So far this season, I think we have already segregated the weeds from the wheat, the men from the boys, if you will. Out West, two teams have exactly done that– not only in the standings– but their style of play as well: the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors.
After losing key pieces in the offseason through trades (Jeremy Lin to LAL) and free agency (Chandler Parsons to Dallas), nobody gave Houston much of a chance in a stacked conference. As it turns out, the Rockets are winning because of defense and while Dwight Howard is currently in street clothes, Kevin McHale and Co. worked some magic in the frontcourt via a committee approach, giving minutes to Tarik Black, Donatas Motiejunas, Joey Dorsey, Kostas Papanikolau, and even Francisco Garcia. That quirky line-up allows only 96.5 points per 100 possessions, good for second in the league.
While it’s virtually impossible to assess their front line on a regular basis in a fantasy perspective, Motiejunas is turning out to be a decent middle to deep-league option, churning out 14 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists on a 58% shooting from the floor across the last 5 games. The most important number: 31.2 minutes per game during that span.
Recently, starting point guard/Westbrook killer Patrick Beverley returned from a 6-game absence and was very impressive, posting 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block on 5 treys in a win over the Phoenix Suns. So if some owner got impatient and dropped the former Laker draftee, nab him right away,
Now if you’re a keen observer, I said the Rockets are the second-best team in the whole wide league in terms of defensive rating, and that means there is one team better than them in stopping people. Yes folks, you guessed it right, it’s Steve Kerr‘s Warriors of the Bay Area.
Not only are the Warriors the best defensive team based on 100 opponent’s possessions, they are also the second-best squad when it comes to offense per 100 possessions, placing a cool 107.6 offensive rating, only behind the Dallas Mavericks.
In a fantasy perspective, the Warriors are a gold mine, fielding four starter-worthy (fantasy) players and three solid deep-league options and they are still missing David Lee! Draymond Green is currently ninth in the Player rater among power forwards and Bogut is number 12 among all centers. (We all know about Steph Curry and Klay Thompson so let’s save some space here.)
Harrison Barnes (11.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG with healthy percentages), Marreese Speights (12 PPG, 5 RPG), and Andre Iguodala (3.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.1 SPG) are options in the deep leagues, in that order.
Speaking of, the Warriors play four games in the upcoming week, all against fantasy-friendly foes so feel free to nab either of the three, or even Green (if he’s available in roto and H2H).
Fantasy Forethought: Players to Watch
Tony Parker gets bitten by a mosquito and Pop sits him out. That’s how it goes for the Spurs. It’s hard to argue with the results but it’s a headache for fantasy owners so if ever Gregg Popovich gets a little extra careful with Parker, feel free to pick Cory Joseph off the waiver wire. In the two games he pinch-hit for the Frenchman, the Canadian averaged 15 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1 steal. If your league is one of three that leaves Danny Green off their rosters, don’t be gun-shy and shoot right ahead.
The former UCLA bruin’s stock has gone up leaps and bounds given Minnesota’a fragile backcourt state. Ricky Rubio‘s busy pressing his suit and so is Mo Williams, paving the way for the uber-athletic guard to start and be fantasy-worthy. In the last two games, Lavine is averaging 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 7 assists and should continue producing those kind of numbers if given 35 minutes a night.
It’s been a while since Chandler’s been playing this well. In the last three outings, Wilson Chandler averaged 17.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 1 combined steals and blocks. Still available in around 40% of leagues, so you know what to do.
Teams with four games: Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, L.A. Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, OKC Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards