Grand Theft Roto: Hitting the mailbag
Be careful what you wish for! I knew what I was getting into when I asked for my readers to send in their own feedback and potential GTRs, but the outpouring of responses was surprising nonetheless.
There's sort of an ego boost that comes with the territory when robbing one of your competitors blind, or pulling off so many sick trades you become "that guy" that people no longer want to trade with. I'll even throw in some of the more interesting questions I received so this week's column isn't just limited to a brag-fest. Since this week is about you, the reader, let's get to it and cover as many e-mails as possible!
We'll start it off with Jordan, who sold high on Brandon Jennings:
I traded Brandon Jennings and Chris Douglas-Roberts for Monta Ellis just after the Bucks-Grizzlies game where Jennings had 26 points. Since then, Jennings has averaged 14.2 ppg on .298 shooting and CDR has averaged 12 ppg on .377 shooting, while Ellis has averaged 35.2 ppg on .523 shooting.
The column that I wish I wrote was one talking about selling high on Brandon Jennings -- my money is still on Tyreke Evans to finish as the season's best rookie -- but allow me to use this e-mail to do a little bit of that here. While Jennings' recent shooting woes may kill any chance at getting what you once may have gotten for him, I find it hard to believe he can continue scoring 21-plus points while needing more than 19 shot attempts a game to do so. Jennings won't collapse, but his early season performance -- and subsequent regression -- is a reminder of how easy it is to get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of fantasy basketball while losing perspective of the six-month grind that it truly happens to be.
Stepping off the soapbox a bit, I happen to love the trade. Monta Ellis is my boy, because it looked like, even with Stephen Jackson aboard, the Warriors would have no choice but to let Ellis hoist as many shots as he wanted. With Jackson out of the picture, the sky is the limit, and it is very nice to see Ellis harness more of his potential and start making it a point to get to the line (6.1 free throw attempts per game). Whether he gets 3-point range -- currently at 35.3 percent from beyond the arc -- or totally eschews that from his game, fantasy owners will benefit either in 3-pointers or field goal percentage, so there is almost zero downside. And since most leagues don't factor in turnovers, his biggest weakness happens to be negated.
Anand already owned Al Jefferson, Tim Duncan and Elton Brand aside from Bosh, while his second-best point guard was Mo Williams, so the rationale is easy to understand. It takes a lot of courage, however, to trade Bosh's 24 and 12 for Stoudemire's 19 and 8. Considering what a surprise the Suns have been, what does it say that Amar'e is on pace for his first sub-20 scoring average since his days as a rookie? There is a very real chance that his days as a 25-point scorer are done, in which case his value hinges more on his rebounds and blocks, categories he's never been particularly strong in.
But the key really hinges on Ginobili versus Calderon, which definitely would have been a tempting risk to take prior to the season. Unfortunately, considering how explosive the Raptors' offense has been this year, it has to be that much more surprising that Calderon is barely averaging six assists when he was pushing nine per game last season. In other words, Calderon isn't as valuable to this well-oiled machine as many people assumed he would be. Ginobili's consistent output in 3-pointers, steals and free throw percentage makes it easier to tolerate his swings in value, as he rarely needs much playing time to make an impact. The idea had the clear makings of a rip-off, but I think the inclusion of Ginobili spoils things a bit.
Scott tries his hand at buying low on Calderon, too:
Hey Adam, I traded Luol Deng for Jose Calderon. I needed assists and had an abundance of points and rebounds. That said, I was still nervous about trading a surging player for a slumping one. What do you think?
This, my friends, is the jackpot. While I like Deng, his lack of versatility limits his upside considering his greatest contributions come in two plentiful categories. He's also not a dominant go-to scorer, so his proficiency is more in flux relative to his minutes and teammates. Right now, Deng is 47th on the Player Rater (sorted by averages) while Calderon is just 76th, but we're just one month into the season, so expect some regression to the mean. (Calderon finished 31st last season.) More importantly, it's a lot easier to replace swingman types than it is to replace a solid second point guard. There is also a lot to be said for the fact that Scott is not getting any of Calderon's disappointing production, and has already banked Deng's overachievement; chances are that in the next five months, they will be much closer to even, if not decidedly in Calderon's favor.
And to cap things off, we have an inquiry from Ronak about the biggest surprise of the year:
This is a topical question considering Gasol's recent string of single-digit point production. Has he produced at a high enough level for long enough to have significant trade value, or do most owners view this as the beginning of a regression? My best guess is that Gasol is for real. He gets to the line a ton for a big man, which is a strong sign, and provides all-around production considering his decent tallies in assists and steals. He might not be the top-20 threat he's currently ranked as, but should be a safe top-40 or so guy at the least. Ben Gordon, it's safe to say, is not in the same stratosphere. To hammer home last week's point, if an owner doesn't want to pay the going rate for a guy like Gasol (or Chris Kaman, another popular sell-high guy), feel no qualms about holding on to him for the duration of the season and reaping the rewards. If you can't acquire or deal a guy for your price, don't hesitate to walk away from the table.
Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.