Ethan Norof

The Specialists

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Appreciating Ariza

Monday, October 16, 2017


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and children of all ages: Welcome to the 2017-18 Fantasy Basketball Show.


The Rotoworld crew is absolutely thrilled for another season’s arrival, and we can’t wait to share the digital hardwood with you, our readers.


This column, which will run weekly throughout the entirety of the campaign, will look to spotlight those players capable of assisting you in very specific categories in any given week. Whether looking for potential trade targets or undervalued waiver wire adds or simply in order to boost your squad, The Specialists will look to point you in the right direction when considering which direction to travel.


With the action starting Tuesday, this week’s focus will be on players with fluctuating ADP’s, specifically examining upside, downside and at what point fantasy GM’s should feel comfortable making the call.


Nerlens Noel, C Dallas Mavericks: Blocks, Steals, Field Goal Percentage


After rejecting a $70M extension at the beginning of the summer, Noel returns to Dallas with an undefined role, an uncertain floor, an impressive ceiling and with a ton to play for before preparing to enter unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2018.


Translation: There is a lot going on here. Let’s dive in.


Noel, whose mid-round ADP has sat in the 70-95 range, has a ceiling that is the roof. On a per-36 minutes basis, Noel averaged 14.0 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.8 blocks on 57.5% shooting after his midseason transition to Dallas. Those are impressive numbers, but Noel wasn’t able to shed the same concern that forced his exit from Philadelphia: Minutes.


Noel averaged just 22 minutes per game for the Dallas Dirk’s during the 2016-17 season, and that number has to come up this time around if the big man is going to come close to reaching his fantasy potential. Although Noel will come off the bench behind Nowitzki to begin the year, the Mavericks have next to nothing at the center position after those two and will need to rely on Noel’s raw defensive ability in order to help anchor a defense that could very well struggle inside the paint.


Ultimately, assuming Noel can make marginal improvements in his averages from last season—8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.0 steal, 1.1 blocks, 1.0 turnover, 57.5% shooting—with increased playing time and in his second year under Rick Carlisle, there are going to be a lot of people wondering why he wasn’t drafted higher and a select few ruminating how they were able to walk away with such a nice draft-day value.


Editor’s Note: FanDuel is hosting the Rotoworld Beat the Writers Series, where you can play against five Rotoworld football writers for your chance at cash prizes and free entry into their Sunday Million. Put your knowledge to the test!

 

Dewayne Dedmon, C Atlanta Hawks: Blocks, Rebounds, Field Goal Percentage


Dedmon has too much to offer to be viewed as just a last-round flier, but that’s where you can find Atlanta’s starting center being drafted consistently in standard leagues if he’s even selected at all.


As if Orlando’s embarrassment of a season wasn’t bad enough on the surface, Dedmon stuck it to his former team with his performance in San Antonio by showing the Magic they could have avoided the ill-fated Serge Ibaka trade and/or avoided overpaying Bismack Biyombo. Regardless, Dedmon proved his value and showed his worth in the league, averaging 10.5 points, 13.4 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 1.7 blocks on 62.2% shooting per-36 minutes during his one-and-done stay in the Gregg Popovich Castle.


The Hawks have made no secret of their desire to embrace the rebuild, but Atlanta’s front office signed Dedmon in free agency to play a very meaningful role on a team with more questions than answers. The hulking center should have no trouble averaging 24-28 minutes per game with his club’s laughable depth in the middle, and it won’t be surprising if Dedmon swats 100-plus shots this season after knocking back a career-high 61 while wearing the Spurs colors.


For those who want to wait on drafting a second big in a two-center league or are looking to boost their blocks and boards in the later rounds, don’t hesitate to grab Dedmon at any point after the top 100-120 names come off the board.


Trevor Ariza, G/F Houston Rockets: Steals, 3-pointers


I’ve been getting Ariza at what I’d consider a steal of a deal discount—No. 83 overall in the Rotoworld favorite 30-deep league and No. 68 in a 14-team, eight-cat industry draft—and there hasn’t been a lot of chatter about what he can do for your fantasy team despite being a model of consistency during his tenure in Houston.


As Mike and I discussed on the Rotoworld podcast a few days ago, it feels as if a lot of people previously wrote Ariza off due to the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors, but Melo is now in OKC, Ryan Anderson remains unreliable and Ariza is going to again be counted on to play a significant role at both ends of the court.


Here is a very fun fact about Mr. Ariza: Over the course of the last three seasons, he has averaged 153 steals, 190 3-pointers and 81 games played. In fantasy hoops, that equates to an elite two-category contributor with insanely impressive durability.


Chris Paul’s arrival will obviously change a few things in Houston, but Ariza will still be relied upon for his perimeter D, small-ball versatility and to bomb away from downtown. That sets the UCLA product up for a fourth consecutive impressive season that should allow him to finish as a top-50 asset in eight and nine-cat leagues.


Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F Charlotte Hornets: Blocks, Steals


A lot of people like to focus on Kidd-Gilchrist for what he isn’t, but the teacher in me concentrates on what he is and how his strengths can accentuate the success of a good fantasy basketball team. It is very hard to find a player—much less a wing—capable of legitimately averaging at least one steal and one block per contest after the first 90-100 names are off the board, but Kidd-Gilchrist is readily available in that range and too often overlooked as a legitimate source of defensive statistics because he doesn’t have the sexy yet undefined “upside” label that so many seem to gravitate toward in the late-middle rounds.


In his first truly healthy professional season (81 games played), MKG averaged a dependable if unspectacular 9.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block with just 0.7 turnovers on 47.7% from the field, including a much-improved 78.4% from the free throw line. The Hornets aren’t exactly blessed with offense and Kemba Walker-Dwight Howard connection is incapable of carrying the scoring load, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Kidd-Gilchrist is asked to take on a larger role at that end of the floor after averaging just 7.6 shot attempts per game last season.


Solid, not sexy may not always be the way to make your decision, but Kidd-Gilchrist is a good target in any draft for a GM looking for defense and wing depth, especially if some of your earlier picks carry more risk than you may have originally anticipated.


Lou Williams, G Los Angeles Clippers: Points, 3-pointers


Someone is going to have to score on this team other than Blake Griffin, and Sweet Lou could be making music when it comes to that department.


We have to recall what Williams was doing with the Lakers last season before his Houston move. When asked to take on a larger offensive burden prior to being traded, the veteran combo guard averaged between 17.5-21.8 points between November and February while kicking in a lot of triples and coming up with his fair share of steals. Although Lou will again be coming off the bench, he should play a major role and is virtually guaranteed big minutes as one of the only guys on this team capable of creating his own offense.


For someone capable of returning top 40-50 value on his best days in eight-cat leagues and top-60 value in nine-cat formats, Williams has been typically available after the 80th overall selection regardless of setting. There is a buyer beware tag on Williams because of the volatility in his production and the space between his floor and ceiling, but the perennial SIxth Man of the Year candidate is a solid, discounted gamble to take if you need his scoring in the late middle rounds after the breakout candidates come off the board.




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