Friday, February 1, 2008

Fantasy Basketball Market Watch - 2/1/2008

Welcome to the second installment of Market Watch which takes a comprehensive look at the fantasy basketball landscape over the past week to determine players worthy of upgrades and downgrades.

In this edition, we have quite a few upgrades including two Fantasy Ballers On The Brink who have officially arrived, old friends missing in action since November, an all-star snub and a guy who plays hard under self-fulfilling circumstances. 

UPGRADES

1. Kirk Hinrich PG, Chicago Bulls - In the three seasons proceeding this one, Kirk Hinrich has been a model of consistency. He has put up solid point guard numbers averaging around 16 points, 6 assists, 2 three pointers and 1+ steals while maintaining a strong FT%. With high hopes surrounding the Bulls when the season began, many fantasy owners believed Hinrich would make the leap this year. Unfortunately, the first three months of the season were unkind to him as his numbers have been down across the board making him one of the bigger disappointments in the first half. Since the injuries to Ben Gordon and Luol Deng in mid-January, Hinrich has been juvenated and has put up some serious numbers over the last two weeks. He is averaging 22.7 points and 7 assist a game including his first two 30+ point outbursts of the season. Hinrich looks like he has turned the corner and could be in for a good second half that is reflective of his past numbers. Deng's prolonged absence adds to Hinrich's value.

2. Randy Foye PG, Minnesota Timberwolves - Another guy that has been missing since the season began in November only he has a much better excuse. A stress reaction in his kneecap forced the second year point guard to miss the first 43 games. He returned Tuesday playing limited minutes off the bench against the Bulls, scoring 11 points in 17 minutes. It will take a few games for Foye to get back into game shape and shake off the rust; however, once he's good to go he should see significant minutes as the starting point guard. Minnesota is headed nowhere and with Foye being a lottery pick last year he will be given every chance to develop. Once he is playing 30+ minutes again Foye can be a solid contributor in points, assists, steals and to a lesser extent threes while shooting a high percentage from the FT line. Look for him to make an impact in the second half of the season.

3. Hedo Turkoglu SG/SF, Orlando Magic - Despite enjoying a career year and putting up Eastern Conference all-star caliber numbers all season long, Turkoglu has gone largely unnoticed and was not selected to play in the big game in New Orleans. Lately, Turkoglu has been playing his best basketball of the season and is coming off a huge 2 week run. In his last 7 games Turkoglu is averaging 24.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 three pointers a contest, scoring 20 or more points in each game. Turkoglu's recent play is hardly a fluke as his skill set is a great fit for Stan Van Gundy's shooter-friendly offense in Orlando. Try to snag Turkoglu now as his second half numbers should improve upon his current output.

4. Rajon Rondo PG, Boston Celtics - Rondo started the year as a sleeper point guard option and soon became overvalued by fantasy owners. After struggling with inconsistent play and injuries in the first three months, Rondo resurfaced on the waiver wire. With the injuries behind him and Kevin Garnett missing time, Rondo is emerging as an excellent fantasy point guard, playing his best basketball of the year. Rondo is a well-rounded fantasy contributor with his greatest assets being his proclivity for stealing the ball and his good rebounding ability; rare among point guards. In his last 6 games, he is averaging 14 points, 6 rebounds and nearly 3 steals a game. His assists are down but he has shown in the past he's a good passer and has the ability to average 5-6/game. 

5. Nate Robinson PG, New York Knicks - The first of two Fantasy Ballers On The Brink who have officially arrived. Nate has thrived in Marbury's absence, receiving around 30 minutes a night in January and averaging 15.7 points, 5 assists, 1 steal and nearly 2 three pointers a game in that time. Robinson is playing more point guard of late and in his last 9 games is averaging close to 7 assists a night with a solid assist/turnover ratio of 3.6. Robinson's minutes will continue to increase in the second half and his output in scoring and assists should benefit. 

6. Al Thornton SF/PF, Los Angeles Clippers - Rounding out the Fantasy Ballers On The Brink, Thornton broke out for 33 points in only 33 minutes on Wednesday night, showing that when given the opportunity to play he can be a serious fantasy contributor. While his game isn't as multi-faceted as some of the other guys on this list, Thornton can do two things well, score and rebound. With the trade deadline rapidly approaching and the Clippers looming at the bottom of the Western Conference, Thornton should get plenty of minutes going forward. Right now is an excellent time to add Thornton as his value should slowly rise and will eventually spike when the following guy is dealt.

7. Tim Thomas SF/PF, Los Angeles Clippers - Is it just me or does Tim Thomas only try when he is playing for a contract or being showcased for a trade to a contender? Well, right now the Clippers are giving him plenty of minutes as they attempt to move him at the deadline and naturally he has responded. Thomas has had some big games over the last week, averaging around 19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and a three pointer a game. Thomas should continue his good play as long as he is on the hopeless Clippers but once he is dealt (I guarantee he gets moved before the deadline) all bets are off.

DOWNGRADES

1. Jamal Tinsley PG, Indiana Pacers - Tinsley has been a good fantasy point guard this year flourishing in Jim O'Brien's fast-paced offensive system. He is averaging nearly 9 assists a game to go along with 12 points, 2 three pointers and 1 steal.  Unfortunately, injuries are taking a toll and have forced Tinsley to miss 11 games over the last month and a half. Even when he has played, Tinsley's scoring is way down making him more or less a one dimensional fantasy player only capable of consistently piling up assists. Tinsley's health doesn't look to be improving and he will continue to be a risky play on a nightly basis going forward.

2. Sebastian Telfair PG, Minnesota Timberwolves - One week after we upgraded Bassy we are forced to now downgrade him upon the return of Randy Foye. Without 30+ minutes a night, Telfair will be unable to put up consistent numbers. I'd say he should continue to make fantasy-relevant contributions in assists and steals until the all-star break. After which, Foye should regain his starting role, relegating Telfair to the bench.

3. Eddy Curry C, New York Knicks - Curry has seriously fallen out of favor in New York and is no longer seeing consistent minutes over 25 minutes. Curry is a one dimensional fantasy player at best, as he has the potential to provide double-digit scoring totals. However, his inability to rebound and block shots coupled with his reduced burn currently make him a non-factor in fantasy circles.

DOUBLE BONUS
  • The Denver Nuggets have won 19 consecutive games when Allen Iverson has 10 or more assists.
  • Shaq was not selected to the all-star team this year ending a streak of 14 straight appearances. 

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