Friday, November 7, 2014

Avoid Knee-Jerk Fantasy Basketball Moves

While it's still very early in the NBA season, teams and players are already beginning to show what kind of production they're going to bring to the table in 2014-15. As a general rule, fantasy owners should meticulously monitor the waiver-wire early in the year, just in-case an unexpected star breaks out. Everyone wants to be the person at the end of the fantasy season who can say "Man, picking up ________ in the first week really vaulted my team into contention. Who knows where I would have been without him?" That's all well and good, but we caution you to temper expectations. Don't go ahead and drop a potentially productive role-player just because someone got off to a hot start. Is Garrett Temple really going to win you a fantasy championship as your starting PG? Below, we're going to outline some of the league's hottest pickups of the year, and break down exactly how you should be handling them:

Garrett Temple, PG/SG, Washington Wizards

Temple has added more than any other player in Yahoo! Fantasy leagues to this point in the season. He's currently starting at SG for the Washington Wizards while Bradley Beal works his way back from a broken wrist. Temple is scoring over 13 points per game with serviceable peripheral numbers, but his performance seems like a fluke. The former LSU product has been a glorified bench warmer in Washington for the last 3 years. He's a 28 year old journeyman who has never scored over 5 points per game in a single season. It's hard to believe that Temple has flipped the switch now. His 1.5 steals per game are tantalizing, and while his scouting report praises him as a tough perimeter defender, we expect regression there too as his minutes take a dive. Beal is expected back in a few weeks, so if you're going to grab Temple, understand that he's probably already played his best basketball of the year, and may not be on the court much once Washington gets healthy on the wing. Call Temple a rental at best.

Gary Neal, PG/SG, Charlotte Hornets

This one may be a little different. Gary Neal is a proven sharpshooter in this league, so if you're looking for threes, you'll get them here. Neal had plenty of success under Greg Popovich throughout his young career, so he clearly knows offense. Don't expect him to provide much else besides shooting though. He's currently grabbing 4.3 rebounds per game, but that's way over his head, no pun intended. Neal should settle in around 2 rebounds per game. He's also not much of a passer, so if you're going after the former-Spur, you have to know that you're doing it for one category, and one category only. In addition, this Charlotte back-court could become crowded with the likes of Kemba Walker, Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson, Brian Roberts, and rookie P.J. Hairston in the fold. If Neal goes cold from deep at any point, his minutes could take a hit. Overall, there are better options out there.

Chris Copeland, SF/PF, Indiana Pacers

We'll stay behind the 3-point line for this one too. Copeland is playing on a Pacers' team that is completely decimated by injury, and looks flat out awful. It's hard to remember that this team was supposed to be the Heat's biggest rival last year. Still, fantasy owners don't get points for team wins, and the Pacers' struggles happen to be Copeland's most attractive quality. He will give you points and 3-pointers due to the sheer volume of shots he'll be able to take. Unfortunately, that probably spells a low FG%, and more turnovers than you'd like for a player of his caliber. Copeland hasn't been in the league long though, so for a relatively young guy, the upside is understandable. He seems like a better option than Temple or Neal if you're looking for a hired gun.

Shawne Williams, SF/PF, Miami Heat

Hold the phone. This guy has been added to over 1,600 Yahoo! Fantasy teams over the past week? Anyone care to remind us why? Williams has always struggled to find a steady job in the NBA, let alone carve out a real role. He has the reputation of a shooter, but shoots a career 40.4% from the field. The only reason he's being added is because he scored 14, 15, and 16 points in consecutive games while filling in for the injured Josh McRoberts. The fact is, even if Williams were a starter, he still wouldn't consistently put up those numbers. McRoberts is already back, and Williams will now shift back to the bench where he belongs. Don't waste your time. 

Kevin Garnett, PF/C, Brooklyn Nets

This is not 2003. We repeat, this is not 2003. KG throws up a double-double for the first time in a decade and everyone loses their minds. We're talking about a 38 year old man with ailing knees. We're also talking about a near-7-footer who averaged 6 points and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes per game last year. We don't want to disrespect a legend, and future Hall-of-Famer, but Garnett is done. He's just collecting checks at this point. As with any aging star, there will be moments where you find yourself saying "wow, that was the old KG." Sorry to break it to you, but no, it wasn't. The old KG is gone. Even with the one he already notched, we will eat crow if Garnett racks up 5 double-doubles this year. It's time to let go of this former superstar as a viable fantasy option. Go for a younger big, which shouldn't be too difficult, considering every single big in the league falls under that category.

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