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NBA Fantasy League Week 8: Fantasy All Stars (And Name Calling)

You know you’re in a bad place with your NBA Fantasy League when the dorks who do the analysis are making fun of your team. That’s finally happened to me.

Just kidding Moe and Matt, you guys aren’t dorks (yes you are), I just suck. That’s cool, whatever. I’ll be busy talking to girls and building stuff.

Without further comment …

Matt and Moe are two of the co-founding fantasy experts of RotoAnalysis.com. You can follow them @KidCotti21 and@MoeProblems respectively, or their site @RotoAnalysis.

With the NBA’s All-Star Weekend in the rear-view mirror, we figured at RotoAnalysis.com that we should have our own “Fantasy All-Star” teams, containing the starters and bench in each league of players that have proved most valuable to their owners so far in the 2011-2012 season. Spike Eskin likely has none of these players (just kidding, by the mathematical law of averages he must have at least one!), which I’m sure will make the rest of you happy. Hope you enjoy.

Fantasy All Stars: West

Starting PG: Chris Paul

CP3 has missed a couple games, but he has ultimately lived up to his top draft status with his incredible assists, steals, and free throw shooting. His shooting percentages are some of the best among point guards, and he will make threes and limit turnovers. He’s the total package, and will anchor any fantasy backcourt.

Starting SG: Kobe Bryant

At the shallowest position in the league this season, Kobe has managed to stay in a league of his own at the top. While the league’s leading scorer has put together a nice 5.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game, several peripheral statistics will hurt any rotisserie lineup with Bryant. His high volume, low percentage shooting and high turnover count negate some of what still make him clearly the top SG in the West, but overall I still believe he’s earned the top spot.

Starting SF: Kevin Durant

Well this one wasn’t close. Durant is #1 overall on the ESPN player rater showing that he is far from a pure scorer—not only is he shooting at the best clip of his career (51.3%), but he has posted career highs in rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. His 8.2 rebounds/game make him the best rebounder at the SF position, and having more than a steal and a block per game is just absurd. He’s certainly the fantasy MVP at the season’s halfway mark, at least in my mind.

Starting PF: Kevin Love

Love is definitely a unique fantasy big man. He is far from offering the traditional package of high percentage shooting, high block counts, and low turnovers. Instead, he bolsters his monstrous amounts of points and rebounds with three pointers and free throw shooting. If you set up your team the right way (with a guy like Serge Ibaka or Tyson Chandler next to him) Love is fantasy gold, and most certainly the starting PF on the West’s all-fantasy squad.

Starting C: Marc Gasol

While part of his uptick in value is definitely due to Zach Randolph’s injury, Gasol has outperformed any conceivable expectations in 2012. While his FG% has gone down as his usage has gone up, Gasol’s double digit rebounds and 2.2 blocks are on par with any top center. His 1 steal and 3 assists a game put him over the edge as the best center in the West. He’s #4 in the league on the player rater for a reason.


–Kyle Lowry

Lowry has made the rare jump from underrated sleeper to overhyped sleeper to becoming a legitimate fantasy superstar this year. While his FG% is an obvious negative, he has been a monster as a rebounding point guard, with 5.3 per game. Lowry’s assists, steals, and free throw shooting make him a traditionally solid option and a guy worthy for my “all-star” selection.

–Russell Westbrook

He’s no Jeremy Lin – in terms of turnovers. Westbrook provides statistics more reminiscent of a shooting guard with 23.5 PPG and 4.8 RPG. His steals and shooting percentages are outstanding, making him the third best PG in the West from a fantasy perspective.

–James Harden

Harden has emerged with value across the board, not hurting your team in any category. His free throw shooting has been his best asset, providing the most value in the category of anybody in the league due to a ton of attempts at his 86% clip. With OKC’s incredible play so far this year, it should be no surprise that several of their guys will appear on the roster.

–Nicolas Batum

Batum has heated up in February, with 18.6 points per game, by far a career high in a month. He is kind of the classic example of a player who is better in fantasy than real life due to his versatility across blocks, steals, and his three point shooting. He has vastly outperformed his draft position to provide the performance of one of the best Small Forwards in the league not named LeFraud LeBron or Durant.

–LaMarcus Aldridge

His first appearance in the real All-Star Game will clearly be accompanied by also being the third best big man in the West. Aldridge provides quality with his 22.3 points per game, strong shooting from the field (51%) and the line (80%). While I’m not sure anybody would have predicted the Blazers to have two participants, the two have delivered in 2012 and deserve their slots.

–Serge Ibaka

Last Sunday, in a thrilling overtime win against the Nuggets, Durant dropped 50 points while Westbrook put up 40. The player I was most impressed with in the game, though, was Serge and his triple double (14 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 blocks). His 3.3 blocks per game are the highest player rater value of any player in any category. While the rest of his statistics pale in comparison, he will shoot and rebound at competitive margins, and is a top option in any category league for his blocks alone.

–Marcin Gortat

Always tabbed as a player who would be a top performer if given the playing time, Gortat has carried over his strong performance in the second half of last season to this season’s start. He is posting career highs across the board by limiting turnovers, blocking some shots, and shooting at one of the best rates in the league, 56%. The improvement is definitely sustainable, and has propelled him to a reserve role on my squad and a top 10 player rater performance.

Just Missed: Paul Millsap, Ricky Rubio, Danilo Gallinari

 Fantasy All Stars: East

Starting PG: Deron Williams
After starting off this season with more inertia than cerca-2010 Eddie Curry trying to run a 40 yard dash, Deron has absolutely exploded the last few weeks, making him an absolutely no-brainer for the starting point guard on the East’s fantasy all star squad. Williams is partially helped by the fact that Derrick Rose got hurt, and after Rose and Williams almost every other elite fantasy point guard is in the West, but that isn’t to belittle just how freaking awesome Williams has been this season. He’s managed over 22 points and 8 assists per game, and Deron has really become the prototypical scoring point guard thanks to the dearth of talent on his team. I expect Williams to maintain his current stats throughout the rest of the season, if not improve them.

Starting SG: Dwyane Wade

D-Wade has already missed 9 games this season, but his stats while he has played have been so good that it more than warrants a starting spot on the East’s fantasy all stars. Wade is currently averaging over 3 “Stocks” (steals + blocks, copyright Bill Simmons), which is preposterously good for a shooting guard, and shooting his highest percentage from the field for his career at over 50%. Wade has also finally stopped hoisting up so many 3’s, which has been really valuable for people in percentage leagues as he was just horrible from beyond the arc, so although he has dropped off slightly in assists and rebounds, Wade’s improvement in the percentage categories more than makes him the best fantasy shooting guard in the east so far this season.

Starting SF: Lebron James

He’s Lebron, and he’s gotten even better in 2012 than he was in 2011. Next.

Starting PF: Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe had a great rookie year, and he’s followed it up with an even more impressive Sophomore Campaign. Everyone knows about Monroe’s prototypical points and rebounds combination, but very few know about the two things that pushed him over the top of players like Dwight Howard: his incredible steals, and impeccable free throw percentage. Monroe two years in a row has managed fantastic steal totals (1.2 and 1.4 SPG respectively), with the only competitor among center-eligible players in the stat being Dwight Howard, with the two of them blowing away the competition. This season he’s managed a 77.4 FT%, which isn’t perfect, but when you can play Monroe at the same position as Blake Griffin, Deandre Jordan, or Dwight Howard, that FT% is a huge boon to your team’s success. Monroe is young, but he’s already a fantasy all-star.

Starting C: Tyson Chandler

Did I put Tyson Chandler as the East’s starting fantasy center over Dwight Howard because I had a bad experience at Disney World when I was 7 and have never forgiven the city of Orlando? Maybe, but Tyson Chandler has also straight up been better than Dwight this season, and he was drafted significantly lower. This season, Chandler has taken his biggest strength (FG%) and actually added to it, going from 65.4% from the field last season to a whopping 70.3% so far this year, while additionally scoring more points. There’s no stat that Chandler struggles at besides assists, and he’s way above average in FT% (72.2%) and rebounding (9.5 Rebounds Per Game), and as long as he pairs that with his absurd FG%, Chandler’s lack of total points is more than made up for, giving him the nod over Dwight Howard on the East’s starting fantasy squad.


–Brandon Jennings

I guess SAT Scores don’t correlate to fantasy all star appearances (although I don’t see Lamar Odom here…) because Jennings has been an absolute monster this season, and had the Knicks intelligently selected Brandon Jennings over perennial-scrub Jordan Hill in the 2009 draft, we could be having Jennings mania right now. The fact that he’s in Milwaukee has given Jennings less media coverage than he probably deserves, as Jennings has done something very few players do: become more efficient while simultaneously increasing his volume. For the first time in his career, Jennings is shooting more than 40% from the field, and although he still does hurt you in that category, the fact that he’s solid across the board in almost every other category, especially 3 Pointers Made, Steals, and Points, has given him great value this season.

–Jose Calderon

The fantasy community as a whole wrote off Jose Calderon going into this season in a fashion similar to how it wrote off Lance Berkman coming into the 2011 season, and in a fashion mirroring Berkman, Calderon has proven that his one down year was the one that was a fluke rather than actually declining. The best part about Calderon is that every one of his statistics appears to be completely sustainable, as he’s rebounded in FG%, is back up to over 10 in points per game (currently at 11.0 PPG) and is still great in assists (8.9 APG). Calderon is more an across the board, good in all categories type of guy than a stud in one, but he is capable of posting a FT% well over 90, and he’s currently sitting at 89.1 which isn’t too shabby. Calderon has returned phenomenal value to his fantasy owners this season, and is helping to prove an old fantasy adage that the older, unsexy pick is often a better one than the younger sexy one.

–Andre Iguodala

Did I put Andre Iguodala as a fantasy all star solely to appease Spike Eskin, even after insinuating that he didn’t deserve to be a real all star while talking to Spike on last week’s episode of the RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast?  In this case, nope, I genuinely believe In Iguodala. What Iggy has lost in points, he’s made up for across the board, helping fantasy owners at least slightly in every single stat besides FT% or FG%, and he doesn’t even kill you in either of those stats. Additionally, Iguodala has somehow increased his 3P% up to 37% so far this year, up from a career average of 32.6%, which has really boosted his value. While that jump may not be sustainable, Iguodala has to be considered an all stare while he maintains that percentage and there is some possibility that he does sustain somewhere close to that.

–Dwight Howard

He’s Dwight Howard, I outlined why he wasn’t higher earlier, and he’s still a superstar, and almost certainly this team’s sixth man. Moving on.

–Paul George

Every one of our writers at RotoAnalysis loves Paul George, and we all agree that Roy Hibbert making the real-life All Star team over him should be deemed theft. George is only 21, but he’s already nearing fantasy stud status as he’s shooting a preposterous 40.1% from 3 on 2.4 attempts per game, has a 78.8 free throw percentage, and doesn’t kill you from the field at 43.6%. The counting stats aren’t totally at “stud” level yet, but 5.5 boards, 1.4 steals and 12.1 points are nothing to scoff at, and if he can get those assists up, by his age 24 or so season I truly believe Paul George could contend with Lebron James as he declines for the title of best small forward in the NBA. I’m looking forward to having George on this list for years to come, although it may take a little longer to oust Dwight Howard from the “Best Player with Two First Names” slot.

–Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh is certainly one of the most hated players in the NBA, but that has also made him one of the most underrated. In leagues that count turnovers, Bosh is currently 18th overall on the player rater, despite being drafted 32nd overall. Bosh is especially good in the big-man prototypical points and rebounds categories, with 18.4 and 8.3 respectively. He’s also got great percents, especially from the line, and gets his fair share of assists due to the talent around him. Bosh is no longer the scoring stud he was in Toronto, but if he can stay over 18 and keep those percentages where they are, he’ll be a top 20 player at season’s end and there’s really no question Bosh is a fantasy all star this year.

–Josh Smith

Josh Smiff Smith is one of the most unique players in fantasy this season, because coming into the year he lost an inordinate amount of weight and is now listed at 6’9”, 225 Pounds. Despite being significantly skinnier, Smith’s rebounding totals have actually increased to a career high of 9.5 per game, and his scoring hasn’t really suffered while he’s still maintaining his unique combination of steals and blocks. Smith’s issues due to weight have been way worse for real life than fantasy, as his defense hasn’t been great, which we don’t care at all about for fantasy. Smith’s extreme fluctuations in FT% have continued this year as he’s down to 55.4%, but I expect that to rebound and for his rebounding upgrades, I think this year Smith is deserving of the last fantasy all star spot, although I do worry how his personality will alter this hypothetical team’s chemistry.

Just Missed: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Kevin Garnett, Danny Granger

You can follow along and watch league standings all year of the league HERE.

I’ve created a Twitter list of everyone in the league, you can follow that list HERE. 

And once again, please check out the fine folks over at RotoAnalysis.com for great fantasy advice for all sports, in written and podcast form.

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The NBA Fantasy League Week 2 Wrap-Up: The First Blockbuster Trade

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.

Matt and Moe are two of the co-founding fantasy experts of RotoAnalysis.com. You can follow them @KidCotti21 and@MoeProblems respectively, or their site @RotoAnalysis.

The Trade, Regression, and Sleepers

The Trade:

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.

Regression Candidates

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.

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