Pickup of the Day: Terrence Jones


(Soobum Im / USA TODAY Sports)

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, December 25–#NBAXmas–is Terrence Jones. After a strong stretch earlier in the season, his numbers took a huge dive during and following a bout with the flu this month, to the point where his ownership dropped to 35% in Yahoo! Leagues and 28.6% in ESPN Leagues. It was never clear why Jones declined so much even after recovering from his illness, but last night’s game showed he’s still got the mojo he had earlier this year.

Here’s a look at his line last night against San Antonio:
20131225 Terrence Jones

Still got it! This is by far his best game since he dropped 16 points, 13 reb, 2 stl, 5 blk and 2 3pm against Orlando on Dec. 8. In the seven games between that game and last night’s, however, he was terrible. Here’s a comparison of how he did in those seven games against his other 15 starts this season:

20131225 Terrence Chart

Right now, we can only speculate as to whether his play was due to the after-effects of the flu or something more persistent, but his near across-the-board contributions (albeit with disappointing FT%) when he is playing well makes him worth the gamble. If he’s back on track, you need to get him back into your rotation or at least on your bench so you can monitor him.

Other Notable Players: If the Bulls ever trade either Luol Deng or Carlos Boozer, grab Taj Gibson immediately. Here’s a look at Gibson’s numbers with and without Deng in the line-up this season:

20131226 Taj Chart

Gibson’s numbers seem decent even overall, but he scored in single digits in nine of his first 13 games before Boozer slipped in production for three games. Then Gibson went off, culminating in a 26-14 and 5 blk in a triple-OT affair on Dec. 2. After that, Boozer got productive again, but Deng went out, so Gibson was able to keep his numbers up until Deng returned on Dec. 14. Gibson looked to be heading back to his early-season levels of unproductivity at that point, until Deng missed the last three games. Now Gibson is playing strong again, but this will end again as soon as Deng returns.

What to do with Gibson then? If you have a free roster spot, stash him. This is a guy who plays the extremely valuable PF/C position who is getting more opportunities this year than any since his rookie season before Boozer arrived in Chicago.

Another notable event in Chicago was the return of Kirk Hinrich to the starting line-up, though he only managed 20 min and D.J. Augustin outplayed him in his 33 min. Hinrich has gotten a lot of minutes at PG this year with Derrick Rose out, though possibly undeservedly considering he’s shooting a career-low 34.5% FG. Augustin has definitely outplayed Hinrich recently, but this is likely to become a timeshare that sinks both players’ values.

So Brooklyn still sucks, but Mirza Teletovic put up 17 pts, 2 blk, and 3 3pm in 19 min. As Rotoworld’s Aaron Bruski noted, those are Andrea Bargnani numbers when Bargnani is actually good (not last night). Anything is a possible in a post-Brook Lopez world. Speaking of whom, his anticipated successor Andray Blatche has been subpar in both games since Lopez’s season ended, but Blatche is going to receive too many opportunities to ignore.

As far as that other crappy team in the boroughs, there was plenty of notable fantasy pickup news with Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony both sitting on the bench looking like this. Beno Udrih was awful, which is bad news considering both Felton and Pablo Prigioni are still expected to be out a while longer. Another PG option to which the Knicks may turn is rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., who put in an efficient 10 points on 4-of-8 FG in the first half and then a more J.R. Smith-esque 11 points on 4-of-11 FG in the second. You would expect a noted defender like him to get more steals, but he doesn’t. Amar’e Stoudemire scoring 22 points in last night’s blowout was nice, but he hadn’t scored in double-digits or played 20 min in his previous four games.

The Lakers actually played the Heat pretty tightly last night, considering the blowouts that preceded their game. Jodie Meeks was excellent, dropping 17-4-3-2-0 with 4 3pm on 50.0% FG. You’re welcome, 1.5 people who picked him up because of Tuesday’s column. I still like him way more than I like Nick Young, who scored a little more last night (20 pts) but got no steals and shot 38.9% FG.

Jordan Hill looked great against the weak Miami frontline, going 7-5-1-3-2 in his 12 min in the first half. He wasn’t as good with 2-5-0-1-1 in his 12 min in the second. Somehow, coach Mike D’Antoni still managed to keep his minutes limited even without playing either Chris Kaman or Robert Sacre. Considering Pau Gasol is now day-to-day, one would expect D’Antoni would have no choice but to play Hill 30+ min. It seems like a lock, but D’Antoni has become a savant at finding ways to jerk Hill’s minutes around.

The big news should’ve been that Jordan Farmar returned and played over 32 min, but he only managed a paltry 3-5-2-0-0 while missing six of his seven shots and committing four turnovers. He did not look aggressive at all, but this should change as he gets more comfortable with his recovering hamstring. Also, as noted before in this blog, the Heat are an absolutely brutal matchup for opposing point guards. “Backup PG” Xavier Henry didn’t do too badly, going 14-5-2-2-0, but he’s destined for a deeper bench role now.

Aaron Brooks seemed good in his first game playing behind Jeremy Lin, but he was horrible last night. Unlike many fantasy prognosticators, I am still fully on-board with Brooks’s value. Houston won’t likely play him like they did Patrick Beverley, where both Lin and Beverley often saw the court together at the end of games, but Brooks hopefully will get chances to come in as a scorer and playmaker off the bench much the same way that Isaiah Thomas did earlier this year for Sacramento.

Both Jared Dudley and Matt Barnes put up duds last night after alternating good games for the previous two, and that’s all the news from the only marquee matchup on Christmas.

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

1. Terrence Jones (35%)
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (19%)
2. Jordan Farmar (18%)
3. Reggie Jackson (39%)
4. Glen Davis (38%)

Jones takes the top spot, and Augustin falls off. I’m not worried for Antetokounmpo’s value with news that Larry Sanders is probable to return this Friday. Sanders is more likely to affect John Henson and Miroslav Raduljica’s values, though he was miserable earlier this season and will have to work even harder to get back to the level at which he was playing last year under a different coach.

That does it for Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickups for 2013. I am out of the country until the second week of January, where I’ll have many, many games and much, much player news on which to catch up and report to you. In the mean time, follow @sneakyfantasybb on Twitter to catch any brief up-to-date news I may need to report.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday season, and have a happy new year!

Pickup of the Day: Metta World Peace

(Elsa / 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 Tuesday, November 5 is Metta World Peace. He is currently owned in 25% of all Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

Here’s a look at his line last night against Charlotte:
20131105 Metta World Peace

The Knicks are an absolute mess. Their starting center, Tyson Chandler, just fractured his right fibula last night and is now expected to miss 4-6 weeks, which is going to turn this disappointing start to their season catastrophic. Even with Carmelo Anthony on the team, Chandler might still be the most irreplaceable Knick considering the absolute lack of center depth on this team.

Let’s take a look at the options on this roster to replace him:

  • Andrea Bargnani (42% owned in Yahoo! leagues) – The biggest acquisition of the Knicks’ summer has been a complete bust so far. Part of that is due to coach Mike Woodson jerking around his minutes, but most of it is due to his total ineptitude on defense. Yet he is healthy, which alone puts him ahead of most of the Knicks’ other options.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire (48%) – He’s only played in two games so far this year, and he hasn’t topped 11 and a half minutes in either one. At this point, his knees may as well be made out of tissue paper, the generic kind that tears apart and leaves you with snot all over your hands. Also, the Knicks still owe him $45 mil over these next two years.
  • Kenyon Martin (1%) – A possible sneaky pickup who hasn’t been able to play any consistent minutes so far while he’s battling his own injuries and old age. He’s pushing 36 and hasn’t been good at all this year, but he does hustle and play defense, two traits Mike Woodson admires.
  • Cole Aldrich (0%) – In four NBA seasons, Cole Aldrich has career averages of two points and two rebounds in just under eight minutes a game. That’s all you need to know about Cole Aldrich.

Then there’s the possibility that the answer isn’t on the roster yet, perhaps someone the Knicks sign or get in a trade. The biggest “winner” in this, though? Metta World Peace (though he wouldn’t think losing his team’s defensive anchor is “winning”).

Unless you think Woodson is going to let an Andrea Bargnani-Cole Aldrich frontcourt log heavy minutes every night (with both Stoudemire and Martin still being on supposed minutes restrictions that Martin has already broken), we’re likely seeing Melo move back up to the PF spot, which means a lot more minutes for MWP at SF and possibly backing up Melo at PF in extreme smallball lineups. Even J.R. Smith’s return shouldn’t affect MWP’s playing time as much now, at least for the next 4-6 weeks.

Is he legit? MWP actually had a couple productive streaks last year for the Lakers, including averages of 13.8 pts, 5.6 reb, 1.4 ast, 1.7 stl and 2.2 3’s across 44 games from November to January. And this was playing while sharing the ball with Kobe, Pau, and Dwight, albeit with the latter two in and out of the line-up. The interesting part is that MWP was less effective in the other months but still played the same heavy minutes in the mid-30’s up until April. Though calling MWP erratic is like calling the sun a bright light.

At this point, I should note that I am an unabashed Ron Artest/Metta World Peace fan. I love the guy. I love that he tried to get a job at Circuit City when he was on the Bulls and listed GM Jerry Krause as a reference. I love that he’s the only non-big man other than Gary Payton to win Defensive Player of the Year in the last 24 years. I love that he ran into the stands to punch a guy who threw a beer at him, even if it was the wrong guy. I love that he declared he’d drag an 18-26 Kings team to the playoffs, and then did it. I love that he was the hardest working player on a Houston team that lost Yao and T-Mac but still went seven games in the semi-finals against the eventual champion Lakers. I love the idea of a Metta/Yao sitcom. I love that he can have his own team and fans hating and then loving him in the span of a minute. I love that he wrote a song called “Champion” before he won a championship, and then won a championship. I love that he thanked his psychiatrist in on-court post-game interview he did after Game 7. I love that, during the greatest post-championship press conference in the history of people talking to other people, he apologized to Donnie Walsh and the Pacers organization and owned up to all the personal mistakes he made in Indiana before answering any question. I love that he became the face of and a champion for mental health.

Announcer Mike Breen said it best after that psychiatrist post-game interview: He’s not the perfect player, he’s not the perfect person, but anyone who knows him well will swear by his loyalty and what a big heart he has.

SAY QUEENSBRIDGE!

Other Notable Players: Staying with the Knicks, Iman Shumpert has had a nice streak of games, but his window is about to close as Smith returns from suspension on Sunday…Also, you should still keep an eye on Kenyon MartinGerald Green dropped 18 points on six three-pointers last night and should be good for at least one more game tonight…Both Markieff and Marcus Morris also had big games for the Suns, but they might be devaluing Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee more than becoming viable fantasy starters themselves…Patrick Beverley returned from his rib injury and played decently. Jeremy Lin has the higher fantasy ceiling, but Beverley and his tenacious defense (look what he did to Westbrook!) have the higher real-life ceiling. Remember preseason expectations were for him to take the starting position…DeJuan Blair’s numbers are severely inflated by some heavy steal totals, but he’s another one of those players like Andrew Nicholson whose been very productive in very limited minutes so far…Brian Roberts was a guy last year you never heard of who’d occasionally put up numbers that made you take notice. He could never get consistent minutes behind Greivis Vazquez and probably still won’t behind Jrue Holiday, but he did wholly outplay Holiday last night…Don’t buy C.J. Watson’s last two games over 30 mpg. George Hill could return as early as tonight…On the same note, don’t buy Jordan Farmar’s good game either. Dallas blew out the Lakers, and he cashed in on garbage time.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues): Today we sadly say goodbye to Brandon Bass, as he finally graduates to being 40% owned.

1. Reggie Jackson (36%)
2. Metta World Peace (25%)
3. Zaza Pachulia (23%)

4. Alec Burks (38%)
5. Martell Webster (13%)

Accountability: I won’t tell you to drop Josh McRoberts yet because he is still the starter and the Bobcats seem to trust even Jeff Adrien more than they do Cody Zeller. But among him, Plumlee, and Vitor Faverani in big men who’ve been disappointing since they got on the fantasy radar, McBob is probably the least likely to bounce back.