- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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Earlier this season I suggested that the Denver Nuggets were the NBA's most fantasy-friendly team. Since then, Kenneth Faried has emerged, JaVale McGee has been brought in and, apparently, Wilson Chandler will finally be brought back. On top of that, the Nuggets remain an enticing matchup for fantasy owners, as they're currently yielding the third-most points and the most 3-pointers. Fantasy fun stacked a mile high for sure.
However, with the NBA trade deadline come and gone, there's another team I'm now watching, another team that, as a fantasy owner, I want a supersized piece of. The Golden State Warriors made a bold move at the deadline, and they won't know for years if it will pay off. But for fantasy owners, the payoffs related to this deal will be immediate, and they could be massive.
As of Friday morning, Klay Thompson and Nate Robinson were available in one-third to one-fourth of ESPN.com leagues. While these two are undoubtedly getting gobbled up by the second, if you can claim either, don't hesitate.
I wrote about Thompson's potential last week. Now, with the departure of Monta Ellis, the rookie is set as the Warriors' shooting guard. Thompson went off for 26 points against the Boston Celtics on March 14. That showing is somewhat misleading given that he played 40 minutes that night for the shorthanded, just-reconfigured Warriors. But Thompson's minutes should settle into the 30 to 34 range from here. He seems a cinch for 15-plus points and a couple of 3s per game.
Then there's Nate Robinson. The Warriors haven't officially said that they're shelving Stephen Curry for the season, but by virtue of trading for an injured Andrew Bogut, it's clear that they're looking at 2012-13 and beyond. A Curry shutdown may not happen, but it sure makes a ton of sense. And if Curry is finished, little Nate Robinson becomes the biggest thing to hit fantasy hoops since, uh, Jeremy Lin.
Yes, I'm really going with that. Take away the East Coast media glare and Krypto-Nate, who'd been with three teams over the past two seasons, is about as unlikely a starting NBA point guard as Lin was in early February. What's interesting -- and quite possibly not sustainable -- about Robinson's first two starts with the Warriors is how efficient he's been. Against the Celtics, he amassed 11 assists while committing just two turnovers. Robinson went turnover-free (versus 3 assists) the previous night against the Sacramento Kings. It's also a given that Robinson (a combined 17-of-30 against the Kings and C's) will regress toward the 42.4 percent career shooter he is. But similarly to Lin with the New York Knicks, Robinson is essentially the only option the Warriors have left at the point. You should see plenty of points, assists, steals and 3s the rest of the way.
So Thompson and Robinson have me geeked about the Warriors. Oh, and did I mention they have five games in the week ahead?
Week 13 at a Glance
Both the Warriors and the Atlanta Hawks play five times March 19-25. The Hawks are also one of a number of teams that go back-to-back-to-back during the week. With Celtics, New Jersey Nets and Washington Wizards opponents all in the top seven in rebound differential, Zaza Pachulia, whose availability is back up near 80 percent in ESPN.com leagues, should be worth at least 40 boards.
As for the Warriors, their matchups get better as the week goes. They first host the Minnesota Timberwolves; Wolves opponents are third in steals. After visiting the New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets, Golden State returns home to face the Kings. Kings opponents are tops in points and shooting percentage and second in assists. Finally, the Warriors head north to take on the Portland Trail Blazers, a now-rebuilding franchise that just surrendered 19 3-pointers against the Knicks.
"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, their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, as well as their 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
Jerryd Bayless, PG/SG, Toronto Raptors (@NY, CHI, NY, @CHI): While Jose Calderon could return this weekend, Bayless will play plenty down the stretch. The chance to better evaluate Bayless was one reason the Raptors sent Leandro Barbosa to the Indiana Pacers. Chicago Bulls opponents are dead last in 3s, but Knicks opponents are eighth.
Alonzo Gee, SG/SF, and Daniel Gibson, PG/SG, Cleveland Cavaliers (@NJ, @ATL, @ORL, PHO): While Gee is starting to get noticed in ESPN.com leagues, Gibson is virtually unowned. However, with the departure of Ramon Sessions, Gibson should see more time backing up Kyrie Irving. In leagues of at least 12 teams, he could be a nice addition. The Nets have surrendered 43 treys in their past six games, a number that's actually held down by the fact that they've faced the Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats in that span. New Jersey should be a prime matchup for Boobie. Gee, meanwhile, is averaging 13.6 points, 1.0 3s and a whopping 2.4 steals in March. Nets and Phoenix Suns opponents are sixth and 10th, respectively, in takeaways.
Spencer Hawes, C, Philadelphia 76ers (@CHA, NY, BOS, @SA): Hawes is finally playing again after missing most of the past two months with an Achilles injury. I mention him mostly to inform you of his availability in more than 80 percent of ESPN.com leagues. He's currently limited to about 20 minutes per game, so Hawes is probably more of an add-and-stash prospect. Given how effective he was early in the season, though, I think he's worth holding. But if you need to activate him right away, the good thing with this schedule is that the Sixers play every other day. Hawes is being held out of back-to-backs for now.
Wesley Matthews, SG/SF, Portland Trail Blazers (MIL, MEM, @LAL, GS): Along with Gibson, Matthews could quietly benefit from the trade activity around him. With the Blazers moving Gerald Wallace, Nicolas Batum has the small forward spot to himself, while Matthews returns to the starting lineup as the shooting guard. Matthews has disappointed this season, but as a starter he's still producing 1.6 3s. Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies and Warriors opponents are all in the top nine in buckets from downtown.
Ramon Sessions, PG, Los Angeles Lakers (@HOU, @DAL, POR, MEM): Sessions, of course, is well worth adding as a result of his trade to the Lakers and his presumed place in the starting lineup. With this schedule, though, don't be surprised if he starts slowly with his new team. Rockets, Blazers, Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks opponents are all 18th or worse in assists. And while Sessions has, surprisingly, shot 41.9 percent from distance this season, Rockets opponents are 27th in 3s.
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: Three-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.
Neil Tardy evaluates the fantasy basketball period of March 19-25 and explains why the Warriors are one of the most intriguing teams for fantasy.