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Fantasy Focus: Looking To 2013-14
Posted By Susan Bible On March 30, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
It’s that crazy time of year again for those who enjoy fantasy basketball. Most leagues are either in the middle of their playoffs or just about to start the final battle to see who wins the crown. Whether it’s keeper leagues or standard fantasy leagues, diligent owners are already thinking about the 2013-14 season. They understand it’s not too early to begin analyzing and strategizing to gain an edge on their opponents.
Which NBA players, perhaps previously given marginal thought, are now worthy of serious consideration? This question is racing through the minds of owners who had a successful season as well as those who experienced a losing season.
Putting aside the top-tier players (players such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul and the like) and the generally-accepted second-tier, and even third-tier players, today we’ll focus on players who could be in great situations to become fantasy studs next season. HOOPSWORLD put together a list of players who should be placed firmly on the fantasy radar in anticipation of next seasons’ draft:
(Note – stats reflect games played through 3/28/13)
TOBIAS HARRIS (Orlando Magic)
Harris’ quick rise to being fantasy-relevant has caught most people by surprise. The former Tennessee forward was the 19th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and landed with the Milwaukee Bucks. He saw uneven playing time there, and then he was traded to the Magic as part of the J.J. Redick package. They saw something in Harris that was apparently overlooked by the Bucks, and that is the fact this 20-year-old can play well in elevated minutes on the floor. Of course, Hedo Turkoglu’s 20-game suspension allowed minutes to open up. Check this: Harris averaged 4.9 points and 2.0 rebounds at 11.6 minutes in 28 games in Milwaukee before the trade in February. In the past 17 games in Orlando, he’s averaged 15.8 points and 7.7 rebounds in 33.2 minutes. He’s jumped to a second-place ranking in scoring and rebounding among his teammates. Not only that, he contributes in other fantasy areas as well. He’s logging 1.4 blocks, 1.1 three-pointers at .353 percentage, .470 in field goal shooting, 2.7 free throws at .767 and just 1.8 turnovers. Perhaps his choice of wearing No. 12 was no mistake.
JEFF GREEN (Boston Celtics)
Green was diagnosed with a heart condition so serious last year that it’s amazing he was able to return to professional basketball, let alone record the numbers we’ve seen this season. Fantasy owners mostly left Green on the waiver wire on draft day which initially proved to be a good decision. After all, he averaged just 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds over 26 games with the Boston Celtics in 2010-11 (following the trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder) and that was with a healthy Green. He was serviceable during the first few months of this season (pre-All-Star Break: 10.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 24.6 minutes), but team injuries have resulted in coach Doc Rivers having to rely on Green more and more. Since the All-Star Break, he has averaged 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 33.3 minutes. It gets better. Green has been inserted in the starting lineup in the last seven games (primarily due to Kevin Garnett’s injury) and he’s averaged 21.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists. His efficiency has improved as well: .443 in field goals, .340 in three-pointers and .815 in free throw shooting in the first 52 games compared to .476, .396 and .827, respectively, in the past 19 games. With Green seeming to have proven he can handle the minutes and perform at a high level, that four-year deal he signed with Boston last summer doesn’t look so risky now.
JEFF TEAGUE (Atlanta Hawks)
The remarkable thing about Teague is the improvement he’s shown while playing the exact amount of minutes as last season (33.1). Last year he averaged 12.6 points, 4.9 assists, .757 in free throws and 0.8 three-pointers at .342 percentage; this season, he’s averaging 14.8 points, 7.1 assists, .887 in free throws and 1.2 three-pointers at .371 shooting. Now in his fourth year in the league, Teague is evolving into a highly-effective point guard – his passing and decision-making are improving before our eyes – and it stands to reason he’ll show even more improvement next year. The Hawks have given him the keys, and surely a nice, competitive contract signing this summer means Teague stays.
JRUE HOLIDAY (Philadelphia 76ers)
Holiday, just 22, is another point guard who has taken a leap forward this season. Now considered the franchise’s marquee player, in lieu of presumed-holder of that title, injured Andrew Bynum, Holiday has answered the call. In roughly five more minutes per game over last season, he is averaging 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 8.5 assists versus 13.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists. That assist number is ranked fourth in the league. Plus he’s making more field goals (7.4 at .442) and three-pointers (1.2 at .376) and free throws (2.4 at .756). Holiday’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating) has jumped from 14.7 to 17.6, and his Usage Percentage has grown from 21.8 to 26.5. What really requires focus, i.e. improvement, is reducing those turnovers (at 3.9 per game, Holiday leads the league) whereas last season he averaged 2.1 per game. It’s taken patience on the part of the Sixers, but they are sticking with him – by virtue of securing a four-year extension last year – and Holiday has rewarded us by claiming a spot in the fantasy elite.
TRISTAN THOMPSON (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Look at his stat sheet, and you’ll find Thompson has improved – in some cases, dramatically – in each meaningful statistical category. Thompson is league-ranked fifth in those hard-to-get offensive rebounds (3.7 per game) and has averaged 25 double-doubles so far this year. Last season, he recorded 8.2 points, 6.5 rebounds (3.1 in offensive boards), 0.5 assists, .439 in field goal shooting and .552 at the foul line in almost 24 minutes per game. In 70 games thus far, all in a starting role, Thompson is averaging 11.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, .489 in field goals and .629 in free throws in 31.2 minutes. Sometimes this league is all about opportunity, and the 22-year-old got a chance to make his mark when teammate Anderson Varejao was ruled out early on in the season. Though his name has been mentioned as a possible NBA’s Most Improved candidate, one must wonder about next year. Will he get the same amount of playing time? With these abilities shown, we answer with a resounding yes.
Other players come to mind when thinking about this topic: Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, Derrick Favors of the Utah Jazz or Chandler Parsons of the Houston Rockets, so we must ask….
Which players are you looking at for next seasons’ draft? Tell us in the comments section below.
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