- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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If you've been anywhere online reading about the NBA today, you've no doubt been informed that this is the 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game. I scanned a few interesting pieces about it, including this.
It's striking how different the game was back then. The fantasy game sure would have been different too. As awesome as it would be to have Chamberlain on your fantasy team, our game probably wouldn't have been as fun or as challenging 50 years ago. In 1962, there were fewer NBA teams and fewer players. Starters generally played the whole game. In Chamberlain's case, he played almost every minute of that 1961-62 season. (He was tossed from one game, the only time he missed.) You think it's an advantage having LeBron James on your roster now? How could you possibly lose with Wilt? The fantasy season would basically come down to who got the first pick.
But 100 points is simply amazing. And believe it or not, it has me thinking about Rodrigue Beaubois.
Like most current NBA players, Beaubois likely won't score 100 points in his next week of games. That's no knock against him. In fact, to coin a term I just made up, Beaubois is a pure schedule play this week. To underscore the term I just made up, he might be as pure a schedule play as a fantasy owner can make all season.
Week 11 at a glance
The talented but inconsistent Beaubois is averaging just 7.8 points and 40.6 percent shooting in 19 minutes per game. At times this season, he's found himself completely out of the rotation, and before the break, his name surfaced in trade rumors.
So why bother with Beaubois, and why now? Simple, his Dallas Mavericks have five games in the week ahead. After visiting the Oklahoma City Thunder and hosting the New York Knicks, the Mavs have three games in three nights out west against the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. The Knicks, Suns and Thunder opponents are all in the top 10 in steals; Warriors opponents swish the third-most 3-pointers; and Kings opponents are first in points, first in assists and second in blocks.
On top of that, Beaubois is needed. Delonte West is still out, and the Mavs don't want Jason Kidd playing more than 30 minutes a night. Beaubois, who's rostered in just 2.2 percent of ESPN.com leagues, should see ample minutes in the week ahead. It's certainly possible you end up with poor shooting and turnovers for your trouble. But if you have an opening on your roster and a shortage at the miserably thin shooting guard position, Beaubois, with this schedule, at this moment, is a risk worth taking.
As for the rest of the schedule, you'll find plenty to like. Twenty-four of the 30 NBA teams have at least four games. Just know that if you're adding Andray Blatche or Manu Ginobili (both could return this weekend), you might not get much right away. Blatche's Washington Wizards are one of five teams with only three games, while Ginobili's San Antonio Spurs play just twice.
"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, its performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, and its opponents' numbers in those categories. The Games T / H column lists the team's total number of games played as well as home games (T / H) and lists the overall rating from 1-10 for that week's matchups.
Players to watch
Marco Belinelli, SG, New Orleans Hornets (@POR, @SAC, @DEN, @MIN): In his past seven games, Belinelli is averaging 15.6 points and 2.1 3s. You don't get much else with him, but he is a shooting guard and this looks like a pretty decent schedule. Denver Nuggets opponents make the most treys. Kings opponents are only so-so in 3s, but they're also averaging 102.1 points and 47 percent shooting, which should work out fine for Belinelli. In addition, the struggling Portland Trail Blazers have allowed 35 buckets from downtown in their past five.
Bismack Biyombo, PF/C, Charlotte Bobcats (ORL, UTA, NJ, @OKC): There was no magical Leap Day for Biyombo, who's considered day-to-day after injuring his shoulder against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. Fantasy owners, though, are jumping to add the rookie after he amassed 15 rejections in his three games prior to that. While Orlando Magic and Thunder opponents are in the bottom third in blocks, I'm mostly leery of Biyombo's foul shooting (just 40 percent on 2.7 attempts per game in February). It's one thing to put up with it from Dwight Howard, but the admittedly promising Biyombo has a long way to go.
Josh Howard, SG/SF, Utah Jazz (@CLE, @CHA, @PHI, @CHI): With 15 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in his past four games, Howard could stick as a starter. Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers opponents are at the bottom in scoring, but considering his rediscovered health and fantasy pedigree, Howard is a worthy add in leagues of at least 12 teams.
Steve Novak, PF, New York Knicks (@DAL, @SA, @MIL, PHI): Here's a fun fact: In February, Novak averaged almost as many 3-pointers (3.2) as he did rebounds, assists, steals and blocks combined (3.3). There isn't much else I can say about Novak that isn't summarized here. Besides, I don't think the schedule is much of a consideration with him. He's going to get his 15-20 minutes a night to launch shots from downtown, and with opponents consumed with Jeremy Lin, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, Novak is capable of registering two or three triples against anybody. If you need 3s, especially in head-to-head formats, Novak is certainly worth rostering. For the record, though, this is a middling set of matchups. Milwaukee Bucks and Mavs opponents are in the top eight in 3s, while Sixers opponents are 28th.
Kendrick Perkins, C, Oklahoma City Thunder (DAL, PHO, CLE, CHA): Perk is another big that fantasy owners are taking notice of lately. He's had at least nine boards in each of his past five games, a stretch that started with a six-block performance against the Hornets on Feb. 20. With Cleveland Cavaliers and Bobcats opponents in the top six in blocks and Bobcats and Suns opponents in the bottom six in rebound differential, Perkins could provide some help in deep leagues. Just keep in mind that he's one technical foul from triggering an automatic one-game suspension.
Ekpe Udoh, PF/C, Golden State Warriors (@WAS, MEM, DAL, @LAC): Of the bigs I've just mentioned, I firmly believe Udoh, who's available in about 95 percent of ESPN.com leagues, has the most fantasy value going forward. Part of this is the Warriors' glorious season-ending schedule (32 games from March 5 on), part of it is Udoh's progress and opportunity to contribute. The short-term schedule will challenge him to keep up his season pace of 1.7 blocks, however. Los Angeles Clippers and Mavericks opponents are both in the bottom six in rejections.
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.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. Send him your lineup-related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
50mBy Ian O'Connor