I don't love themes.
I hate dressing up for Halloween. On Casual Friday, I'll wear a suit. I'd outlaw Christmas decorations if I could.
But when it comes to a Fantasy Basketball article, I'm a sucker for them.
I've written extensively about point guards in this space before, but today I'm going to focus on swings (any player with an SG or SF designation.)
So have another drink, drop your keys in the jar and let's swing, baby...
I've been wanting to write an in-depth piece about Kobe Bryant all year, but was waiting for the right time. After last night's nail-biter against the Raptors, I think the time is now...
Let's start approx a month before the NBA season started.
After missing most of last season, nobody really knew what to expect from Kobe Bryant this season. After playing in only 6 games the entire 13/14 NBA year, Kobe was being doubted in his age-36 year. I suppose that's understandable, but not if you're me.
Don't bet against Kobe.
The guy just has too much of a track record.
He's a warrior - albeit not a very efficient one.
Kobe Bryant currently leads in the NBA in usage again (he has done so 3 times in his career). His 36.4 mark is a clear indication that everything goes through Kobe all the time - for better or for worse.
While his traditional counting stats of 26.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 4.6 APG make Kobe a clear 1st round pick, let's go under the hood...
First off, his current .493 true shooting % is literally the LOWEST OF HIS ENTIRE CAREER. We're talking about a career .554 TS % here. It's possible he could head back toward his average - or it could show a rampant decline (due to age or poor teammates, or possibly both).
Second, he's averaging 23.1 field goal attempts per game. That's insane. It's the most shot attempts he's taken since the 05/06 season (when he jacked up an ungodly 27.2/game). At a career low 39.2% from the field, this is not the year you want Kobe Bryant taking the highest number of shots in 9 years.
But can you blame him?
While Boozer has been coming on as of late, Kobe hasn't been getting much help. Nick Young's return from injury will lessen the load off The Black Mamba, but scoring help is clearly needed... After collecting a season high 12 assists against the Raptors last night, it could be a sign that Kobe is starting to trust his teammates. But he also went 11/24, so don't expect Kobe to stop jacking up shots anytime soon.
In a punt-FG% strategy, he could win your league for you. But if you're not punting that cat, he may force you to do so inadvertently.
I could've written "The Butler did it", but how many times have you seen that headline already?
Jimmy Butler is currently experiencing career highs in most statistics across the board.
The only question is: Can he sustain it?
While Butler's numbers have certainly been inflated by Derrick Rose's oscillating trips between the court and doctor, Jimmy's advanced stats show some interesting trends...
First, Jimmy has a 22.4 PER - far greater than his career average PER of 15.0
Even at a career high USG % of 22.5, Butler is incredibly productive right now - in his age-25 season.
It's not a coincidence that JB's career high .616 TS % (#15 in the NBA) is emerging at a time when Butler's 3PAr is the lowest it's been in 3 years (.187) and his FTr is the highest it's been in 3 years (.632). He's shooting way less 3s, and way more frees at a career high 82.6% from the charity stripe.
He's taking smarter shots, and his efficiency stats are going through the roof.
I took Jimmy Butler in the 6th round of the Yahoo Friends & Family league. And as the #10 player overall for average stats in Yahoo's rankings, he's a big reason I'm in 1st place right now.
Even if Derrick Rose is able to stay in the lineup, Butler is going to be a beast all year.
DeMar DeRozan, TOR, SG/SF
With the news that DeMar is going to be out a month, the swing situation in Toronto has gotten intriguing.
Lou Williams has recently emerged as a 6th man of the year candidate, averaging 18.5 PPG in 27 minutes/game in the last 7 days. D2's injury could lead to a slight uptick in minutes for Sweet Lou, but last night's heartbreaker against the Lakers saw Greivis Vasquez get the starting 2 job. Greivis played a season high 34 minutes last night with 19 points on 8/16 shooting - with 5 assists.
While Greivis is certainly a player that should be added in standard, 1-year leagues, I don't think he's going to get all of DeMar's usage. He will likely benefit the most, but look for increased production from Lou Williams, Patrick Patterson, Terrence Ross and James Johnson.
The Raptors are a very deep team, and will likely absorb DeMar's stats into the team concept.
Russell Westbrook, OKC, PG
While Westbrook obviously isn't a swing, his return has completely altered the Fantasy landscape in OKC's swing department.
While Westbrook was injured, Jeremy Lamb and Anthony Morrow were putting in top 100 performances (if erratic from game to game however).
In Russell's 1st game back (in only 24 minutes), RW went 12/17 from the field with 32 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists! You're talking about a career USG % of 30.2 (among the highest in the NBA), and a video game usage of 45% this season (in an admittedly small sample size of 3 games).
Westbrook's going to be a top 5 Fantasy Basketball player until KD comes back, and possibly even #1. After Russell eats, everybody else can get whatever table scraps are left over. He's the quintessential King of the Jungle, and the time to sell high on those OKC swings is immediately...
Donatas Motiejunas, HOU, SF/PF (15% owned in Yahoo leagues)
With Terrence Jones missing most of the season thus far - and Dwight Howard being in and out of the lineup - Motiejunas has emerged as a multi-cat beast.
Over the past 7 days, Donatas has averaged 15 PPG on 57.1 FG%, with 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1 steal per game.
There could be a breakout here, or he could fade away at any moment. But with TJ not very close to returning, and Howard's continual injury problems, DM's value could last longer than expected...
So that's what I got, all.
For someone who hates themes, I tend to gravitate to them often.
Maybe it's time to take my wife's suggestions and wear matching sweaters.
I mean, how embarrassing could it be?