Fantasy Basketball: NBA First Half Review

As we pass the trade deadline, we find ourselves at a very interesting point in the 2012-2013 NBA fantasy season. Now that we’re a bit past the halfway mark of this season, let’s take this moment to review the biggest surprises and major disappointments that we’ve come across this year.


1) James Harden

Fear The Beard! What else is there to say, this guy is an absolute beast. Harden is posting career highs across the board, averaging 26.1 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 boards, 1.9 steals and .5 blocks per game. When The Beard got traded to the Rockets everyone thought his numbers would increase, but no one thought he would be a top-five fantasy player midway through the season. As long as he can stay healthy, big things will continue to come. Expect this kind of production nightly as Harden establishes himself as the third-best shooting guard in the league after Kobe and Wade.

2) Nikola Vucevic

A pleasant surprise this year, Nikola Vucevic could be the steal of the 2012-2013 season. With an average draft position (ADP) of 171 in standard 12-team leagues, Vucevic was seen as a capable contributor in points, rebounds and blocks but not a top-10 PF/C. Vucevic has had four-plus games of 17 or more rebounds and has earned 32-plus minutes a game for the struggling Orlando Magic. Many people overlooked this piece in the blockbuster Dwight Howard deal, but it looks like Orlando got this one right.

3) Paul George

Paul George continues to amaze me. He has all the talent in the world, but seemed inconsistent at times last year for whatever reason. However, this year due to a blessing in disguise injury to Danny Granger, George has taken the next step in his long and talented career. Getting selected to his first of many all-star games this year, George is averaging 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.8 steals and .7 blocks per game, all career highs. George is playing at such an elite level lately, rumors have swirled that Granger could be traded before the deadline. You know what they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

4) David Lee

What a year David Lee is having. Deserving of his all-star selection, Lee is averaging 19 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and just under 1 steal per game. More importantly he, along with Steph Curry, is a big reason why the Warriors are in playoff contention this year. This production wasn’t expected seeing as the Warriors brought Andrew Bogut and Carl Landry onto the scene this past offseason. Shooting over 50 percent from the field, while leading the league in double- doubles this year with 33 to go along with one triple-double, Lee will continue to dominate. With an ADP of 38 in standard 12-team fantasy drafts this year, Lee is a top-five fantasy player only behind superstars like Lebron, Durant, Kobe and Harden.

5) Tony Parker

Tony Parker is on his way to having a career year. Leading the Spurs to the best record in the NBA this year, there is no question the team has become his. Averaging 21 points, 7.7 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 steal per game, while shooting a career high 54 percent from the field, Parker is easily in the prime of his impressive career. In his past five games, Parker is averaging close to 30 points a game while maintaining that high field-goal percentage. He is the second-best point guard this year in fantasy scoring — only behind Russell Westbrook — and will continue to dominate as the Spurs cruise during the second half of the season. With an average draft position of 46, don’t be surprised to see Tony on a ton of championship winning teams this year.

Other Notable Mentions

Greivis Vasquez-Leads the league in double doubles amongst all guards. (ADP-111)
J.J. Hickson- 28 double doubles, good for fourth in league amongst all players. ( ADP-113)
Joakim Noah- First all-star appearance while having a career year in all categories. (ADP-56)


Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace

This is not the team the Brooklyn Nets envisioned after spending a ton of money in the offseason. Deron Williams looks out of sorts and uncomfortable, Joe Johnson seems to be playing better as of late, but has struggled the majority of the year figuring out how to adjust his game when he’s not the number one option and Gerald Wallace has fallen off completely. For being a top-10 pick in most league and being considered a top-three point guard last year, Williams has been nothing short of a major disappointment. Johnson’s efficiency has taken a major hit this year. Even though he is averaging about 17 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists a game, Johnson is shooting 42 percent from the field, his worse average since his days in Phoenix. Wallace’s average draft position this year was 57th. He’s owned in only 50 percent of ESPN leagues and is averaging 8.8 points per game, his worst points average since his days in Sacramento. Good thing Mikhail Prokhorov has deep, deep pockets.

Roy Hibbert

Coming off his first all-star appearance last year,  many thought that Hibbert would continue to excel in Indiana. Unfortunately, this year has been the exact opposite. Shooting a career-low 40 percent from the field, Hibbert has been really poor this year. The only reason why the Pacers are still a playoff dark horse is because of David West and Paul George. Hibbert’s ADP was 49th, putting him ahead of guys like Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday and Joakim Noah. Can anyone say redraft?

Steve Nash and Pau Gasol

If anyone told me at the beginning of the season that Pau and Steve would be this disappointing I would laugh in their face for days on end. Pick and pop all day is what i envisioned pre-season, but man was I wrong. These guys will be hall of famers one day, but for some reason Mike D’Antoni’s system has been a damper on their production. At first I thought it was Kobe’s ball dominance, but after he transformed into Kobe Johnson, Nash’s production continued to struggle. Of course, Pau looked like he was coming into form, but then he got hurt. With average draft positions of 16 for Gasol and 40 for Nash, a ton of people thought this team would be championship bound, but now we will be lucky to make the eighth seed… someone call Phil.

Tyreke Evans

The Kings continue to be one of the most disappointing franchises in the NBA. After his rookie year, everyone believed Tyreke would turn the franchise around, but he continues to struggle with living up to those expectations. With an ADP of 52, Evans had some people believing this would  be the year, but instead he is averaging a career-low in points and assists. At this point the Kings might be wise to trade him while he has some value and build the team around Demarcus Cousins.

Other Notable Mentions

Marcin Gortat- No Steve Nash… need I say more? (ADP-34)
Andre Igoudala- Iggy is still trying to find his groove in Denver, no one thought it would take this long. (ADP-33)
Kris Humphries- 29 double-doubles last year, on track for 12 this year. (ADP-76)

All stats from:
ADP rankings:

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Rico’s 24/7 Fantasy
Guest Sports Activist for The Cover 4

You’re Doing It Wrong

The Phoenix Suns top players are nothing to brag about.

The Phoenix Suns top players are nothing to brag about.


In an era when NBA franchises have realized they need at least two or three superstars to compete for championships, the Phoenix Suns, for several reasons, have taken an unconventional approach, and are dearly paying the price.


The Suns sit second-to-last in the Western Conference (only ahead of New Orleans) and hold the fifth-worst record in the entire NBA at 12-25 after losing a close game to the Boston Celtics Wednesday night. Last season the team pushed to make the playoffs in what fans knew would likely (and later proved to be) Steve Nash’s final year with the franchise, but the team came up short. This was the beginning of a string of bad decisions coupled with poor luck. Due to their average record, they did not get a high pick in the lottery and settled for North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall, who proved to be a project and has only seen minutes during garbage time this season. The team then attempted to sign Eric Gordon away from New Orleans over the summer, but the Hornets matched the Suns max contract offer and retained their star.


It was at this point the team decided to dump fan-favorite Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade with the Lakers, and proceed without a superstar for the 2012-2013 season. They claimed Luis Scola after he was amnestied from Houston, and signed Goran Dragic to run the point with the departure of Nash. Although Dragic and Scola have proven themselves to be solid NBA players, they are nowhere close to the level of the Nash-Amare’ Stoudamire tandem the team relied on for much of the 2000s.


Simply put, this is the problem for the Suns: they have several good players that would be valuable second or third options on many teams. However, they lack a proven superstar to turn to late in games that will pull them through in the clutch. Looking at the main players other than Dragic and Scola, an average NBA fan will recognize the names: Sebastian Telfair, Marcin Gortat, Jermaine O’Neal, Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, Shannon Brown and Markieff Morris.


The franchise tried to sell fans on the concept of balance and teamwork, and they have held to that philosophy with five players averaging in double figure scoring, but none of those five are even averaging 15 points per game. The team has played many close games against top-level opponents, but lacks that killer-instinct player teams like the Heat, Thunder and Clippers possess. The team’s listed attendance on a given night will range around 14,000, but anyone watching the game sees the empty seats. Even people who have already paid for seats don’t want to come watch a team without a face. Ownership went to the extent of a bizarre “have fun at the game or get your money back” promotion to try to get fans to come watch the team. To their credit, they do play hard every night, they rarely get blown out even on the road, and at times play an up-tempo style that is fun to watch, they simply aren’t good enough to win, the only thing that truly matters to fans.


After constructing a championship-level team in the 2004-2005 season that many around the league saw as favorites to win it all before Joe Johnson broke his face against the Mavericks in the Conference Semifinals, Suns management has made awful personnel decisions at every turn. That team’s key pieces were Nash, Stoudemire, Johnson, and Shawn Marion, playing in a Mike D’Antoni system perfectly suited for their talents, locals knew them as “The Run-N-Gun Suns.” Following that season, Johnson was traded after owner Robert Sarver refused to pay him top-level money. Marion was traded a couple years later, and Stoudemire was let go during free agency due to long-term health concerns. The reasons for letting go of Stoudemire were completely valid, but what the team tried to do to replace him was idiotic at best, signing Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye to long-term big money deals (Frye is the only one still with the team, sitting out this season due to injury). The team has gone from four all-stars to none in a span of eight years. For anyone who thinks the future is promised to successful teams with young talent, think again. Win when you can, the future isn’t guaranteed.


For fans, there isn’t even a player on this team who excites you. New Orleans may be the worst team in the West, but fans there can look at Gordon, Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers and see hope for the future. Markieff Morris is a good option off the bench for the Suns, but not a player who shows any signs of becoming a superstar down the road. One would imagine opponents don’t know how to defend the Suns coming into a game not because they are so stacked it’s scary, but because no one on the roster demands a double-team. An optimist will say, “Anyone could go off on their team and lead if they get hot on a given night.” A realist will say, “No one on that team is good enough to lead them, even if they do get hot.”


Suns fans can look at the team and say at least they are tanking it badly enough to get a good spot in the lottery. Other teams can also look at them as a viable trading partner for solid pieces to add down the stretch of the season without having to make a substantial financial move, with Dragic as the team’s highest-paid player at $7.5 million this season. Few of the Suns players are signed past this year, so there will be flexibility in the off-season as the team tries to rebuild. They also have the benefit of an additional first-round pick acquired from the Lakers in the Nash trade, a pick that would be in the lottery if the season ended today.


For now, there is nothing exciting about the Suns. Parents raising their kids will emphasize the value of teamwork over individual talent, but even the best of parents realize the teams with the best players will win as long as those players can co-exist (take a look at the aforementioned Lakers for an example of talent that can’t co-exist). The Suns players work very well together, they just aren’t very good individuals. Teams need superstars. Superstars put butts in seats, get cities excited and proud to be supporting their home-town team, but most importantly, they win games. When you put multiple superstars together, you win championships. The Suns have no superstars, no chance of winning a championship, and practically no hope.


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David Oleson
Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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