Remember how poorly Ilyasova treated fantasy owners at the start of last season's campaign? Yeah, pure awful! Even in a few of my competitive standard sized leagues, he found the waiver wire.
Now, do you know what he did once Scott Skiles was fired? Try: 16.1 points, 1.6 three's, 8.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals, .6 blocks and 1.4 turnovers on 48.5 FG%/81.4 FT%. This 43 game phenomenal stretch, starting January 8, 2013 through the end of the season, placed him 13th on BBM.
Want more goodies? The above production occurred in a hair under 31 minutes of average court time. Larry Drew has been known to lean on starters. The Bucks have kicked the high volume shooting duo of Jennings and Ellis to the curb.
While others may be gambling on the likes of Paul Millsap, Kawhi Leonard and Brook Lopez, you'll see me taking Ilyasova first every time.
With this pick I wanted help on the boards, threes, turnovers, field goal percentage, blocks and steals. Millsap does all of that except the threes and he's leaving a crowded frontcourt in Utah for an uncrowded one in Atlanta. Plus, there are more plenty of guys who can hit threes available for my next pick.
I would not have anticipated taking Vucevic so early, but that's probably due to my own ignorance. However the stats make it an obvious choice. His all-around game helps in boards, blocks and FG%, and doesn't take away in any other category save 3's and TO. Combined with Marc Gasol, I've got a solid foundation in the traditional categories. With D-Will, I'm not hurting in any categories except turnovers.
Orlando will need guys to take minutes and Nikola can offer plenty.
With Aldridge/Brow on board, Lawson fits right in by giving me that assist, three, and steal boost I need while preserving my FG% edge (*waves at Kemba*). Lawson was a career 50/39/79 shooter heading into last season, so I'm willing to overlook that early shooting slump he suffered through. In the 41-game stretch during the 2013 calendar year, we saw the Lawson of old return (50/40/79) and a corresponding bump in his per-game value (0.27, 21st).
The loss of Iguodala as a pressure valve and assist-man initially worried me, but the numbers tell a different story. Lawson's per-36s were unchanged with Iggy on the bench, and his overall efficiency actually improved a good deal.
With Iggy gone and Gallo still recovering from a torn ACL, Shaw really has no choice but to hand Lawson the keys to the offense. And that's when he's at his best - when the ball is in his hands and he's able to push the tempo in transition or penetrate in the half court. Expect a full return to 2012 levels, which makes this a bit of a value pick. It was just a year ago when he was being drafted in the middle of Round 2.
3.12 Monta Ellis, G, DAL Ellis is a lock for plus PTS, STL, AST, and the STL in particular ensure a very solid impact. Take a look at his rank for the past few seasons (between 14 and 57) and you'll see it rise and fall relative to his 3PT%, which of course also affects his FG%, because he's certainly not shy about shooting them. I like the team situation for him in DAL, both in that he's surrounded by lower-usage players (Calderon, Marion, Dalembert) and that playing alongside Calderon and Dirk should help bring out his better game.
4.1 Kemba Walker, PG, CHA Kemba was one of the bigger surprises of the 12-13 season, much on the strength of a significantly improved FG%. He was still a big negative in the category, but strong PG stats carried his line, STL in particular. The efficiency leap from Byron Mullens to Al Jefferson is so large that it's nearly immeasurable, and the thinking is that a bit less ISO play could help Kemba's FG% improve even further.
Another home-run, heavy-hitter type along the same lines of my Davis pick two rounds ago. If you warmed up to Davis in the second, then Bledsoe in the fourth shouldn't be a stretch considering the two posted near-identical per-minute value last season. Per-36 averages of 15-5-5 topped off with 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks should pique your interest, as should a transition from CP3's understudy to full-time starter in a Phoenix offense that will run, run, and then run some more. Jeff Hornacek has already talked extensively about utilizing a Dragic-Bledsoe backcourt, and he has no problem giving him the chance to be a 35 mpg player. The talent level combined with the fantasy-friendly situation (and opportunity) make this the ideal recipe for a breakout. Count me in.
Ecstatic to get Lillard here. I feel he is a great value even if I am risking the sophomore slump. He played a ton of minutes last season and is poised to do so again. Rather than worry about Williams taking minutes or stats from Lillard, I am hopeful he should get some quality rest in season. I am sure there are moments where they can both be on the court and will share the ball effectively, hopefully bumping up assists or points. I am drafting Lillard as a PG, so 3's and points are less important to me than the traditional categories.
Moreover: in Terry Stots I trust (both as a Blazers fan and fantasy player). He's as much as a stat-head as there is in the NBA, and I believe Lillard will benefit from Stots' game management. If his MPG last season was any indication, Stots trusts Lillard with the ball in his hands. His physical and mental maturity should allow him to progress nicely in his second season.
Also considered Jennnings, Griffin and Thompson here. As far as team construction, I've gone front court/back court twice and am weakest in FG%...so front court is next up!
This pick might seem odd on the surface, but my core of Rose, Millsap and Horford is not going to contend to win a free throw contest anyway, and I need help in steals and blocks. Plus, having Dwight's field goal percentage will enable me to take on poor shooters that deliver in threes, steals and assists as this draft progresses. Also, I expect him to have a monster year in Houston after all the baggage he put up with in LA.
Admittedly, this pick is more gut than proof. Cousins didn't have the breakout many were expecting a season ago, finishing 68th on BBM. He was still getting in trouble on and off the court. And recently, he reportedly didn't look very good with the Olympic select squad.
There is no denying the talent, but many have attempted to use this argument the last several years, obviously to no avail. Rather, I'm focusing on the vibes that seem to be surrounding Cousins this summer. First, the new Kings owner has made a point to interact with Cousins, including attending one of his select squad practices. Second, the new coach, Mike Malone (and I'm a big fan of his), seems to be bonding in a positive manner with his hopeful franchise player. Three, the departure of Tyreke Evans means this is now completely Cousins' team.
Can things finally start coming together for him? I'm not sure, but now that we have some semblance of his floor, I'm willing to take a chance on him in round 4.
Josh Smith in the fourth round. Feels weird. This is a best-player available pick, and I'll have to live with the consequences in the percentage categories. Detroit is a strange fit for Smith, who may see a lot of time at small forward. There won't be as many rebounds available to him with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond around, but his scoring opportunities could increase. If one has ever watched him shoot a jumper, this might not be a good thing. It's easy to nitpick Smith, but in the fourth round someone who can do so many things in so many categories is hard to pass up. It's worth noting, while turning a shade of green looking at Smith's 51.7 FT% from last year, that he is a career 65.4% shooter from the line. It's a pretty big difference, and whether or not he reverts to his mean could make or break this pick.