Playing the schedule
THE NBA All-Star Weekend is just over a week away—starts on Valentine’s Day in fact, so hello to all the lovers out there—which signals the traditional halfway mark of the fantasy basketball season as well.
As a reminder to my fellow managers, teams play only two games at most in Week 16 (starting Feb. 10) then have their last six weeks before the fantasy playoffs kick off on Week 22 (starting March 24). Congratulations are also in order to the managers who have held on to their Final Four playoff berths so far.
So how do you make sure that you get into the playoffs (more of a problem for head-to-head managers than Rotisserie guys)? One way that’s most commonly suggested is to play the schedule; that is, try to get quality players with as many games remaining as possible, via trades or the waiver wire.
As I often gush about in this space, Rotoworld is an excellent resource for anything fantasy hoops, and certainly is worth the 25 dollars you pay for a Season Pass. One of the Season Pass features is a schedule breakdown done by the amazing Steve Alexander or “Doctor A” that is beyond useful for any fantasy hoops head.
To paraphrase Dr. A, Brooklyn, Denver, Miami, and Phoenix all play 31 games total after the All-Star break, so aim for players like:
The Nets’ Deron Williams, Joe Johnson (an All-Star? Ugh), Paul Pierce, and Andray Blatche (Deep League Special: Shaun Livingston). Brooklyn has a perfect playoff schedule—it plays four times in the four weeks from Week 21 to 24.
The Heat’s Three Kings, plus Mario Chalmers (DLS: Ray Allen). Miami, like Brooklyn, also has a 4-4-4-4 schedule in the fantasy season’s most significant month, so tender those offers for LeBron, DWade and Chris Bosh now (good luck with prying King James away from his owner, though).
Ty Lawson, Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried (DLS: JJ Hickson) of the Nuggets. Lawson has been dealing with a bum shoulder but should still run the Denver offense (which probably would have been better than the Super Bowl-losing Broncos—see below). Foye has simply been on fire, while Chandler and Faried have played better lately.
Goran Dragic, Channing Frye, Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee (DLS: Markieff Morris) of the Suns. Dragic is carrying a boulder on his shoulder after being snubbed for the All-Stars, and is taking all the opportunities in the absence of the injured Eric Bledsoe. However, fantasy owners who own Phoenix big men should be worried about the rumored trade that would bring in Pau Gasol from the Lakers as the Spaniard would definitely hurt Frye and Morris’s values.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder play just 27 games post-All-Stars, so if you deal, say, Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook for Lawson or Dragic with the playoffs in mind I would not call you crazy, but it is certainly a gamble. You might also want to deal Steph Curry for LeBron because Golden State only plays 12 games during Weeks 21 to 24.
Again, playing the schedule works best for head-to-head formats and may not be advisable for Roto or Keeper/Dynasty leagues (when you have the next season to consider). But if you play your cards right, trading for players with better skeds before the playoffs may make all the difference between a championship and a fourth-place finish.
Five for Fighting
Week 15 Schedule (Thanks to Rotoworld):
4 Games: BRK, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, IND, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIN, NOP, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, POR, SAS, SAC, WAS
3 Games: ATL, BOS, GSW, MIA, MIL, PHX, TOR, UTA
2 Games: CHA, HOU
PG: DJ Augustin, Bulls—We pimped DJA in a previous column and he hasn’t slowed down since as Chicago’s starting (and so far only) point guard. Over the last week he has averages 19 points with 2.3 triples a game to go with 6 assists, 1 rebound and just 1.7 turnovers. Coach Tom Thibodeau (and my boss Riera) must be proud of this waiver wire star.
SG: Randy Foye, Nuggets—This is why you should trade for Foye now, if you don’t already have him: 21.5 points, two three-pointers, 11.5 assists, three rebounds and two steals over the last week. He’s helped by the fact that Nate Robinson is (again) done for the season with an ACL injury, while filling in for Lawson and his sore shoulder.
SF: DeMarre Carroll, Hawks —Atlanta’s starter at the “three,” Carroll posted 15.7 points (with 1.7 treys), 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 3.3 steals and just one turnover a game last week. He’s been steady all year and doesn’t belong on the wire anywhere yet is still owned in just a third of Yahoo leagues.
PF: Mike Scott, Hawks—The rookie forward has shown his worth as a “four” spelling Paul Millsap in ATL’s decimated frontcourt, netting 16 points, 7 rebounds and 2.7 assists (with a surprising three-pointer) a game with great percentages over last week.
C: Boris Diaw, Spurs—Coach Greg Popovich just keeps pulling rabbits out of hats in this injury-plagued season, and this time the hare apparent (forgive the bad pun) is the French forward, who has normed 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1 block an outing over the last week.
Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for winning Super Bowl 48, and to their wide receiver Doug Baldwin, whose grandmother is from Tacloban City. Baldwin waved a Filipino flag (albeit upside down) in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in tribute to the storm survivors. He also scored Seattle’s last touchdown against the Denver Broncos to seal their Super victory.... To the best big sister in the world, Jennifer Gulle, belated happy birthday, and let’s gobble up more cake when I get home.
Jimbo Gulle: email@example.com