Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fantasy Basketball Breakdown - Eastern Conference

The first half of the NBA regular season is behind us, and brings many fun things to watch for in the second half.  The trade rumors are flying as the deadline approaches and names like Josh Smith and J.J. Redick are big enough to draw every ones attention.  These guys, if traded, are bound to land on a playoff team & will be a major part of that teams playoff run. 

Danny Granger is set to return to the Indiana Pacers lineup soon and that should spark some trades in your fantasy leagues.  I don't doubt that he will have an impact on Paul George's amazing first half, but I would not get rid of George if I owned him.

Will Derrick Rose suit up for the Chicago Bulls, or will he need to sit out the season in order to be 110%? 

Fantasy owners need to buckle down and adjust their rosters to make their own playoff push!

Lets take a look at the Eastern Conference from both an NBA view and a Fantasy view:

I am going to start from the bottom of the conference with the Charlotte Bobcats.  The Cats actually supply fantasy owners with some nice options.  Kemba Walker has been one of fantasy's better PG but had a bad February scoring just 13 points per game.  Go hard after Kemba while his value is low.  He is top 10 in scoring and top 12 in rebounds amongst PGs. 

The Bobcats backup PG Ramon Sessions is a candidate to be traded but is one of the leagues better scoring guards.  On top of the scoring he adds 4 assists and 3 rebounds, and as a role player that's hard to find in a backup PG.

Gerald Henderson has returned nicely and is providing fantasy owners with 14.6 points per game in February, which puts him 9th amongst SG in total points scored in February. 

As far as Ben Gordon goes, he is pretty much done in Charlotte, so expect him to be traded after he got into a fight with the Head Coach. At this point, when Gordon is on the court his purely a 3point specialist. 

The ONLY forward/center worth owning on the Bobcats is Byron Mullens.  He has been the Cats best player since his return from injury and in 7 games (4 starts) he leads the team with 17.8 points per game and 8.7 rebounds.  He is a scary guy to own as his shooting has been super streaky this season.  If I owned him, I would look to turn him into two solid player via trade.  SELL HIGH.

Sitting just 3 games better than the Bobcats, the Orlando Magic have been killed by the injury bug this season.  Not that they were going to be any better than fighting for the 8th and final playoff spot, but their roster WAS better than their record currently shows.  Injuries to Hedo Turkoglu and Glen Davis stripped this team of veteran leadership and the odd trade of Ryan Anderson for Gustayo Ayon  led to the team being one of the leagues worst 3pt shooting teams.  The Magic however have created a monster by name of Nikola Vucevic

Vucevic has not gone back to back games with out posting a double-double since December 28-29.  Since the New Year, he has failed to grab 10 rebounds in just 4 games!  He is the best player not named Redick on the Magic and is the best fantasy player they offer. 

Speaking of J.J. Redick, where is he going to end up!?  It is rumored that Orlando wants an expiring, plus a first round pick in return, which is fair.  Redick is the new Ray Allen of the NBA and every team could use him.  I DON'T want to see him on the Bucks, which is a possibility.  Redick is best suited on a team with a share the ball mentality....Spurs?

Arron Afflalo is consistent, not great, and Jameer Nelson is a nice second PG to own with over 7 assists per game which ranks him 8th in the league amongst PGs. 

One guy to look into is Andrew Nicholson who is slowly starting to develop into a decent fantasy option.  Double digit scoring in 4 of the Magic last 5 contests and is averaging 6 rebounds per game of that span while shooting 60%!

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards currently just a 1/2 game better than the Magic with one team on the rise and one team treading water. 

That team on the rise is the Wizards and since John Wall returned, the team has slowly started to become that team NOBODY wants to play especially in our Nations Capitol.  They record at home is just 11-14 but they have defeated the Heat, Thunder, Hawks, Knicks, Bulls, Clippers, Nets & Bucks, all playoff teams! 

Wall has turned Martell Webster, the guy that nobody wanted, into a premier 3pt shooter who has made 20 of his 34 3pt field goals in February. 

Nene has been killing it lately with 14.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in February.  He is also adding 4.3 assists!  I wonder how a big body like his is not attempting more free throws per game, but if the lack of contact keeps him healthy, fantasy owners shouldn't care!  If you are looking to add a piece to a trade, Nene is someone you can send off and not miss to much.  If you don't want to part ways with Nene and happen to also own Emeka Okafor, who has been consistant, try offering him first! 

The Cavaliers are a team running in place.  They had every opportunity to turn Anderson Varejao into a 1st round pick and pieces at the beginning of the season, but they failed to pull the trigger and he is now lost for the season.  Just like in fantasy basketball, you HAVE to trade mediocre players when they are playing their best basketball!  Take Tristan Thompson for example.  Since the Cavs traded for Mareese Speights, Thompson has just 2 games with double digit rebounds.  He had 3 in a row leading up to that day.  Dangle Tristan Thompson in a trade and see what comes back in return.  The guy was drafted for his defensive skills, not to average 15 points per game like he did in January.  Kyrie Irving is really the only fantasy option in Cleveland.

Here is where things start to get interesting in the Eastern Conference.  The Detroit Pistons are 7 games out of the last playoff spot, but have the potential to pass the 3 teams standing in their way.  The Pistons have won 3 of their last 4 and Calderon is shooting 50% or better in those game dropping 20+ points twice.  30+ minutes for Calderon is amazing for fantasy basketball and fantasy owners should ride off into the playoffs with Calderon in their lineup.

Brandon Knight was shifted over the SG position to make room for Jose, but you should be shifted him to someone elses roster, maybe a Kentucky Fan, because he is only going to hurt your team looking to spot up for open jumpers. He finished the 1st half with 3 straight single digit scoring nights on 8 of 31 shooting.

We hope you bought low on Greg Monroe when you had the chance in December because he has yet to grab less than 10 rebounds a game in February and is dropping 18.4 points per game. 

Kyle Singler has done a nice job knocking down jumper from mid range, but its hard to hold a lot of value when he is not knocking down 3s!  His 4 rebounds a night are nice, but no reason to not be able to part way should some one else want him  as part of a trade.

Just a 1/2 game better than the Pistons, the Toronto Raptors, have looked pretty good ending the first half on a 4 game winning streak.  Outside of a blowout win over the Hornets, the Raptors have played 3 close games including an OT win against the Pacers which never should have happened!  They then beat the Nuggets by 1 and the Knicks by 4 in one of the sloppiest games of the season.  But a Win is a Win and that's what the Raptors need to do to catch the 76ers & Bucks. 

We spoke about Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan is this weeks Fantasy recap, but we didn't talk about the potential steal of Andrea Bargnani.  Think of him as a poor mans Pau Gasol (when he was healthy) even if he continues to be a role player in favor of Amir Johnson.  Amar'e is having no issues being valuable off the bench for the Knicks!  If you can get Bargs in a trade make sure you do it on your terms!

Another big man looking to make a return after the All-Star break is Andrew Bynum of the Philadelphia 76ers.  Clearly no one in their right mind is going to give him up but he could be a huge difference maker for the other players on the 76ers.  Currently 4 games behind the 8th seeded Milwaukee Bucks, the 76ers have zero post presence or dominate scorer. 

When Bynum finally makes his debut in a Sixers uniform, the entire game plan will change.  They score more points than just the Wizards and I don't even expect that to change, but their FG% should!  With the double team coming very often, Philly better hope Bynum isn't out to prove he can dominate the paint still before hitting free agency!  If Bynum starts to force shots, the 76ers will be the only team in the league scoring less than 90 points per game.  But if he decides to pass out of doubles and the Sixers can swing the ball back to the weak side, guys like Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Spencer Hawes should see some nice open jumpers.  Still though Holiday, Turner and Hawes are you best fantasy options in Philly until Bynum suits up.

Speaking of Evan Turner, why is Philly looking to trade him?  I'm not sure he is worth as much to anyone else as he is to the team that drafted him #2 ahead of Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe!

Now on to the Top 8 in the Eastern Conference.

Clearly the Miami Heat are in a league of their own and if you didn't know already, LeBron James is the best player in the world, and the leagues MVP.  Funny thing though, the Heat only have 3 fantasy options in James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  You would a think a team this great would have unlimited fantasy options like the San Antonio Spurs!

The next tier in the East is 4 teams deep and includes the Knicks, Pacers, Nets, & Bulls. 

The Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls are offensively challenged compared to the Knicks and Nets but their aggressive defense is unmatched and is disruptive to opposing offenses.  Paul George and Nate Robinson have played way better than expected filling in for their teams injured stars, while both teams have veteran PFs in David West and Carlos Boozer who are having excellent seasons.  Danny Granger is expected to return to Indy sometime after the break but Paul George owners should not worry.  Obviously though if/when Derrick Rose returns, Nate Robinson will have trouble finding playing time.  Look to trade Nate Robinson sooner rather than later!

If you are looking for some buy low options Roy Hibbert is one of them!  This 7 foot tall giant has been terrible shooting the ball this season but he provides owners with 8.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks!  I like Hibbert and believe he will turn it around.

The Brooklyn Nets could easily out score you if they wanted but they play the leagues slowest pace.  It's frustrating because Deron Williams averaged 20 points per game in back to back seasons and is now scoring less than 17 a night!  Those ankles could be the issue but either way he is killing fantasy owners.

Joe Johnson is struggling to knock down shots and after averaging 18 a night in January, is back down to 16 in Feb.

Reggie Evans is a great rebounder, but unless you don't mind a guy who doesn't even care to shoot the ball, I can't imagine owning him.

Brook Lopez is awesome.  If you ever get to watch the Brooklyn Nets play, you will understand why he is leading the team in scoring.  It has nothing to do with Deron Williams and everything to do with Lopez being SUPER aggressive and looking to score every time he touches the ball.  He is also playing great defense blocking over 2 shots a night but I just can't trust that he will stay healthy!  If I owned Lopez I would look to trade him and see what I could get in return.

And then there are the New York Knicks who have a defensive minded head coach, and while it may seem like they struggle on defense from time to time, they play efficient offensive basketball and rarely turn the ball over.  The Knicks rely on the jump shot but are just an average rebounding team which is going to be a problem come playoff matchups against the Pacers and/or Bulls who two of the leagues top rebounding teams.

Iman Shumpert has all the potential to be a solid fantasy player because he does a little bit of everything, when healthy.  Since returning from ACL surgery Shump has scored 10 points just once, grabbed 5 rebounds just 3 times and has yet to have to more than 2 assists in a game.  He is struggling to fit in to the offense and is even the subject of trade rumors in a deal that could send him to Phoenix for Jared Dudley.

Amar'e Stoudemire has really thrived off the bench and is looking more and more like the guy we all used to love.  If he continues to come off the bench than he will continue to provide fantasy value.  If he moves back to the starting rotation, I would look to get rid of him ASAP!

Raymond Felton has not played as aggressively since his return from the thumb injury.  If you are a Felton fan and think his confidence will return to attempting 15-20 shots a night, than go after him.  When he was aggressive early on in the season he was getting to the rim with ease and was dropping 20 points regularly.  Now is a good time to offer his owner a trade.

That leaves us with the three other good teams in the East. 

The Atlanta Hawks are trying to trade their best all around player in Josh Smith and unfortunately, no trade scenario I have seen makes them better this season.  If and when Josh Smith gets traded, Al Horford will see a boost in fantasy value.

Jeff Teague is THRIVING in February.  He saw four straight 20 point nights and has two double digit assist games as well this month.  SELL SELL SELL. I can't help but imagine Teague returning to his 13 points per game average and 6 or 7 assists not 9!  Who knows how this team will operate without Josh Smith.

The Boston Celtics are hard to figure out with their impressive run without Rajon Rondo but they now own a bunch of available fantasy talent!  Brandon Bass, Jeff GreenAvery Bradley and Courtney Lee are all valuable assets to own.  Don't expect them to win you your league but they certainly can and will help!

All of these Kevin Garnett trade rumors are a waste of time if he is serious about refusing to waive hi sno trade clause!

If you added Samuel Dalembert to your roster, than trade him immediately! The second Larry Sanders returns to the Milwaukee Bucks lineup, Dalembert is useless.  Otherwise, outside of Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee offers nothing of fantasy value on their bench.  I don't even think they are going to hold onto their playoff spot.

Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions:

1st Round

Miami Heat (1)
Boston Celtics (8)

Chicago Bulls (4)
Brooklyn Nets (5)

Indiana Pacers (3)
Toronto Raptors (6)

New York Knicks (2)
Atlanta Hawks (7)

2nd Round

Miami Heat (1)
Brooklyn Nets (5)

Indiana Pacers (3)
New York Knicks (2)

Conference Finals
Miami Heat (1)
New York Knicks (2)

Eastern Conference Champions - Miami Heat

Check out what @Mike_WeTalkFS say about the Western Conference and see who he thinks the Heat will face in the NBA Finals!

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