Pickup of the Day: Taj Gibson

(Marc Serota / 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 Monday, December 2 is Taj Gibson. He’s owned in 25% of Yahoo! Leagues and 9.5% of ESPN Leagues. Though he had a career night last night, the box score must be viewed with a refined perspective when a game goes into three overtimes and guys like Ryan Anderson and Luol Deng are pushing an hour of playing time. So yes, it’s fair to put an asterisk next to Gibson’s career-high 26 points, but even his work in his previous games makes him a promising pickup.

Here’s a look at his line last night against New Orleans:
20131202 Taj Gibson

How many times can Gibson be expected to top 44 minutes this season? He did it four times last year, but, unless Carlos Boozer is injured or traded, it won’t be much more than that this year. Therein lies the rub for his value. Over his past three games, Gibson has averaged an astounding 22.3 pts, 8.7 reb, 1.0 ast and 2.0 blk on 66.7% FG and 78.6% FT. This has directly coincided with Boozer’s worst three-game stretch of the season, where he’s averaging 7.3 pts, 6.7 reb, 2.3 ast and 0.7 blk on 33.3% FG and 100% FT (on two total free throws).

Boozer is averaging 15 and 9 on the season and is likely to regress back up to the mean, but Gibson is playing his most minutes this season of any since Boozer joined the Bulls. With Rose out for yet another season, it’s very possible that the Bull may blow up the roster and start rebuilding. They’ve wanted to move Boozer for a while now, but his onerous contract ($15.3 mil this year, $16.8 mil next) makes that very difficult. Still, if a Russian oligarch was willing to pay $89 mil for Joe Johnson, moving Boozer isn’t impossible.

The Bulls clearly would rather have Gibson play a larger role in their future than Boozer (though Gibson’s contract is much more enticing albeit longer). Don’t expect many nights of 22 and eight with two blocks, but you should feel confident stashing Gibson on your bench for now.

Other Notable Players: There’s plenty to say about other potential pickups from last night’s triple-overtime extravaganza. Jason Smith (12-14-1-0-1) and Al-Farouq Aminu (14-9-1-3-0) both had value with Anthony Davis out for 4-6 weeks. Smith was more involved in the offense, though. On the Bulls side, Kirk Hinrich saw the second-most minutes after Deng (53) and posted 13-6-11 but shot horrifically (4-of-15 FG, 0-of-8 3pm). Along with Gibson, Mike Dunleavy also exploded off the bench (23-7-5-2-0, 6 3pm). Tony Snell was not productive. Of everyone, Smith and Hinrich are the safest choices as they will continue getting the most minutes and shots, though their upsides are limited. It will take a lot more than one good game for Dunleavy to re-ingratiate himself to fantasy owners after three previous games with only one FG each…Jameer Nelson missed the game, so E’Twaun Moore got the start. He was brutal, as were most of Orlando’s starters, but it’s disappointing neither he nor Glen Davis could make a better case for keeping their starting spots. Davis should get another good chance tonight though, as Nikola Vucevic had to get an X-Ray on his sprained ankle last night…The fact that DeMarre Carroll is the 88th Yahoo! ranked player for the year tells me Yahoo! still way overvalues even the slightest threes and steals. He has something like 10 good games to nine bad ones, but last night was one of the good ones. If you’re in a deep league and can afford to keep him in your line-up, he’s worth a pickup….Belineeeelliiiiiiiiiiiii is the new Ginoooobiliiiiiiiiiiiii. 14.0 pts, 2.8 reb, 2.0 ast, 1.0 stl, 2.3 3pm in the last four for Marco BelinelliFrancisco Garcia had a great game last night (13-6-2-0-4, 3 3pm) with Chandler Parsons sitting out. On the other hand, Terrence Jones had an awful game, while Omri Casspi (13-6-0-2-0, 2 3pm) took most of the PF minutes. It’s unknown if Parsons will miss more games, but Jones is not likely to continue playing this poorly, while Garcia and Casspi should see their roles diminished…Is Alec Burks, who’s already risen and fallen this year, on the rise again? 16.7 pts, 3.7 reb, 3.0 ast, 1.3 3pm, 53.1% FG, 80.0% FT over his last three. This Jazz team is much better in general with Trey Burke at the point. Though not for Enes Kanter…We need to see more, Mo Williams. More.

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

1. Marvin Williams (18%)
2. Kosta Koufos (28%)
3. Glen Davis (35%)
4. Nate Robinson (26%)
5. Wesley Johnson (13%)

Henson’s one big game starting for the Bucks apparently built a lot of buzz, as he pushes up to 40% owned. Tough choice between Wes Johnson and Gibson for that final spot. While Gibson has potential, Johnson’s been getting it done in steals (1.0), blocks (1.6) and threes (1.3) all year and has been even better recently (1.0, 1.8, 2.5 respectively over last four).

Hindsight: Dunleavy’s big game last night reminds me that he’s averaged 6.3 ppg in all his other games since I made him the Pickup. Oof…There’s a big slate of games tonight, so there’ll be plenty of time for regrets and hopefully also some gloating. Talk to you all again in a few hours!


Pickup of the Day: Mike Dunleavy

i(Doug Pensinger / 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 Thursday, November 21 is Mike Dunleavy. He’s owned in 8% of Yahoo! Leagues and 3.0% of ESPN Leagues, although that should see a bump after he was declared Chicago’s starting SG while Jimmy Butler is out for two weeks with a broken toe.

Here’s a look at Dunleavy’s line tonight against Denver:
20131121 Mike Dunleavy

When I heard Butler would be out for two weeks, I couldn’t decide whether Dunleavy or Kirk Hinrich would be the better pick-up. I actually leaned toward Hinrich, because I thought the Bulls would start him for his defense and bring Dunleavy off the bench for his offense. After coach Tom Thibodeau announced Dunleavy would be the starter, it became clearer that Dunleavy was the better pickup.

However, it should be noted that both Dunleavy and Hinrich played a little over 31 min tonight. It’s not a given that Dunleavy will be better than Hinrich every night, but his fantasy ceiling is definitely higher.

Is he legit? Dunleavy had one borderline All-Star season in Indiana in which he averaged 19.1 pts, 5.2 reb, 3.5 ast, 1.0 stl and 2.0 3’s on good percentages in 36 mpg and played all 82 games. In every year since then, he’s just been a poor facsimile of that season, but he has been an effective weapon off the bench the past two years in Milwaukee. In fact, his value might be better in Chicago off the bench where he could be the primary scoring option à la Nate Robinson last year. As is, he actually got many of his points in garbage time tonight. Still, I’d take 15-5-2 with two threes and excellent percentages however I can get them.

Other Notable Players: As mentioned earlier, Kirk Hinrich also played over 31 min tonight. I’m not convinced Dunleavy will always be the better fantasy play, and Hinrich is the better source of steals and assists…Another player out for two weeks is Matt Barnes of the Clippers, and Jared Dudley stands to benefit the most. Dudley has been a disappointment so far this year, but he got his most minutes tonight (34) with Barnes out. He still didn’t have a good game, but he can be expected to be more productive while receiving minutes in the mid-30s instead of mid-20s…Not a useful player to have right now but a useful name to remember is Reggie Bullock, who also got his most minutes of the season (17) tonight with Barnes out. He’s the Clippers’ first-round pick this year, and they do want to see what they have in him, so expect him to get some more run later in the year if the Clippers lock in their playoff position early.

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

1. Martell Webster (38%)
2. Mo Williams (27%)
3. Jared Sullinger (29%)
4. Jodie Meeks (28%)
5. Patrick Beverley (29%)

As expected, Terrence Jones is now owned in 41% of Yahoo! Leagues and graduates off this list, making room for his Rockets teammate Beverley to push his way in with some strong three-pointer and steal numbers.

Hindsight: Although the Oklahoma City bench was excellent tonight, chipping in 35 points and 23 rebounds, no one there has gotten regular enough minutes to be valuable in fantasy. All my early-season hype for Reggie Jackson, Steven Adams and Jeremy Lamb has been way premature.