- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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I would call 3-pointers the most accessible category in fantasy hoops. By that I mean if you need help in, say, assists or blocks, you probably have to engineer a deal for a top point guard or shot-blocker. But to improve in 3s, you can generally do so by simply adding a free agent or two.
Case in point: I'm in a 13-team roto league in which, in mid-December, I was dead last in 3s. Over the past few weeks, I added Kyle Korver, Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Delfino. Now I'm in the top half in 3-pointers made, and I figure I will move up at least another spot or two in the near future.
My point isn't to brag, but to note that not so long ago, Korver and Delfino were available in a sizable majority of ESPN.com leagues. And Dunleavy can still be had in most leagues. Treys are out there.
However, that window seems to be closing. As of Friday, Korver was rostered in 54.7 percent of ESPN.com leagues, and that was prior to his ridiculous eight-trey outburst against the Boston Celtics. Meanwhile, Delfino -- who nailed four 3s on Friday against the New Orleans Hornets -- is now rostered in nearly half of all leagues.
So if you have some ground to make up in 3-pointers, you should get moving. And if you missed out on Korver and Delfino, I believe that Dunleavy is the clear choice if he's available to you. But more on him -- and other potential free-agent help -- in a bit.
Week 14 at a Glance
"R" matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup), and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's year-to-date and past 10 games' statistics, their opponents' numbers in those categories, and their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played. The column to the right lists the team's total number of games scheduled ("G") as well as home games ("H"), and lists the overall rating from 1-10 for that team's weekly schedule ("R").
Incidentally, my apologies that this week's Forecaster is coming in a day late. I can sum up the issue in two alliterative words: motherboard meltdown. My technical difficulties have since been remedied, so next week's Forecaster will be posted on Friday as usual. Your patience is appreciated.
Another thing worth appreciating is any of your players who have four games in the week ahead. Considering where we are on the calendar, this is a pretty light schedule. Only 11 NBA teams have four games this week, while 16 teams play three games. That leaves three teams that play just two games: the Atlanta Hawks, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. I'm actually going to keep Tony Parker active in one of my other leagues. That roster also has Jeff Teague, so I'm kind of hurting at point guard with this schedule. Don't be surprised if you run into your own lineup dilemmas this week.
Players to Watch
Alan Anderson, SF, Toronto Raptors (GS, @ATL, LAC, MIA): While Anderson continues to knock down a lot of 3s -- 2.7 per game over his past 10 contests -- I'll continue to harp on his field goal percentage. Of the 25 players who are averaging at least 2.0 triples per game this season, no one approaches Anderson's 38.0 percent shooting. In this group of gunners, Brandon Jennings owns the next-lowest field goal percentage, at 40.9 percent. In fantasy, 41.0 percent accuracy isn't exactly helpful. Sure, you'll tolerate that from a player like Jennings, but even his shooting hurts you. So imagine the collateral damage Anderson does at 38 percent, or even at his January mark of 39.6 percent. To me, Anderson's shooting is unacceptable for fantasy. That said, in a fantasy environment in which 3s are getting harder to find -- and in a week in which games are scarce -- Anderson could be a temporary fix. Miami Heat opponents rank third from beyond the arc, while Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers opponents rank eighth and 10th, respectively.
Vince Carter, SG/SF, Dallas Mavericks (@POR, @GS, @PHX): This week, you're going to have to settle for three games, so why not Carter (who's been pretty decent in his reserve role with the Mavs)? Over his past 10 games, Carter is averaging 13.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 3s, 0.9 steals and (believe it or not) 1.1 blocks. Like I said, decent. While Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns opponents both rank in the bottom third in treys, they're also in the top eight in field goal percentage.
Earl Clark, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers (NO, @PHX, @MIN, @DET): Clark had his least productive game as a Lakers starter -- seven points and six rebounds in 27 minutes -- against the Utah Jazz on Friday. Still, if he continues to stick in the starting lineup, Clark offers the potential for boards and blocks, and even an occasional triple. On that note, each of these opponents rank in the top half of the league in rejections. Leading the way are Hornets and Minnesota Timberwolves opponents at sixth and eighth, respectively.
Mike Dunleavy, SG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks (@DET, CHI, @NY, ORL): On Friday, Dunleavy was just one of six from the field against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Of course it's only one game, but it's worth noting that Dunleavy's better than 48 percent shooting in January -- from both the field and 3-point range -- does seem unsustainable. The upcoming schedule could work against him as well, since Chicago Bulls opponents rank last in 3s and Orlando Magic opponents rank only 23rd in this regard. Still, on a team with Jennings and Monta Ellis, and with Ersan Ilyasova finally getting it together, I believe the Bucks are potent enough offensively to provide Dunleavy with regular open looks on the perimeter. Comparing him to other 3-point scorers in fantasy free agency, he seems like the best possibility for the near term.
Randy Foye, PG/SG, Utah Jazz (HOU, NO, POR, @POR): After hitting multiple 3s in eight straight games, Foye is again drawing interest in ESPN.com leagues. Speaking of potentially unsustainable, Foye is connecting at a scintillating 52.9 percent rate from downtown in January, and his 43.9 percent shooting from distance for the season is easily a career best. But the schedule appears to be on Foye's side, at least the first part of it. Houston Rockets and Hornets/soon-to-be-Pelicans opponents both rank in the top six in triples.
Martell Webster, SF, Washington Wizards (SAC, @PHI, @MEM, @SA): The resurgent Wizards have won six of nine, and while this success seems to primarily stem from John Wall's return and Bradley Beal's emergence, Webster has been starting this whole time. And over those nine games, he's averaging 13.3 points and 2.1 3s. In large leagues of at least 14 teams, Webster, who's available in most leagues, is worth a shot. This set of games is mostly about quantity. Spurs opponents rank just 28th in 3s, while Memphis Grizzlies opponents rank 22nd. I say mostly, because Sacramento Kings opponents rank ninth in treys.
Opponent Performance, Past 10 games
All statistics are for teams' past 10 games played, and are defensive numbers. PPGA: Points per game allowed. FG%A: Field goal percentage allowed. 3PT%A: 3-point percentage allowed. RPG diff.: Rebounds per game differential. SPGA: Steals per game allowed. BPGA: Blocks per game allowed.
19hBy Jackie MacMullan