It is Nov. 16 and most players have played about 10 games. That said, what has grabbed my attention so far? (For reference, I am using the ranking of players produced by basketballmonster.com)
NUMBER ONE – Chris Paul
“CP3” is currently ranked as the number one overall player and his real-life NBA team, the Hornets, are tied with the Spurs for the best overall record in the NBA. His main strengths are assists (10.1 per game, third in the NBA) and steals (2.8 per game, t-second). Paul also helps in both percentage categories as he is shooting 51.4% from the floor and 86.4% from the line. He’s also averaging a solid (for a point guard) 5.1 rebounds per game, an adequate 0.9 threes-made per game, and a career-low 2.2 turnovers per game.
Going forward, Paul has the ability to remain an elite fantasy asset because through nine games he is playing a career-low 33.7 minutes per game.
SELL HIGH – Joakim Noah
Noah is one of my favorite players to watch. He also has a very fantasy-friendly game and his per-game stats of 16.5 points, 13.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.1 steals, 2.3 assists to go along with a 76.9% free-throw percentage would all represent career-highs. It also currently has him ranked as a top 10 fantasy player so far this season. Noah’s minutes, shot attempts, and free-throw attempts are also all career-highs. Young (25 years old) and eligible at two positions (PF and C), Noah’s stock has arguably never been higher.
So, why trade him away now? The simple answer is that Carlos Boozer, the Bulls’ big free agent signing from this past off-season, is due to return from a broken right hand sometime in the next two to three weeks. Now is the time to trade Noah as I feel that his shot attempts, points, and rebounds will all take a moderate hit when Boozer comes back.
What to do? Since Boozer’s eventual return is public knowledge, it will be impossible to get first-round value in return. Since you probably drafted Noah in the fourth round or so, second- or third-round value should be adequate as a return. The first place to go would be the team that has Derrick Rose, as they could be the biggest Bulls’ fan in your league.
BUY LOW – Brook Lopez
Lopez was a second round draft choice, but he currently ranks 96th in per-game-value this season. Lopez’ shot attempts (career-high), blocks (career-high), and FT% (career-high) are all solid and he is averaging 18 points per game. The main reason for the decline in value stems from his poor field goal percentage (42.1%) and rebounding numbers (5.6 per game).
I expect the rebounds to bounce back, though with Troy Murphy and Derrick Favors on the team it may be tough to get back to his 8.6 per-game average from last year. I also think that his field-goal percentage will rise over 50% by season’s end. If you take a look at his career stats broken down by month, you can clearly see that his field-goal percentage in November is his lowest of any month.
SHOWING OFF – Roy Hibbert
In the Café’s Bonanza league, I picked up Roy Hibbert in the first round (essentially the sixth round after factoring in five “rounds” of kept players). In less than a month, Hibbert has skyrocketed up to the 17th overall ranking in fantasy production. Hibbert is shooting a career-low 46.2% from the field but his shot-attempts, points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and free-throw percentage would all be career-highs at this pace. Also, while playing an additional five minutes per game, Hibbert is averaging fewer fouls per game than he did last season.
While I don’t believe that he will finish the year in the top 20, I do feel that we are seeing the true extent of Hibbert’s abilities. In other words: this isn’t a fluke. It usually takes time for big men to get adjusted to the NBA, so with this being Hibbert’s third NBA season we may simply be witnessing the emergence of the league’s next great center. Going forward, I believe that the continued integration of new point guard Darren Collison will only benefit Hibbert’s game.
My NBA predictions:
NBA Champion (Miami Heat)
MVP (Kevin Durant)
Rookie of the Year (John Wall)
Defensive Player of the Year (Josh Smith)
I have been participating in fantasy sports since the good old days (paper, pencil, box scores in newspapers, etc.). Basketball and baseball are my favorites though I've dabbled (without success) in football and hockey. You name it, I've done it (standard/custom, serpentine/auction, live/computer/message board, public/private/winners, etc.).
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