January 5, 2021, 7:43 am
Welcome back to the Hoop Ball Huddle! And if this is your first time here, I’m Erik Ong, an editor here at HB. Every week or so, I discuss fantasy basketball from my perspective as a manager. These are lessons I’ve learned, players/issues that I’m dealing with, and moves I’m making in my leagues.
I’ve been writing about fantasy basketball for over a decade now and admittedly, I must say that it’s not a perfect science. Every season, I have draft-day targets, and every season, I have hits and misses. The key to being good at the game, or being able to answer people when they ask, “How do you get to be an expert and invited into those high-profile leagues?” is simply to have more hits than misses every season.
I wanted to bust out this article last week but decided to let two weeks pass first and have a better sample size of games to be able to label my targets as either hits or misses.
Aron Baynes, C (drafted in two leagues, burned waiver #1 for one, currently own one share)
Stats so far: 6 Games | 20.3 MPG | 6.2 PPG | 5.8 RPG | 0.2 SPG | 0.0 BPG | 39.5% FG
I was high on Baynes when he signed with the Raptors, expecting to see something remotely close to his explosion last season with the Suns during Deandre Ayton’s suspension. I bet on Baynes over Chris Boucher, who has already had two, yes two major breakout performances. Yes, Baynes is still starting for the Raptors at the moment, but Boucher has been able to already show him up on more than a few occasions, which says a lot considering they’ve played in only six games so far. I’ve Baynes everywhere, except in the 30-Deep Experts League, well, because his top-300 value currently is still within ownable margins, if you can believe that. That said, I already benched him for Week 2 (it’s a weekly roster lock league) in favor of Justin Holiday. For now, Baynes will simply be playing backup to my Al Horford, who I will run as my center as long as he’s healthy.
Karl-Anthony Towns, C (shares owned: 2) – week-to-week with a dislocated wrist
Stats so far: 2 Games | 30.2 MPG | 11.5 RPG | 5.0 APG | 1.5 3PG | 1.0 SPG | 3.0 BPG | 41.4% FG | 100% FT
I blew $80 fantasy dollars out of my $150 in an auction keeper league to build around KAT, a hefty price to pay for someone who is yet again missing an unacceptable number of games this season due to injury. I was hoping that his issues with his left knee last season was a one-off and that he’d be a top-5 fantasy stud, (sad face emoji here) and we all know how that’s going.
I was not blessed with many early draft positions this year. In fact, I only had one, which was the third pick in an 8-cat roto league I’m in with Bruski. James Harden and Anthony Davis were picked one and two (as expected) and I was actually thrilled to take KAT with that third pick. I’m currently still holding onto the league’ pole position, carried on the shoulders of some of my hits but I am not sure how long I can keep Bruski (who’s currently #2) at bay without KAT.
In this case, it was sheer chance, a random fluke injury that made Towns a failed target, so I’m putting an asterisk next to this one.
T.J. Warren, SF/PF (drafted: 2, traded for 1, dropped 2, shares owned: 1) – out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his left foot
Stats so far: 4 Games | 29.3 MPG | 15.5 PPG | 3.5 RPG | 1.3 APG | 0.5 SPG | 52.9% FG | 80.0% FT
For years, I haven’t been a fan of Warren. For a time, early in his career, he was even on my “Do Not Draft List” and was excluded, yes, excluded when I set my pre-draft rankings in Yahoo! This season, since I had the strategy of focusing on winning the shooting percentages, I targeted Warren and picked him just outside pick 50 in my drafts.
I dropped in him leagues that don’t have IL spots, which also, unfortunately, happen to be daily roster changes leagues.
Oh, in that trade where I acquired him, I gave up Jrue Holiday as part of the package on my end, so you can tell how punished I am right now for that move.
Derrick Jones Jr., SG/SF (drafted: 2, dropped both, shares owned: 0)
Stats so far: 6 Games | 30.6 MPG | 6.2 PPG | 0..8 3PG | 4.0 RPG | 0.8 APG | 1.2 SPG | 32.4% FG | 57.1% FT
I had high expectations for DJJ as a new player on the Blazers and apparently so did many people because he almost always got sniped just ahead of the spot where I was planning on drafting him. In hindsight, that was a blessing, because he’s been a dud with a capital “D” so far this season with value clocking in somewhere in the top-235 in 9-cat scoring. Yikes. He wasn’t this terrible coming off the bench in Miami.
I’ve since moved on from the mistake of taking him and have found other, more productive players to replace him with.
Kelly Oubre Jr., SF/PF (drafted: 4, shares owned: 4)
Stats so far: 7 Games | 27.3 MPG | 10.9 PPG | 0.9 3PG | 5.7 RPG | 0.7 APG | 1.6 SPG | 1.1 BPG | 34.1% FG | 71.4% FT
I was all-in on the idea that Oubre would thrive in the Warriors’ positionless basketball system. He would be a great defender, able to help offset the loss of Klay Thompson and at the same time be able to help spread the floor with his 3-point shooting. So far, the only thing he’s been able to spread thin is my patience. Given that he isn’t even in the top-150 right now, you can see how badly he must be hurting my teams. Yes, I’ve had a buy-low offer floated to me by now, but Bojan Bogdanovic? Please, GTFO!
At this point, I’m going to try and weather the storm and am hoping against hope that his early struggles have just been about a slow and sluggish adjustment period that he’s in as he feels out his new team. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I see it. And after you lift your hands from shielding you from the glare of that light, you will see a face and that’s the face of Draymond Green. Since Green’s return, Oubre has appeared to figure things out better. Green is a vocal player and apparently, that vocal presence on the court is helping Oubre get through this period of adjustment.
Over the last couple of games (that Green has been playing), Oubre has been posting top-25 value with 17.5 PPG, 2.5 3PG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 1.5 BPG on 50% shooting from the field and 100% shooting from the line. My hope is that when I revisit these players at some point in the future, Oubre will find himself in the “Hits section” of the article.
Mike Conley, PG (shares owned: 3)
Stats so far: 6 Games | 31.8 MPG | 20.3 PPG | 3.7 3PG | 4.3 RPG | 5.0 APG | 1.0 SPG | 0.6 BPG | 48.3% FG | 84.2% FT
I was fortunate enough to draft Conley somewhere in the 90s in a few drafts. He’s been a top-40 value player so far and while he won’t likely sustain his crazy 3.7 3s per game, I think a top-50 landing zone is a safe bet for him this season. A lot of people somehow got hung up on either his age, his season averages from 2019-20, or both. I, on the other hand, was laser-focused on his bounce-back run after the all-star break and his performance in the Orlando Bubble, both of which indicated to me that he was a solid play this season and his previous season’s averages were simply weighed down by his early struggles in adjusting to his new team.
Seth Curry, PG/SG (shares owned: 3)
Stats so far: 7 Games | 29.1 MPG | 15.4 PPG | 2.7 3PG | 1.9 RPG | 3.7 APG | 0.9 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 56.3 FG% | 100% FT
I had my eye on Curry even before he was traded to the Sixers. His strong, 20-plus point explosions last season were burned into my memory and I figured he’d be the sixth man for the Mavs again and drafted him based on that in a couple of leagues that drafted
tooearly. Now, as a starting SG for the Sixers, he’s been unleashed and is now sitting comfortably within the top-50. Both he and Conley would be my top HB6ers, assuming I came out with my own list.
Editor’s Note: I’m going to ask permission to release my own special sneaky picks/targets and have them included in next season’s draft guide.
Jerami Grant. SF/PF (shares owned: 1, sad face emoji here)
Stats so far: 7 Games | 36.4 MPG | 23.0 PPG | 2.7 3PG | 5.4 RPG | 1.7 APG | 1.0 SPG | 1.3 BPG | 44.3% FG | 86.7% FT
I wanted Grant, badly, but sadly, so did a lot of other guys and I wasn’t aggressive enough in my drafts. He’s a top-30 player so far this season as the hands-down best player on the Pistons roster – I know that’s not saying much – but he’s really, really
goodgreat! He’s going to finish in the top-50 and I regret being a bit too greedy, delaying when I was picking him.
DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF (shares owned: 3)
Stats so far: 6 Games | 33.6 MPG | 21.3 PPG | 1.2 3PG | 6.0 RPG | 7.3 APG | 1.0 SPG | 0.7 BPG | 50.0% FG | 84.6% FT
As I mentioned, earlier and in previous Huddles, I was going for percentages strategies in a lot of my team builds this season, partly why I chose KAT in those aforementioned leagues. In spots where I didn’t get T.J. Warren, I often made sure to get DeRozan and vice versa, depending on whether I was punting assists or not.
DeRozan has been simply a thrill to own, and I say this as someone who targeted him in drafts for the first time. Ever.
Josh Jackson, SG/SF (drafted: 1, picked up everywhere possible, shares owned: 8)
Stats so far: 6 Games | 24.1 MPG | 15.5 PPG | 1.5 3PG | 4.5 RPG | 2.0 APG | 1.0 SPG | 0.7 BPG | 49.3% FG | 66.7% FT
Yup, I was able to draft him with the 261st pick in the 30-Deep draft. Not a bad deal considering he’s been flirting with top-100 value so far. Yes, his free throw shooting leaves
a littlea lot to be desired, but I think that there’s a wide-open opportunity for him to really shine this season. There were a handful of games in 2019-20 where he actually played well with the Grizzlies and I was thinking that the change in scenery would do him some good. So far, he’s been a bit hit-or-miss, but I’m willing to ride the JJ-wave until I/we wipe out.
Fred VanVleet, PG/SG (shares owned: 2)
Stats so far: 6 Games | 35.0 MPG | 21.8 PPG | 3.8 3PG | 5.5 RPG | 5.5 APG | 1.5 SPG | 0.7 BPG | 44.3% FG | 82.4% FT
The earliest I took FVV was with the 24th pick, which in immediate hindsight, felt early as I went through other drafts after that. Right now, I regret owning him in only two leagues. I’m still making a killing on him with that 24th pick and don’t regret it at all. He’s going to finish in the top-25 in 9-cat scoring, mark my words. The Raptors are currently a mess and he seems to be the only young player (aside from the occasional Boucher sighting) who has been playing at a high level.
There you have it, a decent spread of some of my guys and how well or poorly they’re doing at the moment. Who knows, maybe I’ll revisit these lists at a later date, or perhaps do a small section on them in a future edition of the Hoop Ball Huddle
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