Based on his performance in recent seasons, chances are that if you invited Ersan Ilyasova to a party, he’d spend the first hour or so insulting everyone in the room, yet somehow end the night as the most popular person at the party.
To review what he’s done the last two seasons:
2011-12, though Feb. 6 (23 games): 8.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 0.6 spg, 0.6 bpg, 0.4 3s
2011-12, after Feb. 6 (37 games): 16.2 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.8 bpg, 1.1 3s
2012-13, through Jan. 17 (36 games): 8.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.7 spg, 0.4 bpg, 0.8 3s
2012-13, after Jan. 17 (37 games): 17.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.2 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.8 3s
And so far this year, slowed early on by an ankle injury, he has posted 8.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.1 spg, 0.2 bpg and 0.4 3s through 21 games – numbers that would fit right in with his disappointing starts from the past two seasons.
So will Ilyasova do the old delayed breakout routine for a third year in a row? After seeing him post a strong line on New Year’s Eve (15 points, 12 boards, two steals for just his second double-double of the season), and with some positive news finally surfacing on his troublesome ankle, I’m feeling confident that good times are once again just ahead. Things could get a bit crowded in the frontcourt once John Henson (ankle) returns, but there’s a chance for Ilyasova to solidify his role before that happens. And given recent trends, I’m expecting to see some vintage Ersan sooner rather than later in 2014.
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In other hoops-related matters…
What’s ahead for Ricky Rubio in 2014? I had very high hopes for Rubio coming into the season, and while he hasn’t been outright bad (No. 41 overall in Basketball Monster’s 9-category rankings), he’s been a consistent source of frustration early on. The main issue, of course, has been scoring, as Rubio has hit double figures in just 14 out of 32 games so far while averaging 8.9 ppg. That’s a surprisingly low number even by Rubio’s standards (he averaged 10.6 ppg as a rookie and 10.7 ppg last year), so I’m still expecting a notable improvement as the season goes on. Last year from Feb. 1 onward (40 games) Rubio averaged 13.1 ppg, and even if Wednesday’s 14-8-9 line isn’t the direct start of a prolonged scoring binge, I still think 12-plus ppg and top-25 overall value are well within reach going forward.
Which Victor Oladipo will surface during the season’s final 3.5 months? Oladipo’s production has been wildly inconsistent over the last couple of weeks (point totals last nine games: 26, 15, 8, 3, 12, 3, 16, 15, 8). His good games are still impressive (16-5-11 on Dec. 27), but his bad lines have been basically useless (8-2-2 in 17 minutes on New Year’s Eve). Obviously we have to expect some inconsistency from a rookie who’s currently coming off the bench, but ultimately, I’d expect the dynamic/productive version of Oladipo to win out. Between Jameer Nelson’s tendency to get hurt (an average of 20 missed games the last five years) and last-place Orlando having every incentive to get Oladipo extended run as the games get more and more meaningless, the No. 2 overall pick should end up being a very fun player to have on fantasy rosters during the final months of the season. I’m sure we haven’t seen his last frustrating stretch, but now is a great time to throw a buy-low offer in another owner’s direction.
With Al Horford done for the year, how high can Paul Millsap’s value go? Millsap was posting huge stats even before Horford got hurt (last 15 games: 20.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.3 bpg and 1.8 3s, numbers that made him the No. 12-ranked player in 9-category leagues during that stretch). And in his last three games without Horford, Millsap has averaged a monstrous 28.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.7 spg, 2.0 bpg and 0.7 3s. We can’t expect him to stay quite this hot, but Millsap is locked in as a top-two option (along with Jeff Teague), with his improved 3-point shot taking his value to another level. I’d treat him like a low-end first-round value going forward.
Other Random Thoughts: With Andrew Bynum out of the picture, Anderson Varejao is set for a major spike in value for as long as he can stay healthy (and for as long as Cleveland doesn’t trade for another frontcourt option). Varejao’s last two games: 11.0 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 1.0 spg and 1.5 bpg. That’s not quite on par with what he posted last year (14.1 ppg, 14.4 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.5 spg and 0.6 bpg in 25 games), but he’s creeping in that direction. … Meanwhile, I’m far less excited about Cavs PF Tristan Thompson, who’s averaging close to a double-double on the season (11.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg) but has just one steal and two blocks total in his last 11 games. … I don’t expect him to keep scoring like this, but James Johnson (22 percent owned in Yahoo) is a very intriguing pickup if he’s out there in your league. Last four games: 12.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.8 spg, 2.3 bpg, 0.8 3s in 27 minutes per game. … I won’t be shocked at all if the Kendall Marshall experiment backfires in L.A., but I’d be all for adding him to see what’s next after he posted 10 points and seven assists with two 3s on New Year’s Eve. … Shelvin Mack doesn’t look like a must-add player, but he does have my attention after averaging 8.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.5 spg and 1.8 3s in his last four games.
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