Fantasy Basketball 2012: Ranking the Hottest Pickups After Week 1
Perhaps you aren't thrilled with your 2012 fantasy basketball draft. Maybe you drafted Dirk Nowitzki forgetting about his recent knee surgery, took a flyer on Derrick Rose in hopes he comes back 100 percent or just plain got unlucky by drafting Brandon Rush. But there is hope for fantasy basketball fans, because there are some interesting players available on the market if you move quickly.
After one week of the 2012-13 season, you probably don't have the best idea of your team's strengths and weaknesses. If, however, your team has been bitten by the injury bug or just plain needs more of a spark, there are some patch jobs and even full-time replacements you can find in free agency.
Whether you need three-point shooting, rebounding, steals, blocks or simply need to score more points, there's a player on this list for you and your fantasy squad.
(Note: "Hot" pickups will be determined mostly by transaction trends in ESPN fantasy basketball leagues).
10. Tobias Harris, F, Milwaukee Bucks
Tobias Harris has had an up-and-down season thus far for the Milwaukee Bucks. Although the 20-year-old out of Tennessee has started both of the Bucks’ two games this year, he logged significantly more minutes in the first game of the year.
Against the Boston Celtics on Nov. 2, Harris played 33 minutes. He scored 18 points (on 8-for-11 shooting), grabbed six rebounds, added two assists and a block. That’s certainly not a bad fantasy game in deeper leagues where you’re looking for a meaningful impact at the end of the roster.
Harris’ production, however, didn’t last. Even though Harris got the start against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he notched just 13 minutes of playing time. Even the league’s best players wouldn’t be able to log solid fantasy stats with just 13 minutes to work with.
Harris has been an enigma so far this season and his production will depend upon how many minutes he gets.
With that said, Ersan Ilyasova (who was a stud last season) has struggled in the early going. Harris should continue to get playing time as long as Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is sidelined with a knee injury. He’s worth a look in deeper leagues.
9. J.J. Barea, G, Minnesota Timberwolves
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Despite the fact that Luke Ridnour has the starting point guard job in Minnesota while Ricky Rubio recovers from an ACL tear, J.J. Barea has been the fantasy stud.
In the Timberwolves' first game of the season, Barea notched 28 minutes off the bench and did a great job with the court time he had. Barea had 21 points, five assists, four rebounds and a steal off the bench. That was good enough for a Player Efficiency Rating of 31.2 (a ridiculously high number, especially for a bench player).
Barea came back to earth in the T-Wolves' second game, playing just eight minutes off the bench. Despite playing just eight minutes though, Barea still had nine points.
In deeper leagues, Barea can be relied upon as a steady bench player who will have solid games if given the minutes. When Rubio returns from injury, however, Barea’s minutes may dwindle.
8. Brandon Bass, PF/C, Boston Celtics
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After three games for the Boston Celtics, we have a solid idea of how many minutes Brandon Bass will get in Doc Rivers’ system. Bass has logged 28, 27 and 28 minutes, respectively.
In addition, after those three games Bass has averaged 10 points, 7.3 rebounds and two assists per game. Not huge numbers, but he contributes in more than one category, which is sometimes all you can ask for when picking up free agents in fantasy.
With Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Jeff Green all in the frontcourt this season, it’s a good early sign that Bass has logged consistent minutes on a regular basis.
If your frontcourt suffers an injury moving forward and Bass is available, you could do far worse.
7. J.J. Redick, G, Orlando Magic
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Have you noticed that your fantasy basketball team is lacking in the three-point shooting department? Well, you may be in luck if J.J. Redick is still available.
Redick has been getting huge minutes of the bench for the Orlando Magic thus far. He has scored more than 20 points and made three shots from behind the arc in two games.
In addition to the points and three-point shooting prowess, Redick has notched 12 assists in those two contests.
If he continues to get healthy amounts of minutes while knocking down three-pointers and setting up teammates for scores, he could be a valuable asset to your fantasy team.
6. Alonzo Gee, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Alonzo Gee is an athletic swingman for the Cleveland Cavaliers. As far as this season is concerned, Gee is the Cavs’ starting small forward, so he's going to get the minutes. He’s primarily in the lineup for his defensive prowess, having snatched five steals in three games.
Gee does a lot of the little things, adding steals, rebounds and assists in the box score. His scoring, on the other hand, is often erratic and shouldn’t be relied upon often.
With that said, Gee had a solid third game of the season, posting 18 points. That’s above-average scoring output from Gee, but if can find consistency as a young player, he could be a valuable asset moving forward.
5. Trevor Ariza, SF, Washington Wizards
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Trevor Ariza is another defensive-minded player your team should look to add if you’re searching for the gritty statistics, like stocks (steals + blocks, as coined by Bill Simmons).
Ariza had three steals and two blocks in the first game of the season, making a huge difference on the defensive end of the floor for the Washington Wizards.
Despite his steady defense, Ariza’s potential-packed offense hasn’t shown up so far in the 2012-13 campaign. He’s shooting just 25 percent from the field this season and failed to score in the Wizards’ second game against Boston.
Even though his offense has been sputtering, it’s logical to expect him to bounce back (at least to some degree).
Ariza has been one of the more popular pickups in ESPN fantasy leagues, but he may need to garner more consistency on both sides of the ball before you ditch another player for him.
4. Larry Sanders, F, Milwaukee Bucks
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Larry Sanders is the second Milwaukee Buck to make this list. After a solid performance against Boston in Milwaukee’s season opener, in which Sanders scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and added two blocked shots, his playing time increased.
In a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, Sanders played 30 minutes, scored 17 points on 8-for-9 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and added four blocked shots. Sanders can certainly help your team in a lot of categories (especially if you’re low on shot-blockers), but one statistic is really hold him back—foul trouble.
In back-to-back games to start the season, Sanders recorded a total of 11 personal fouls (fouling out against Cleveland). If Sanders fails to stay on the court due to his inability to stay out of foul trouble, he may do more harm than good. His blocked shots are eye-opening, however.
3. Greivis Vasquez, PG, New Orleans Hornets
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Greivis Vasquez has somewhat of a "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" scenario working for him so far this season.
His 36.7 minutes, 13 points and 9.7 assists per game are all rock solid. However, his 38.5 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent shooting from beyond the three-point arc are negatives to take into consideration.
Considering that both Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon have been bothered by knee troubles and Jarrett Jack was traded this offseason to Golden State, it’s fair to say Vasquez’s minutes should remain intact. That is, at least until Gordon and Rivers are back to being 100 percent healthy.
Even so, Vasquez may continue to get minutes over Rivers, who has had a shaky start to the 2012-13 season.
If you’re not bothered by the low shooting percentages, take a flyer on Vasquez.
2. Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, New Orleans Hornets
Al-Farouq Aminu may have built his confidence this past summer while playing for Nigeria in the Olympics.
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According to my 10-team fantasy league, Al-Farouq Aminu is the most sought-after free agent on the market with a plus-27.1 add/drop ratio.
Aminu, the 22-year-old small forward who was drafted eighth overall in 2010, was one of the centerpieces in the trade that sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers. He always had big potential, but his performance as a rookie in Los Angeles and as a sophomore in New Orleans left a lot to be desired.
In the early going of the 2012-13 season though, Aminu seems to have turned things around. There’s no doubt that Aminu, at least thus far, can help a fantasy team in a variety of ways. He’s averaging 13.3 points on 59.4 percent shooting, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and 1.7 blocks per game.
He’s never been a solid outside shooter, but if Aminu can continue filling the box score with a variety of stats, he’ll be an asset.
1. Glen Davis, F, Orlando Magic
If you went ahead and drafted Glen “Big Baby” Davis prior to the start of the 2012-13 season, then kudos to you. In two games so far this season, Davis has been on a tear for the new-look Orlando Magic. He’s embraced a leadership role on a young team looking to rebuild and has filled the stat sheets as a result.
To open the season, Davis scored 29 points to go along with 10 rebounds and two blocks against the Denver Nuggets (not the best defensive team around, but hey, not too shabby).
Following that surprising win, Davis and the Magic followed it up by beating the Phoenix Suns. Davis didn’t have a great shooting night (9-for-22), but he did have 22 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.
He may no longer be available in many deep fantasy leagues, but Davis has solidified his role as a go-to scorer in Orlando. Not to mention he throws in other meaningful stats as well.
If the Magic continue to compete this season, Davis will be a huge reason why.