We all love an underdog, a story of triumph against the odds, and perhaps there’s no greater basketball underdog story than that of the Hickory High School basketball team, immortalised in the movie Hoosiers.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the film, which was loosely based on the success of the Milan High School team in 1954. It told the story of Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) turning around a struggling program, of Shooter Flatch (Dennis Hopper)—the alcoholic father of one of the players—being given a chance to contribute positively to the community as an assistant coach, of little Ollie McClellan making those huge bucket free throws, and of course Jimmy Chitwood, who would only play for Coach Dale and said “I’ll make it” before doing just that, hitting the game-winning shot after they passed on running the “picket fence” play.
The Indiana Pacers are now honouring the movie for a second straight year with their “Hickory” alternate uniforms, which goes to show what that story—and movie—means not only to the state of Indiana, but to hoops fans everywhere.
If you’re feeling like a bit of an underdog at this stage of the fantasy season and need to turn around your program, Downtown is here to help as we listen to the Music of the Traffic so you can build your own legendary tale.
Week 5 (Nov. 21 – Nov. 27)
4 games: ATL, CHA, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIN, NOR, OKC, ORL, PHI, PHO, POR, SAS
3 games: BOS, BKN, CLE, MIL, NYK, SAC, TOR, WAS
2 games: CHI, UTA
A bumper schedule awaits with no less than 20 teams lacing them up for four games in Week 5. A further eight teams tip off three times, while the Bulls and the Jazz have only two games on tap. If you like the way Dante Exum is going about it, or think Trey Lyles will make the most of Derrick Favors’ absence, I agree, but this is not the week to count on them for your squad. The Jazz do have a healthy schedule coming up though, so if you can afford the stash, it’s not a bad play depending on your longer-term view.
The following players may be available in standard 10- or 12-team leagues.
Channing Frye (PF/C, CLE): Talk about an unexpected success story. Frye, now 33 years old, is having a mini career renaissance right now in Cleveland. On the season, he’s averaging 12.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, one block and 3.1 made threes (at an insane .475 clip) per game. That’s top-75 value and yet he’s owned in less than 25 percent of leagues. Frye had upped his offensive output in the past week to 14.3 points and 3.8 triples, as well as blocking 1.8 shots over a four-game span before playing sparingly yesterday, so ride that success while you can.
Basketball was almost taken from @Channing_Frye.
This season, he’s taking nothing for granted. https://t.co/VMY6jhP2HR
— The Players’ Tribune (@PlayersTribune) November 16, 2016
Wilson Chandler (SG/SF, DEN): After sitting out all of last season, Chandler’s role was tough to predict, especially given the talk of him being trade bait for the Nuggets. However, through 10 games, he’s proving how valuable he can be with averages of 17.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.1 triples per game. Chandler has already cracked 20-plus points on four occasions this season, and had his first double-double of the season on Thursday with a whopping 28 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, a steal, a block and two threes. He then backed that up with another dub-dub with 25 points, 10 rebounds, three triples and three assists. Over the past week, he’s providing top-40 value and while that won’t last, he’s worthy of a roster spot in all 12-team leagues and a look in 10-teamers right now. Chandler is available in nearly 50 percent of leagues, so don’t let him sit out any longer. Put him to work on your squad.
Vince Carter (SG/SF, MEM): While most NBA players were not yet born when Hoosiers was released, VC was probably one of the first to watch it as a nine-year-old boy. Now 39, Father Time is still chasing Vinsanity and is yet to slow him down. Right now, he’s turning back the clock and is averaging 15.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and two made threes in 29 minutes over his past five games—good for top-60 value. With Tony Allen only just back, those minutes should continue, and while Chandler Parsons will get it going soon for the Grizz, Carter can help you right now. Grab him while he’s hot.
Josh Richardson (SG/SF, MIA): After missing the start of the season, Richardson is getting right back to what he offered as a rookie—productivity at the end of your fantasy roster. He’s now played seven games and has looked great in his last couple with 18.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, one steal, 1.5 blocks and 2.5 triples. That’s some nice across-the-board value that should not be put to waste. Even with Goran Dragic back, Richardson still played over 30 minutes and clearly has the confidence of Coach Spoelstra, so he should have yours too. He’s out there in more than 50 percent of leagues.
Terrence Jones (SF/PF, NOR): This kid would make for a nice underdog story. He seemingly had it all ahead of him in Houston just three years ago, before injuries derailed his next two seasons. His contract was not extended and the Pelicans took a chance on him hoping he’d be able to stay healthy and get his career back on track. They are looking very smart right now as Jones has earned a larger role and is playing big minutes alongside Anthony Davis, rather than just backing him up. Jones is averaging 18.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, one steal, 1.7 assists and 1.3 triples over his past three games and needs to be owned in all formats going forward.
Matt Barnes (SG/SF, SAC): Barnes has always had fringe value in 12-team leagues and this season is no different in the Californian capital. He’s been a little inconsistent, but his minutes have seemed to solidify recently as he’s averaging 27 minutes over his past six games. He’s scored 15 points in each of his last two games, while adding 4.5 rebounds, one steal, 1.5 blocks, 1.5 assists and three triples per contest—good for top-50 value over that span. Certainly worth an add in 12- to 14-team leagues right now.
Terrence Ross (SG/SF, TOR): He’s always had the promise, but seems to have finally figured out how to provide consistent production this season. Ross is in many ways DeMar DeRozan-lite, as he scores in bunches but doesn’t give you all that much else aside from some decent steal totals. He does hit more threes than DeRozan though, so if you could use a boost in those cats, Ross can help you in deeper formats.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 5, 2016
Ones to Watch:
Nemanja Bjelica (PF, MIN): I’ve liked this kid since he first came over based on what he did in Europe, but that has not translated yet to consistent minutes or production. The skillset is clearly there, as evidenced by his eruption for 24 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and five threes against the Lakers last week, but he’s only scored in double-digits one other time this season. Purely one to watch for now, if Bjelica can replicate that type of game again, or there is an injury ahead of him, he could provide value in a number of categories, but only when he starts playing 20-25 minutes on a nightly basis.
Maurice Harkless (SF/PF, POR): I had him as one to watch in Week 2 and since then, he’s not done a lot to prove he’s roster worthy, but he is playing big minutes and he does keep teasing us with productive lines every so often. So keep him on your watch list and if he starts to consistently produce, then give him a chance like Coach Dale gave Shooter a chance.
Tony Parker (PG, SAS): Not sure why a six-time All-Star is on the watch list? It’s because Parker was horrendous early this season before missing three games recently. However, he looks to have found some form and has now scored in double-digits in four straight games, the only four games he’s done it this season. Over that span, Parker is averaging 14.3 points, 5.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds, so if you think he can sustain this, then take a chance. Personally, I’m sitting back and waiting a while longer before I jump on that bandwagon again.
If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to go watch Hoosiers cos it’s been a while, then you’re not alone there. But before you do, make sure you grab your own underdogs for your fantasy lineups and create your own piece of history.
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