Pickup of the Day: Markieff Morris

(AP Photo / Rick Scuteri)

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 Friday, November 8 is Markieff Morris. He is currently owned in 28% of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues, and, after two scintillating nights, that number is likely to leap quite a bit by tomorrow morning.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against Denver:
20131108 Markieff Morris

We’ve had eleven Pickups of the Day so far, and three of them have been Suns, proving productive players on “bad” teams are always underrated. Though “bad” is a misleading label right now with Philadelphia and Phoenix both leading their divisions at 4-2.

Markieff and Marcus Morris have both been productive for three games now, but Markieff really blew up in the last game when he dropped 23 points on 11-13 FG. He topped that tonight with a career-high 28 points on 10-13 FG and 7-8 FT. Markieff Morris will also get you strong rebounding numbers, steals, and the occasional three. He had a brief streak of games like this late last year on this team as well, but he’s hitting a new level now. Pick him up and see how far he can carry you.

Is he legit? I really don’t know. After his previous game, I thought he would eventually absorb Channing Frye’s minutes, but Frye played 30 min tonight and wasn’t horrible. Meanwhile, P.J. Tucker is looking less and less useful. At some point, I would guess Morris is replacing someone in the starting line-up and will keep getting starter’s minutes. However, we should also remember that he’s shot 84.6% and 76.9% on 13 shots his last two games, something that won’t continue. Expect his value to fall back to earth over the next few games. The only question is by how much. If he keeps up his current season stats–16 & 7 with 1.6 stl and a three every other game on solid percentages–then you’ve already got yourself a good pickup. However, those averages are skewed by some light minutes earlier in the season. We’ve seen Morris is a much stronger scorer and rebounder in heavier minutes, and his ceiling could be quite high on this motley crew of fantasy goodness.

Other Notable Players: If not for Markieff Morris, the Pickup would definitely be Steven Adams. Adams had a solid outing against Dallas on Wednesday and stepped it up even more against Detroit tonight to the tune of a 17-10 with three blocks on .700 FG% and .750 FT%, even outplaying much-hyped opposing center Andre Drummond. As OKC slowly realizes Kendrick Perkins should not be their Center of even the present, Adams will get more and more opportunities. The reason Morris beats Adams out is because I don’t expect consistent play from rookies…Al Harrington took advantage of Martell Webster’s foul trouble to steal minutes away, but Webster is still the player you want…Iman Shumpert took the minutes I expected to go to Metta World Peace, and Andrea Bargnani’s huge game didn’t help World Peace either. Unfortunately this situation will get even more muddled after J.R. Smith’s return…Bargnani didn’t qualify as a Pickup on this blog when he was 42% owned two days ago, and he definitely doesn’t now that he’s 52% owned, but I hope you were part of that lucky 10% that took a chance on him, because it’s about to get a lot harder to get him…Another impressive sub-20 min game for C.J. Miles. Wish Mike Brown would give either him or Jarrett Jack regular minutes…James Anderson and Tony Wroten are really running neck-to-neck here. Anderson is still getting the start and more minutes, but Wroten might end up with more fantasy value off the bench in a Jeremy Lin type of way…Kelly Olynyk got more minutes, but he didn’t do as much with them as Jared Sullinger did with his. 11-6-4 with 2 blk and 7-8 FT in under 20 min? The .250 FG% wasn’t good, but his time is coming…Andrew Nicholson’s time will come, too, but I’m less sure of him since he still hasn’t been able to beat out Jason Maxiell and has Tobias Harris and Glen Davis somewhere on the horizon…Steve Nash was expected to be out tonight, and Steve Blake stepped up in his place. He still only has value if Nash gives advance notice for additional missed games, but Jordan Farmar has the higher upside…Jae Crowder has been quietly gaining minutes and hitting threes for Dallas. Though he didn’t make any threes tonight, he played 32 min, his most of the year…Steph Curry was out tonight, so don’t expect a renaissance for Toney Douglas…Goran Dragic ended up not playing tonight, giving Gerald Green one more good game. The window is quickly closing, however…Just like in Phoenix’s last game, Marcus Morris also put up good numbers. Just not as good as Markieff’s. When Dragic returns, I imagine Green and Marcus suffering the biggest hits, which must feel weird as someone who has an identical twin with a bigger role on the same team…We had an Anthony Randolph sighting! The fantasy unicorn returned from a sprained ankle to post a sensational line, hitting virtually every category. Unfortunately, Randolph has no history of consistency; there’s a reason he’s 0% owned. Jordan Hamilton is the more reliable pickup here, but it’s always worth a shot putting the multi-cat monster Randolph on your watch list.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Markieff Morris (28%)
2. Zaza Pachulia (35%)
3. Martell Webster (18%)
4. Steven Adams (8%)
5. Corey Brewer (16%)

Accountability: When I told you to hang on to Reggie Jackson, I certainly wasn’t anticipating his next two games to be one where he misses an entire half with an injury and then a 6-6-6 in 18 min. Hopefully he’s still recovering from his hip contusion, because otherwise it looks like coach Scott Brooks will play him a lot more like last year’s Eric Bledsoe than last year’s Kevin Martin. He’s not worth dropping yet unless you have a pressing need somewhere else or there’s a really hot pickup like Bargnani burning a hole on your waiver wire, but his outlook has significantly dimmed.

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Pickup of the Day: Miles Plumlee

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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, October 30, 2013 is Miles Plumlee. He was owned in 10% of Yahoo! leagues when I started writing this, and now his ownership is at 23%! He might well become ineligible to count as a “sneaky” pick by tomorrow, so I’m posting this tonight.

Here’s a look at his line tonight vs. Portland:

This was a massive night in NBA games with 28 teams playing, and there were so many possible great performances by players eligible to be sneaky pickups that I can’t even justify wasting too much time waxing poetic about Michael Carter-Williams (79% owned) coming out of a terrible summer league and lackluster preseason to post 22 pts, 7 reb, 12 ast, 9 stl, 4 3’s, 60.0 FG%, 75.0 FT% in his first career game. I’ll just leave it at “Wow.”

So out of all the great performances tonight, why does Miles Plumlee take the prize? Opportunity. As Cody Ulm superbly wrote for SB Nation, Plumlee was the biggest winner from the Marcin Gortat trade. Channing Frye hasn’t played NBA basketball in 16 months after suffering a heart ailment, Alex Len is still recovering from double ankle surgery, and no one knows when Emeka Okafor will be back on the court.

Plumlee has the athleticism and the skills, and now he’s finally getting the minutes, too, as the Phoenix Suns’ starting center. Coming over from Indiana in the Luis Scola trade, he put up yeoman numbers in the preseason as the Suns’ coaching staff fiddled with him in the starting line-up. Now with Gortat out of town, he’s the incumbent.

It’s hard to predict his ceiling, as he never even averaged over 21 mpg at Duke, and he nearly hit 40 min tonight. The three blocks are likely a rare treat, but this is a guy who’s going to get you points and rebounds without hurting you in percentages.

How legit is he? Legit. There is nobody else on this roster I see taking minutes away from Plumlee aside from Len and Okafor. I see the Morris twins and Frye cutting into P.J. Tucker’s minutes before they do Plumlee’s. Okafor may be the better defensive player, but it’s not like the Suns will rush him back for some postseason run. Though at some point, the Suns will be so terrible that they’re going to want to see what they have in Len, I don’t envision that until after the All-Star break. Plumlee is a lock, and now he’s at 25% owned! Stop reading, and go pick him up!

Other Notables: Josh McRoberts gets the silver medal. Like Plumlee, he’s an athletic journeyman who’s won the starting job from a hyped rookie big man, in this case Cody Zeller. Zeller just seems to be a bigger threat here than Len does to Plumlee…Utah is going to be a very interesting team for fantasy this year as all sorts of unproven players get huge minutes, and Alec Burks could easily be Sixth Man of the Year if he doesn’t move into the starting line-up outright…Tim Duncan left the game tonight with a chest contusion, which means Boris Diaw could be in line for serious minutes…Trevor Ariza posted a monster line, but I don’t buy it. He’s 40% from the field in the past four years, he’s  competing with Martell Webster and Al Harrington for minutes, and I don’t trust he’ll always get his shots while sharing the ball with John Wall and Bradley Beal…Apparently Larry Sanders hasn’t gotten over his foul problems, and Zaza Pachulia will stand to benefit on nights he’s limited…Speaking of Milwaukee, Gary Neal seems to be the winner if Brandon Knight’s hamstring injury is serious…And Will Bynum is the winner in Detroit while Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Jennings are out…Here are three veterans who should just be owned in more leagues: Vince Carter, Corey Brewer, Caron ButlerAndrew Nicholson: another solid line, another game under 20 min…I’ve seen Francisco Garcia put up hollow stat lines like tonight’s his entire career. The Houston bench guy you want is Omri Casspi, and you don’t actually want him that much. Oh, and so much for Patrick Beverley taking over that PG job.

Accountability: Well, the Lakers certainly seem committed to giving Xavier Henry all the opportunities he could want to succeed, as he got 35 min while Wes Johnson, Jodie Meeks, and Nick Young all got under 25 in tonight’s historic beatdown by the Warriors. Henry’s final line didn’t look atrocious, but it really was before a full fourth quarter of garbage time. As was Jordan Farmar’s. Still, as long as Henry is playing 35 min, he’s rosterable.

Pickup of the Day: Xavier Henry


(AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

This season I will try to highlight a notable player, based on the games played the previous night, who’s available in at least 60% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Tuesday, October 29, 2013 is Xavier Henry. He’s only owned in 7% of Yahoo! leagues right now, but I’m guessing that will change quite a bit by the end of today.

Here’s a look at his line last night against the Clippers:

The Lakers bench absolutely killed the Clippers, pouring in 76 points total and 41 in the fourth quarter alone. Being as nobody expected much if anything from the Lakers this year (looking at you, C-Webb), there are several reserves that are readily available in most leagues and played well tonight. Jordan Farmar easily could’ve been my pick as well, posting a 16-4-6 line with a steal and two three’s while playing the most minutes of any Laker. Jodie Meeks, who had productive stretches last year, put up decent numbers as well, and Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill were both solid.

Wesley Johnson was terrible. Wesley Johnson shot 1 for 11 and blew a dunk at the end of the game. Wesley Johnson is still a bust. Sorry, Wesley Johnson.

The prize tonight though goes to Xavier Henry, who I honestly didn’t even know was still in the league and previously was only notable to me for pronouncing his name “ZAH-vee-eh.” In fact, this is the highest scoring game of his career. It’s the first game of the season, so this is obviously ridiculous trying to predict his entire year. Still, Nick Young doesn’t do anything but score and not even efficiently, and I don’t expect the Lakers to start Steves Blake and Nash together all year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Henry get most of the minutes at the wing if he continues playing anywhere close to this, making him still valuable even after Kobe gets back. Whenever that is.

How legit is he? It’s the first game of the season, so either we’re looking at this year’s Most Improved Player or we’ll never hear from him again. You take a guess.

Other Notables: Most of these Lakers will fall back to earth by the end of tonight’s games, but Farmar looked great and will likely play a lot of minutes backing up Nash. I really don’t trust Blake…Shawne Williams was awful, but I think Kaman (who’s 57% owned) and not Hill (who’s 2% owned) will benefit from that…Andrew Nicholson put up a strong 18 points but only played 19 min and shot an unsustainable 80%. I’m guessing Jason Maxiell is playing ahead of him for defense, but Nicholson won’t have much value until he gets the bulk of that timeshare…Lance Stephenson is owned in 45% of Yahoo! Leagues, so he’s not a “sneaky” pickup, but he really should be owned in all leagues until Danny Granger gets back, and even then I think he’ll still be better than Granger.