spurs and made 71.1% of his shots. In other words, that rate is unlikely to continue. Mike Conley Jr. also played well against San Antonio with 15.5 points and 5.5 assists. The Grizzles could steal a game or two and make Randolph a decent draft pick.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The match ups in the east have been set for the past few days. In that time, my opinion of the series has not changed: I don’t think the bottom four teams will win much. Were I a betting man (and despite my fantasy indulgence, I am not), I’d guess that the Hawks, Knicks, 76ers, and Pacers will win less than four games combined. Based on that, it might be a wise strategy in your drafts to just to ignore these four teams. However, if you want to take a flyer on some of the players on the lesser teams in the east, I’ll provide some details and opinions about each one. One caveat: I wish my team, the Milwaukee Bucks, were among the top eight, but they were stymied by injuries. Maybe next year.
5. Atlanta Hawks (vs. 4. Orlando Magic)
The Hawks actually won the season series against the Magic. They won three of the four meetings, including a Mar. 30 win in which Josh Smith had 26 points, six boards, and four assists. Smith played well in all of the games against Orlando. He averaged 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.3 blocks. He has been somewhat limited by a knee injury as the season closed, but he may have been just resting up for the playoffs. Joe Johnson averaged 19.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists against the Magic. He averaged 17.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in 11 games in the playoffs last year. The last of the fantasy worthy Hawks is Al Horford who provided 16.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists against Orlando. Jamal Crawford averaged 12.0 points on 38.1% shooting from the field against the Magic. Even if he won’t, I’ll pass.
6. New York Knicks (vs. 3. Boston Celtics)
The Knicks face the Celtics in the season finale tonight, but you shouldn’t expect to learn anything of consequence in this glorified preseason game. Well, it is not even that, so let’s see some ticket refunds! The Celtics gave Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo off in their last game, and Amare Stoudemire did not play in the Knicks’ last game. Will Carmelo Anthony play tonight? The Celtics have won the first three games of the series, but only the third game on Mar. 21 featured Anthony in a Knick uni. He scored 22 points in the loss. Stoudemire has averaged 27.3 points and 9.7 rebounds against Boston. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Celtic fringe players (such as Glen Davis) outscore Anthony and Stoudemire for the playoffs. Caveat emptor.
7. Philadelphia 76ers (vs. 2. Miami Heat)
If the 76ers win tonight against the Pistons, they will have had their first winning season since 2002-03, which was Larry Brown’s last season patrolling the Philadelphia bench. Allen Iverson led the squad with 27.6 points. In other words, the 76ers should be satisfied with their season because I don’t think they match up very well against the Heat. Miami swept all three games in the season series. A few years ago, Elton Brand may have been able to put up some numbers against Miami, but age and injuries have robbed him of some of his skills. He provided just 10.7 points and 8.3 rebounds against the Heat. Miami also troubled Andre Iguodala, who averaged 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. Iguodala will be asked to concentrate on defense. Jodie Meeks led the 76ers with 17.5 points in two games against Miami. Jrue Holiday shot just 34.4% from the field against Miami.
8. Indiana Pacers (vs. 1. Chicago Bulls)
Although the Pacers were able to win an overtime thriller against the Bulls on Mar. 18 in the teams’ last meeting, the Bulls should be able to roll through Indiana. A couple of Bulls did suffer a couple of minor injuries in the Bulls’ win over Nets. Joakim Noah sprained his ankle and Ronnie Brewer sprained his thumb. Nevertheless, the Pacers are going to need to play very well to win a game in the series. Danny Granger is the fantasy star and he averaged 20.0 points in three games against Chicago. Tyler Hansbrough had 29 points in the overtime win and also averaged 20.0 points in two games against the Bulls. Darren Collison will be tasked with slowing down Derrick Rose. I don’t like his chances. Rose had 42 points in the overtime loss, but managed just 27.0 points and 6.5 assists in the regular season series against the Pacers.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The lines of distinction in the Western Division aren’t quite as clear as they are in the East, but there is a five-game difference between the number four-seed (Oklahoma City) and the five-seed (Denver). So, to balance yesterday’s report on the top four teams in the East (where are all of the playoff match ups are nicely set), we’ll take a look at the top –seeded Spurs along with the Mavericks, Lakers, and Thunder, who are all bunched within a game of each other. It is interesting to note that three of the four hottest teams in the west are the Nuggets, Trailblazers, and Grizzlies who have all won seven of their last ten games (the Thunder are also 8-2 in their last ten and have won five straight), but we’ll talk about those other teams when the match ups can be written in ink.
1. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have had a remarkable season. They have quietly won an NBA-best 61 games and weathered a slump at the end of March while Tim Duncan worked himself back into the lineup after spraining his ankle. San Antonio has won their last four games, although three of those four teams will not make the playoffs. While the team is still led by Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker (and all three might be slightly undervalued because they are not exciting picks), the others have contributed more this season and could be Fantasy Postseason draft values. George Hill is providing 11.6 points and 2.6 assists. The third year pro from IUPUI is hitting 44.1% of his threes at home, and the Spurs will likely have home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Gary Neal might not be a household name, but he is making 42.0% of his threes and providing 9.7 points. DeJuan Blair could also be a nice late round find because double-doubles get a bonus in default scoring.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder were the chic pick to make a lot of noise in the west after taking the Lakers to the limit in last year’s playoffs. Kevin Durant hasn’t quite blossomed into the MVP candidate that some people predicted, but that may be less because of his own play than the emergence of point guard Russell Westbrook. The third year player from UCLA has broken out with 21.9 points and 8.2 assists. While his perimeter shooting has improved (33.3%), Westbrook can still get better from long range. That’s a pretty scary thought. Durant is leading the league at 27.9 points, so he is the best bet to get the 30-point default bonus. If the Thunder do meet the Spurs in the second round, then Serge Ibaka would be a nice value pick. In three games against San Antonio, Ibaka averaged 12.3 points and 11.0 rebounds (compared to season averages of 9.9 points and 7.6 rebounds). Kendrick Perkins may take away some of Ibaka’s value. The former Celtic has been relatively quiet in his Thunder tenure, but has snagged 31 rebounds in his last two games.
2. Dallas Mavericks
It’s surprising to see the old Mavericks here at the two-slot, isn’t it? They consistently win 50 games, but generally don’t do much in the playoffs. Maybe this year will be their year to break through and make it back to the finals to meet the Heat, like they did five years ago. More than any other playoff team, Dallas splits their triple-double stats among various players. Dirk Nowitzki, and to a lesser extent, Jason Terry, score, Tyson Chandler rebounds, and Jason Kidd passes. Shawn Marion does a little of everything. While this may seem like a bounce back year for Marion, his stats are right in line with his first year in Dallas (12.5 points, 6.9 rebounds). Marion has scored 18.7 points in three games against the Lakers and has scored 18.8 points in six games in April. He could be a nice value.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
Did the Lakers peak too early? Los Angeles has now lost five straight games after winning 17 of their previous 18 games. Perhaps coach Phil Jackson just has the team which is going for a three-peat hiding in the reeds, but they have now lost home court advantage in the second round, if the records hold and the Lakers and Mavericks advance. They could even fall to the four-seed, if they can’t get back on the winning track in the regular season. Kobe Bryant is making just 42.4% of his shots from the field. He may have taken his foot off the gas pedal with just 3.3 rebounds this month. He will get his shots and his points, so he still makes for an excellent first round pick. The most intriguing statistical factoid of the losing streak is Andrew Bynum’s 13.3 rebounds per game. Bynum has snagged 56 boards in his last three games. While his performance may take away from Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom’s value a little, Bynum makes for an intriguing mid-round draft pick.
Monday, April 11, 2011
For player news throughout the NHL playoffs, please be sure to closely monitor Rotoworld (NHL).
While it may be unwise to look past the first round of the playoffs, there is a clear demarcation in both conferences. The top four teams in the east and west have separated themselves from the pack and it would not surprise me to see them all advance past the first round. (Of course, I also picked three one-seeds in the NCAA tournament.) Today and tomorrow, I will concentrate on the future (the semifinals) before coming back to the near present (the first round) when the match ups are set.
We were fortunate on Sunday to have previews of the Eastern semifinals. The Heat beat the Celtics in Miami and the Bulls beat the Magic. Orlando’s Dwight Howard did not play because of a suspension because of too many technical fouls. These games may not have provided a good preview for the Eastern semifinals, but we can look back at the series between the teams to get a read (albeit one of a small sample) to see what will happen in a few weeks. Let’s take a look at each team:
1. Chicago Bulls
I guess an argument can be made for taking Kobe Bryant with the top pick in Fantasy Postseason drafts, but I would go with Derrick Rose. Some may say that the Lakers have the easier path to the finals, but Bryant isn’t the force he used to be. Rose is the end-all, be-all for the Bulls and has played well against the top teams in the East. For those who believe that Rose doesn’t have the playoff experience of players like Bryant, I happen to think that playoff experience is overrated. Rose did pretty well in the NCAA tournament as a freshman when he destroyed future NBA guards such as D.J. Augustin, Darren Collison, and Mario Chalmers. I have to admit that I was wrong about coach Tom Thibodeau. I thought he received too much credit after the Celtic defense improved when they acquired Kevin Garnett, who I used to refer to as a one-man zone. Thibodeau has helped the Bulls get to the next level quickly. The Bulls also have a nice sneaky pick in Luol Deng who is averaging 17.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. He might get drafted behind Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, but may outscore (fantasy-wise) both of his frontcourt mates.
4. Orlando Magic
The Magic shuffled their deck by gathering in two members of the run-and-gun Warriors from nearly a decade ago. Since the trades that brought in Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas, Orlando has gone 34-22. The team was 16-8 at the time of the trades, so Richardson and Arenas have not provided the boost that some people might have hoped. For fantasy fans, both guards have seen their production dwindle since coming to Florida. Arenas shouldn’t be drafted in standard Fantasy Postseason leagues since he is only averaging 8.0 points in 21.8 minutes off the Magic bench. Richardson is providing 14.1 points, but has seen all of his shooting percentages dip since leaving Steve Nash’s side. Howard has played well against the Bulls prior to his suspension. In three games against Chicago, Howard averaged 24.3 points on 67.5% shooting from the field with 12.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. The sleeper on the Magic may be Hedo Turkoglu, who was so good for the Magic in their 2009 run to the NBA Finals. Since returning to the Magic, Turkoglu is averaging 11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and a career-high 5.2 assists.
2. Miami Heat
While I have detested ESPN’s coverage of the Heat (it seems as the Worldwide Leader has foisted Miami into a section above the rest of the NBA), I have to admit that I have been rooting for the Miami three to do well. What was so wrong with what LeBron James and Chris Bosh did? While “The Decision” program may have been a bad decision, who wouldn’t want to move from Cleveland (and the NBA’s worst team – tied with Minnesota) to Miami? People seemed to question the fact that LeBron didn’t want “to be the man.” No, he just wanted to win and play with his friends. Before blowing out the Celtics on Sunday, the Heat had lost three straight games to the previous Big Three (plus Rondo). Dwyane Wade has not played well against Boston and in the four regular season meetings only averaged 12.8 points on 28.1% from the field. You may want to degrade Wade a bit on your draft chart. James, meanwhile, has provided 28.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists against the Celtics. I would select him third after Rose and Bryant. There really aren’t any sleeper options on the Heat. James, Wade, and Bosh score almost 70% of the team’s points. No one else averages more than 7.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, or 2.6 assists.
3. Boston Celtics
I have been skeptical of the Celtics this season. This is an old team. Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen are all at least 33 years old and Garnett looks quite different from the Minnesota version. The team also seems to be relying on 39-year-old Shaquille O’Neal to provide something more than nothing. All of those numbers greater than 30 add up to trouble, and O’Neal has only played five minutes since Feb. 1. Maybe Boston is just resting him in hopes that he’ll be able to provide a solid 20 minutes against the Heat, but I think those hopes are fleeting. It also goes without saying that this team could probably use Kendrick Perkins, even if they knew they wouldn’t be able to lock him up for the future. Jeff Green has provided 9.2 points off the Celtic bench and could make for a late round flyer in Fantasy Postseason drafts. Don’t undervalue Rajon Rondo because he is scoring just 10.6 points. His 11.2 assists give him decent value. Although Glen Davis has tailed off in April (8.2 points on 34.5% shooting, 3.7 rebounds), his March totals (13.1 points, 7.4 rebounds) are more indicative of his value and he could make a nice draft pick.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
1. LeBron James F MIA
2. Derrick Rose G CHI
3. Dwight Howard C ORL
4. Kevin Durant F OKC
Indeed, there are some notable names that are missing. Kobe is not on the list because he is only slightly ahead of Pau Gasol and there are other strong fantasy options on the Lakers in Odom and Bynum. Wade didn't make it because of LeBron's out of this world fantasy numbers.
If you want to learn more about these rating systems, see the Fantasy Drafting and Relative Value Ratings post.
1. Roberto Luongo G VAN
2. Sidney Crosby F PIT
3. Tim Thomas G BOS
4. Alex Ovechkin F WAS
5. Daniel Sedin F WAS
6. Jeff Carter F PHI
7. Steven Stamkos F TAM
See Fantasy Drafting and Relative Value Ratings for more information on Fantasy Postseason's 5-star rating system.
Friday, April 8, 2011
For player news throughout the NBA playoffs, please be sure to closely monitor
Rotoworld (NBA) - their player advice has been an invaluable source of timely player info in our fantasy leagues for years.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
2) Shelvin Mack/Butler (167.50 pts)
3) Tyler Zeller/UNC (159 pts)
4) Jamie Skeen/VCU (153 pts)
5) Jeremy Lamb/U Conn (150 pts)
6) Matt Howard/Butler (147 pts)
7) Derrick Williams/Arizona (138 pts)
8) Bradford Burgess/VCU (134 pts)
9) Alex Oriakhi/U Conn (129.50 pts)
10) Josh Harrellson/Kentucky (128 pts)
Congrats to U Conn and our Fantasy Postseason league champions.