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“Jaws of Doom”: Swing man Heat Check — Tyfreak Rising

On draft day I tend to ignore swing men initially, choosing instead to load up on PGs and PF/Cs early. In fact, I wouldn’t own any swing men if it wasn’t required; my team only has 2 at the moment (3 if you count Lin).  This means I paid sticker price for my floor generals & giants, and I’m getting exactly what I paid for.  Alas, the fascists at Yahoo mandate starting a SG and a SF (it’s probably a good idea to have a backup too). As such, finding under-appreciated yet useful swing men is one of my top priorities throughout the season, assuming I want a balanced roster.

Now is a particularly good time to fish for a cheap, high upside swing man, as a few have caught fire recently. The flip side of this, of course, would be selling high on a hot swing man. Personally, I’m casually shopping Joe Johnson, but I’m not giving him up for nothing. In return, I target players whose actual value exceeds their perceived value. One way to determine this is by comparing a player’s season averages against his averages from the past 2 weeks. (Use previous seasons if applicable too.) I look for patterns & similarities in categorical production, as well as differences and anomalies; keeping in mind that injuries, new environments, getting hot, etc., all factor into the game log.  Ultimately, my goal is to consistently beat my competition to emerging opportunities and upside.

Me and Tyreke Evans. I'm on the left.

Me and Tyreke chillin’, I’m on the left.

Below are a few guys I’m high on now.

Tyreke Evans:

  • season: 42%fg, 69%ft, 0.1 3ptm, 12pts, 3.8asts, 4.5rbds, 1.3stls, 0.4blks, 1.9to — 24mpg
  • last 2 weeks: 47%fg, 77%ft, 0.2 3ptm, 15.6pts, 4.1asts, 5.6rbds, 2.1stls, 0.4blks, 2.1to — 28mpg

Tyreke Evans is a supremely athletic player with major upside, however, not long ago fantasy experts and managers everywhere were bemoaning his situation in New Orleans.  Indeed, he had a bum ankle coming into the season, and Tyreke struggled in the first few weeks while adjusting to his new bench role. I heard complaints about how he’s only good with the ball in his hand, and that his numbers have declined every year since his first, and his style of play doesn’t mesh with the Pelicans’ system.

Nevertheless, my confidence in Tyfreak has not decreased whatsoever. Frankly, all those excuses are fucking bullshit — Evans’ upside outweighs any of those gripes. First of all, I actually like his new situation a lot — as the leader of the Pelicans’ second unit. He’s more talented and physical than most NBA backups, he’ll benefit from mismatches all season. On top of that, the Pelicans just lost 18% of their scoring, 24% of their boards, and a ridiculous 47% of their blocks with Anthony Davis’ injury — hopefully Evans can capitalize.

Furthermore, Tyfreak is an elite defender; his 2.3 steals per game ranks him 4th among all swing men over the past couple weeks. Poli sci nerds like myself call this a comparative advantage; and much like the IMF, I’ve got a hard-on for comparative advantages.

hundreds rich = me billions poor = rest of the league

hundreds rich = me
billions poor = rest of the league

Tyreke is finally getting some shots to fall. I expect his recent efficiency to continue, he shot 48% last season and 45% in 2011; he’s become a more efficient player each year.


Jimmy Butler:

  • season: 44%fg, 86%ft, 1.1 3ptm, 11.2pts, 1.7asts, 4.8rbds, 1.8stls, 0.8blks, 1.3to, 29minutes/game

Jimmy Butler is injured, but should be back in a week or so. Upon returning I expect him to explode. Without Rose, Butler is easily the pride of Chicago’s back court. He’s a versatile player, and has recorded a steal in every game this season — including a 5 steal game in October. The impending increase in Butler’s minutes should render him more useful in shooting efficiency, threes, points, and boards. Owned in merely 68% of Yahoo! leagues, his value is likely bottomed out now. I sent out a lowball offer, maybe I’ll get a bite.


Rodney Stuckey:

  • season: 49%fg, 81%ft, 0.6 3ptm, 16.9pts, 2.4asts, 2.6rbds, 1.1stls, 0.3blks, 1.8to, 28mpg
  • last 2 weeks: 53%fg, 82%ft, 0.5 3ptm, 20.5pts, 2.8asts, 2.9rbds, 0.9stls, 0.3blks, 1.8 to, 30mpg

The hype surrounding the new look Pistons has allowed Stuckey to fly under the radar while producing like a 6th man of the year candidate.  Oddly enough, Stuckey (a career 42% shooter) has been extremely efficient, pouring in buckets at 53%, and thus compensating for his narrow range of categorical production. Considering the fact that he’s hoisting up 14.6fg attempts over the last 2 weeks, this sudden accuracy seems even more impressive.

Yes, his shot will cool off eventually, but Chauncey Billups is old and oft injured and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is still finding his way around the NBA; Stuckey won’t be losing shots anytime soon.

In fact, Stuckey hasn’t shot this much since 2009. His numbers that year?

  • 41%fg, 83%ft, 0.2 3ptm, 16.6pts, 4.8asts, 3.8rbds, 1.4stls, 0.2blks, 2.2to, 34mpg.


Joe Johnson:

  • season: 43%fg, 84%ft, 2.1 3ptm, 15.6pts, 2.8asts, 3.1rbds, 0.4stls, 0.2blks, 1to, 33mpg
  • last 2 weeks: 45%fg, 92%ft, 3 3ptm, 18.9pts, 3.3asts, 3.5rbds, 0.1stls, 0.4blks, 1to, 34mpg

I recently recommended dropping iso Joe for Corey Brewer, essentially calling Johnson washed up.  Joe, however, didn’t take too kindly to this and (after flooding my inbox with hate mail) started balling in order to spite and discredit me.

I believe two related factors suggest that Joe remains useful for the near future: first of all, the Nets are made of wet toilet paper — they’re probably the most injury prone team in the NBA. Consequently, Johnson will be able to pick up as much slack as he can carry [ex: his fg attempts are up from 12.8 (season) to 14.4 (last 2 weeks)]. Not only are the Nets comically soft , they’re also terrible at basketball. Johnson, though, is the exception in Brooklyn.  He’s one of the league’s most durable players — since 2003 he’s played 60+ games every year except 2006 when he played 57.  Since everyone on that roster is always injured, it seems likely that Joe keeps on shooting in volume.

Barclays Center, Home of the Nets

The Barclays Center, Home of the Nets


Marvin Williams:

  • season: 47%fg, 69%ft, 1.7 3ptm, 10.4pts, 1.2asts, 5.2rbds, 0.8stls, 0.4blks, 1to, 25mpg
  • last 2 weeks: 50%fg, 73%ft, 2 3ptm, 14.7pts, 1.7asts, 6.3rbds, 1.0stls, 0.5blks, 0.2to, 32mpg

The Jazz suck, creating an ideal situation for a journeyman tweener like Marvin Williams. When given adequate minutes, Williams has proven to be a useful fantasy asset in the past. Conveniently, he just became a starter in Utah. The last time he played 32+ minutes was 2008 when he posted:

  • 46%fg, 81%ft, 0.9 3ptm, 13.9pts, 6.3rbds, 1.3asts, 0.9stls, 0.6blks, 1.1to

As long as he’s playing 30+ minutes he’s not a bad gamble to produce at that level, which isn’t bad for a guy with 18% ownership.


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