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.

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Pickup of the Day: Andray Blatche

(Richard Mackson / USA TODAY Sports)

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 Saturday, November 16 is Andray Blatche. He’s owned in 5% of Yahoo! Leagues and 0.3% of ESPN Leagues. Fantasy owners who were lucky enough to get him on their fantasy teams last year when he filled in for Brook Lopez can attest to his upside, and he’s about to get the same opportunity again with Lopez limping around on a bum ankle.

Here’s a look at Blatche’s line tonight against LA:
20131116 Andray Blatche

The Nets have been dropping like bad dubstep beats (and bad analogies!) this week, with Deron Williams going down with an ankle sprain last night and apparently infecting Brook Lopez with the same ailment today (in less severe absences, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce also sat out for what Gregg Popovich would categorize as “DNP – Old”). The big winners here are Shaun Livingston and Andray Blatche. Of the two, Blatche has the higher upside. Livingston will give you solid numbers in points, rebounds, assists and the percentages, but I’m wary of players that don’t give me anything in threes, steals, or blocks.

Both Williams and Lopez appear day-to-day, so don’t consider dropping anyone with long-term value for either Livingston or Blatche. We might be looking at a one-week rental at best, but, especially if you’ve just lost either of those Nets starters, their replacements are worthwhile fill-ins.

Is he legit? Oh yeah. In his eight starts filling in for Brook Lopez last year, Andray Blatche averaged 17.9 pts, 9.3 reb, 1.5 ast and 1.8 stl in 30.5 mpg. He’s already dropped similar numbers tonight. Remember, this is a very temporary rental, but the type of numbers Blatche can give you are difficult to find on the waiver wire.

Other Notable Players: Those of you who inserted DeJuan Blair into your line-up received a nice reward with a robust 18-5-2-2-1 line. Nothing about his role has changed in Dallas, so don’t expect this on the regular…Martell Webster didn’t have a good shooting night but still played 42 min and had a decent line. He’ll continue to have value until Trevor Ariza returns, which might be in a week…It was also a terrible shooting night for Josh McRoberts, but he did drop 9 assists and 7 rebounds. He continues to be the most surprising source of assists in fantasy basketball this year, and the fact that Cody Zeller got less than seven minutes tonight just solidifies McBob’s position…How about Shelvin Mack with the 12 pts and 12 ast! Not sure if he got additional run tonight so Jeff Teague could take a break after his monster game last night, but Teague played fine and isn’t injured, so don’t expect more like this from Mack…Tony Wroten had a third straight productive game, and MCW will be out until Wednesday at least. Darius Morris can be ignored, however, as he got all his points during garbage time of a major blowout…Derrick Rose returned, but Kirk Hinrich stayed productive? Okay, now I’m paying attention, because Rose has been anything but reliable this year…Even though I made him a Pickup of the Day, I still should’ve been higher on Terrence Jones. However, it is worth noting that Donatas Motiejunas got 16 min of playing time. Motiejunas is whom the Rockets wanted taking over that PF spot coming into the season, so there might be competition for Jones after all even with Greg Smith injured and Omer Asik sulking at the end of the bench…Dante Cunningham had a similar game to last night’s, except he shot better and added 3 ast and 5 stl. Still think he’s a non-factor though…Another horrible shooting night for Zaza Pachulia, but I am going to continue preaching patience because he’s still contributing in other areas and getting increased minutes. On the other hand, John Henson had a great game in a mere 16 min, but it would’ve been much better if he had been able to stay out of foul trouble…Shaun Livingston put up numbers but–as seems to be the trend tonight–had a disappointing shooting night. That’s not common for him, so except it to get back up above .500 soon. Along with Blatche, Mason Plumlee also took advantage of both Lopez and Garnett’s absences. He had a nice 19-6 night with a steal and a block, though he went a Dwightmarish 5 for 12 at the line. Finally, Alan Anderson and Reggie Evans also played some decent minutes, but both Pierce and Garnett should be back in the line-up by the next game.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues): Another day, and the pickings get slimmer. We bid farewell to Jordan Hill, who hit 41% owned today.

1. Martell Webster (25%)
2. Josh McRoberts (14%)
3. Jodie Meeks (23%)
4. Terrence Jones (13%)
5. Andray Blatche (5%)

Hindsight: I popped the champagne way, way too early on Jared Sullinger (and now am probably shelving him way too early to overcompensate). According to coach Brad Stevens, conditioning was the reason Sullinger only played 14 min tonight. The way Stevens is handling him is not a good sign for anyone hoping for any type of consistency. I am 100% still holding on to Sullinger, but there is a small thought creeping into my mind and wondering if I might be a year early and an offseason of intense conditioning away from his true breakout season.