Pickup of the Day: Aaron Brooks


(AP Photo / Pat Sullivan)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Saturday, December 21 is Aaron Brooks. He’s owned in 8% of Yahoo! Leagues and 0.9% of ESPN Leagues, but he is the the most added player in Yahoo! Leagues today because Patrick Beverley is out for 4-6 weeks with a broken hand. That just opened up 31 and a half minutes for Houston point guards, of which Aaron Brooks happens to be the only healthy one.

Ignoring the crazy rumors that Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik are being packaged to the Nets or Lakers (not even Prokhorov would pay $30 mil for one year of both…would he?), we should note Lin is hopeful to return on Monday. Even if he does, Brooks should still be pushing 30 mpg as the backup PG. If he doesn’t, watch out.

The biggest concern with Brooks is his recent abysmal FG%. He is averaging a horrific 28.6% FG over his past two weeks, but, when given more regular playing time over seven games in late November and early December, he shot 46.2% FG while averaging 13.9 pts, 2.6 reb, 4.1 ast, 2.0 stl and 2.6 3pm. Those are phenomenal numbers for a PG averaging 24 mpg off the bench, and now he may not have any competition ahead of him. Though the 2.3 TO he averaged during that seven-game stretch would also increase in nine-category leagues, the assists, steals and threes should more than compensate for that.

Other Notable Players: The question for fantasy owners looking at the Kings is no longer how good Derrick Williams can be, but can we trust Jason Thompson? I say no…As predicted, Tobias Harris stayed in the starting line-up, but it was the young gun Victor Oladipo that got pushed out and not the veteran Glen Davis. This keeps Baby’s value steadier than I thought it’d become…Terrence Jones is now back under 40% owned, and his recent collapse in playing time and role suggests the number should be lower than that…Neither Anthony Tolliver nor Chris Douglas-Roberts stepped up in the first game with the Bobhornets missing both Jeff Taylor and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist…As well as D.J. Augustin, Tony Snell and Taj Gibson all played last night, it is really hard to trust them with Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng all out. Both Snell and Gibson have proven to be unreliable when both Butler and Deng are in the line-up. It’s questionable whether Augustin will still be useful after Hinrich returns, although “after Hinrich returns” has been a refrain for a long time. Hinrich did go through shootaround before last night’s game, but Augustin’s assist totals are tempting…Khris Middleton answered my challenge about his low FG% by shooting 73.3% on 15 FGA (literally answered it, he found me at a bar after the game and said “How you like them apples?”). He’s been decent lately except for his FG%, but his FG% for the season is better than what it’s been. Caron Butler also had a fantastic game in his return, and it’s notable that the extra minutes for him pushed O.J. Mayo’s minutes back more than they did Giannis Antetokounmpo’s. Keep in mind, though, that this was all done with John Henson sitting out, but his return is most likely just to sink Ekpe Udoh and Miroslav Raduljica’s minutes. Then again, you can never rely on anything with coach Larry Drew…Marco Belinelli pushed Boris Diaw out of the Spurs’ starting line-up and had his second good game in a row, this time with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all active. Let’s see where this goes…Okay, now I am paying attention to Brandan Wright, who is averaging 13.8 pts, 5.0 reb and 2.3 blk in his four games this season and has negated both DeJuan Blair and Samuel Dalembert’s values…And last night it was Channing Frye, P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green, while Miles Plumlee and the Morrises Markieff and Marcus disappointed. Of that group, only Frye is trustworthy right now…Told you Nick Young’s poor FG% was going to catch up with him eventually, but last night was brutal (5-for-18). Chris Kaman had a nice 10-17-3 blk line on almost as brutal FG% (5-for-17). He got the start because Pau Gasol was out with an upper respiratory infection. Gasol is questionable for Monday, but don’t assign even short-term value to Kaman just yet. Those of you who kept playing Jordan Hill were rewarded with a 14-10, but he still only saw 20 min of playing time. Unless there’s some type of secret injury that the Lakers are hiding, it just seems like coach Mike D’Antoni refuses to give him regular minutes despite an utter lack of better options. Finally, we should note that Wes Johnson played more minutes than any other player in last night’s game, and he might’ve finished with a decent night if he didn’t miss all seven of his FGs. I still say keep an eye on him, because his ceiling is high and he’s one of the few Lakers whose playing time doesn’t seem to be in question…Matt Barnes returned for the Clippers, which just reminded me that the Clippers have both Barnes and Jared Dudley. Why? They are virtually the same player. Barnes did post a nice 13-3-3-2-3 and 3 3pm last night though. He put a stop to Dudley’s recently solid play, and Barnes could post some nice numbers if he takes over Dudley’s spot. At least until J.J. Redick returns.

Top Five Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):

1. Jon Leuer (21%)
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (17%)
3. Jordan Farmar (8%)
4. Reggie Jackson (38%)
5. Glen Davis (37%)

We knew Andray Blatche wouldn’t last long on this list with Brook Lopez confirmed to be done for the season today, and he indeed graduated to 40% owned. Meanwhile, I’m keeping my deathgrip on Leuer like I did on Kosta Koufos, and Davis makes his return after showing he can keep his own deathgrip on that starting PF position in Orlando.

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Pickup of the Day: Marvin Williams

(AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Monday, November 25 is Marvin Williams. He’s owned in 6% of Yahoo! Leagues and 5.8% of ESPN Leagues, which is the closest I’ve ever seen fantasy owners in the two formats agreeing. Unfortunately, this is a short week for Utah, which doesn’t have another game until Friday. At that point Enes Kanter will have returned to the line-up, but Williams has done enough recently to merit a roster spot.

Here’s a look at his line last night against Chicago:
20131125 Marvin Williams

That’s an above-average but not atypical line from Williams, who’s averaged 14.0 pts, 6.2 reb, 1.2 stl, 2.2 3’s and only 0.8 TO in his last five games. He’s been coming on stronger lately, first jumping over Alec Burks in the rotation to become the sixth man and then pushing Enes Kanter to the bench to become the starting PF.

Kanter missed this game with a sore ankle, which explains Williams’s 44 minutes. Rudy Gobert is the high upside pick when either Kanter or Derrick Favors misses time, but last night was the first time Gobert has even topped 16 min all season. Kanter returns this Friday, and there’s no news yet whether he or Williams starts, but Williams has been productive long enough to justify a fantasy roster spot regardless.

Is he legit? Ah, Marvin Williams. He will forever be the guy drafted ahead of Chris Paul. And Deron Williams. And Andrew Bynum. And Danny Granger, David Lee, Monta Ellis, Marcin Gortat, Ersan Ilyasova, Raymond Felton, Amir Johnson and about a half dozen other players from the 2005 draft class who turned out to be more productive NBA players than he has. Williams perfected his three-point shot this year, but otherwise he hasn’t changed much as a player, a guy who’ll score in the teens and grab 5-6 rebounds while shooting mediocre percentages. This year, Williams is shooting his best percentage yet from three and his worst from the line. He’s not an exciting player, but he’s a serviceable “3 & D” guy in the Martell Webster/Gerald Green mold.

Other Notable Players: Back on the Brandon Bass bandwagon everybody! In the two games since reclaiming a starting spot after Kelly Olynyk sprained his ankle, Bass has posted a 17-7 and a 16-5 in over 30 min. Olynyk is out for at least another week and a half…Gerald Wallace is hovering at 40% owned right and just had a good game. His first good game in the last seven. He should be owned less…Josh McRoberts: 5-7-5-1-1, one three. Despite everything else, it’s getting hard to ignore his lack of points and awful shooting. I still argue his value is higher next to Al Jefferson, but keep an eye on him…Non-pickups news: Brandon Jennings is averaging a career-high 8.4 apg. What he was missing most of his career were people to pass it to…It’s getting hard to practice patience about ignoring the Bucks starters’ minutes during blowouts when they’re getting blown out of every game. John Henson seems to have the most stable value (15-7-1-2-2 tonight), though Khris Middleton was productive after being moved into the starting line-up over Caron Butler. You should just ignore all Bucks other than Henson until coach Larry Drew figures it out. But hang on to Brandon Knight for now…I’ve been getting warmer and warmer on him, but now I’m just telling you to go pick up Channing Frye. I’m not sure what Eric Bledsoe’s return on Wednesday will mean for him, but it should affect Gerald Green a lot more than Frye…Bench mob alert in Houston! Omri Casspi scored 16 pts and Omer Asik actually saw 21 min, his most in over two weeks. No need to pick either up, but watch how the latter might affect Terrence Jones’s value…Kosta Koufos: 8-13-2-0-2 in 30 min in his first start during Marc Gasol’s two-month hiatus. Koufos will stay at the top of the Top 5 tonight…DeJuan Blair got the start tonight, but he still couldn’t crack 20 min, his average this season. This not a permanent move, as Samuel Dalembert only didn’t start because he missed practice, but he’ll get you some surprisingly steals numbers from the C position if you can afford to keep him in your line-up…Boris Diaw had an excellent 13-5-2-1 game night as he played the Henson role of bench player with starter minutes who stays productive even in a blowout. I was ready to make him the Pickup after Tiago Splitter sprained his ankle and didn’t return, but Rotoworld is reporting that Splitter didn’t return only because it was a blowout, not because of the injury…The season just keeps getting worse for the Chicago Bulls, who lost Derrick Rose for the season after surgery this morning (Remember when Greg Oden only played 82 games in three seasons? After this season, Rose will have only played 50 in three, albeit one was lockout shortened to 66). Now the Bulls have lost to the 2-14 Utah Jazz, the team with the worst record in the league. Neither Kirk Hinrich, Mike Dunleavy, nor new starter Tony Snell could get anything going for their backcourt…And tonight Beno Udrih is good again (13-5-5-1, 3 3’s). I need to see more…Not really Pickup news because none of the players involved are under 40% owned, but important nonetheless. Some people may have dropped Martell Webster upon hearing news that Trevor Ariza is back and will return to the starting line-up. Now Bradley Beal may miss extended time after an MRI today revealed he aggravated the same leg injury that ended his rookie season last year. Pick Webster back up immediately, as he’ll become the starting SG if Beal is out. Deep leaguers may also want to keep an eye on Otto Porter Jr., the Wizards’ third overall pick this year, and Chris Singleton, who had productive games for them last year. Both returned to practice today as well.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):

1. Kosta Koufos (22%)
2. Jared Sullinger (34%)
3. Marvin Williams (6%)
4. Glen Davis (30%)
5. Patrick Beverley (31%)

Taking my own advice and avoiding Brandon Knight and all other non-Henson Bucks for the time being. Mo Williams also dropped, not because of his suspension but because, after three lousy games, I have to go with the lower-upside but also higher-downside Beverley.

Hindsight: Those last two Pickups, Glen Davis and Brandon Knight, are looking like 0-2 so far…Gerald Green and Channing Frye should’ve been in the Top 5 every day for the last two weeks, but I kept getting nervous about when Eric Bledsoe would be back to pull the trigger. Now Bledsoe is reportedly back on Wednesday, and I never got to pop off any rounds.

Pickup of the Day: Shaun Livingston

i(Brock Williams-Smith / NBAE via Getty Images)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Wednesday, November 20 is Shaun Livingston. He’s owned in 11% of Yahoo! Leagues and 4.0% of ESPN Leagues, and his value was supposed to end tonight with the return of starting PG Deron Williams. Unluckily for everyone associated with the Brooklyn Nets, except for Livingston, that return lasted a whole 13 minutes.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against Charlotte:
20131120 Shaun Livingston

Nope, not stellar, especially the turnovers for those in nine-cat leagues. However, in the three games that Livingston started after Williams sprained his ankle, he averaged 16.3 pts, 3.0 reb, 3.5 ast, 1.3 stl, and just 1.7 tov on spectacular percentages of 52.2% FG and 89.5% FT. He didn’t even attempt a three, which is odd for a PG though standard for him, but his safe brand of mid- and close-range shots is also how he gives you a FG% (on 11.5 FGA) that a PF would be proud of.

All that was supposed to end tonight with Williams returning to the starting line-up. After just 13 minutes, however, Williams sprained the exact same ankle he’d sprained a week earlier. He’s now day-to-day, but I’d imagine the Nets will be more careful bringing him back next time. In the meantime, everyone back on the Livingston train!

Is he legit? I could go on for hours about the tragic career of Shaun Livingston, how this 6’7″ PG was supposed to grow into the next Magic Johnson before he suffered the most brutal knee injury I’d ever seen. The one thing I remember about him fantasy-wise before his injury, though, was how frustrating he was to own. He’d get you points, rebounds, a few assists, maybe some steals and that was it. His percentages weren’t great for a PG, and he could never hit the three. His turnover rate wasn’t awful, and he’d already been reducing it every year before he shredded his ACL, MCL and LCL all in one go.

For the next seven years, Livingston bounced around the league getting more and more playing time, culminating in a productive stretch last year filling in for an injured Kyrie Irving on the Cavs. Now he’s getting the same opportunity on the Nets, and really he does the same things he’s always done, except much more efficiently. He still just gets you points, rebounds, a few assists, maybe some steals and no threes, but now he’s doing it on much better shooting from both the field and line as well as with fewer turnovers. He’s a guy you can plug and leave in your line-up, and the only thing you have to worry about is when Deron Williams will return.

Other Notable Players: I really wavered between Livingston and Luke Ridnour as the Pickup. Ridnour started tonight for the first time this season and went 13-5-5. Both have value tied to the injury of the normal starting PG for their teams: Williams for Livingston and Brandon Knight for Ridnour. Both Williams and Knight are day-to-day, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear timeline for either’s return, but I put Livingston ahead for now because we’ve actually seen him produce this year. Ridnour has the slightly higher PG ceiling, however, as he gets more assists and can actually hit threes…In other Milwaukee news, both Caron Butler and Ersan Ilyasova returned tonight, making Khris Middleton disposable from fantasy rosters, and I’m getting closer to admitting John Henson (10-7-2-2-2) might be a better pick-up than Zaza Pachulia (11-8-0-1-1) even with Ilyasova cutting into PF minutes…After three mediocre to bad games, Jarrett Jack got back on track with 14 pts, 6 ast and 2 3’s in 33 min, helped in large part by C.J. Miles leaving the game with a calf injury…Beno Udrih followed up a lousy first start last night with a much better start tonight, posting a 19-8-4 with three 3’s and thoroughly claiming the starting PG spot from Pablo Prigioni until Raymond Felton gets back…Terrence Ross topped 32 min and had his first good game of his season as the Raptors went small tonight to match up against the Sixers. Ross was a high lottery pick last year, and the Raps want to utilize him, but it’ll be hard for him to get minutes like this consistently behind DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay…On the other side of the court, MCW returned, pushing Tony Wroten back to the bench. Both Wroten and James Anderson still got opportunities to contribute, and Anderson played better, but their games together at the beginning of the year indicate they’ll both become too inconsistent to use again…Andray Blatche bounced back from a bad game playing behind KG and Reggie Evans to outplay them both with a 25-7 tonight. For what it’s worth, Brook Lopez said he felt good enough to play last night, but who knows how that affects the timetable for his return…Josh McRoberts put up another weird, give-and-take line (6-7-5-1-2, terrible percentages), but I’m keeping an eye on Jeff Adrien. He’s had two solid rebounding games this season, and he could have a Reggie Evans-like impact if he got consistent minutes…A day after I pushed the idea of starting Mike Scott over DeMarre Carroll, Carroll comes out and drops an 11-12-3-2-2 with a three. I don’t believe in him at all, but the fact that I keep mentioning him means he’s producing…John Lucas III had his best game of the season and did it in only 16 min, though all his value came in a flurry of four threes. Diante Garrett was the best PG on the team tonight, but this is all moot now because Trey Burke (59% owned) is back…After five games close to or over 30 min, Mo Williams backtracked to 23 min. Don’t sweat it yet. Hold on to him until we see if this is a blip or the start of a trend…Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk both started tonight, and Sullinger beasted his way to 19-17. I’m not going to gloat too much again, as he could very well drop back down to 16 min in his next game for conditioning issues, but–screw it–TOLDJA!…Boris Diaw actually has racked up some impressive numbers on the strength of strong shooting and back-to-back games of 2 stl and 2 blk. Look at how jerky his minutes are though. I’m not buying it…Gerald Green started again in place of the injured Eric Bledsoe and matched last night’s season-high with 23 points and also dropped six threes. Both he and Goran Dragic had great games, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in a row and can’t wait to get back Bledsoe, who’s day-to-day. Meanwhile, Marcus Morris played Dr. Jekyll again as Markieff continues to fade as Mr. Hyde (Or should the good one be Hyde since he’s the beast? Whatever, this whole analogy is a failure.)…Omer Asik actually got some more meaningful minutes for the first time in over a week, but the way Terrence Jones is playing right now, you still have to get him and play him. And yes, Patrick Beverley (4 stl, 3 3’s) also outplayed Jeremy Lin tonight despite barely touching the ball…There will be no dawn for Kent Bazemore. Golden State opted to let Iggy play point and start Harrison Barnes (63% owned) to play their five best players.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):

1. Terrence Jones (38%)
2. Martell Webster (35%)
3. Mo Williams (26%)
4. Jared Sullinger (22%)
5. Jodie Meeks (27%)

Had to drop McRoberts for his continued abysmal shooting, so of course I had to put man-crush Sullinger in there. Though I trust Sullinger’s impact will outlast the temporarily high values of Ridnour, Livingston and Blatche, and I’m still not convinced Markieff and Marcus won’t pull another swap in value next week. On the other hand, we’ll probably welcome one of those names onto this list regardless tomorrow, as I can’t imagine Jones lasting another day under 40%.

Hindsight: After all that touting of C.J. Miles in the wake of Dion Waiters’s fake illness, Miles goes out and just gets 15 min in one game and then injured after two minutes in the next. Thanks a lot, C.J. Made me look dumb arguing with Chris Towers at CBS.

Pickup of the Day: Jared Sullinger

(AP Photo / Charles Krupa)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s available in at least 60% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Friday, November 15 is Jared Sullinger. My friends, I told you to be wary of Brandon Bass in the long run because Sullinger wasn’t healthy to start the year. I told you Boston would want to see how Sullinger could handle starter’s minutes. I told you to hold on to your Sullinger stock. I told you he was outplaying Kelly Olynyk. I told you to get on the bandwagon. I told you the revolution was coming.

That’s right. Six times I’ve brought up Jared Sullinger in Other Notable Players without having the stones to make him the Pickup of the Day because I am a pansy conservative risk-taker in fantasy basketball, but, after last night, Sullinger leaves me no choice. He is currently owned in 14% of all Yahoo! Leagues, 3.6% of all ESPN Leagues, and 100% of my fluttering heart.

Here’s a look at his line last night against Portland:
20131115 Jared Sullinger

If you’ve already owned and been playing Sullinger for the past week and a half like I have, you’ve already been getting some usable if not spectacular numbers from him. He’d been doing it in 20-25 min while competing for playing time with Olynyk, Bass and Vitor Faverani. However, Sullinger is just more consistent than Faverani, more versatile than Bass, and more talented than Olynyk.

Boston is a team in transition (i.e. Boston is a team ready to blow up its roster at any time), and it wants to know what it has in its talent. It knows what it has in Bass and Rajon Rondo. It knows both its rookies, Olynyk and Faverani, are going to struggle adjusting to the NBA. So mainly, it wants to know what it’s got in Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Sullinger (and now probably also Jordan Crawford) and whether it wants to keep any of them. That is why I predicted these guys would get playing time. That is why I wasn’t sold on Brandon Bass during his hot start.

(That is not why I picked Vitor Faverani as our third Pickup of the Day. Listen, that was early in the season, and honestly I’d rather just pretend it never happened.)

Is he legit? There has always been two knocks on Jared Sullinger. The first is that he has an injury history. The second is that he’s too undersized and unathletic to be a PF in the NBA. The injury concern has been very legitimate so far. He missed 37 games and all of the playoffs last year, and coach Brad Stevens has handled him with kids’ gloves this year, even sitting him out the last game after he banged his knee in practice. He still has conditioning issues and it’s very early in the season, but at least Sullinger appears to have conquered the back problems that have plagued him dating all the way back to OSU.

As for the second knock, I’m going to pull a Matthew Berry trick and show you a comparison:

Player MP FG% FT% 3P PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV
A 31.0 0.530 0.733 0.3 17.3 9.7 1.2 1.1 0.8 1.8
B 29.6 0.559 0.767 0.7 17.5 10.6 1.9 0.7 1.4 2.0

These stats look eerily similar don’t they? Player A is Jared Sullinger, and those are his stats through 74 career college games. Player B is another player who scouts considered to be too undersized and unathletic to be a PF in the NBA while he was in college, and those are his career stats through 37 career college games. Who is Player B? Kevin Love.

What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. But what am I trying to insinuate? Obviously that Jared Sullinger could be as good as Kevin Love! (Though I’m not the only one making comparisons) While that might be my irrational man-crush talking, it is worth noting that Jared Sullinger’s per-minute numbers this year aren’t terribly different than what they were last year, except that he’s scoring at nearly double the rate. Per 36 minutes, his ppg last year was 10.9. This year it’s 21.7. This corresponds with him attempting more shots from the field (9.1 vs 16.1), more threes (0.2 vs 2.9), and more free throws (2.5 vs 4.6) while shooting better percentages in all three categories (although his 28.6% from three isn’t something to brag about).

This is truly an improved Jared Sullinger we’re looking at, and he’s dying for the opportunity to prove it. An opportunity that Boston is going to give him. To sum up the way-too-long drivel above, there are only three things you need to know about Sullinger: 1. Get him. 2. Play him. 3. Stick with him.

Other Notable Players: If not for my selfish desire to over-validate my faith in Sullinger, the Pickup would be Shaun Livingston. Deron Williams injured his ankle tonight, and his status for next week is currently in jeopardy. The latest news from him is that it’s not as bad as it was when he injured the same ankle last October and sat out for a month. In the meantime, Livingston will be a good source of points, rebounds, and assists with strong percentages. His ceiling as a PG is limited, however, as he’s always been weak in steals and nonexistent in threes…Milwaukee was completely shut down by Indiana, the best defense in the league, so don’t stress too much on the low numbers because that won’t happen every night. Call it stubbornness, but I did not view Zaza Pachulia’s 4-11 line as a bust. Yes he missed 12 of 14 shots, but he took 14 shots in just 24 min. Meanwhile, John Henson did have three blocks, though only coupled it with an 8-8 in 28 min…Kirk Hinrich played 40 min with Derrick Rose out tonight. Rose will be back tomorrow. Just to let you know it’s non-news…Michael Carter-Williams didn’t play again tonight, and, while it’s no triple-double, Tony Wroten did have another good night. It seems Wroten will continue to have value while MCW is wearing a boot, which he’s still expected to be lugging around tomorrow. James Anderson, on the other hand, fell back to earth with a 2-4-5 line. I did not understand the rush to pick him up after his last game. He’s gotten regular rotational minutes all year and even played over 44 min before without much value. Hopefully the one or two people who read this column heeded my warning against him…I also don’t understand the buzz about DeMarre Carroll. He did have a good game tonight, but, same as Anderson, he’s another guy who averages over 30 mpg while doing nothing with it…On the other hand, Mo Williams has now had three effective games while playing around 30 mpg each. This is a situation worth monitoring, as Williams has always been a valuable PG when given regular minutes…Josh McRoberts is back on the radar with another solid game. He’s averaging the most assists of any C-eligible player, aside from Kevin Love, for the season (4.1 apg) and the most of any C-eligible player, period, in the last week (5.5 apg)…C.J. Miles did not have a good game, but he did get 33 min while Waiters was out sick. Considering the numbers that Miles put up in limited minutes, he could be in line for a big game tomorrow if Waiters is out again…Vince Carter has averaged a 17-3-2 with 2.7 threes since putting up a goose egg 10 days ago. He was a valuable contributor last year in Dallas with 13-4-2 and 2.0 threes, and he’s in the exact same position this year. Though he has almost no upside at this point of his career, 28% owned seems a little low considering the quality of some of the guys owned more than he is…DeJuan Blair put up a funky 9-7-5-3-2 line. Of all C-eligible players, he leads the league in spg (2.2) followed closely by the incomparable Anthony Davis (2.1)…We’ve had a J.J. Barea sighting! Unfortunately, he’s been far less helpful for the Timberwolves this year with most of the team actually healthy. Consider this game just a reminder of what he can do off the bench when given a chance, but he won’t get many this year…On the other end in that game, Timofey Mozgov fell off while J.J. Hickson put up a decent double-double. It seems coach Brian Shaw played Mozgov more in the previous game just to take advantage of match-ups. The 42% owned Hickson is still the guy to have…We had a Morris twin swap tonight. Markieff has struggled since coming back from his illness a few days ago, but Marcus Morris picked up the slack with a 13-9 and 2 threes…Boris Diaw: 17-5-2-2-2 too inconsistent for me still…Don’t look now (actually, please do, don’t just believe what I’m saying), but Richard Jefferson has actually strung together two decent games now, and he probably should have had an even better one tonight had Utah’s two starting guards decided to pass more instead of going 10-35 combined….Speaking of which, Utah will likely soon realize neither John Lucas III nor Alec Burks should be their starting PG. “Soon” as in sooner than Trey Burke is expected to return, which means recently picked up Diante Garrett could be in for an extended look…I lied about Livingston. If not for Sullinger, the Pickup today would be Jodie Meeks. Though we’ll have to change his nickname from “Mr. Consistency” to “Mr. Averages Out in the End”…Jordan Hill and Steve Blake regressed but still contributed. Don’t ask me to trust Nick Young though. I don’t trust anyone whose sole value is points. He’s Francisco Garcia without as many threes.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues): We sadly have to say goodbye to both Steve Blake and Corey Brewer today as both pass the 40% owned mark. Averaging 12.0 pts, 4.3 reb, 9.8 ast, 1.3 stl, and 2.3 3’s in the four games this past week, Blake’s been an elite PG in place of Steve Nash. Brewer’s value has been more long-term and is in his versatility. He and Wilson Chandler were the only players in the past week to average 2.0 3’s, 2.0 stl, and 50.0% FG or more.

1. Jordan Hill (37%)
2. Martell Webster (23%)
3. Jared Sullinger (14%)
4. Josh McRoberts (14%)
5. Jodie Meeks (18%)

Hindsight: Nope. No regrets here. I’m basking too much in the glow of my rewarded faith in Jared Sullinger. Come back tomorrow and ask me about Zaza Pachulia. And if Sullinger only plays 20 min and puts up single digits against Minnesota, just leave me to drown in my own tears.

Pickup of the Day: Alec Burks

i-1
(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

This season I will try to highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s available in at least 60% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Saturday, November 2 is Alec Burks. He is owned in 28% of Yahoo! leagues, and that number isn’t climbing despite some consistent production and me pimping him in casual passing last Wednesday to my rabid fan base of one or zero readers.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against Houston:20131102 Alec Burks

We’re approaching the end of the first week, which means the clear-cut early waiver wire stars are disappearing (e.g. Miles Plumlee, Lance Stephenson, MCW). Thus anyone still scouring free agents to replace a poor draft pick is left to look for consistency or to stash a project in roto leagues.

Alec Burks definitely falls under the former category. He’s averaging 18 pts, 3.7 reb, and 3.0 ast in a little over 32 mpg, and his numbers have been fairly consistent from game-to-game. Like everyone in Utah, he’s getting a lot of opportunities this year because five of the top six players in mpg on last year’s team have left, replaced essentially by cap space and future draft picks.

Burks is a former Utah lottery pick that has really improved his on-ball defense and is getting rewarded with significant playing time. Based on his per-36 min numbers from past seasons, factoring in some typical third-year player improvement, and dropping in a giant dollop of flat-out guessing, I’d expect Burks to put up 18-4-2 with one steal, less than a three, and percentages that won’t kill you from the SG position moving forward.

Is he legit? He’s legit for what he is, a decent contributor in a deep league or when you need to rotate a guy in, but he’s not going to win your week for you. I think his role on this team is safe, even after Trey Burke returns. Though if he does get bumped up to the starting line-up, I can’t see his stats improving much, unless Coach Tyrone Corbin listens to this outrageous suggestion to play him at PG.

Other Notable Players: Look who’s scored 14 points in every game. None other than the Round Mound of Ratatouille: Boris Diaw. Tim Duncan played his first full game of the year, and Diaw still played his most minutes this year. Is it really worth holding on to a guy like Amare Stoudemire (58% owned) or Cody Zeller (50%) over him (5%)?…I stand by what I said about Josh McRoberts. He didn’t get much playing time last night as he was being abused by Anthony Davis, but no Charlotte starter played more than 27 min in this blowout…I’m not worried about Zaza Pachulia’s bad night, but it’s worth mentioning for the second night in a row that John Henson had a productive game. Larry Sanders’s poor play is worth monitoring, as both Pachulia and Henson have value while Sanders is sinking his…Tony Wroten (of the best-in-the-league 3-0 76ers!) is sort of a poor man’s Alec Burks right now, but with better 3-point shooting. Until he’s the one getting 33 mpg instead of James Anderson, however, he’s simply Watch List…Both Jason Thompson and Travis Outlaw put up garbage-time double-doubles as Sacramento got crushed by Golden State and DeMarcus Cousins was benched for doing DeMarcus Cousins-ish things. Thompson is likely more legit and most worth watching, as Patrick Patterson doesn’t seem to be cutting it as Carl Landry’s replacement.

Accountability: Nate Wolters turned out to be the biggest beneficiary of Brandon Knight’s injury, not Gary Neal. Oops. With the Bucks off until Wednesday and Knight likely to return then, however, neither are worth a roster spot anymore.

Pickup of the Day: Miles Plumlee

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

This season I will try to highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s available in at least 60% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Wednesday, October 30, 2013 is Miles Plumlee. He was owned in 10% of Yahoo! leagues when I started writing this, and now his ownership is at 23%! He might well become ineligible to count as a “sneaky” pick by tomorrow, so I’m posting this tonight.

Here’s a look at his line tonight vs. Portland:

This was a massive night in NBA games with 28 teams playing, and there were so many possible great performances by players eligible to be sneaky pickups that I can’t even justify wasting too much time waxing poetic about Michael Carter-Williams (79% owned) coming out of a terrible summer league and lackluster preseason to post 22 pts, 7 reb, 12 ast, 9 stl, 4 3’s, 60.0 FG%, 75.0 FT% in his first career game. I’ll just leave it at “Wow.”

So out of all the great performances tonight, why does Miles Plumlee take the prize? Opportunity. As Cody Ulm superbly wrote for SB Nation, Plumlee was the biggest winner from the Marcin Gortat trade. Channing Frye hasn’t played NBA basketball in 16 months after suffering a heart ailment, Alex Len is still recovering from double ankle surgery, and no one knows when Emeka Okafor will be back on the court.

Plumlee has the athleticism and the skills, and now he’s finally getting the minutes, too, as the Phoenix Suns’ starting center. Coming over from Indiana in the Luis Scola trade, he put up yeoman numbers in the preseason as the Suns’ coaching staff fiddled with him in the starting line-up. Now with Gortat out of town, he’s the incumbent.

It’s hard to predict his ceiling, as he never even averaged over 21 mpg at Duke, and he nearly hit 40 min tonight. The three blocks are likely a rare treat, but this is a guy who’s going to get you points and rebounds without hurting you in percentages.

How legit is he? Legit. There is nobody else on this roster I see taking minutes away from Plumlee aside from Len and Okafor. I see the Morris twins and Frye cutting into P.J. Tucker’s minutes before they do Plumlee’s. Okafor may be the better defensive player, but it’s not like the Suns will rush him back for some postseason run. Though at some point, the Suns will be so terrible that they’re going to want to see what they have in Len, I don’t envision that until after the All-Star break. Plumlee is a lock, and now he’s at 25% owned! Stop reading, and go pick him up!

Other Notables: Josh McRoberts gets the silver medal. Like Plumlee, he’s an athletic journeyman who’s won the starting job from a hyped rookie big man, in this case Cody Zeller. Zeller just seems to be a bigger threat here than Len does to Plumlee…Utah is going to be a very interesting team for fantasy this year as all sorts of unproven players get huge minutes, and Alec Burks could easily be Sixth Man of the Year if he doesn’t move into the starting line-up outright…Tim Duncan left the game tonight with a chest contusion, which means Boris Diaw could be in line for serious minutes…Trevor Ariza posted a monster line, but I don’t buy it. He’s 40% from the field in the past four years, he’s  competing with Martell Webster and Al Harrington for minutes, and I don’t trust he’ll always get his shots while sharing the ball with John Wall and Bradley Beal…Apparently Larry Sanders hasn’t gotten over his foul problems, and Zaza Pachulia will stand to benefit on nights he’s limited…Speaking of Milwaukee, Gary Neal seems to be the winner if Brandon Knight’s hamstring injury is serious…And Will Bynum is the winner in Detroit while Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Jennings are out…Here are three veterans who should just be owned in more leagues: Vince Carter, Corey Brewer, Caron ButlerAndrew Nicholson: another solid line, another game under 20 min…I’ve seen Francisco Garcia put up hollow stat lines like tonight’s his entire career. The Houston bench guy you want is Omri Casspi, and you don’t actually want him that much. Oh, and so much for Patrick Beverley taking over that PG job.

Accountability: Well, the Lakers certainly seem committed to giving Xavier Henry all the opportunities he could want to succeed, as he got 35 min while Wes Johnson, Jodie Meeks, and Nick Young all got under 25 in tonight’s historic beatdown by the Warriors. Henry’s final line didn’t look atrocious, but it really was before a full fourth quarter of garbage time. As was Jordan Farmar’s. Still, as long as Henry is playing 35 min, he’s rosterable.