If you’re still playing in your fantasy basketball league, you may want to consider a different format for next season. Seriously. No, I don’t hate fantasy basketball, and I wish it could be played year round, but when you’re talking about teams using guys like Mike Miller to vault into the championship round, it doesn’t really give proper due to the teams that were strong throughout the season.
It’s hard for me to buy into a type of fantasy basketball where Miller and Beno Udrih are the deciding factors in where your team finishes, but I totally understand there are basketball junkies like myself out there who need their fix until the bitter end. For those folks, here is the final buy-low, sell-high column of the 2012-13 season.
It’s been a phenomenal ride, and I hope you all had (and have) continued success in your fantasy hoop leagues. Just remember: Even in the virtual world, Ball. Don’t. Lie.
All stats are accurate through games on April 8, 2013
Andre Iguodala, G/F, Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari’s torn ACL is a tough blow for a Denver Nuggets team that is already running without Ty Lawson (heel), and without both of those guys in the lineup, it’s officially the Andre Iguodala show until further notice.
In Iggy’s first game without Gallinari (and therefore his first game without Gallinari and Lawson), all he did was manage to drop an unreal 18 points, seven boards, 14 assists, two steals and two triples while shooting 7-of-13 from the floor. George Karl is going to encourage Iguodala to be a force on the offensive end with the Nuggets hurting, and I like his chances of responding.
Iguodala has been waiting for an opportunity to assert himself on offense all season, and although we’ve seen flashes of it previously from him, Iguodala is starting to come out in full force. Before his whopper of a line listed above, Iguodala’s previous game was eight points, nine boards, eight assists, a steal and a three.
I think you get the idea here—his versatility and clear path to production makes him a no-brainer for any fantasy roster right now.
Will Barton, SG, Blazers
Wes Matthews aggravated the same ankle that he injured earlier in the season, and with the Blazers now firmly out of the playoff picture, it’s time for the team to be extremely cautious with its players’ health for the remainder of the season.
Nicolas Batum’s shoulder injury leaves his status the rest of the way uncertain, so Barton should get plenty of leash from Terry Stotts and the coaching staff to contribute the rest of the season. He’s easily the most explosive player the Blazers have on their pathetic bench, and there is zero reason not to evaluate for the future at this point.
Matthews did not seem optimistic about his ankle after injuring it on Sunday, and Barton filled it admirably with 22 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals in 32.5 minutes of playing time. Obviously he’s not going to replicate this line every single night, but you want guys on your team at this point who have a clear path to playing time and production.
Andre Drummond, F/C, Pistons
Folks who are waiting for a full-fledged breakout from Andre Drummond are likely going to wait until next season, but there are really promising signs from the big man since taking over the starting center position on a full-time basis.
Although Drummond hasn’t scored in double-figures since he initially returned from his back injury and as a starter, he has been able to rebound at a consistent pace (double-digit boards in half of his starts), and as expected, Drummond is making his presence felt on the defensive end with five steals and six blocks over a six-game stretch as starter.
He’s only playing 22 minutes per game over his first six career starts, but his numbers are an indication of what he’s capable of doing when he gets to flirt with 30-plus minutes routinely: He’s averaging 8.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.0 blocks on 65.7 % shooting.
That’s a pretty good “floor” for Drummond right now, and I can’t wait to see what his ceiling looks like.
Mike Miller, G/F, Heat
Dwyane Wade is sending chills up the spines of his owners who have been holding onto him with comments like he may not return until the postseason, and until further notice, it’s the Mike Miller show at shooting guard. I’m half-kidding about Miller’s “show” considering how he looks getting up and down the floor at times, but have you seen his production since he’s been starting in Wade’s place?
Over his last three games, Miller is averaging nearly 16 points, nearly six rebounds and almost four assists. Have I mentioned that he’s drained a whopping 12 3-pointers over that stretch as well? Miller is showing signs of vintage “Miller time,” and he’s a scorching 17-of-30 from the field over his last few games.
Now, Miller’s fantasy floor is grossly grotesque as evidenced by his three-point, four-rebound, three-assist game against the Sixers on Saturday, but he’s going to continue to get opportunities to play now because he’s auditioning for a spot in the rotation come postseason. Any guy playing with a purpose is more likely to be motivated to put up those numbers fantasy owners crave.
Tim Duncan, F/C, Spurs
This has got to be about the 100th time Tim Duncan has appeared on my sell high list this season, and he’s proven me wrong time and time again. This time, I feel confident with his placement here.
The San Antonio Spurs have been bitten by the injury bug in a big way as the regular season winds down. Manu Ginobili is dealing with a hamstring issue, Tony Parker has injuries all over and the last thing that this team needs is for Duncan to go down with an injury after he escaped potentially serious ankle and knee concerns earlier in the season.
The Spurs aren’t a team that will fight it out for seeding because that’s simply not Gregg Popovich’s style. Expect Duncan to be on a minutes limit of some kind the rest of the way and be prepared for the random DNP-OLD in the box score. It’s coming.
Jeff Green, F, Celtics
The Jeff Green narrative is out of control. I’m not trying to dog Green, his play or his story. I think he’s been much better this season and it’s been his best in Boston, and there’s no doubt that his story is an inspirational one that will be told for many generations. Now, getting past all of that stuff, I’m just not sold he’ll be the slam-dunk type of player he was during Kevin Garnett’s absence from the lineup.
In Garnett’s first game back since being out with his ankle injury, and coincidentally the first game where Green started alongside Paul Pierce and Garnett this season, played 27.5 minutes, scoring eight points to go along with three rebounds, two steals and four turnovers. That’s not a line that’s going to help any fantasy owner, much less the owners that have been relying on his increased production of late.
It was the first game since Green had eight points against the OKC Thunder on March 10 where he failed to score at least 10 points, an indication that his sticking in the starting lineup may be an adjustment period as he learns to be a third option behind the two top dogs.
Beno Udrih, PG, Magic
Beno Udrih’s use in Milwaukee is even more questionable when one looks at how he’s played in Orlando where he’s gotten a regular opportunity to contribute. Brandon Jennings recently said there are no All-Stars on that roster, and he’s right—which makes the idea of Udrih not playing while he was there absolutely laughable.
A fine veteran point guard in his own right and someone who is more than capable of serving in a backup role, Udrih has really turned it up of late with Jameer Nelson nursing an ankle injury. He’s started five straight games in place of Nelson, and he’s responded with averages of 18.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.0 3-pointers while shooting 45.2 % from the floor and 93.8 % from the foul line. Not bad, huh?
However, Nelson isn’t expected to shut it down and could be back as early as Wednesday. Even if Nelson sits out another one, the Magic only have four games remaining on the schedule (including Wednesday), so it’s not the ideal schedule to make an impact. Udrih has a two-game week to make an impact for owners, and with Nelson’s uncertain health, it’s hard to make that kind of commitment to a guy who needs to start in order to offer the type of value fantasy owners need.
Francisco Garcia, G/F, Rockets
It’s definitely been a while since I found myself talking about Francisco Garcia for anything related to fantasy basketball, but that’s what happens when your league still plays at this juncture of the season. I like to call it the All-scrub-everything point of the season. That’s no disrespect to Garcia or any other player earning extra minutes right now, but in terms of fantasy leagues and for the purpose of this discussion, the all-scrub-everything lineup can define your season.
Garcia has picked up some extra minutes since March 30 with James Harden (foot) briefly nursing an injury and Chandler Parson (calf) trying to get back on track, and although he hasn’t eclipsed 30 minutes in any of his last five games, Garcia has made an impressive 15 triples over that span of time. That is valuable to fantasy owners trying to win a specific category.
Now, with Harden healthy and firing on all cylinders and Parsons looking at a return as early as Tuesday, Garcia will go back to irrelevance in fantasy circles where he really belongs.
A personal note from the author: Thank you to all of the loyal readers of the weekly column. I really appreciate your support and readership a great deal. -Ethan