Pickup of the Day: Timofey Mozgov

(Nathaniel S. Butler / 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 Tuesday, December 3 is Timofey Mozgov. He’s owned in 10% of Yahoo! Leagues and 0.8% of ESPN Leagues. He’s Yahoo!’s most added player so far today, but his massive production these past two games require a lot of perspective.

Here’s a look at his line last night against Brooklyn:
20131203 Timofey Mozgov

17-20-1-1-2 is a monstrous line, even better than the 16-15-1-2-2 that Mozgov put up the previous night against Toronto. Earlier in the year, he also put up a huge 23-9-0-0-4 against the Lakers. What do these three games have in common? Three things: A. JaVale McGee was injured for all of them (and is still out indefinitely). B. Starting center J.J. Hickson didn’t play more than 17.5 minutes in any of them. C. Each team features a legit 7-foot tall center with post moves that the 6’9″ Hickson could not defend. The Lakers have Pau Gasol, Toronto has Jonas Valanciunas and Brooklyn has Brook Lopez.

In fact, Hickson is just a terrible defensive center in general, as other centers like Dwight Howard, Nikola Pekovic, Andrea Bargnani and Joakim Noah have all blown up against him as well. Hickson only managed to hold his own against Dallas and Oklahoma City, two teams that don’t look to their centers to score.

Does Hickson’s struggles and Mozgov’s two monster games signal a shift in roles in Denver? Probably not yet, which means Mozgov isn’t close to a must-add. Outside of his three big games, he’s only averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 16.5 minutes. However, taking a look at Denver’s upcoming schedule, here are the next four centers that Hickson/Mozgov will face:

  • Andrew Bynum (Huge Advantage: Mozgov)
  • Jared Sullinger (Advantage: Hickson)
  • Spencer Hawes (Advantage: Mozgov)
  • Marcin Gortat (Advantage: Mozgov)
  • Derrick Favors (Slight Advantage: Hickson)

When I say advantage, I don’t mean who will defend better, because Hickson is an all-around terrible defender while Mozgov is actually pretty decent. I just mean Hickson is almost assured his regular minutes against Boston and Utah, while Mozgov has a chance to steal the show again against Cleveland, Philly and Washington. That is unless coach Brian Shaw decides simply to play his better center. For the moment, it’s worth hanging on to Mozgov to see if that happens.

Other Notable Players: I told you Glen Davis would have another opportunity at a big night with Nikola Vucevic back, and he delivered in a huge way, dropping 33-3-3-2-0 in 50 minutes. Unfortunately, E’Twaun Moore couldn’t do the same even with Jameer Nelson out and Ronnie Price his only other competition for minutes…James Anderson and Hollis Thompson are both likely to be serviceable but uninspiring as long as Thompson is starting…Don’t get too used to the Bucks’ rotation. They started integrating Ersan Ilyasova back into the rotation last night, and they’ve still got Caron Butler and Larry Sanders to go. Their backcourt finally seems set with O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight though…This might be the last time we can talk about Brandon Bass for a while, who’s now 38% owned and will likely push back up past 40% today. We’ll see what happens when Kelly Olynyk returns though…Michael Beasley. He’s been scoring well and staying out of trouble. Just put him on your radar. If one of the Big Three is forced to miss extended time (we’re talking about Dwyane Wade obviously), Beasley may not become the starter but could regularly see 30 min like he did tonight…Alan Anderson got the start for the injured Paul Pierce but was limited in his contributions. Still, he should get plenty of playing time now. Tyshawn Taylor continued starting over Shaun Livingston, but both are becoming non-newsworthy…Gerald Green did not do well at all in his return to the bench. He’ll be better than 1-for-8 normally and was indeed still productive the last time Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe were both starting…And now Marcus Morris is the better twin again. This Jekyll-and-Hyde routine he’s playing with Markieff Morris is making both unrosterable…With both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph out last night, literally all the backup Memphis bigs had great games against Phoenix: Kosta Koufos (14-12-2-1-2), Ed Davis (21-12-1-0-2), and even Jon Leuer (23-9-1-0-3). The three shot a combined 25-of-36 (69.4%) from the field, a huge indictment of how awful Phoenix’s big men were on defense. Unless Randolph misses more time, though, Koufos is still the only useful player for fantasy. Davis would be in the mix if Randolph were to miss more. Leuer? Not so much…Josh McRoberts picked his game back up, but the assists and threes still aren’t back yet…It’s not even worth discussing Reggie Jackson or Jeremy Lamb’s performances except to mention that coach Scott Brooks is trusting them both more and more. The current OKC roster configuration is still looking for a James Harden/Kevin Martin-type to step up, but neither Jackson nor Lamb have fulfilled the role yet…Jason Thompson had a nice 10-10-2-0-2 line with DeMarcus Cousins out, but I’d still rather have Derrick Williams despite his barren line last night (13-0-0-1-0)…Even after replacing Amir Johnson in the starting line-up, Tyler Hansbrough has been nowhere close to useful. Johnson blew up for 16-10-1-1-1 last night, so coach Dwane Casey might even consider him properly motivated enough to put back into the starting line-up…

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

1. Kosta Koufos (29%)
2. Glen Davis (35%)
3. Marvin Williams (18%)
4. Brandon Bass (38%)
5. Wesley Johnson (13%)

The fact that Brandon Bass was left off this list the past few days was a big oversight on my part. Meanwhile, Koufos and Davis move ahead on account of their big nights, and Johnson beats Robinson out for the last spot after a wrist injury derailed Robinson’s night.

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Pickup of the Day: Jordan Crawford

(AP Photo / Charles Krupa)

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 Monday, November 11 is Jordan Crawford. Really, the Pickup should be Zaza Pachulia again, but it feels too early in the season to repeat a previous Pickup, so we’ll save Pachulia for Other Notable Pickups (see below). Meanwhile, we’ll stick with Crawford as our main guy, who’s 17% owned and will be rising significantly after dropping a surprising double-double on the Magic.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against Orlando:
20131111 Jordan Crawford

The number that jumps out the most is the 10 assists. Crawford has been averaging 10 more minutes per game since replacing Gerald Wallace in the starting line-up, but that wasn’t the his only break. Boston coach Brad Stevens also quickly realized Avery Bradley was not a PG and handed the car keys to Crawford.

He certainly responded strongly with 16-5-10, a steal, great percentages and–most impressively for a newly minted PG–ZERO turnovers. The far more widely owned Bradley didn’t do terribly either, putting up 24 points and 3 steals with great percentages…and absolutely no other positive stats. It’s too early to say both players won from this switch in roles, but this arrangement certainly worked tonight.

Is he legit? My impression of Jordan Crawford had always been that of the chucker on the Wizards. He didn’t get many opportunities to establish a new impression in his first year in Boston, but he’s getting a chance this year to carve out a role on this new tanking leaner Celtics team. For example, I’m pretty sure Crawford has never had a 10:0 assists-to-turnover ratio in his entire professional career. That number won’t last, but it’s not entirely flukey either. So far this year Crawford is having the lowest turnover rate of his career. He’s also producing his lowest personal foul rate along with his best FT% and assist rate. This really does look like a new, smarter Jordan Crawford than the guy who shot without conscience in Washington. His value’s going to fall when Rajon Rondo comes back, but who knows when that’ll be? Also, if Boston becomes as bad as everyone expects them to be, what would even be the point of bringing Rondo back early and playing him late? Pick up Crawford, and see how far he can takes his career this year.

Other Notable Players: On to the real story: the fact that Zaza Pachulia is still only 35% owned. He’s been a Top 5 Sneaky Pickup since we’ve had a Top 5, and he’s been the top Pickup ever since Larry Sanders got into a barfight. Well turns out Sanders will require surgery for the thumb injury he suffered while cracking champagne bottles over dudes’ heads, so he’ll be out for six weeks. This also boosts John Henson’s value, at least until Ersan Ilyasova returns, but Pachulia is now more a lock than ever. PICK. HIM. UP…Al Jefferson returned to the line-up for the Bobcats, and Josh McRoberts returned to fantasy relevance with a 19-6-7 line and 5 threes. This is by far his best game of the year, but he’s been plagued by inconsistency even when he receives large minutes. When he is on, though, he’s a surprising source of assists and threes from the PF spot…For some reason, Kelly Olynyk is 43% owned despite his mediocre play. Well he certainly rewarded fantasy owners that stuck with him with a solid 16-7-5 tonight, but Jared Sullinger played nearly as well in around the same minutes. Sullinger’s role is more versatile, though, as he can be a fill-in for Olynyk, Brandon Bass or Jeff Green. I’m a broken record now, but the Sullinger revolution is coming…Steve Nash is reported to be out for two weeks to recuperate from nerve root irritation in his back. This is Steve Blake’s time, but, if he struggles, keep an eye on Jordan Farmar, too…The confirmed winner of the JaVale McGee Is Injured contest is J.J. Hickson. He’s already 39% owned, so snatch him up quickly…Derrick Rose limped out of the Bulls game and didn’t return, but his injury is being reported as a minor hamstring tweak. Don’t go out and pick up Kirk Hinrich. Unless you just love Kirk Hinrich. Then who am I to stop you?

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Zaza Pachulia (35%)
2. Steve Blake (27%)
3. Metta World Peace (32%)
4. Jordan Crawford (17%)
5. Corey Brewer (28%)

Accountability: Nothing about my Pickups this time, but rather two offhand comments I made about players whose ownerships are way too high for this blog. First, Andrew Bynum looks less like a complete bust now that he’s had a fairly successful start. 11-6-2 with two blocks in almost 21 min is a big win for him. Second, Jeremy Lin was once again the better fantasy PG in Houston, and that’s a huge understatement after he had a spectacular 31-point game reminiscent of his Linsanity days against the Raptors (albeit with zero assists). Meanwhile, Patrick Beverley missed all five of his shots from the field. I have no idea if Lin’s relationships with James Harden and Dwight Howard are still tense, but let’s just forget I ever doubted he was the Rockets PG you wanted on your fantasy team.

Pickup of the Day: Steve Blake

(AFP Photo / Scott Halleran)

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 Sunday, November 10 is Steve Blake. He’s owned in 14% of Yahoo! Leagues, but his stock has been slowly rising as Steve Nash’s continues to fall.

Here’s a look at his line last night against Minnesota:
20131110 Steve Blake

Remember that weird tidbit from coach Mike D’Antoni’s introductory press conference with the Lakers last year about how he’d always wanted to coach Steve Blake and that he’d been trying to get Blake on one of his teams for 10 years?  At that point we all collectively said, “Huh, Steve Blake?”, but now it seems he might’ve been serious.

Steve Nash has been battling back pain all year and will see a doctor about it on Monday. If the 40-year old PG needs to be shut down for any amount of time, both Blake and Jordan Farmar’s values will shoot up. Originally, Farmar looked like the heir apparent here, but Blake has caught fire since hitting the game winner in Houston. He will get first crack at the starting spot if Nash is out.

Is he legit? We do have to remember this is Steve Blake we’re talking about here. He might end up getting 36 mpg, but even his per-36 min numbers haven’t looked great. He will get you threes, assists, and the occasional steal, but he doesn’t get to the FT line and his FG% has always been subpar. Still, he will be the captain of a Mike D’Antoni offense, and this is an offense that has made valuable fantasy producers out of Steve Blake’s ilk before (Holla Q-Rich, Leandro Barbosa, and Raja Bell!).

Other Notable Players: Also on the Lakers, Jodie Meeks continues to be Mr. Consistency if you’re looking for a stable source of threes. His FT% has always been good, but his .507 FG% this year is nearly 10% above his career average. Nash’s injury helps him as well, as he’s likely sliding into the starting SG spot…Jason Smith had his best game and most minutes of the season as Greg Stiemsma fell out of the rotation. His midrange shooting creates good spacing for Anthony Davis, but the Very Rich Man’s Jason Smith, aka Ryan Anderson, could be making his return as early as Tuesday…As expected, J.R. Smith returned to the line-up and took minutes away from Iman Shumpert, while Metta World Peace had the second-most playing time after Carmelo Anthony…Reggie Jackson, looking revitalized! This was more what I had in mind when I said hold on to him even after Russell Westbrook comes back, though it must be noted Westbrook was ejected from this game…Steven Adams, on the other hand, did not have a good game and didn’t play many minutes, but Kendrick Perkins continues to be ineffective and played just a smidge fewer minutes. Adams is a good guy to stash in roto leagues while we wait for him to take over Perkins’s job, but he’s not going to be a useful rotation piece in head-to-head leagues…Gerald Green still had a productive game despite Goran Dragic’s return but also saw his minutes drop to the fewest since Dragic went out. The Suns have looked good with Green in the starting line-up, but his production is likely about to get too inconsistent to keep him…The Nuggets didn’t play last night, but an opportunity is about to arise for someone with the news that JaVale McGee is out indefinitely with a broken leg. The question is who will absorb his minutes? The options are J.J. Hickson, Anthony Randolph, and Timofey Mozgov with Darrell Arthur as a longshot. None of them have played much. Arthur will likely still be buried on the bench. Mozgov might get the start but doesn’t have the talent. Randolph has the most talent but has never strung together any streak of consistency in his entire career. Hickson actually had good value last year averaging a double-double for Portland and will probably be the winner here, though will it be enough? McGee only played 16 mpg this season. If one of the above players takes all his minutes, that player will instantly become valuable. If those minutes are divvied up more evenly amongst the platoon, none of them will.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Zaza Pachulia (34%)
2. Steve Blake (14%)
3. Corey Brewer (22%)
4. Metta World Peace (31%)
5. J.J. Hickson (38%)

Accountability: No regrets last night, baby! I’m feeling good about Metta, Reggie and Markieff Morris, and I’m going to keep pimping Steven Adams.