Before we get to the breakdown from the Roto Analysis guys, some news and rumors to get you caught up on.
First, here are the standings as of January 11th:
I traded for Zach Randolph.
Yes, in an NBA fantasy league, in a shortened season where every week means a lot more, I traded for a guy who is out for the next six weeks with a knee injury. Not to mention that guy who is out for six weeks with a knee injury is 6’10” and 275 pounds with a history of putting on some extra weight, which is not typically good for the knees.
Yes, I included Carmelo Anthony in this deal, which is pretty much the only productive player I have on Team Free Boosie.
You ask why?
Because I’m in 13th place out of 14 teams, it was worth a shot. I figure I can make things a little interesting in the last month or two of the season. Either that, or my team is so bad that I got bored and decided to make a blockbuster trade. Leave me alone.
Also going on in the league this week:
Anthony Mason Haircut is making moves. Up to first place in the league with a sizable margin, AMH really screwed Please Advise by picking up Richard Jefferson just minutes after Manu Ginobli’s injury. AMH also got my friend Smoke and I to thinking, “has there ever been another player like Anthony Mason?”
Mason, a power forward, was solid as a rock, just a physically enormous man, handled the ball like a point guard, and shaved ridiculous messages into the side of his head. He was like some kind of insane combination of Tim Hardaway, Brian Bosworth and a huge power forward with crazy eyes, I don’t know, take your pick.
The ZWR Penguins continue their free fall, as early season behind the scenes haggling and rumor mongering may have finally caught up with their GM. He’s like the Scott Boras of fantasy basketball. Leaking rumors, trying to make deals with several teams at once, all unfair.
Biggest jump of the week was from Metta World Domination, who was undoubtedly helped by the return of Andrew Bynum. Check back in three weeks when Bynum, while out for three weeks with a knee injury, gets caught for speeding again.
Finally, Team Reese is under official league inquiry, having not been to their league offices once this season.
Now for the good stuff. I can’t thank these guys enough. For any fantasy football, basketball or baseball information, please check out their site and podcast.
The Trade, Regression, and Sleepers
Big Hair Little Shorts traded Zach Randolph*, Mem to Free Boosie
Big Hair Little Shorts traded Danny Granger, Ind to Free Boosie
Big Hair Little Shorts traded Chris Paul, LAC to Free Boosie
Free Boosie traded Jrue Holiday, Phi to Big Hair Little Shorts
Free Boosie traded Carmelo Anthony, NY to Big Hair Little Shorts
Free Boosie traded Nicolas Batum, Por to Big Hair Little Shorts
Matt’s Take: I love trades like this. It’s got a lot of different factors on both sides, and there’s a lot to digest. It all starts with the X-factor in the trade, Zach Randolph. His injury is a tough one; in fact, I had a very similar injury just this past year. With a torn MCL, you will be able to run and jog relatively soon afterwards. Side-to-side motion, however, takes much longer. This isn’t an injury that will be 100% when he comes back, but one that will probably nag him for the rest of his season. Once he does come back (at least 8 weeks, so around march 1), he will probably play fewer minutes than usual, hurting him in every category. And who knows what he’ll be up to in the meantime (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/23/zach-randolph-drug-dealer-marijuana-party_n_934138.html). The bottom line is if he can come back strong for Spike down the stretch, this trade could work out really well for him.
But enough medical analysis, lets get back to the roto analysis. Obviously, Chris Paul is a stud, and should quickly become the new leader in the “Free Boosie” clubhouse. Elite in steals and assists, CP3 is solid in points and rebounds, with great percentages across the board. To acquire him, though, took Spike’s first and second rounders. What happened with Jrue?! He has picked up the assist totals lately, but will never be on cp3’s level in any category but 3s. Consider that a huge step up at the point guard position. The balancing act comes with the step down at SF for Spike, shipping Batum and Carmelo for Danny Granger. While many say that points are an overrated category, it’s hard not to call Melo a stud. In this league, however, he is much less of a “stud.” The addition of the A/TO category makes it much harder to swallow his 3.2 TOPG. Danny Granger has had a rough start to the year, shooting only 31% from the field. I think as that reverts to his career rate of 44%, his fantasy value will be back to its normal high rate. In fact, he is picking up steals and blocks at a career-high rate, and will take an advantage over Melo in those categories. Batum is an underrated piece in the trade; in a league this deep, he is a viable starter. Like Granger, he is off to a slow start from the field, but has done several things well. He will not turn the ball over much, and is picking up a solid amount of boards and blocks, while still contributing from 3.
Looking at where Spike rests in, he’s only really doing well in 3PM and TO. There’s not much downside to shaking things up, and while his points should continue to be near the lowest in the league, his assists and A/TO should move up over time. Hopefully, his percentages can start to creep up as well. As for “Get Rid of Pinky,” he sits last in FG% but is doing solidly in every other category. With the blow to Randolph, he had a gaping whole in the frontcourt and filled it. Rebounding will suck on this team, but he has a number of solid players to keep him going strong in other categories.
In the end, in this format, it’s more important to have a stud PG than a stud SF, and in effect this is what you did, Spike. I’m not sure what the strategy is with four spots open in your starting lineup, but after this trade, I do think you helped your team’s ability to move up in the standings, even if it limits your team’s upside in the meantime.
Moe’s Take: Being as I’m the one who told Spike to make this trade, logically I should like the trade for Spike, and I do. However, I actually like it for Get Rid of Pinky as well. I’m going to break this thing down into two parts: Part I: Chris Paul and Danny Granger for Jrue Holliday and Carmelo Anthony, and Part II: Nicolas Batum for Zach Randolph.
If Part I were a trade on its own, it would strike me as shockingly fair. The difference in value between Chris Paul and Jrue Holliday is pretty closely equivalent to the difference in value between Danny Granger and Carmelo Anthony. On ESPN’s 2011 season player rater (which, admittedly, is 4 categories short of the Spike Eskin league scoring) the difference between Paul and Jrue was 5.31 Roto Points over a full season, whereas the difference between Carmelo and Granger was only 0.52 Roto Points over a full season, or a net-gain of 4.79 points in the Roto standings over a full season for Free Boosie. Obviously this season that hasn’t been the case. So far in 2012, Jrue Holiday has actually outperformed Chris Paul by .37 Roto Points, and Carmelo has outperformed Granger by an absolutely preposterous 7.3 Roto Points, or 7.67 Roto points gained in the standings so far this season for Get Rid Of Pinky.
Part I of this trade really comes down to how much you value recency. Personally, I put a lot more stock in the entirety of last season’s stats as true indicators for these players’ talents rather than just a small portion of this season. As is later outlined in my Regression Candidates section, I think that Granger is going to get better and start to close the gap with Melo. Additionally, as I wrote about on RotoAnalysis.com in my “Ten Lockout Commandments” article, players who switched teams this season were likely going to be at giant disadvantages due to the lockout to start the season, and that has absolutely held true for Chris Paul. However, as Paul gains more comfort in the system, I expect him to finish strong as the no. 1 PG and look more like his old self. On Jrue Holiday, I think it’s reasonable to think he’ll progress in many the categories compared to what he did last season because he’s a talented young player, which does make this trade closer. But, overall, I think personally of the two sides of Part I, I would have preferred the Granger / Paul side by just a hair.
Now we get into the grit of the trade, or as I so cleverly labeled it, “Part II”, Zack Randolph for Nicolas Batum. This is a conflicting trade for me for a couple of reasons, and I kind of like this part of the trade for both teams. Spike gets one of the only true 20/10 candidates in basketball (20 points 10 boards a night) with the hitch that (via RotoWorld.com) he will miss up to 8 weeks of basketball due to a “slight tear of the MCL in his right knee.” Get Rid of Pinky gets a guy who I just traded for in one of my keeper leagues, Nicolas Batum, who I’m actually a huge fan of. The issue with Batum for Spike’s team is that in order for this team to make a huge push in the standings, he needs a really impactful player, and Zebo can be that whereas Batum, as much as I love him, cannot. Batum is currently coming off the bench for Portland and averaging 23.8 minutes per night. If he gets that up to the 31.5 he averaged last year, Batum could be an impact fantasy player due to his great per-minute production and the Blazer’s new up-tempo offense. However, I like Batum more for the long-term rather than for this season because a lot of his playing time last season is now being dispersed to Gerald Wallace (who is essentially just Batum but better) and new-addition Jamaal Crawford so far this season. For Get Rid of Pinky, Part II of the trade makes sense because he’s at least within striking distance of finishing near the top of the league and could use some helps in the blocks category, something Batum is particularly keen in. So, overall, I like this trade for both sides, with maybe a slight edge toward Spike just due to the regression of Chris Paul and Danny Granger to hopefully become like their old selves. The safer side of the trade is most certainly what Get Rid of Pinky received, but the upside that Spike got makes it more than worth it for his team as well. This was a well put together trade overall and made sense for both sides, many NBA GM’s could learn a thing or two from this.
I know it feels like the NBA Season just started, but in actuality almost 1/6th of the fantasy hoops season has already passed. Now, we’re at the point in the season where short sample sizes give way to history, and statistics begin to normalize. That means that you need to strike while the iron is hot, and hit up “That Guy In Your League Who Only Looks At This Year’s Stats” with more trade offers than Isaiah Thomas received as the Knicks GM on a daily basis. Without further adieu, here are the top regression candidates so far this season, both of the positive and negative variety.
Negative Regression Candidate: Ray Allen (SG, Celtics) Team Reese
I love Ray Allen as a human being; he epitomizes the regimented and disciplined way that I wish I lived my life. However, my love for him can’t make him sustain his current stats, because he’s averaging 20.4 Points Per Game on 57.5% shooting from the field with a whopping 63.4% from the 3 point line. You better hope that the guy you’re trading Ray Allen to doesn’t have access to google, because even a preliminary look at Allen’s stats shows that he’s probably going to come down by around 20% from 3 and 10% from the field by the end of the season. Team Reese doesn’t pay enough attention to the league to change his team name, but if you pay any attention to your league, trade Ray Allen ASAP.
Positive Regression Candidate: Danny Granger (SF, Pacers) Free Boosie
As much as we make fun of Spike on twitter for currently being 2nd to last in his own fantasy basketball league, maybe his spot in the standings isn’t totally his fault (then again, it probably is considering he just traded for Granger). Of the 113 players who qualify for the “Field Goal %” stat on NBA.com, Danny Granger is literally dead last, shooting 30.7% on the season. He’s also shooting by far the worst on 2-pointers, with an abysmal 29.1%; nobody else is under 31%. Just a couple of seasons ago, Granger was an easy 1st round pick and although his stats have worsened since then, by no means is Granger the worst shooter in the league. He’ll most likely end the season around 40% shooting from the field, and probably somewhere near his previous career-low of 42.5%. Hypothetically, if Granger had been shooting his previous career-low of 42.5% rather than 30.7% solely on 2-point shots, he’d add 3.75 additional points per game to what he’s averaging right now, and that’s to say nothing of his 3PT%, which should also come up. Additionally, Granger has been an absolute monster in blocks and steals, so aesthetically his stats haven’t been all that good, but when you dig a little bit deeper and take into consideration every category, Granger hasn’t been all that bad. Right now due to a combination of bad luck and rustiness, Danny Granger is the number 1 positive regression candidate in the game, and that means you should all bombard Spike with trade offers for him………………. NOW!
Negative Regression Candidate: Mario Chalmers (PG, Heat) Free Boosie
I have nothing against Mario Chalmers and even saw the kid in action when I attended the Final Four in San Antonio the year Kansas won the national championship, but his stats just really don’t match up to his talent level. The case against Mario Chalmers is threefold: 1) he’s a mediocre talent who plays on a team that (usually) features Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to do the heavy lifting, at least on the scoring front. However, Wade and Lebron missing time has opened up a slight void in the team’s scoring as well as in other statistics, which Chalmers has filled. But, once the team is healthy, Chalmers’ statistics will normalize. 2) Norris Cole has emerged as a legitimate talent, and somebody who fits the push-the-ball, up-tempo system the Heat are now running much better than Chalmers does. Again, when the team is 100% healthy, this should also cut into Chalmers’ playing time but hasn’t so far due to the injuries. 3) Chalmers is performing either slightly better, or, as is more often the case, significantly better in every single category of his stat line besides FT% than his career averages. Yes, I mean in every single category. Most significantly, he’s shooting 57.6% from the field and 48.4% from 3. For comparisons sake, he never averaged higher than 51.6% from the field or 46.8% from 3 in COLLEGE, and he was an absolute superstar at Kansas in his senior year on the best team in the country. Also, he’s back up to averaging 1.9 steals per game, closer to his rookie average than what he’s done the past two seasons, as well as having higher than normal assist and rebounding totals. Yeah, the higher-tempo offense should help Chalmers, but when those % numbers come down I believe that he will ultimately lose his playing time to the more talented and better fit for the system Norris Cole. Be wary of Mario Chalmers, and look to trade him away if possible.
Positive Regression Candidate: David Lee (PF, Warriors) Fire Millen
Lee, for once, isn’t a percentages-based regression candidate, although those are low as well. The real issues with David Lee so far this season have been in the assists, blocks, steals, and turnovers categories, which are all significantly worse than his career norms. Lee has always been a 2-3 assists per game player, and right now he’s averaging 0.9 APG. Additionally, Lee is up to 3.0 Turnovers Per Game, his previous career high being 2.3 TO/G. This general lack of good offensive production can mostly be attributed to Stephen Curry missing time, because Curry’s passing ability makes everyone else on the Warriors better offensively, but it doesn’t explain Lee’s lack of defensive stats. He’s down to 0.6 Steals Per Game after averaging 1.0 for 3 straight seasons leading up to this year. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, losing 40% of a player’s production in one category is extremely significant. Across the board, I’d expect Lee’s stats to improve most certainly offensively once Stephan Curry comes back, and more likely than not, defensively as well just due to his career averages. It’s important not to read too much into high-variance (frequently changing) statistics this early in the season like steals, blocks or turnovers, especially in players who already average low amounts in those stats. Look for Lee to rebound in more ways then one.
Time for some guys who we like going forward to step up their game, and to target in potential trades:
Caron Butler: Sleepers usually fall into two categories: a young player who is just getting his shot, or an older player who has been overlooked. Butler fits perfectly into the latter category as a true league average SF. What has been the most encouraging sign for fantasy is his role in the offense as more of a shooter and less of a slasher–he is putting up the same amount of the points, but with more 3s and less turnovers. While he won’t provide many boards or assists, Butler certainly has the pedigree and the opportunity to be of value at a shallow SF position right now.
Jeff Teague: There’s still room left on the bandwagon. While Teague teased potential owners in the playoffs last year, he has really turned it up to start the season. With the starting point guard job in his hand, Teague has been a star in the steals department, while getting pretty pedestrian point and assist numbers. His free throw shooting will improve to its career level, and he will be a solid, startable PG who won’t hurt you in any category for his position, something that is of value to any team with studs around him.
Markeiff Morris: While overshadowed by his twin Marcus at Kansas at times, it has been Markieff who scouts knew would translate to the NBA better. Suns head coach Alvin Gentry has quickly worked him into the rotation, and his versatile game is reaping fantasy owners the benefits. While eligible at PF, he provides many of the stats of a SG or a SF by dropping more than a 3 per game, sprinkling in some steals, and sitll rebounding at a strong rate. If his minutes continue to go up, or he works his way into the starting lineup, his fantasy value will continue to rise.
Marreese Speights: He’s no star, but with Zach Randolph out, Speights will have the opportunity to play a big role in Memphis’ offense. He has always been a solid per-minute player, shooting close to 50% from the field, not killing you in free throws like so many big men do, and getting the points and boards you need. He is a league-renowned ball hog, and passes the ball at one of the lowest rates in the league. As long as he keeps his job, though, he will be a startable player in leagues this deep. Also if you’re league has a “Free Boosie” category, Speights is one of the most valuable players in the game.