We’re right about at the halfway point in the fantasy basketball season here, which means we’re at the perfect point of evaluation. At midseason each year in every sport, I always find it’s a good time to evaluate where my team stands as I try to make a push for the league title. In baseball, it’s a bit easier because there’s three days off for the All-Star game. We still have a ways left until the NBA All-Star game, but it doesn’t mean I’m not sitting here and evaluating where I stand with both of my fantasy teams in my first career year of fantasy hoops.
So, I’ve come up with some awards for the first half for the guys on my teams:
Toneston Checks In
Standing: 3rd of 10
MVP: Russell Westbrook PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
He’s been unbelievable this year. Just outstanding. I’ve liked Westbrook for a little while now, even last year, when I wasn’t a huge fan of the NBA. I’m glad I was able to bag him on at least one of my teams, even though I was hoping to get him on both squads. Not only has Westbrook been one of the top point guards in the league in terms of scoring (22.2 pts/gm), but he’s right near the top with 8.3 asts/gm and 5.1 reb/gm. Plus, he’s had two triple-doubles, single-handedly winning me that category in two weeks so far this year. He’s been the unquestionable MVP of my squad so far this year.
Biggest Surprise: Andre Miller PG, Portland Trail Blazers
I took Miller late in the draft (10th round) and really wasn’t expecting anything out of him. I honestly didn’t know his age at all (didn’t pay attention to that during the draft, which I probably should have), but Miller has exceeded my expectations. However, my expectations were what ESPN projected, as it was what I relied upon for my draft, since I had no prior knowledge of anything in fantasy basketball. His 7.3 ast/gm this year are a far cry from his 5.9 projected, and though his scoring has been down lately, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with Miller all year.
Best Pickup: Kris Humphries PF, New Jersey Nets
I picked him up a while back in need of some cheap rebounds with Carlos Boozer out, and Humphries has exceeded all of my wildest expectations. I only expected to keep him for a couple days at the most, just to help out in the rebounding category, but Humphries has been a legitimate fantasy player all season long. Kim Kardashian has been a great influence on him.
Biggest Bust: Carmelo Anthony SF, Denver Nuggets
I’ve obviously had a lot of success this season record-wise, but I just imagine where I’d be if Melo was actually playing up to par. He was pretty good early in the season, but all this trade talk and the tragic death of his sister has seriously derailed the superstars’ 2010-11 season. He’s at a career low in almost every category except rebounds and I’ve had to struggle to win without his superstar prowess. He will rebound, so to speak, once all this trade talk expires, but until then, he may just continue to get worse.
Worst Draft Pick: Danilo Gallinari PF, New York Knicks (Rd. 5, Pick 49)
I took Gallinari to help out in threes as I took Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Joakim Noah with my first four picks. All four guys combined about half the threes that Gallinari is capable of, but the sharpshooting power forward has had a pretty rough season. He’s now just returning after missing the last couple of weeks to injury and even when he has been on the court, he simply doesn’t provide much. His 15.3 pts and 1.8 threes per game are not worthy of a 5th round pick. I could have taken such guys as Raymond Felton, Manu Ginobli, Eric Gordon and Kevin Martin in that spot and still gotten a lot of threes, as well as a lot more help in other categories.
Best Draft Pick: Westbrook (Rd. 3, Pick 29)
Needless to say, Westbrook has been one of the most valuable fantasy players across the board this year, putting up numbers worthy of a first round draft pick. I’m incredibly lucky to have taken him in the third round.
Guys I expect more out of:
Carmelo Anthony—This one’s obvious. He will get better, but I expect more across the board (except for rebounds) from him.
Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer—The big men for my Chicago Bulls have been great…when they’ve been on the court. Boozer missed the first few weeks and Noah has already missed a month for his thumb injury and is likely out another month still. And now Boozer is out with a sprained ankle. I do have Dwight Howard on this squad, but I need somebody else to step up in rebounds and both of these guys are that option. However, I’d be in better shape if I had more help from…
Serge Ibaka—The Thunder’s big man should be playing more, plain and simple. He’s shooting almost 57 percent from the floor with more than 2 blocks and 6 rebounds per game, but is only getting 26 minutes a night right now. He’s clearly the best big man the Thunder have, and while I’m not expecting him to score much on a team with both Westbrook and Kevin Durant, I would like him to get 30 minutes a game and explode in the rebounding and blocks categories. And a few more shot attempts per night wouldn’t hurt my FG percentage, that’s for sure.
Turnovers—My team has too many of them in a league where that is a category. Both Westbrook and Howard, despite being my two best players, turn the ball over a combined 7 times a night and I lost that category almost every week.
All Star Team:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Dwight Howard
Areas to Improve:
I’m exactly 10 games behind the No. 1 seed in this league and after going a combined 7-14-3 in the season’s first two weeks, I’ve won nine straight matchups (62-30-16). However, I have areas to improve in. Almost every week, I lose either the FG and FT percentage categories and sometimes both. I understand the free throws, as Howard gets to the line twice as much as anybody else and can’t even knock them down 60 percent of the time. It comes with the territory. But, FG percentage is just subjective each and every week and Westbrook and Anthony, who take the most shots on my team, have had some rough shooting nights and are both below 44 percent on the season. Noah’s return will help, as would some more minutes from Ibaka and a return to form for Melo. But, I’ll have to scour the waiver lines to try to get good matchups each week from my rotating spots.
Which brings me to another point, I have two spots on my team—currently filled by Nick Young and J.J. Hickson—that I usually use to utilize the hottest players on the waiver wire. If somebody sticks, as Humphries has, I’ll stick with them. And right now, both guys have a chance to stick. I finally got sick of Gallinari’s crap and dropped him for Young just recently, and it’s looking very likely that I will keep Young the rest of the year, with the way he’s dropping threes and lighting up the scoreboard. Hickson could very well stick until Noah comes back, in which case I won’t need his rebounds and will drop him to get Noah back on my active roster. I also have Luke Ridnour right now, but I’m planning on keeping him for the near future to help out with steals, threes, assists and percentages (he is shooting 92 percent from the FT line this year). But, as I’ve learned in fantasy basketball, I’m never going to stop looking at the waiver wire and trying to find that next diamond in the rough, even if it’s just for one week, one matchup.