Music of the Traffic – Week 20

To say Russell Westbrook is playing well right now would be a massive understatement. In fact, it’d be downright disrespectful to the man.

He is in the zone. He’s en fuego. He’s well and truly entrenched himself in the MVP race; and if you think otherwise, well you’re just not paying attention.

Wednesday’s 49 point, 16 rebound, 10 assist effort in an OT win over the Sixers marked the 4th straight triple-double for the man. Did you hear me? 4th straight trip-dub! No-one else has done that since the GOAT, his Airness, did it in 1988-89.

Not only that, but it was his 7th straight game with double-digit assists, 7th straight double-double; oh and by the way, he did it with a fractured face! Are you kidding me? Someone get this man an ice-bucket challenge cos he needs to cool off.

Maybe his performance on Thursday was his version of cooling off. He failed to record a triple-double, or a double-double and could only manage 43pts, 8reb and 7ast.

Unfortunately, not everyone can be as hot as Russell. But that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of others making noise around the Association right now too.

As always, Downtown is listening to the Music of the Traffic to ensure your squad heats up just in time for the fantasy playoffs.

Week 20 (Mar 9 – Mar 15)

5 Games: NYK



2 Games: DAL

The schedule gods are mocking us this week. One team plays 5 times, which normally would be golden, but it’s the Knicks. I mean, aside from rolling out Il Mago 5 times (see below), there’s not much to like out of MSG these days. 13 teams play 4 times, 15 teams play 3 times and those beyond the grassy knoll (the Mavs) play just twice. If you’ve been hoping Richard Jefferson might go 5-6 again, or were considering the merits of Al-Farouq, think again. They can be safely left on waivers.

The following players may be available in standard 10 or 12 team leagues.

Before we get to the players to add, I want to apologise to anyone who dropped Kenneth Faried last week on my advice. I mean, he was worth dropping at the time, but now with Brian Shaw finally unemployed, the Manimal has returned. If he was somehow dropped in your league (unlikely as available in just 9% of Yahoo and 21% of ESPN leagues), he should be the first player added this week.

Gerald Henderson (G/F, CHA): He was supposed to be the back-up SG this season, but took over the starting spot when Born Ready sat out with a groin injury and never gave it back. He’s been a solid source of points and threes since January, but only a fringe option in 12-team leagues due to his poor FG% and lack of steals. However, in 4 games so far in March, Henderson has stepped up the versatility of his game to the tune of 17.3pts, 3.3reb, 2.3ast, 1.5stl and 1.5 3ptm, while shooting a whopping .560 FG%. That’s an offensive rating of 118 for you advanced stat geeks. Henderson’s play ranks him just outside the top-50 over that span, only he’s available in 72% of Yahoo and 83% of ESPN leagues. I think he’s “ready” to be owned.

Nikola Mirotic (F, CHI): I know I have an unhealthy infatuation with this kid. I’m getting help for it – don’t worry. But what isn’t helping me recover, but definitely could help you, is his recent play. Benefiting from the absence of Taj Gibson and, to some extent, Jimmy Butler, Mirotic has averaged 22pts, 8.3reb, 1blk, 1.8 3ptm and 7.8 made FTs over his past 4 games and should continue producing for as long as Gibson is out (expected to be at least another week). With a 4-game slate, it’s time for you get infatuated with him too.Tony Snell (G/F, CHI): Same team, similar situation, only longer-term benefit available. Snell is starting for Jimmy Butler who is out for anywhere from 3-6 weeks. Snell was already playing better with strong February splits and now he gets every opportunity to prove his worth with all the minutes he can handle. Rose being out only means there’s more shots to go around and despite a few sub-par games to start the new month, Snell is capable of scoring and rebounding when given the chance.  Snell is currently only owned in 15% of ESPN leagues and 23% of Yahoo leagues, but that number is sure to climb. He should be grabbed in all 12-team leagues.

Will Barton (SG, DEN): A lesser known player who’s also been in a zone of his own recently is 3rd year pro, Will Barton. Acquired from Portland in the Arron Afflalo deal, Barton has been getting some solid minutes (27mpg) ever since landing in Mile High and making the most of it. In 8 games as a Nugget, he’s averaging 13.5pts, 4.8reb, 2ast, 1.1stl and 1.1 3ptm, while shooting a healthy .475 FG% and .375 3FG%. He’s scored in double-digits in 5 of those 8 games and that all adds up to top-80 value over that span. Give him a look in 12-team leagues to see if he can sustain it.

Ersan Ilyasova (F, MIL): I have a buddy whom Ilyasova drives mad. He loves his talent, but it drives him crazy that every year he wastes a draft pick on him, only to be disappointed by his play. So he drops him, then Ilyasova picks it up in the second half and my friend is compelled to draft him again the following year. I can’t cure my friend (believe me I’ve tried), but I can recommend that you take advantage of those periods when Ilyasova is a competent pro and a fantasy asset. Like now for example, where he’s averaging 15.8pts, 7.6reb, 0.8stl, 2 3ptm and .451 FG% over his past 4 games. That’s top-80 value and available to you in 49% of Yahoo and nearly 94% of ESPN leagues.

Andrea Bargnani (F/C, NYK): I told you last week that if he picks up his percentages, he’s worth taking a chance on. Over his past 4 games, Bargnani has shot over .500 from the field, is hitting a three per game, while adding 18pts, 4.8reb, 3ast and nearly a block per also. He’s playing over 30mpg and is probably the most talented offensive player on Derek Fisher’s roster right now. With 5 games coming up, you could do worse if you need some low-end production.

Isaiah Canaan (PG, PHI): The bible makes references to the “Land of Canaan” frequently. The newly acquired point guard for Brett Brown’s Sixers showed us Wednesday exactly where that “land” is; beyond the arc. The second-year man connected on a career-high 8 triples on his way to a career-high 31pts, to go with 7reb, 6ast and a steal.  Listed as one to take a flier on last week, you can have a little more certainty now as he’s averaged 20.3pts, 4.3ast, 3.3reb, and 5.3 3ptm over his past 3 games. Yep – that’s his land alright.

Arron Afflalo (G/F, POR): Ironically, I was going to recommend Afflalo as one to drop this week given he’s ranked outside the top-200 since the trade from Denver. However all that changed when Wes Matthews ruptured his Achilles tendon. Afflalo, owned in just 65% of Yahoo leagues and 43% of ESPN leagues, now gets thrust into the starting SG role for a team that needs to replace one of the deadliest 3-pt shooters in the league this year. Expect Afflalo to at least replicate his Denver numbers from earlier this season, meaning he should be owned in all 12-team leagues and given a look in 10-teamers.

Others to watch for now:

Paul George (G/F, IND): The PG-13 watch continues. He’s completed several full practices already and experienced no setbacks or discomfort. Once he gets his conditioning back, he’ll be good to go. There are murmurs it could happen this coming week. He’ll likely return on a limited basis initially and gear up for the playoffs where the Pacers hope to play spoiler. Still available in 67% of both ESPN and Yahoo leagues, that number is falling every day.

Kelly Olynyk (F/C, BOS): The second year Canadian was a top-75 player earlier in the season, bringing an all-around game with solid FG%, some 3s and decent defensive stats. He returned last week but has struggled in his first couple games back and is competing with Tyler Zeller, Brandon Bass and now Jonas Jerebko for minutes, so even with Jared Sullinger sidelined, nothing is guaranteed. Watch this space.

Marvin Williams (F, CHA): William has been the forgotten man this season in Charlotte. He’s played his role off the bench in solid fashion, but that role has not been big enough to warrant a roster spot in standard leagues. That being said, he started on Wednesday over Cody Zeller in a big win over Brooklyn, contributing 18pts, 7reb, 1blk and 4 3ptm in 26 minutes. The start was deemed “matchup based”, and even though he returned to the bench yesterday, given he played so well, he could get another chance. If he does, give him a look in 12-14 team leagues.

If you’re looking to drop someone to make room for one of these names, the following players can be let go from your roster.

Jimmy Butler (G/F, CHI): This one is very dependent on your personal situation. If you’re sitting pretty on a playoff spot, then you may be able to afford to hang on to Jimmy Buckets through his 3-6 week absence, but if you’re fighting for a spot, you may need to cut ties and try and grab Snell to get you through. Tough to cut that kind of talent, but if it turns out to be 6 weeks, then your season is basically done by the time he returns.

Jarrett Jack (G, BKN): Jack had a really nice run this year as the starter in Brooklyn, but that run is over. Jack has reprised his bench role and to make matters worse, Deron Williams has hit some form. Jack’s minutes are still solid at around 30mpg since the break, but his usage has come down by 5%. Averaging just 10.2pts, 4.2ast and 2.2reb over the past 2 weeks, Jack can be waived in 10 and 12-team leagues.

Gerald Green (G/F, PHO): This one surprises me. I thought with Dragic and IT2 gone from the Valley of the Sun, Green would get some more run at SG, but the opposite has happened. With their playoff spot fading into the sunset (no pun intended), Jeff Hornacek has instead elected to develop the likes of Archie Goodwin and T.J. Warren and is also playing Marcus Thornton ahead of him. That leaves Green in the cold and if you’re not playing, you’re not producing.

Getting hot happens to most players at some point in their careers. It’s how they sustain it that distinguishes them. If you’re looking to find someone to average 40pts with triple-doubles, then get on the phone to whomever in your league owns Russ Westbrook. If not, give one of these guys a look and get your team in the fantasy playoff zone.


Follow me on Twitter @tomhersz for updates

Follow Downtown @Downtownball


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When you’re introduced to the NBA as a 6 year old in 1984, staying up late to watch Bird, Magic and Dr. J, it’s pretty hard not to fall in love with the game. I became consumed with the Association, and as my own game was developing, I tried to emulate as much as I could at an early age and learn how to play “the right way”. I have memories as a teenager of being glued to Saturday Basketball on TV and spending every spare cent I had on basketball cards and replica jerseys and so began my obsession with NBA knowledge and stats. I played my first season of Fantasy Hoops in 2002, as my serious playing days were slowing down. I now play in 5 or 6 leagues every year. To say I’m obsessed with Fantasy Hoops would be an understatement. To say I love nothing more than sharing my opinion on a player’s value would be entirely accurate, and I guess, the reason why I’m here. Follow me on twitter: @tomhersz @downtownball

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