Saturday, January 5, 2008

Fantasy Ballers On The Brink: Louis Williams & Nate Robinson

This time of year, the fantasy basketball waiver wire is about as barren as the trees outside. Normally, the vast majority of breakout players and injury beneficiaries are snatched up quickly in the first two months of the season. The next wave of impact guys come later in the season, February and beyond, as a result of deadline trades, late season injuries/precautionary shutdowns and tanking for draft purposes.

Thus, the best way to go about adding players this time of year is to project forward rather than adding the flavor of the week which can result in a never-ending carousel of mediocrity on your roster. I like to look for talented young guys whose playing time has been steadily rising and/or are one move away from seeing increased burn. Once a player is averaging 25 minutes/game or more, than they will have the opportune amount of playing time to contribute on a consistent basis. There is nothing more frustrating then adding a young guy who looks great one night and like Jared Jeffries the next.
These players normally reside on bad teams that are close to trading veterans or desperate for a lineup change. Right now, there are two excellent candidates worthy of being added immediately that have not received much notoriety in fantasy basketball circles, yet. Both are on poor to terrible basketball teams and have seen there playing time reach or exceed the 25 minute/game threshold in the past 2 weeks. These two players are Louis Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson.

Nate is the better candidate right now as he is averaging over 30 minutes a game over the past 2 weeks. He has been posting solid offensive numbers scoring 17.3 points per game along with over 2 three pointers. Nate's energetic style of play could also help fantasy owners in rebounds and steals as well as assists (if he gets decent burn at the point), making him a balanced fantasy contributor.

The Knicks are a team in crisis mode right now and the young guys have been getting extended minutes as a desperate Isiah Thomas attempts to shake things up. Robinson should continue to play 30 minutes or more a night regardless of Stephon Marbury's return to the lineup.

Louis Williams has been playing well lately and has the potential to have a big second half. He is averaging a modest 13 points/game over his last 6 (17.5 a game over his last 3) as his playing time continues to increase, eclipsing 25 minutes a night. Williams' quick hands on defense have allowed him to compile some impressive steal totals as he is averaging nearly 2 per game over the aforementioned 6 game stretch.

Unfortunately, Williams is currently stuck behind Andre Miller at point guard which hurts his value. However, with Billy King gone, new GM Ed Stefanski looks ready to overhaul the roster and shift the Sixers into rebuilding mode as evidenced by the recent trade of Kyle Korver to Utah for an expiring contract and first round pick.

By many accounts Miller appears the next man out of town, probably before the trade deadline to one of several team in search of a veteran PG, making Williams the starting point guard. This would mean big minutes each night, allowing Williams to get more assists and add to his steal and scoring totals. He could be a big difference maker come playoff time.

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