Ethan Norof

The Specialists

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Danny Green's Wild Ride

Monday, February 8, 2016


 
As we prepare for the All-Star break to arrive, the unofficial second half of the NBA season brings a changing set of expectations and a shift in the landscape when assessing the fantasy outlooks of certain players going forward.

 

Let’s use Jordan Clarkson as an example. Last season in Clarkson’s rookie campaign, he averaged just 7.6 points, 1.7 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.4 triples through his first 31 games. When the training wheels came off, Clarkson took advantage and didn’t look back, averaging 15.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.9 3-pointers on 47.9% shooting. The change in D’Angelo Russell’s production may not be as drastic as Clarkson’s, but with Byron Scott saying that Russell will get the opportunity to start—and finish—games going forward, it’s a good reminder that post-break projections aren’t solely dependent on what has transpired to date.   

 

Danny Green, G/F San Antonio Spurs: 3-pointers, Steals, Blocks

 

I know, I know: Believe me, I know. As dreadful as he was to start the season—and he was very bad, failing to hit at least 40% of his shots in October, November or December—you could see the wheels start to spin upon the arrival of 2016. After averaging 7.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.0 triples through 13 January games, Green has kept it going in February, posting his best numbers of the season with 10.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.8 triples on 43.2% shooting. That’s a lot closer to the type of production so many had expected upon drafting him this season, but it is worth noting that his recent uptick in production has come mostly without Tim Duncan (knee) in the lineup.

 

You can’t exactly sell high on Green given the player he’s been this season, so if you’ve stuck with him this long, there is no incentive to move on now despite Duncan nearing a return to the lineup. Even low-end versatility shows up as a positive in the fantasy box score, and Green’s role should remain stable with Manu Ginobili (testicular surgery) out for at least the next month. 

 

Wesley Johnson, G/F Los Angeles Clippers: 3-pointers, Steals

 

Wesley Johnson’s ability to play both forward spots has been critical to Doc Rivers and Co. this season. Paul Pierce has not performed as advertised, Lance Stephenson has been inconsistent at best and Blake Griffin—who could wind up missing more than three months due to his quad injury and subsequent broken hand—has an uncertain timetable to get back on the floor. That means Johnson, who has been impressively consistent since undertaking an expanded role, will continue to play stable minutes into the foreseeable future.

 

Although Johnson won’t help you with the percentages, his ability to post borderline elite numbers in triples and steals—while blocking some shots in the process—makes him worth a long look in leagues where he’s still (unnecessarily) floating on the waiver wire. His current competition for minutes includes Pierce, Stephenson, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jeff Ayres

 

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Marco Belinelli, G/F Sacramento Kings: 3-pointers

 

George Karl intends to start Marco Belinelli through (at least) the All-Star break, but that could change in a hurry if Karl doesn’t make it there himself. Unless you’re in a deep (14-plus teams) format and absolutely desperate for help from distance, it’s incredibly difficult to get excited about what Belinelli can bring to your team. He’s about as low as low-upside waiver wire pickups can get. If (when?) a new coach is put in charge, don’t be surprised when Darren Collison and Omri Casspi rightfully get more run than Belinelli is inexplicably currently receiving.

 

Serge Ibaka, F/C Oklahoma City Thunder: Blocks

 

Our entire Rotoworld crew has received as many questions about Serge Ibaka as almost any other player, and even Ibaka has questions of his own about how Billy Donovan is utilizing him in his first season as head coach of the Thunder. There is no way to sugarcoat it: Ibaka has been a disappointment for fantasy GMs who invested an early-round pick in the big man—drafted ahead of studs like Paul Millsap, Kyle Lowry and Draymond Green—and despite shooting a higher percentage from the floor this season (49.0) than he did last year (47.6) in his first go-around as a stretch four, Ibaka’s other numbers are down across the board.

 

Currently with 113 swatted shots through 52 games, Ibaka shouldn’t have any difficulty matching his total output (155) from last season, but nobody drafted him to be a pure blocks specialist. Unfortunately, there is nothing to suggest that his role is going to change or grow, and that’s why the idea of buying low on Ibaka doesn’t resonate with me like it may with some others.  



Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.
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