Fantasy Hoops Roundtable: Biggest Surprises
A bunch of top fantasy basketball minds have agreed to participate in a Roundtable Debate. I’ll kick things off.
This Week’s Topic
Looking at the season’s early surprise players, which one or two do you feel will continue to put up big fantasy numbers this year?
Alex of BleacherCreatureRotoTalk.com
While the season is still young, two of the biggest surprises thus far have to be Marc Gasol and Lou Williams. Both are putting up big numbers and seem to be playing well above their preseason projections. Every year there are a number of players that get off to quick starts only to be derailed later in the season – the question is can these two keep it up?
Marc Gasol is currently averaging 15 points, 11 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game all while shooting 61% percent from the field and 75% from the free throw line. Gasol has never rebounded at this pace and has never shot the ball this well from the field. We feel he is off to a quick start and will soon regress to more realistic output. With limited athletic upside and not a real increase in minutes from last year there really is no explanation for Gasol’s recent breakout.
Lou Williams is shooting 48% from the field and 83% from the line while averaging 17 ppg, 5 assists and nearly two steals. Even though we picked Sweet Lou as one of our preseason busts we feel he has proved us wrong and his breakout is real. This season Sweet Lou has entered the starting lineup and is seeing a ton of minutes. While his field goal percentage will likely come down a bit, due to the increased playing time we so no reason for him not to continue his current level of assist and scoring output.
Ryan of LestersLegends.com
A player that I believe will continue to put up unexpected fantasy numbers is Phoenix’s Channing Frye. Frye has been a force behind the arc, but also is contributing in points, rebounds, steals, and blocks. He shoots a decent clip from both the floor and the stripe. Even if his production dips a bit, he will still have value because of his position eligibility (PF & C) and his ability drain three-pointers.
Another surprising big man that should continue to put up big numbers is Joakim Noah. Noah has been an absolute force on the glass, and has been a very effective shot blocker. He’s not afraid to do the little things, which will endear him to his coaches, fans, and teammates alike. Even when Tyrus Thomas does return, Noah will be fully entrenched in the middle for the Bulls.
Brian of EmptyTheBench.com
Drafted on average 120th overall in Yahoo! fantasy basketball leagues (behind guys like Tyson Chandler, Shaquille O’Neal, and, yes, Yao Ming), Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol has been nothing short of spectacular through the first month of the season. All of his statistical measurables are up—way up—compared to his rookie season of a year ago, and there’s no reason to think there’s any end in sight to his upper-tier production.
Through his first 13 games, the 7-1 Gasol has posted impressive per-game averages of 15.2 points (on 61% FG, good for third-best in the NBA), 11.1 boards, 1.7 blocks, 1.2 steals, 1.9 assists, and a respectable 75% from the free-throw line. That’s made him the third most-valuable center in fantasy hoops, behind just Chris Bosh and Al Horford, and helped his
Grizzlies to a… well, the Grizzlies are still pretty terrible at 4–9 heading into Monday’s night matchup with the Sacramento Kings, but Gasol is clearly doing what he can to make this team competitive again.
There’s little of consequence behind Gasol on the Grizzlies’ big-man depth chart (sorry, Hasheem Thabeet doesn’t count), so expect the seven-footer to maintain his 35+ minutes per-game average as the season wears on. That should give him ample opportunity to finish it out with double-double averages in points and rebounds; I’d love to see him keep those steals up over 1 per, and to take the next step towards fantasy dominance by upping his blocks to 2 per. Either way, we’re looking at one of the biggest bargains of the year.
For the record, I drafted Gasol 157th overall (middle of the 16th round) in the ETB fantasy hoops league, one pick after Jamario Moon. Gasol is currently ranked 13th overall.
Erik of PointsInThePaint.com
I will admit that Channing Frye was virtually forgotten and/or ignored as far as fantasy basketball was concerned, especially by me. I remember a center who took too many medium-range jumpshots and didn’t rebound or block enough to be appreciated. Let’s not forget how he’s had his fair share of a multitude of missed games in his underwhelming career so far. I has been more than a pleasant surprise to see Frye finally transform himself into a viable fantasy basketball player. In the end this has been about him finding a team and a system that can maximize his style of play. While he isn’t an Andrea Bargnani for small-ball teams, he has at least exceeded Rasheed Wallace in terms of value. I think Frye and the scorching Suns should remain consistent for the rest of the season. Keep on enjoying the threes he chips in from your center slots.
Nels of GiveMeTheRock.com
Marc Gasol: He may lack the shock and awe of someone like Andrew Bynum, the natural fanboy appeal of someone like David Lee, and the national attention of someone playing in a city other than Memphis, but you can’t argue with the stats Gasol has been putting up so far this year: 15.2 points on 61% shooting, 11.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. We had Gasol ranked at #107 going into the year and through 13 games he’s ranked at #14 on the GMTR player rater. While Gasol is not going to keep up that insane pace overall, the scoring and block numbers he’s been putting up are legit. Over the last two months of the 2008-09 season, Gasol averaged 14.3 points and 1.3 blocks while shooting 55% from the field. So, it’s not a stretch to think that his stats this year are following a natural sophomore progression, with the possible exception of his rebounding numbers, which are likely to see a small regression from the 11 a game he’s averaging so far this year. Bonus points for the fact that Gasol is one of the only people to have ever benefited from Zach Randolph’s presence down in the paint. The Grizzlies may have drafted Hasheem Thabeet to be their center of the future, but they overlooked the fact that they already had one in Gasol.
Joakim Noah: If Hustle were a fantasy category, Noah would be a first round pick because he’d win you that category by himself. Of course, it’s not, but the end result of Noah’s hustle is that he gets Points, Rebounds, and Blocks like he drinks water. And since most of his buckets come from Derrick Rose passes or offensive rebounds, he’s always getting high percentage shots around the basket (except when he uses his Ugly Stick form shot from the free throw line extended). He’s sitting pretty at #29 on the GMTR player rater, and should end up Top 50 because he is not going to stop. Ever.
Tommy of HoopsWorld.com
Channing Frye: As we all know – when dealing with real estate, the three most important factors of any property are: location, location, and location. Well, this same theory holds water when discussing fantasy hoops as well… Channing Frye had spent the prior two seasons buried on the Portland Trail Blazers bench. Frye, a jump-shooting big man who prefers to float on the perimeter as opposed to bang with the bruisers down low, never fit into Blazer Coach Nate McMillan’s system. Throughout his NBA career, Frye’s previous coaches looked at Channing’s 6’11″ frame and asked him to spend the majority of his time on the floor in the paint, not out by the arc. Over his first three seasons in the league, Frye made a total of just nine three-pointers. And by his final year in Portland (2008-2009) it became clear that Frye was not part of the Blazers long-term vision. But as a free agent, Channing decided to sign with the run-and-gun Phoenix Suns. An organization that has led the NBA in scoring four of the past five seasons, and a team that had no problem with shooters shooting – no matter how big or small they were. Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry has encouraged Frye to launch three’s whenever open and Frye has obliged. Through the Suns first three games of this season, Frye had connected on 13 three-pointers, which was more than he made during he first 215 games of his career combined (9).
Frye may lose some PT when Robin Lopez returns from injury, but Channing will still likely be playing 30+ minutes a night as the starting center for the highest scoring team in the NBA. In other words, he’ll have more good nights than bad. And he’ll continue to remain among the league-leaders in three-pointers made and attempted.
Brandon Jennings: I suppose I could write a few paragraphs about how well Jennings has played and about how he is the future of the franchise and is thus all but guaranteed consistent minuets for the rest of the season. Instead, I’ll simply copy and paste two mind-boggling tidbits of info – courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau:
* Brandon Jennings tallied 29 points and seven assists to help lead the Bucks to a victory over the Bobcats last Friday night. Jennings has registered 252 points and 59 assists in his first 10 games in the NBA. Only one other player reached those levels in those categories in his first 10 games in the league: Oscar Robertson (255 points and 92 assists).
* Milwaukee Fans Have a Rookie to be Thankful For: Brandon Jennings scored 26 points in Milwaukee’s win against Memphis on Saturday night. Jennings has scored at least 25 points in six games this season, the highest total for any NBA rookie before Thanksgiving since Michael Jordan had nine 25-point games prior to the fourth Thursday in November in 1984.
Long story short: This kid is the Real Deal