More 2013-2014 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers and Busts

Preseason has ended, and I’ve already participated in three CBS prize league (for cashish) fantasy drafts. I now have a few more players to add to my original sleepers and busts post:        

SLEEPERS

Monta Ellis: I’ve always viewed Ellis as having underrated point guard skills, and they may finally be realized this year. Ellis has averaged 2 more assists than Calderon in the preseason, and I’ve heard Dallas announcers rave about his pick and roll chemistry with Nowitzki and Brandan Wright. He also already has chemistry with Sam Dalembert, whom he played with in Milwaukee.

And yet I see Ellis forecast to have less assists than last year, down to 4.9/gm from 6. That makes no sense to me, particularly considering how much better Ellis’ Dallas teammates shoot the ball compared to last year’s Bucks.

I think it’s very likely that Ellis exceeds 6 assists a game this season, and also that his shooting % improves considerably because of how well Dallas spreads the floor. Triple teaming Ellis, which was a nightly occurence for him while on the Warriors and Bucks, will not be an option on a team with Nowitzki and Calderon.

Ellis is projected 28th, and has been available in the mid-20s in every draft I’ve participated in. He could be worth a lot more.

Dirk Nowitzki: If Ellis is great this season, might not Nowitzki be better? He’s currently projected 38th in my rankings, exactly how he finished last season. I really don’t get that ranking for several reasons. Starting with the fact that he’s going to start this season far more healthy than he was last year. But also because Dallas had a severe point guard problem last year. Darren Collison and Mike James? P.U.

Isn’t it possible that the additions of Calderon, Ellis and Devin Harris will help Dirk get great shots?

No one likes old guys in fantasy drafts. In my last draft, I picked up Dirk with my 51st pick! It will take a major injury for that pick not to pay dividends, and I think there is room for upside surprise above his projection at 38th.

Don’t sleep on the old guys.

Sam Dalembert: While we’re talking old fart Dallas guys, I just drafted Dalembert with my last pick (145th). I show him projected for 108th, and if you’re in need of a backup center who can block shots, I don’t think you can find a safer candidate.

Is there another center on Dallas this season? There is not. Is he playing with point guards willing to dish the rock to a big guy? He is. Two in the same backcourt in fact.

Mike Conley: I show Conley ranked 16th, and I mention him primarily because he has always been available to me at 22. Not so much a sleeper as great value, that others are sleeping on.

But maybe he is a sleeper. The Grizzlies are attempting to remake their offense this season. Fast-breaking more often. And transitioning from the old-school static post-up offense of Lionel Hollins, to a Spurs-style pick and roll, perpetual motion offense.

Is it possible this radical change in philosophy could have a major effect on Conley’s points and assists totals?

Amir Johnson: I’m not sure whether Johnson will exceed his projected ranking of 70th, but I have noticed that he is being virtually ignored by fantasy owners. Perhaps they fear that his minutes are under threat from Valanciunas and Rudy Gay.

If he gets his minutes, Johnson is a guy who can really help you in blocked shots (1.5/gm), rebounds and FG% late in the draft.

Kyle Korver: Owners have also really been sleeping on this guy. They seem completely unaware that he’s projected at 81.

That’s also 6 places below where he ranked last season, when he only got 8 shots a game. Isn’t it possible he winds up getting quite a few more shots this season? Gunner Josh Smith is gone. Lou Williams is still rehabbing from injury. He’s one of the most efficient scorers in the league. He’s got a new coach — Mike Budenholzer of the Spurs — who’s very cognizant of that fact, and is installing the Spurs system. And with Millsap joining Horford down low, the Hawks are desperate for his floor spreading.

Seems to me there are a lot of reasons to like Mr. Korver this season.

Isaiah Thomas: Am I repeating myself about this little dude? I am. Draft this guy! After watching the preseason, I’m convinced he will be the Kings’ sixth man, and he will frequently share the backcourt with Vasquez.

It’s a reality. Thomas is the Kings’ Manu Ginobili.

Jarret Jack: I’m a little worried by his knee, and he’s being drafted right around where he was ranked after his great season last year: 98th.

There are a couple of reasons why scooping up Jack in the low 100’s might pay dividends, though: 1) It’s possible that old-school coach Mike Brown prefers him to Dion Waiters in the 4th quarter. He was great in that role for the Warriors. 2) Is Kyrie Irving injury prone? Just asking.

BUSTS

Goran Dragic: I might be wrong about this, but it’s hard to see how the Suns give-away of pick and roll partner Marcin Gortat will help Dragic’s assists. Who is he going to pass to on this Suns team?

It’s also hard to see how the Suns’ emphasis on tanking, and the trade rumors that are already swirling around Dragic, will help his production this season.

Having said that, I keep winding up with him on my teams, because he’s a terrific fantasy player projected at 33, and he’s always been available to me drafting at 46.

Maybe his point totals will go up, playing for a wretched team? I won’t mind a bit if I’m wrong about Dragic.

Patrick Beverly: It seems likely that he’ll wind up with the starting point guard job in Houston, particularly since Jeremy Lin makes so much more sense off the bench, as a sixth man. A lot of owners are gambling on this possibility, and they may be right.

On the other hand, I think it’s highly likely that Beverly and Lin wind up sharing time, which will hurt both of their fantasy values. The Houston backcourt situation is too dominated by James Harden, and too crowded in general, to ever see both of these players on the court together. And I think it’s highly unlikely that Lin is traded this season — Beverley is too untested.

This looks a lot like a Kenny Smith — Sam Cassell situation to me.

(See also: my original 2013-14 Sleepers and Busts list.)

31 Responses to More 2013-2014 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers and Busts

  1. rgg – I haven’t noticed the formatting problems from my end. What exactly is happening?

    Anyone else notice anything wonky about the site?

    Are you accessing the site from your computer, or a mobile device? I have changed the mobile format to make it more readable from phones, but that shouldn’t change the PC formatting.

    • warriorsablaze

      Formatting looks all good to me on the PC.

      I’m intrigued by Ellis this season. If there’s going to be a sort of redemption for him, this seems like a good opportunity. I was happy to see him go (mostly for Curry’s sake), but I definitely appreciate the talent.

      Ellis upped his assists but still shot among the highest volume on the team with poor results in the pre-season. Curry also shot poorly, so preseason doesn’t necessarily mean much…other than inefficient shooting has been Ellis’ MO for several seasons now. Should be an interesting year.

    • Off and on the past week you’ve lost all theme formatting in comments or front page or both, i.e., margins are really wide, the width of the screen, and everything is strung down the page in single file.

      New Mac computer, latest system (Mountain Lion). (And Mac users, I understand you’d better stay away from the new, free Mavericks upgrade for a while).

      I don’t this is a Java issue, as the blog isn’t built on Java is it? I don’t know if this is related to my computer, but I had all kinds of problems with the new Yahoo site, long waits, pages not opening, etc.

      • Looks fine now, btw.

      • The mobile formatting is intentionally single file, as you mention, so maybe there’s a glitch that uses that formatting for Mac users.

        Everyone please keep me updated if problems persist.

        • logging in from a windows pc in a hotel in dallas – formatting problems, looks like html commands are being picked up
          midnight dallas time

        • Bummer, but thanks for the report Buck. I’ll turn off the mobile formatting tomorrow and see if that fixes it.

  2. I am very, very intrigued by the Greek Freak:

    • warriorsablaze

      Awesome… I feel like I remember hearing about this kid when he was a teenager. Looks very skilled and ridiculously long. Too bad he went to the no-man’s-land of the Bucks. Maybe he can turn that franchise around in a few years.

  3. OK, I’ve deactivated my mobile themes plugin. Those who’ve been seeing formatting problems, please let me know if they persist.

    • I had the same problem on my ipad last night, IOS7. But everything was back to normal this morning before the switch and looks OK now. The behavior has been really erratic, off and on. Not all pages lose formatting, or sometimes you lose formatting when you go to comments for a post. Odd you can’t see it, and that it sometimes only affects certain pages.

      And odd posts are turning up. A post promoting a trade for Derrick Rose?

  4. Listening to Curry, it appears the Warriors plan on keeping their identity from last year. They know what they need to do:

    RUN.

    http://www.bayareasportsguy.com/all-eyes-on-stephen-curry/

  5. Zach Lowe on the Gortat trade and the Bogut signing:

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/80080/a-tale-of-two-big-men-marcin-gortat-on-the-move-andrew-bogut-sticking-around

    It’s worth noting in the context of the Bogut signing that Gortat will be a free agent next year. While he is nowhere near the defensive presence that Bogut is, his superior pick and roll skills would be a perfect match for Curry on the offensive end. Which player would produce the greater point differential?

  6. Rockets cut Reggie Williams.

    • warriorsablaze

      Is he still injured? Seems like he never really recovered. I’d love to get Reggie back… we could definitely use his offensive skills off the bench. Make the call, Myers!

  7. I don’t know a lot about these guys doing the preview but thought I would post here as a bit of a contrarian view…..

    http://www.boxscoregeeks.com/articles/the-warriors-the-fragile-present

    Personally, I am getting very nervous about fulfilling the general expectations this season and am just not certain how this team handles its new status as mainstream media darlings.

    • fwiw, @haralabob just killed these guys for their analysis of the Pacers, and the predictive ability of the Wins Produced stat in general, on Twitter.

      I can’t really engage on any of their analyses, because I don’t understand it. The Wins Produced stat is garbage.

  8. From what I understand WP can’t measure things like: hockey assist, defensive rotation, i.e. movement of offense and defense – it can’t measure what I would like to call: TEAM cohesion, or chemistry.
    For example if you start your attack by moving the ball extremely well that gets an open shot for a guy in the right position to take it – the sequence of assists are reduced to only one assist – the last one. So the middle man by WP usage of boxscore stats has contributed nothing to possession ending in scoring the points. It is left uncounted. So individual WP stats can be misleading. If Draymond Green made a right pass to Curry who made a lob to Barnes, Green produced zero Win in this situation, which is ridiculous. The team players shooting good percentage might be not a stat of individual worth, but of offensive cohesion, ingenuity or old school chemistry.
    The same goes for defense, defensive stop can be achieved by good rotations and positioning of whole squad, while no one getting a block or a steal, simply forcing other team make a bad shot. Now the last man standing gets the rebound, and can have huge rebounding numbers, but this is an outcome of whole team defense, not individual effort.
    So, WP can’t measure/predict successfully new stats i.e. upcoming ones for teams which players form different gameship bonds – that develop new chemistry.
    Simple example – WP think thompson will not produce many wins, since he shoots bad from two (based on last years’ stats), but, if preseason was important indication – Klay will post up a lot, and will shoot over smaller defenders much more with him and Iguodala (sharing both SG and SF positions) being guarded by SGs which means one of them will always be able to post up smaller defender. So if Warriors are clever, from game to game, or from posession to possesion, one of them will shoot a lot of high percentage shots from the two in post up position. This automatically raises WP stats for both of them and can’t be deduced from last years stat.
    Essiantially WP doesn’t see the Team as a bigger thing than sum of its parts.
    I believe Warriors last season success was largely due to being a Team.
    And hope that this year they can at least repeat that. So, if that is the case you can add 10 wins to WP win total for the team.

  9. No, it’s not that wp48 is garbage. But even these authors are not knowledgeable about each team in depth, including trends and coaching propensities. I lodge my disagreements there with their projections.

    They were wrong last year. Using the same wp48 with some insight I was much closer. They are wrong again this year. Using the same wp48 with better insight projects (now) something closer to 47-49 wins.

    And they are off on their season minutes for the Clips team by over 600 minutes. Very sloppy. . .

    I’d be happy with my summer projection of 55 wins, but I’m just giving a conservative number now, assumptions stated there and on Fastbreak.

  10. Recently told that stats show that Curry is by far the all-time best outside shooter in the history of the NBA and that he makes 3’s from 29 feet out at 40%.

    • warriorsablaze

      Actually, in the Dwyer article Felt links to above, it notes that Curry shot 48% from beyond 28 ft last season… which is utterly ridiculous.

  11. warriorsablaze

    http://regressing.deadspin.com/stephen-currys-numbers-are-as-unlikely-and-wonderful-a-1449057524/@kylenw

    Another good article about Curry… talking about how he is the rare talent whose game passes both the eye AND advanced stats test.

  12. @7

    Reggie Williams only played 40 games for Charlotte last season. Was he injured again, not played because he didn’t fit in their system, such as it was, or has he just tailed off?

    It took him about two weeks to get up to speed in Nelson’s system, and he put up some serious numbers:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/player/gamelog/_/id/4229/year/2010/reggie-williams

    He tailed off the next season with Smart because Dorrell Wright offered more?

    He played 2 and 3 with GSW, and even backup 1 at Charlotte. He’s a scorer, who needs minutes and shots. He also performs best in open court, up tempo. Actually he is a bit streaky, and his 3 point % wasn’t as high as I thought, 36% career. Overall % is good, however.

    His defense I suppose is so-so, though that is hard to measure when you factor in the depleted lineups he’s had to play in.

    And I wouldn’t mind the second unit pushing the tempo and getting more shots up. Reggie would help out here, especially if they had another scoring threat. And the team has size and defensive players to put around him. If he got hot and the team could run small, he could even be teamed with Curry and Klay on perimeter to make some lightning strikes to fatten leads.

    But he’d only work out if the team were committed to making use of his talents.

    I assume he would come cheap. . . .

  13. @8

    “None of their rotation players are expected to be above average.”

    I think he means the subs. That actually sounds right to me. Landry had an outstanding season last year. Could we expect the same from Speights and JON? In a word, no. Barnes and Douglas are average at best. The productivity of this year’s Ws bench just looks sorta average. It’s true: that could prevent the Ws from moving into the NBA elite.

    “The only way the Warriors [improve their record] is by getting amazing overproduction from several players. It could happen, but I wouldn’t count on it.”

    That sounds right to me too. For example, I think we know the team is going to have to cut back Lee’s and Curry’s minutes from last year, for health reasons. Their production should drop accordingly. Thompson also played huge minutes last year, and his 4th Q performances paid the price all year long. He needs more time off the court too.

    The prospect isn’t all doom and gloom. Green is healthier, slimmer, and still just as smart and solid as last year. If he can get better at finishing at the rim, he’ll be huge. Barnes might actually perform better as a sub, because as a bench player there is no coasting. Speights isn’t Landry, but he does have some assets Landry could only dream of. If his new team environment helps him realize his ability, he could be really good. Not counting on it, but the possibility exists.

    Despite the so-so bench and the reduced minutes for some of the starters, I think the Ws will have a better record this year. Iggy is a huge plus. He’s also a great teammate, who makes those around him better on both ends of the floor. And the rest of the team’s starters have more experience together. That makes a big difference (a la Spurs).

    But 10 wins better? Nope. Not without a productive bench. Not if Lee, Curry and Thompson all get their minutes reduced to more sustainable levels. And not without a closer, a crunchtime go-to guy who can always create a shot for himself. The Ws regular season winning margin last year was the smallest of all but one other team in the playoffs. Having a closer makes a difference. There is no closer on the team this year.

    One last point: the team isn’t going to surprise anyone this year. Traditionally, the Ws have been an opponent that other good teams didn’t feel they had to game plan against. They could almost always “mail it in” for a win. That won’t be true this year. The league didn’t get tougher, but the Ws games will be. Because this year the Warriors are in everybody’s sights.

    So I’m not betting on a huge improvement in the Ws regular season record. Maybe a little. 4-5 games better.

    With an increased intensity of regular season competition, they might be stronger in the playoffs, though. That could be cool.

  14. For me, JON replaces Biedrens or Ezeli. Huge upgrade there.

    Speights is huge downgrade from Landry as is green. Barnes will help some when he’s at PF.

    Douglas huge downgrade from Jack.

    Iggy only upside, but big one.

    Team, at best, a wash compared to last year. Better defense, worse offense.

    Win total won’t be 50 games, unless 15 player added to roster plays and contributes. Most likely. With some unforeseen injuries-42 or less wins. Who really knows?

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