Fantasy Movers & Shakers: SFs
We continue our fantasy series highlighting players per position who could impact the NBA fantasy world in the upcoming season. Today we look at the small forward position. We’ll bypass the obvious mainstays that occupy the draft wish list of fantasy owners in that position (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, et al.) and instead concentrate on those new-to-fantasy players who are becoming – or should become – relevant movers and shakers in the game of fantasy basketball.
We are proceeding as if the 2011-12 NBA season will commence as usual…or at commence with enough games to enable a viable fantasy basketball season.
As always, when we talk fantasy here at HOOPSWORLD, we assume a nine-category league (points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, three-pointers made, turnovers, field-goal percentage, and free throw percentage). Please note some of the players listed here have SF eligibility as well as eligibility in other positions in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues.
Omri Casspi – Cleveland Cavaliers
Finally, Casspi’s growing disenchantment in Sacramento is over. He was traded to the Cavaliers in June following very public proclamations of his displeasure with the Kings. The cited reasons ranged from diminished playing time to perceived issues with the team concept.
It does seem the Kings failed to capitalize on all the attention heaved their way as they became the first NBA team to draft an Israeli-born player (in 2009, 23rd pick). Overall, his rookie numbers were pretty decent (10.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, .446 field-goal percentage in 25.1 minutes), but after the All-Star break, his minutes were definitely cut (27.9 to 19.8). Last year, his numbers decreased overall (8.6.ppg, 4.3 rpg, .412 FG% in 24.0 minutes); and again, following the All-Star break, his minutes dropped (25.4 to 20.4 mpg). In fact, in the last 20 games, he posted 6.7 ppg and 3.2 rpg.
While speculations are brewing about Casspi starting right away in Cleveland (at LeBron James’ old position, no less), the starting lineup is not yet nailed down. If Alonzo Gee and Christian Eyenga are his competition, then the job is his. If they bring Antawn Jamison over to play the three (perhaps in a trade-value move) while others battle for the power forward role, Casspi may endure a waiting period. However, Casspi has been on the Cavs’ radar for some time, so we suspect he’ll receive significant time on-court with his career .524 True Shooting Percentage record.
The 6’9” player brings unique talents including toughness, solid defense and perimeter shooting (1.3 average three-pointers last year), but he’s not a player without concerns. His free throw shooting is abysmal (.673 over two years) and his hands are questionable.
News recently broke that Casspi was dropped from EuroBasket due to a leg injury; by all accounts, it does not appear this injury impacts the upcoming season whatsoever.
Austin Daye – Detroit Pistons
We realize it may be a stretch to label Daye a mover and a shaker at this point, but hear us out, as there are compelling reasons for owners to move him to draft-day lists. To start with, Daye’s primary competition, Tayshaun Prince, is an unrestricted free agent who’s likely leaving Detroit. In that event, Daye’s playing time should skyrocket.
It’s no secret Daye and ex-Pistons head coach John Kuester were not each other’s biggest fans last season. Kuester thought it wise to insert 6’11” Daye, weighing in at 205 pounds, at the power forward position; that didn’t work out so well. New coach Lawrence Frank may well give him a real run at SF. Daye, anticipating a third-year jump, recently shared “a new coach and a new system might be good for me” with Jon Haakesnon of the Daily Pilot.
It might be really good for fantasy owners if Frank makes him a starter.
Daye, the fifteenth pick in the 2009 NBA draft, has started in 20 games out of a total 141 played in Detroit. In those 20 games, he averaged 11.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .830 free throw percentage and 1.3 three-pointers made at a .400 percentage in 27.7 average minutes. Compare that with his numbers in 121 reserve games: 5.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, .761 FT shooting, 0.6 threes at .356 percentage in 14.9 minutes.
His confidence suffered as a result of the limited playing time; however, if everything aligns in the manner expected, Daye may have those third-year numbers he craves. He’s bulking up over the summer and appears focused on a new beginning with Frank.
Derrick Williams – Minnesota Timberwolves
The reigning PAC-10 Player of the Year, selected second overall in the draft by the Wolves, joins a team that already has a bevy of players at forward, namely Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph, Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson. While the to-be-named coach figures out minutes and who will start at what position, expect Williams to play a prominent role from the get-go.
Despite a somewhat obvious thought that the 6’9” player is best suited to the power forward position, he’s made no secret of his belief that he fits best as small forward in the NBA. His goal is to gain quickness by losing ten pounds before the season-opening tip.
Obviously we have no NBA history from which to predict improvement, but we do have his recent history at Arizona to make an educated guess as to how he might fare this season. Last year, he averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds in 30.0 minutes of play. Impressive enough, but what really stood out was his shooting efficiency: .595 in field-goal percentage and .568 in three-point shots (1.1 per game). He even added in 1.1 assists and 1.0 steals, and shot .746 at the foul line.
It sure doesn’t hurt that he’s currently working out with Kobe Bryant.
C.J. Miles – Utah Jazz
The Jazz picked up Miles’ contract option just prior to commencement of the lockout; one school of thought says this move signifies the impending end of Andrei Kirilenko’s association with the team. Another thought suggests Miles’ $3.7M salary or trade value was the motivating factor. Others believe it shows the team’s belief in Miles.
Make no mistake, Utah has invested considerable time and energy into the development of Miles since they drafted him at age 18 in 2005. His playing time has steadily increased through the years; last season was the first time he ended up with double-digit scoring (12.8 ppg). His free-throw percentage jumped from .695 in 2009-10 to .811 last year. In the month of March, Miles hit career-high averages in scoring (17.1) and rebounds (4.1) in a highest-ever 30.6 average minutes.
Shooting inconsistencies have plagued Miles (.407 FG%, .322 3P% last season). Prior to the lockout, he had been working out with assistant coach Jeff Hornacek, and recent reports indicate he’s significantly slimmed down.
Miles knows the importance of playing in a contract year, and he understands that others, such as Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks, are vying for playing time in his position. He does have another major thing going for him: head coach Ty Corbin is a fan. Should Kirilenko depart, Miles figures to get every opportunity for increased minutes. And last season his Per-36 Minutes line was terrific: 18.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.4 spg and 2.0 three-pointers.
Jared Dudley – Phoenix Suns
Should Dudley start this season – and he should – fantasy owners who nab him may be very nicely rewarded.
Last season off the bench in 67 games, he averaged 9.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.7 in threes, 0.82 spg, 1.1 apg, .462 in field-goal shooting and .401 in three-point shooting.
In the starting lineup for 15 games (including the last 11 games of the season), he averaged 16.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.1 spg, 1.7 threes, .518 FG% and .464 in 3P%. Of course, he averaged roughly ten more minutes on court, but those are fairly eye-catching numbers.
Logic would suggest more playing time for Dudley this season, especially as Vince Carter is surely waived (to the tune of $4M vs. paying him $18M should they not waive him) when the lockout ends. In that event, his positional competition is limited.
Dudley, a fan favorite and Lon Babby (Suns president) favorite, hasn’t missed a game in two seasons.
Look for the next installment soon on Fantasy Movers & Shakers: Power Forwards.