Monday, April 6, 2009

Above the Rim: Fantasy Pickups to Complete a Championship Team

As the NBA season winds down, many NBA coaches are looking to shorten their benches in preparation of the playoffs or to ride their stars in an effort to clinch a playoff berth. This means that there are not many impact pickups for fantasy owners. However, there are three point guards that should be interesting to watch and could be worth a pickup. Rodney Carney is also heating up and could be a solid pickup for the championship push.

Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards- Arenas is finally back from a knee injury that kept him out of action all season until his season debut on March 28th. After sitting out a game, Arenas came back to play against Cleveland on Thursday night, and then say out another game. If Arenas can stay in the lineup, he is a definite play for the rest of the season. In the two games he played, Arenas averaged over 31 minutes per game which shows that the knee can hold up during a game. While he is only shooting 6-23 (26.1%) from the floor and 2-7 from 3-point range (28.6%), Arenas is still averaging 13 points per game and is 12-16 (75%) from the free throw line. Arenas is also contributing on the glass with 4.5 rebounds per game. However, the most important stats to look at are Arenas’s assist numbers. Agent 0 has 10 assists in both his games this season giving him 2 double-doubles in 2 games as well as an average of 10 assists per game. More astounding is Gilbert’s assist-turnover ratio. I don’t ever remember seeing a player with a 20-1 assist to turnover ratio, including high school and CYO games. I know it is just 2 games, but to put up such high assist numbers with only 1 turnover in two games is absolutely amazing. If Arenas is available in your league, pick him up now. He is a former all-star that is at least playing close to his normal form, although his shooting is a little off. I think as he plays more, the shooting will return too. If anyone knows of a player that has put up a 20-1 assist-turnover ratio in 2 games, let me know.

Shaun Livingston, Oklahoma City Thunder- I wrote about Livingston in the preseason about him probably being one season away from being an effective NBA player again. He beat my prediction by 6 months. After suffering one of the most gruesome injuries I have ever seen, the Thunder signed Livingston to a multi-year contract on March 31st after averaging 9.5 points, 6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in 11 games for Tulsa of the NBDL. The interesting thing to me is that the deal is a multi-year deal showing that the Thunder believe Livingston is going to be fine and that this isn’t just a trial run. When I first saw this signing, I thought it was a move for next year, which it probably is because the Thunder have been out of playoff contention for quite some time, but Livingston has produced in the two games since he was picked up. In his first game with the Thunder (Livingston played 4 games early this season with the Heat), Shaun scored 10 points on 5-6 shooting with 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, and 1 block in 26 minutes. After that performance, I thought Livingston would be interesting to watch for the rest of the season to get a beat on how he would play next season. For the second time this season, Livingston surprised me with his quick recovery. In 27 minutes against the Pacers on Sunday, Livingston scored 10 on 5-7 shooting and added 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. I think the most impressive things about Livingston’s performances are his remarkably high shooting percentage (76.9%) and the completeness of his performance against the Pacers as he added rebounds, assists, and steals to a solid scoring performance. So much for waiting until next season to be a fantasy contributor, Livingston could be a nice consolation prize for owners that miss out on Arenas this season. And if my assessment of Livingston conforms with my predictions on him previously, Livingston will again surprise me and surpass Arenas’s performance for the rest of the season.

Kevin Ollie, Minnesota Timberwolves- Ollie took over as the starting point guard on March 25th and has put up solid numbers in 6 games since. Although he has averaged just 3.9 points and 2.4 assists this season, right with his career averages of 3.8 and 2.3, respectively, Ollie has improved his play with the increased playing time. In the six games since March 25th, Ollie is averaging 4.9 assists per game, a solid number for a journeyman point guard, and a very solid number for a late season pickup like this one. Don’t expect too much out of Ollie as he is averaging only .67 steals in these games to go with 6 points and 1.3 rebounds. If you are short on point guards or assists and Arenas and Livingston are not available, take a look at Ollie as a backup plan to fill your need.

Rodney Carney, Timberwolves- Carney has started 5 of the ‘Wolves last 6 games and in those games he has showed that he earned the promotion. Carney is averaging 16.2 points per game, including two games over 20 points. Carney is also averaging 3.8 rebounds and just over 1 assist as a starter. Carney is shooting 47.5% from the floor in these games including 45.9% from 3-point range, supported by 7-8 in one game, and 90.9% (10-11) from the free throw line. Carney should be a productive player for the rest of the season for the Timberwolves and is only owned in 10% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues, so he should be available in most leagues. Look to pick up Carney if your team needs some scoring for the remainder of the season. Because Carney is now starting, he should receive consistent minutes for the rest of the season.

Related Posts by Subject