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: Giannis Antetokounmpo


(Jerome Miron / 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 Tuesday, December 17 is Giannis Antetokounmpo, and I’d been practicing spelling that name for a long time in anticipation of this moment, even though I may be jumping the gun. He’s owned in 9% of Yahoo! Leagues and 0.6% of ESPN Leagues, but he is by far the no. 1 pickup today across Yahoo leagues. He’ll likely be available for longer in ESPN leagues because, quite frankly, ESPN has an awful interface that requires you to either spell “Antetokounmpo” perfectly or browse through all players until you find him.

He didn’t play last night, but his averages over the last three games are 12.0 pts, 8.7 reb, 1.7 ast, 0.7 stl, 0.7 blk and 0.3 TO on 47.6 FG% on 7.0 FGA and 80.0% FT on 6.7 FTA in 30 mpg. That FT shooting is a sneakily healthy boost, but otherwise his numbers don’t really stand out. Marvin Williams could do that.

Williams is actually an interesting comparison. As an incredible physical specimen drafted no. 2 overall above Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the 2005 NBA draft, expectations for him were sky high, and he’s now considered a bust despite some solid work for Utah this season. Antetokounmpo, another incredible physical specimen, was drafted 15th this year in what is largely considered the worst draft class since 2000. There were no expectations for him this year, but he has lit the blogosphere on fire, dominating headlines even as fellow Buck John Henson is putting up insanely good career numbers.

Antetokounmpo is getting his first start tonight because O.J. Mayo is out attending his grandmother’s funeral (condolences to Mayo), so this may not be a permanent move. As I mentioned many times before, he’s eventually going to get lots of minutes this season when the Buck give up and commit to playing their young guys, but it’s only mid-December. I don’t think the tanking is happening just yet, even if they are the worst team in the league right now.

Antetokounmpo’s potential is undeniable, though, and not just on the floor. Here’s a translated excerpt from his Greek blog that won me over completely:

It was an amazing experience, the game vs the Heat. Until of course the next day and the game vs the Thunder. I have said many times that Durant is my idol. He is the player I watch the most. When I came out on the court for a workout, he was already there, shooting. Working. I stopped and watched him. He was deadly serious. I could see it in his face. He was not relaxed. He was warming up with tension. I felt a satisfaction, when I saw my idol, approaching basketball with such determination.

 

In the span of just two days I found myself against two superstars like LeBron and Durant and I got the biggest lessons. Two of the biggest and most recognizable basketball players, with huge bank accounts, working hard, like they have something to prove, while in reality they have nothing to prove. LeBron is a two-time champion and four-time MVP. They have both played in so many All Star Games. Even so, work never stops. They do not rest in their glory. They are after perfection.

 

At the same time I saw right in front of my eyes what the combination of talent and hard work can offer to an athlete.

I read something like that from a 19-year old kid, and I can’t help but think this kid just gets it. I’ve only thought that about one other NBA rookie, and I see the same insight and determination in Antetokounmpo, if not necessarily the same polished skill set, as I did in his idol.

If you really need your bench guys to give you something, then I think you might be a little early pulling the trigger on the Alphabet Soup. Otherwise, he’s worth a roster spot just to be able to follow him more closely every day.

Other Notable Players: Many people caught last night’s thrilling point guard battle between elite PGs Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard, but how many of you caught the backup battle between mediocre PGs Jarrett Jack and Slo Mo Williams? Jack has averaged 12.0 pts, 3.5 reb, 3.8 ast and 1.0 3pm in his last four, and Williams has 11.0 pts, 2.5 reb, 5.0 ast and 1.8 3pm over his last four…In each game since his 31-point game, Derrick Williams has played in fewer minutes than the last, culminating in last night’s 22 min in which he dropped a 5-0-1-1-0. I was skeptical of his ability to push Jason Thompson out of the line-up after Rudy Gay got there. Should’ve stayed skeptical. This is a timeshare…Jordan Hill isn’t injured. He just picked up four fouls in seven and a half minutes. Don’t worry, Larry Sanders does this kind of stuff all the time and look how well he’s–er, nevermind…An update on Lakers guards: Nick Young is still unbelievably most consistent, Jodie Meeks is regaining his value, Wes Johnson finally put up another weirdly useful line 7-5-6-1-1 in 32 min, and I jumped the gun on Jordan Farmar (see Hindsight below)…Mike Conley sat out last night, and Jerryd Bayless was ehh, just okay. Oh, and if anybody asks, I totally had Jon Leuer at the top of my Top Five Pickups for the last two weeks, but I’d been misspelling his name as “Kosta Koufos“…After 10 games averaging 15.3 pts, 3.7 reb, 2.8 ast and 1.2 3pm in 27 min, Reggie Jackson has averaged just 9-3-3.5 plus no threes in 21 min in his last two games. Some might blame Thabo Sefolosha’s return, but Jackson has been getting steady minutes long before Sefolosha sat for three games. I’m not worried yet. Jackson’s numbers will be up-and-down, but he’s been pretty locked into sixth man minutes for a while now…Al-Farouq Aminu didn’t exactly stuff the stat sheet, but he prodded it from many angles with a 10-8-2-1-2 line. He got even fewer minutes than megabust Austin Rivers, who seems to be the one benefiting the most from Tyreke Evans’s absence. I call Rivers a megabust, but a Twitter commenter did note that Rivers has outplayed max contract-owner Eric Gordon in the last two games, so who’s the real megabust lately?…Andre Iguodala returned last night, and, though he did very little, you can now safely bench Harrison Barnes. If you didn’t drop Draymond Green weeks ago, then A. you can definitely do it now and B. you’re probably paying way too much attention to silly things like your job or your family. Stop neglecting your fantasy basketball team!

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

1. Jon Leuer (25%)
2. Jordan Hill (33%)
4. Marvin Williams (15%)
5. Jordan Farmar (7%)
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo (9%)

Clearly I’m not worried about Hill, although I also ignored the signs for him and Koufos before. Might regret not bumping Glen Davis back up. On the other hand, the bad news on Farmar drops him down, but not too far (see hindsight below). Michael Carter-Williams’s probable return on Friday means Wroten’s value as a starter for your fantasy team is probably done for the moment. Honestly, I’m not sure that Wroten’s less valuable than Antetokounmpo moving forward in the short-term, but the Alphabet Soup is to me what RG3 was to Matthew Berry last year. I can’t speak about him objectively.

Hindsight: All that optimism for a Friday return for Jordan Farmar is gone. Looks like he’s out at least another week, but if he’s back by Christmas, you’ll still be glad you stashed him…Over the All-Star break, when there are no games, I’m going to do a list of my best and worst pickups. Jeff Taylor will definitely be on my list of worst. This guy’s shooting just fell off a cliff this year.

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.

Pickup of the Day: John Henson

2(Gary Dineen / 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 Saturday, November 30 is John Henson. He’s owned in 31% of Yahoo! Leagues and 40.1% of ESPN Leagues. If I’ve learned one thing this year, it’s don’t trust the Milwaukee Bucks. After watching both injuries and coach Larry Drew jerk around the fantasy values of Larry Sanders, O.J. Mayo, Ersan Ilyasova, Zaza Pachulia, Brandon Knight, Caron Butler, Khris Middleton, Gary Neal and Nate Wolters (remember them??), I recommended ignoring all Bucks players…except Henson. Henson, I said, was the only Buck with stable value. I was wrong. In his very next game, Henson played his fewest minutes of the year (15) and recorded a 5-5-2-0-1. Yet, here we are three days later, and Henson is the Pickup.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against Boston:
20131130 John Henson

Henson gets the Pickup due to one major change and one major constant. The change is that he started at center tonight for the first time in his career (he’d previously only started at PF). Coach Drew admitted Pachulia is still banged up from his summer foot surgery and finally gave the much more effective Henson the start. Henson did what you expect him to, which is rack up rebounds and blocks while giving you a little scoring. In many ways, he’s similar to the Bucks’ normal starting center, Larry Sanders, except for the part where Sanders put himself out of commission for six weeks by breaking his thumb while popping bottles over dudes’ heads in da club.

That’s the major constant. John Henson has played all 16 games this year, making him and O.J. Mayo (who’s been awful) the only mainstays of Milwaukee’s rotation who have. While Henson may continue getting the start over Pachulia, keep mind that the Bucks also played this game without Butler and Ilyasova. Then of course there’s the looming specter of Sanders, who’s the rightful starting center despite not doing much with that opportunity in the games he did play this season. At this point, though, I think Henson has played well enough to merit a larger role even when everyone is healthy, but I also think we’ll never see everyone healthy on this team at any point this year.

Is he legit? Last year, Henson was the rare per-minute stat phenom that superseded his ridiculous per-minute numbers when given the actual minutes. His per-36 projections were 16.5 pts, 12.9 reb and 1.8 blk. However, in his one game between 30-39 min, he played 31 min and posted 14 pts, 15 reb and 4 blk. It got even more ridiculous in his two games over 40 min, as in those he averaged 22.5 pts, 20.5 reb and 3.5 blk! These are the kind of numbers Wilt, Russell and Thurmond posted in the 1960’s when they were punking unathletic 6’8″ white guys!

Henson’s per-36 numbers are more pedestrian this year, but you can expect some silly rebounding and block totals if he continues getting starter’s minutes. Whether he continues, though, is still up in the air. After all, you can’t trust the Milwaukee Bucks.

Other Notable Pickups: One other quick note about the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo (who I will start calling by his nickname Alphabet, even though I hate it, because his real name is too ridiculous) had his best game of his pro career (10-7-4, 2 3’s) in 28 min, while Khris Middleton fell off and both Caron Butler and Ersan Ilyasova sat. This won’t become commonplace for Alphabet (ugh) yet, but his upside is tremendous…Andrew Bynum is not any close to under 40% owned, but it’s worth noting that he posted his first 20-10 game since May 14, 2012 when he did it in the playoffs against Oklahoma City. Add the five blocks to his 20-10, and you’d have to go back to November 15, 2009 against the Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola-led Rockets to find another game like that. I can almost guarantee Bynum will see his minutes capped in his next game, but it’s fun to see a reminder of what he’s capable of when healthy and motivated, even against an elite defender like Joakim Noah…Two good games with heavy minutes in a row for Chicago’s new starting backcourt of Kirk Hinrich and Tony Snell. Hinrich has a higher upside because Jimmy Butler will return and kick Snell back to the bench, but, if Snell keeps this up, he’ll have played his way into coach Tom Thibodeau’s trust…Of course, on the day both Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez return to the line-up and just one day after Andray Blatche posted zero points in 10 min, Blatche drops a 21-8-1-1-1 in 24 min off the bench. Don’t buy into it. Including tonight’s game, Blatche is averaging 8-6-1 in nine games with both KG and Lopez…A more interesting development is Shaun Livingston losing his starting spot to Tyshawn Taylor. Livingston had the better night–though that’s not saying much–but this demotion was a long time coming after he posted seven straight subpar games since his 23-point breakout against Portland…Kosta Koufos had his finest game yet as a starter this year (10-11-2-2-3), and he should be owned and started in all formats even if Marc Gasol will be back sooner than expected. Interestingly, Ed Davis also started and posted a serviceable 10 and 8 as Zach Randolph sat with an ingrown toenail. It’s an ingrown toenail, though. Don’t pick up Davis…Instead of Shane Larkin, Gal Mekel got the start at PG for the injured Jose Calderon. Mekel did get seven assists but otherwise did nothing of note other than miss a bunch of shots…Patrick Beverley may never put up fantasy lines anywhere close to the best of Linsanity, but his 11-6-5-3-1 and 3 threes tonight were very versatile. Plus I clearly overestimated Aaron Brooks’s possible impact…He’s hidden in San Antonio’s deep rotation, but Marco Belinelli is averaging 13.4 pts, 2.6 reb, 2.2 ast and 2.8 3’s on 53.3% FG and 83.3% FT over his last five games. He’s averaging just under 23 min (did I mention San Antonio’s rotation is deep?), but he’s producing…Final reminder to pick up Jared Sullinger, who posted a 21-14 tonight (though not much else other than a three and good FG%). He’s at 39% owned tonight, and we’ll probably have to stop talking about him tomorrow when he likely clears 40%…Okay, so everyone hang on to your Channing Frye stock, feel free to sell on Gerald Green if you need to (Eric Bledsoe is set to start the next game), and Markieff over Marcus Morris again, for now…Way too many people are still sleeping on Marvin Williams. He’s been excellent, is averaging 32 mpg and won’t be giving Enes Kanter his starting spot back any time soon. The Jazz as a team looked great tonight, as seven of the nine players who played scored 12+ points. You know who didn’t? Enes Kanter.

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

1. Jared Sullinger (39%)
2. Channing Frye (39%)
3. Marvin Williams (10%)
4. Kosta Koufos (26%)
5. Glen Davis (35%)

This will be our last look at Jared Sullinger and Channing Frye for a while, as both are bound to blow over 40% by tomorrow after both had great games tonight. Sullinger just barely edges Frye out for that top spot because I’m still wary of what happens when Bledsoe rejoins Frye in the starting line-up and reclaims all his shots, but Frye’s fantasy upside is definitely higher. Meanwhile, Koufos’s strong game and Bass’s disappointing one tonight causes a switch in the bottom two. This, by the way, is the strongest Top Five we’ve ever had, and the ownership percentages back it up. Expect to see Henson and Bellineli join this group tomorrow night if no other notable players arise.

Hindsight: In other don’t-follow-my-own-advice-about-the-Bucks news, I just dropped Derrick Williams for Brandon Knight in one league following Knight’s almost-but-not-really-that-close-to-a-triple-double line of 20-9-8-1-1 and three threes tonight. As I said before I soured on all Milwaukee players, the Bucks want Knight to be their PG of the future. He’ll play a lot.

Pickup of the Day: Martell Webster

i
(D. Clarke Evans/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 Wednesday, November 13 is Martell Webster. He’s owned in 15% of Yahoo! Leagues and 1.2% of ESPN Leagues, which is actually a dip from where he was before posting three straight lousy games. His performance tonight might change that though, depending on what’s happening with Trevor Ariza.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against San Antonio:
20131113 Martell Webster

This is Webster’s best game by far, and it was 100% because Ariza went out with a hamstring injury. Ariza will get an MRI on his hamstring and may miss extended time with this injury, and Webster is the no. 1 candidate to reap all those minutes, most likely moving into the starting line-up as well.

Is he legit? One would think that there wouldn’t be many shots left to go around playing alongside John Wall and Brad Beal (okay okay, so only I did), but Ariza made it work very successfully, and there’s no reason to think Webster can’t do the same. The rebounds tonight are totally fluky, but this year Webster’s been a strong source of threes and steals even in a limited role off the bench. It’s only going to get better as he absorbs most of Ariza’s minutes.

Other Notable Players: I’ve been following the exploits of James Anderson and Tony Wroten in this space for a while, but I never saw this coming. With Michael Carter-Williams out tonight, Anderson scored a career-high 36 points while Wroten dropped a career-first triple-double. Unfortunately, this does nothing to clarify whether either will gain fantasy relevance when MCW returns. The track record for both is still way too inconsistent for me to recommend a pickup…Jeremy Lin, as I said before and never ever wavered from ever, is the PG you want in Houston. Both he and Patrick Beverley started tonight with James Harden out. Both did well, but Lin continues to be hell-bent on recreating Linsanity in Houston. Beverley did have a very efficient game, and we’ll see if he keeps it up…Terrence Jones got the start over Omer Asik, who finished with fewer than five minutes in an overtime game. Not looking good for Asik, but Jones’s stock just went up with a double-double and three blocks tonight. Omri Casspi did also have a good game…John Henson put up a decent line tonight (can’t be mad at 5 blk!) with Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders and Zaza Pachulia all out, but Khris Middleton turned out to be the big winner, especially with news that Caron Butler had to go back to the locker room with a shoulder injury. Though what we’re all really waiting for is more Giannis Antetokounmpo time…Just a reminder that Corey Brewer is only 31% owned, and he just dropped 27 points with five threes and two steals…Steve Blake and Jordan Hill blew up tonight, while Pachulia didn’t pay me his bribe play at all after posting two poor games. I know Pachulia will be back and meaningful minutes will be waiting for him. I wouldn’t drop him if I didn’t need to, but I can’t recommend picking him up with so many other strong options…Wesley Johnson started for the second game in a row and put up numbers in literally every category. His value is entirely in the peripheral stats (2 3’s, 3 stl, 5 blk tonight), but he needs 30 mpg like he got tonight to rack them up consistently. The Lakers got very little from their bench and lost tonight, though, so coach Mike D’Antoni might be cooking up more changes. Hill and Blake are probably safe until Nash gets back. Johnson, not so much…Just after I call Jodie Meeks Mr. Consistency, he goes out and finishes with one three and a bunch of bagels. Here’s a guy who was giving his team more off the bench…Timofey Mozgov thoroughly outplayed J.J. Hickson tonight. There’s discord brewing at the C position for Denver. Neither the Nuggets nor the Lakers give opposing big men many problems, though, so don’t get up too high on either Mozgov or Hill just yet (as I move Hill to no. 1 on my Top 5)…Remember how Gerald Green was going to drop off after Goran Dragic got back? Somebody forgot to tell him to do that…Ben McLemore and Jason Thompson were moved to the starting line-up with great results for the Kings. Even if Thompson gets regular minutes, though, he doesn’t contribute much more than in points and rebounds, the two easiest categories to get. But check out how well underperformers Greivis Vasquez and Marcus Thornton did under the new arrangements.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Jordan Hill (19%)
2. Steve Blake (34%)
3. Martell Webster (15%)
4. Corey Brewer (31%)
5. Patrick Beverley (35%)

Hindsight: Reggie Jackson spent a lot of time atop my Top 5 Sneaky Pickups, and now he clearly isn’t worth a roster spot. Things are going to be different with Zaza, though. They are. Really…I had high hopes for Steven Adams if he ever replaced Kendrick Perkins in the starting line-up. Well Perkins was out tonight, but Adams still did not capitalize. Despite the 17-10-3 (blk) game, he’s not ready yet…So that’s two disappointments on the Thunder. The lesson, as always, is the overlooked teams produce the most overlooked fantasy players. Check out the Sixers, Lakers, Suns, Celtics and Bucks for evidence.

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: Patrick Beverley

(AP Photo / David J. Phillip)

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 Thursday, November 7 is Patrick Beverley. He is currently owned in 28% of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues, and he didn’t do much to inspire an uptick in that number tonight other than start. Nonetheless, there are some reasons to keep an eye on him.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against LA:
20131107 Patrick Beverley

It’s not an impressive line, but the two numbers that should stand out are the 33:49 min and 10 FGA. Yes, Beverley missed nine of those attempts, but that’s clearly not going to be the case every night. In six playoff games last year, Beverley averaged 33.3 mpg and 10.8 FGA and posted 11.8 pts, 5.5 reb, 2.8 ast, 1.2 stl and 1.3 3’s. It’s a small sample size, and the numbers aren’t tremendous, but it’s an example of what you might expect from Beverley moving forward. Though you have to take into account that Dwight Howard now commands a lot of touches on offense. Theoretically he should free up space for other players to get clearer shots like he did in Orlando, but that was not what happened last year in LA.

By the way, for those Jeremy Lin owners who were concerned about him losing the starting job to Beverley, don’t be. Lin still played 31 min off the bench and posted an excellent line. His skills are much better utilized with the second unit where he’ll be the primary ballhandler and scorer and get to go against the opposing team’s second unit guards. The Rockets also played a smallball Beverley-Lin-Harden-Parsons-Howard line-up at the end of this game, so Lin seems like he’ll still get playing time to close out games.

Is he legit? No, on a normal night with a full slate of games, Patrick Beverley would barely get a mention. He is an available player worth watching, but I’d put him only slightly above Jodie Meeks, and neither are anywhere close to my Top 5 (see below). Beverley is going to get minutes and may give you good rebounding for a PG to go with a few steals and 3’s, but Lin is still the Rockets PG you want for fantasy purposes.

Other Notable Players: What can we say about the Lakers’ guards? Not many conclusive things. Wesley Johnson is actually Yahoo!’s highest-ranked Laker at #72 (even ahead of Pau Gasol) due to some surprisingly good peripheral stats: 1.4 3’s, 1.0 stl, 1.8 (!!!) blk. Those blocks aren’t from one fluke game either; Johnson has consistently blocked shots every game. You’d have to be somewhat desperate to swallow his 8.4 ppg on 34% shooting, though that doesn’t include his 16 pts on 40% shooting from tonight. For what it’s worth, I’d rather have Jodie Meeks, who’s been by far the most consistent if not spectacular guard on this team and has already done this in stretches last year. Meanwhile, Jordan Farmar could be a useful fantasy PG if only he could get the minutes, Steve Blake and Nick Young aren’t useful at all (in fantasy, Blake’s game-winner tonight was obviously clutch in real life), and Xavier Henry has been my worst Pickup call of the season so far. Just to be thorough, Steve Nash is owned in 70% of Yahoo! leagues but ranks behind ALL of the above players except Henry…I have nothing to say about the other two games.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Reggie Jackson (29%)
2. Metta World Peace (29%)
3. Zaza Pachulia (31%)
4. Martell Webster (17%)
5. Corey Brewer (16%)

Accountability: To be fair, Xavier Henry was our Pickup on the first day of the season, and I cautioned that it’s ridiculous to judge any player after one game…To no surprise, Larry Sanders was not charged in the bar fight for which he was being investigated. Not sure if the Bucks will suspend him for the incident, but he’ll soon be returning to the team. Zaza Pachulia is still a solid Pickup, but you have to believe the Bucks front office will eventually force coach Larry Drew to give their $44 million man as many opportunities to succeed as possible.

Pickup of the Day: Zaza Pachulia

(AP Photo / Morry Gash)

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, November 6 is Zaza Pachulia. He is the 24th ranked fantasy player by averages, I’ve been pushing him since the Bucks’ first game this season, and yet he’s still only owned in 26% of Yahoo! leagues. However, tonight’s news about Larry Sanders makes him a must-own. In fact, screw you, Greivis Vasquez! I’m picking up Pachulia in my own league!

Here’s a look at Pachulia’s line tonight against Cleveland:
20131106 Zaza Pachulia

The 41 min tonight are a season-high for Pachulia and mainly due to two reasons outside his control. The first was that Ersan Ilyasova was out with an injury (which also gave John Henson a lot of run, see Other Notable Players below). The second was the continuing roller coaster ride that is, as the more-apt-than-ever Zach Lowe nickname goes, LARRY SANDERS!

Sanders, who is already having a disappointing start and averaging under 17 and a half minutes per game, is currently under investigation for smashing multiple champagne bottles over people’s heads at a Milwaukee nightclub. The official designation for Sanders being out in tonight’s game was a “sore thumb.” Yeah, okay. The CBS report that he’s out indefinitely sounds premature to me, but it is entirely possible that he misses even more time pending this investigation.

First of all, this is tragic. Sanders has had disciplinary problems in the past, but last year he proved to be a natural genius in the area of interior defense. The Bucks clearly believed they’d have much more of the latter than the former when they signed him to a $44 million contract this summer, but that hasn’t turned out to be the case so far. As I just waxed poetic about Metta World Peace’s career arc a few hours ago, I certainly hope Sanders gets in touch with MWP and takes a few lessons on how counseling can help him get his life and career back under control. Though I also wonder how much the organization paying him $44 million has been doing in that regard.

Commentary aside, Pachulia has already been outplaying Sanders this year, and that now looks like it will continue for a while longer.

Is he legit? Pachulia was always a productive player for the Atlanta Hawks, but he never got consistent minutes there after Al Horford joined the team. Now with opportunity beckoning in Milwaukee, we could see a better version of what he was back in 2005-07 when he was still a regular starter and averaged 12 & 8 with a steal per game. So far this year he seems to be a better passer and shooter than he was then, which has already boosted his points and assists. The Sanders situation needs monitoring–both the investigation and his struggles this season–but Pachulia will definitely benefit in the meantime.

Other Notable Players: Of course, on the same day I say Markieff and Marcus Morris are just going to devalue Plumlee and Frye without being viable fantasy starters, they both go off. Plumlee even still had a good game. Frye not so much. This rotation is a fluid situation to watch, but both Morris brothers are worth a speculative add…While, I’m atoning for sins, I also said Josh McRoberts was less likely to break out of his slump than Brandon Bass and Vitor Faverani. Wrong. Both McBob and Biddy Bass had solid games tonight. Fav was outplayed by Kelly Olynyk, but I’m not buying that yet. Still holding on to my Jared Sullinger stock though…Andrew Nicholson had a sloppy game, but he put up 16 shots and played more minutes than starters Maurice Harkless and Jason Maxiell as the Orlando bench bolstered a beastly night from Nikola Vucevic to end the Clippers’ winning streak…Going back to the Bucks, John Henson also had a great game tonight with Ersan Ilyasova out of the lineup. Henson’s going to have value all season long…Gary Neal also went off for the Bucks, though Nate Wolters started. Both got heavy minutes, but both would also be tentative pickups with Brandon Knight’s return looming…No, coach Scott Brooks is not going with Derek Fisher over Reggie Jackson. Jackson actually suffered a left hip contusion and didn’t return to the game. He’s not expected to be out long, but if it is serious, Jeremy Lamb would be a good pickup…I just realized four of the five Sixers starters are over 80% owned in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues, and legitimately so. As a fantasy owner, you’ve got to love “bad” teams. If James Anderson can outplay Tony Wroten, which he hasn’t until tonight despite vastly out-earning him in minutes, he’d be worth a look, too…Zach Randolph only played eight minutes because his fiancée went into labor. Do not pick up Ed Davis.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Reggie Jackson (33%)
2. Metta World Peace (27%)
3. Zaza Pachulia (26%)
4. Martell Webster (14%)
5. Corey Brewer (15%)

Accountability: I already said I was sorry for that call on McBob and the Morris twins!