Fantasy Basketball: MeThinks - Sports Illustrated

Fantasy Basketball: MeThinks

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Wow, what a season this is after only the first two weeks. Guys are getting benched, injured, and traded already. Sleepers are passing and failing in their attempt to back their status, and rotations are really starting to fall into place.

If you've come out of the gates limping, don't despair, because there are another 20+ weeks left for you to claw your way back into this thing. Unless you're absolutely sure that a situation will crush the value of guys who are disappointing to date, hold tight on making significant trades. On the other hand, if you want to prey on the doubters, hoping to snag a solid player at bargain-basement prices, now is the time to go a-huntin'... before things begin to normalize to the mean (i.e., players start to play like they're supposed to play).

On that note...

MeThinks it's carnage out there for point guards. Deron Williams (Utah) learns that his two-week ankle sprain will last four to six weeks. Tony Parker (Sam Antonio) goes down with a grade two ankle sprain, good for four weeks of inactivity. Devin Harris (New Jersey) injures his ankle, returns to score a career-high 38 points, then has to sit over the weekend due to overnight swelling and was seen with a walking boot on Saturday. If you are speculating for a PG to take a chance on, Ronnie Price (Utah) will continue to start but isn't making Williams worry for his job. George Hill (San Antonio) looks to be the favorite for the starting PG slot with Parker out, but Roger Mason (San Antonio) will get a ton of burn and makes for a nice backup option on your fantasy team, at least until we see Manu Ginobili back on the court in December. And Harris wants to play through pain, because there simply isn't much depth behind him.

MeThinks I don't care one bit that Sebastian Telfair (PG, Minnesota) is the "starter" for the Timberwolves. Ex-starter Randy Foye (PG/SG) is still my favorite after Mike Miller (SG/SF) to have long-term value among the guards on this team. Case in point -- 35 minutes-played in Foye's first game coming off the bench and he actually looked his best this year (5-of-10 shooting, 11 points, five assists), so perhaps explosive sixth man is his ideal role. Let's see how it plays out.

MeThinks I've seen enough of Tyrus Thomas (SF/PF, Chicago) this season to figure out that he just isn't "there" yet. Silly fouls, dumbfounding decisions, and a shot that looks like he's playing one of those low-overhead free throw games at Dave & Buster's. The blocks are great, as are the boards when he gets the minutes. Even starting for Drew Gooden (PF) on Saturday, Thomas still failed to eclipse 24 minutes of playing time. Not for my fantasy team, thank you.

MeThinks I'm not liking what I am seeing from Al Horford (PF/C, Atlanta) so far. You gotta figure he'll get his act together, but since the Hawks are winning, there's no pressure for him to force any shots. It's great to see him passing the ball so well (14 assists in his first four games), but he has yet to top nine boards or 10 points in a game. Hey Al, when I see Maurice Evans (SG/SF) getting 10 looks off your bench, your seven-ish attempts-per-game have room for growth, y'know? Fantasy owners didn't waste a sixth- or seventh-round pick for nine points and eight boards, did they?

Stay the course, and if someone is trying to dump Al on you for cheap, I'd be buying.

MeThinks you should be very concerned if you are a Charlie Villanueva (SF/PF, Milwaukee) owner. As much as I liked him in the preseason, head coach Scott Skiles is up to his old tricks. In three of the past four games, rookie Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (SF/PF) has played at least 34 minutes per game while Charlie V. has gone for 20.7, 20.5, 34.8, and 9.7 minutes in those same four. I guess Skiles meant it when he said Mbah a Moute could be worthy of the starting PF gig. I like the 12.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 66.7 FG% we've seen in the past four, and Mbah a Moute has even blocked a couple of shots. Decent end-of-bench add-on speculation that he overtakes the job shortly, because the minutes are already there.

MeThinks we saw the worst of Marc Gasol (C, Memphis), fouling out in 17 minutes on Saturday. He still mustered up eight points and six boards on 3-for-4 field goal and 2-for-2 free throw shooting, which is a great sign if you've rostered him. Spencer Hawes (C, Sacramento) is getting all the hype, but Gasol is quietly showing he can contribute on a nightly basis. I'll take the guaranteed minutes over that kind of speculation any day of the week.

MeThinks we're watching something start to click for Jeff Green (SF/PF, Oklahoma City), and he will be a lot of fun to own this year. I'm seeing treys, blocks, and steals that are very enticing. If he can only get his percentages up a few points each, we could be looking at a very good multi-category contributor. I, personally, prefer to stack a bunch of guys who contribute across the board rather than counting on category specialists, and Green looks a lot like a younger Danny Granger (SF/PF, Indiana) over his past couple of games. I doubt he has that amount of upside playing next to superstar-in-the-making Kevin Durant (SG/SF), but it's worth your while to see if someone panicked and dumped Green after his terrible first game (seven points, three rebounds, and 2-of-7 FG shooting).

Speaking of the Pacers, MeThinks that, aside from his awful 50.0 FT% on 1.6 attempts per game, Troy Murphy (PF/C) is putting up career-best numbers. I expected a lot, but 2.4 treys, 1.4 steals, 2.6 assists, and 0.8 blocks is a bit better than I bargained for. Again, he could be due to regress back to his career averages, but I don't buy it. He has an open invitation to shoot, as evidenced by his average of 4.8 attempts from downtown. And if you take out the game where he only attempted one, he has averaged 6.3 attempts per game otherwise. For a career 37.6% shooter from downtown, those 6.3 attempts would translate into 2.4 3PT per game, which is exactly what he currently averages. Dude is for real. Just wait until he starts hitting free throws again.

MeThinks I want to reiterate that fantasy owners who avoided drafting Ben Gordon (SG, Chicago) because of heel soreness will kick themselves for not snagging him a round before he was actually taken in most leagues. They're already running low on warm bodies in Chi-town, and Gordon will be playing obscene minutes for now. Wasn't this a crowded backcourt just a week or two ago?

MeThinks all is not lost this season for RotoExperts favorite preseason sleeper, Chris Quinn (PG/SG, Miami). Sure, we missed the boat on him being handed the starting gig. Just when you thought Quinn was irrelevant, Marcus Banks (PG) strains a groin/hip flexor, and Shaun Livingston (PG) has his knee start acting up. Apparently, the Heat figured out that Quinn is a pretty good spot-up, three-point threat, and he's been given the green light, delivering four and five treys in the past two games. Quinn is a career 40.7% shooter from downtown, and he can absolutely serve a useful role in this rotation. Don't rush out to add him yet, because we need to see how the minutes play out when Banks and Livingston both return.

Either way, don't worry about Daequan Cook (PG/SG, Miami). His 37.0 FG% has forced the team to limit his minutes again, regardless of the fact that he is hitting 37.5% from downtown. Shooting better from beyond the arc than from inside is like shooting better from the field than from the charity stripe. You kidding me?