Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Eastern Conference’s top fantasy pick ups!


By – Jeff Rosenberg (@Jewish_Jeff) – Staff Writer


Welcome back all. Hope you enjoyed my first fantasy basketball article with hecmanhoops last week. This week I hope to get into more of a groove as to what I’ll continue to do here with hec, and that’s a weekly breakdown of the best available guys in a specific conference (rotating East-West weekly). We’ll go ahead and start in the conference that currently holds the NBA Championship, that being the conference of your Miami Heat, aka the Eastern Conference (hold the applause).
BEASTS OF THE EAST
(Eastern Conference players endorsed by yours truly, @Jewish_Jeff)
PF/C Tyler Zeller (CLE) (19% Owned):  With the announcement of Anderson Varejao’s lung blood clot (putting him out for the year) both Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson’s stock will make a significant jump.  Zeller will be the more significant name for you (as he’s most likely available to you, while Thompson is probably already owned).  For Zeller, over his last 14, the former Tarheel is averaging about 9/9 with 2 blocks and a .828 FT% on a solid 4.1 FTA’s.  The glaring weakness from Zeller is that disgusting .345 FG% over the last 14, which is much better (but still not great by any stretch of the imagination) than his season average of .420. The poor shooting percentage I can only attribute to a poor stretch for Zeller, who will shoot better over the rest of this season (I’d say his season average will be pretty much where he’s at, possibly a little better… .420-.450 range). Over his last 3 games, Zeller’s averaging 37:15 mins, 37 PTS (slightly over 12.0 PPG), 12/26 FG (.461 FG%), 11/13 FT (.846 FT%), 29 REBs (just about 10 pg!), 3 AST, 1 STL, 9 BLKs (3.0 BPG!), 3 TOs (1PG).  So the FG has been up, while the PTS/REBS and BLKs are exactly what we’re looking for.  Not many better options out there if you’re looking to score on a big man that’ll have a positive impact on your team. The addition of Maurice or Marreese (if you want to get all technical about it) Speights complicates matters a bit but I’m hedging my bets that young Tyler will still carry value in standard leagues de-speights Marreese. You see what I did there?
PF/C Andre Drummond (DET) (36% Owned): So I see some of you listened to me in my first article (Drummond up from 32% to 36% owned over the weekend), but still not enough. I told you he’d been at 8/8.4 with 2.6 BLKs per game in an average of 21.5 mins for the month of January.  In two games since that article, (when he was ranked 134 on the year on Yahoo!), the minutes have stayed the same (almost right on the dot of 21 and a half mins avg between the 2 games) going 10/13 FG (.769 FG%), 7/10 FT (including 6/8 on Sunday) with 17 REBs (right there at 8.5 avg.) and 3 BLKs between the 2 contests.  So no major change from Drummond.  He’s stayed consistent throughout January.  The difference between Drummond and Tyler Zeller (above) is Zeller is getting the minutes (low 30s) while Drummond clearly has a lot higher upside, if Coach Lawrence Frank or the “little twerp” as hecman once called him on his podcast, will ever give him the shot.  It will be sooner than later that the Pistons decide they’re playing for the future in 2013, and Drummond will get the run. This guy is the future of “Deeeee-troiiiiit Bassssssskettballllll”.
PG/SG Devin Harris (ATL) (24% Owned):Harris is a guy that many view to have never hit his potential; the potential we all heard about during the 2006 NBA Finals when the Mavs faced the Heat.  I’m typically not a Harris fan myself, having been burned by the former number 5 overall pick in the past myself.  However, with hec’s boy Lou Williams out for the year (insert sad face emoticon here), and Jeff Teague “running the point” (if you want to call it that?), Devin Harris’ stock will be on the rise in ATL, as they look to stay in the playoff hunt.  From Jan 11-18, Harris started over a five game stretch, and he actually looked pretty solid: 22/45 (.488 FG%), 13/17 (.765 FT%), 67 PTS (13.4 PPG), 15 REBs (3 RPG), 18 ASTs (3.6 APG), 7 STLs (1.4 SPG), 10 TOs (2 TOPG).  Inside that 5 game period, Harris had a major dud on Jan 14th @Chicago going 0-5 from the field and playing only 16 minutes and change.  However, even when Williams was still playing, Larry Drew was opting to give Harris minutes (28.12 MPG over that 5-game stretch) because Harris was playing well.  Harris does have an injured ankle, and what reports are calling “a severe limp”.  There’s no official timetable for his return at this point, but I’d suspect he’d be back after ATL’s trip to New York to face the Knicks, when they begin a homestand on January 30th against the Raptors.  With Lou Williams out, Harris’ competition when healthy will be Jeff Teague (who should continue to start at PG), Jannero Pargo (just signed with ATL on a 10-day contract), John Jenkins and Anthony Morrow. Coach Larry Drew knows Harris’ abilities, and knows what he’s capable of.  Pargo has no business in any team’s starting lineup or getting more than 20 minutes per game… EVER (although he looked good yesterday; that will be the exception, not the rule… please don’t put Pargo on your watchlist).  Meanwhile, Jenkins (the Hawks first round, 23rd overall pick out of Vandy this past draft) started Monday for ATL, and went 0-3 in 17 minutes.  Finally, Morrow has missed 14 straight games, with no update from the Hawks as to when he’ll be back.  Point blank: so long as Harris STILL HAS HIS ANKLE, and comes back by the 30th… he will start/see major minutes alongside Jeff Teague, and will net you a solid FG% (from a VALUABLE COMBO GUARD position… PG AND SG), Double digit scoring, 3-4 dimes and about 1.5 STLs.  Solid numbers for anyone… championship contender-playoff hopeful.  Monitor Harris’ news if you can’t afford to wait for him to get healthy over the next week.
Injured out East…
PG Derrick Rose (CHI) (82% Owned): “It could happen this week” says Coach Thibodeau, in reference to Rose becoming a full contact participant in practice.  If you’re in a league with Rose still on the wire… PICK HIM UP NOW.
C Andrew Bynum (PHI) (75% Owned): Bynum has been seen in some shoot arounds lately in pre-games, doing some shooting drills.  The latest on Bynum has him hoping to increase his workload without having any setbacks.  He’s still officially out without a timetable, while he continues to believe he’ll be back after the ASG (mid Feb)… I’m not buying it.
SF/PF Danny Granger (IND) (77% Owned): On the comeback trail; he’s been practicing within the offense and taking shots; progressing nicely to this point.  Hopefully you haven’t had him stashed all season; but, if he is available and you can wait another 2-3 weeks for his return, and probably another 1-2 before he is eased into the starting lineup (over Lance Stephenson… which will be no problem for Granger), then go ahead and make the add (if he’s available to you?).  Keep in mind, this is now Paul George’s team, which Paul George has currently in THIRD place in the East, over Brooklyn, Chicago, ATL, etc.  I am 100% of the belief, that Granger will need to adjust his game to how the Pacers are playing now, and not vice versa.  From a fantasy aspect, I’d say you can still expect 14ish points, 2 3s, 3-4 REBs, a STL, Great FT% and Terrible FG%.  He’s a solid piece going forward, just don’t expect him to be carrying you.
PF/C Andrea Bargnani (TOR) (51% Owned):  Very high ownership for someone that really hasn’t played all that well this year… and actually, hasn’t played all that much this year either.  Bargnani upped his condition from cardio to taking some jump shots over this past weekend, so he is trending towards a return, but is still at least a few weeks away.  The main issue going forward will be the obvious, having both Ed Davis and Amir Johnson having “breakouts” with Bargnani and rookie Jonas Valanciunas both hurt.  A lot of rumors speculating on a Bargnani trade, but I’d think we’d have to see him play some before a trade could go down, and I don’t see him coming back by the All-Star Break.  I like Davis/Johnson better than Bargnani ROS.  If any of the other 3 injured guys on this list are available, and I’m holding Bargnani… I’ll make the switch immediately!
Celtics Lose 3-Straight…
After losing to the Pistons on Sunday (103-88!), the Celtics find themselves at 20-20 on the season.  Coach Doc Rivers couldn’t have said it any better when he said, “I think this team wants to win easy.”  They just are not the same gritty team that was in the Championship hunt in years past.  Key differences?  Jason Terry, Brandon Bass, Leandro Barbosa are not producing to the extent that Boston needs them to.  If you own Jason Terry or Brandon Bass at this point… give up on fantasy basketball.  These guys are certainly not worth owning, and are showing no signs of life.  Rivers threatened his team over the weekend with the potential for a shakeup.  My speculation; obviously we won’t expect Pierce/KG/Rondo to go anywhere.  Can’t see a team taking, or the Celtics wanting to move, KG or Pierce… as neither has proved to be the problem for Boston, and both have extremely high price tags.  And Rondo, while he hasn’t been a Top 10 fantasy player, has still been studly with his 11.1 dimes and 2 STLs per game. Rondo in all likelihood will turn it on and produce even better in the second half as Boston did as a team last year, as there’s just no real competition in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference.  I do see Boston trying to make a move with a combination of Barbosa/Bass/Terry (although Terry will likely not be sought after by any team).  Boston has flexibility in terms of what they’ll go after on the trade market (likely not a big time fantasy player, but solid real life depth).  They could certainly use a real backup PG (as Barbosa reportedly is unhappy with his current role on the team, and Avery Bradley has proven to be mostly an NBA defender than a play maker).  They have Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Chris Wilcox to help contribute as bigs (while Green can also mix in at PF, and help backup Pierce as he has this season at times as SF too).  If a trade goes down, I’d look at Sullinger and Green, who Rivers has talked about in a positive light recently, for positive fantasy results moving forward.  Keep an eye on Boston’s roster moves as the trade deadline looms.
East Rundown:
Kirk Hinrich (CHI) scored a season 22 points against LAL Monday; he’s the better bet over Nate Robinson while Rose is out (which won’t be for much longer!), plug and play as needed… Marreese Speights traded to the Cavs Tuesday morning along with Josh Selby and Wayne Ellington from the Grizzlies for Jon Leur.  Speights has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career, and will look to take playing time from Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson as the Cavs back into the playoffs this year.  Long term I don’t like the move or the idea of the move for Cleveland; the youth has gotten you this far!  Speights doesn’t put them over the top, and if anything, the change in rotation could cool off your young guys.  For Memphis it seems to mostly be a financial move, although Leur could see some backup big man minutes (not a factor in fantasy)… Gerald Green played just SIX minutes in the Pacers win on Monday over the Grizz.  Green seems to be bottoming out, as his FG% continues to plummet; Rookie Orlando Johnson went 2/2 FG (2/2 from 3) in 12 minutes in Green’s place.  Johnson can see a temporary boost if he limits negative plays and can continue the efficiency he had Monday…  Dwyane Wade sat out Monday’s practice with a sore toe; then he later admitted he just needed some time off, and his toe isn’t bad at all (deep breath…); he’s slated to practice Tuesday, and expected to play Wednesday… Nene Hilario went off for 24/9/5 with 4 STLs, shooting 10/17 from the field and 4/5 from the line.  Very good to see, as WAS wins @POR 98-95 thanks to a buzzer beater 3 from Jordan Crawford (who, despite a decent game, still looks like a reach in most standard leagues)… Al Horford took full advantage of the lack of front court presence by the Timberwolves, going 28/10 with 2 STLs and 3 BLKs… Kemba Walker dropped a career high 35 points (6/7 3PTM!!!) despite the Bobcats’ loss to Houston Monday (Jeremy Lin had no shot defensively against the former Husky… guess they don’t teach EVERYTHING at Harvard?)
That’s all for this week… next week we take a look at the Western Conference side of things.  As always, leave me some questions/comments on the bottom, and I’ll do my best to get back to you in a timely manner.  As a Yankees fan, I’m surprisingly intrigued to read Terry Francona’s book that came out today, ‘Francona: The Red Sox Years’ which tells of the inner dealings of what went on during Francona’s run as Red Sox manager, with a lot of specifics about dealings with individual players (Manny, Dice-K, Nomar, Jeter, etc.).  Sounds like an interesting piece to me.  Have a good week fellow b-ballers…