Saturday, February 9, 2008

Fantasy Basketball Market Watch - 2/9/2008

This week, we saw the second blockbuster deal of the NBA trade season as the Miami Heat sent Shaquille O'Neal to Phoenix in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. As the February 21st trade deadline approaches, you can expect several more moves as teams like the Dallas Mavericks try to keep up with the Joneses out west and Cleveland desperately attempts to get King James some help. 


This edition of Market Watch serves as a prelude to the trading frenzy featuring a few players benefitting from completed deals while others gain motivation from trade rumors and vise versa.

UPGRADES

Darko Milicic, PF/C Memphis Grizzlies - Oh Darko, just when I was out you pull me back in! The biggest beneficiary of the Pau Gasol trade wasn't Hakim Warrick but rather the former #2 overall pick. Darko is now seeing 30+ minutes a game and averaging a double-double with over 10 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks a game in the 4 games since Gasol was dealt to LA. With Memphis entrenched in tank mode coupled with the recent trade of Stromile Swift and rumors of a Mike Miller deal, there will be plenty of playing time for Milicic in a thin Memphis frontcourt. Barring injury, he should be an excellent source blocks and rebounds going forward.

Thabo Sefolosha, SG/SF Chicago Bulls - Sefolosha has actually been starting and getting 30+ minutes since mid-January; however, he had not made a believer of me until recently. Sefolosha appears he has engrained himself as the Bulls starter in the backcourt or at small forward regardless of Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich being available to play. The team has been prospering with Sefolosha on the floor as he can score and rebound on offense while playing solid defense. Thabo has the ability to contribute across a variety of fantasy categories including points, rebounds, steals and even blocks. In addition, if Sefolosha continues to see time in the backcourt, he is capable of putting up 4-5 assists although it may reduce his points.

Mo Williams, PG Milwaukee Bucks - Williams enjoyed a big week averaging 27 points and nearly 7 assists to go along with  2 three pointers and a gaudy assist/turnover ratio. He has quietly had an excellent season putting 17.3 points, 6.6 assists and 1+ three pointers and steals. With Yi and Bobby Simmons missing time with injury, Williams is the only legitimate scoring option outside of Andrew Bogut and fantasy owners should see an increase in his points, assists and three pointers. 

Andre Miller, PG Philadelphia 76ers - There are an abundance of trade rumors swirling around the veteran point guard that have him being shipped to a contender before the trade deadline. Accordingly, Miller has raised his game and trade value of late, putting together a superb start to the month of February averaging 21 points, 9.5 assists and 4+ rebounds a game over his last 4 games; all above his season averages. A healthy Miller on a good team can be an excellent fantasy contributor in points and assists while seriously raising a fantasy team's assist/turnover ratio. Keep an eye on where Miller ends up as I have a feeling his days in Philly are numbered.

Andrea Bargnani, SF/PF/C Toronto Raptors - The 2006 #1 overall pick has been doing work in the first week of February averaging 21 points, 5 rebounds and 2+ three pointers a game in the last 3 games. Bargnani has been starting since late December; however, his playing time has been inconsistent due to the Raptors depth in the frontcourt. An injury to Kris Humphries and the benching of the ineffective Rasho Nesterovic have opened up ample playing time for Bargnani as a non-traditional center in the Toronto lineup. Bargnani has seen 33+ minutes in each of his last 4 games and will continue to be an excellent offensive contributor as long as he plays adequate minutes. 

DOWNGRADES

John Salmons, SG/SF Sacramento Kings - This downgrade is a long time coming. Salmons had a great start to the 2007-2008 season but since the return of Mike Bibby in mid-January he has seen a reduction in playing time and his output has suffered. For a time Salmons playing time was down to 20 minutes a game; however, over the last week he is once again seeing 30+ minutes. Unfortunately, there aren't enough balls to go around in Sacramento with Ron Artest Mike Bibby and Kevin Martin returning and Brad Miller playing at a high level offensively. Salmons is establishing himself as the team's 6th man but won't be a consistent fantasy contributor again until one of the King's starters, persumably Mike Bibby, is traded.

Kyle Lowry, PG Memphis Grizzlies - Lowry had a good two week run as starting point guard following an injury to Mike Conley Jr. However, Conley returned last night and as expected Lowry's playing time was greatly diminished going from nearly 40 minutes a night over the last 5 games to merely 14 minutes. The return of Conley coupled with the arrival of Javaris Crittenton via the Gasol trade should make Lowry a fantasy afterthought for the forseeable future. 

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