Monday , Dec , 15 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Rookie Monsters

They’re adorable.

They’re impressionable.

They show up to practice before everyone else with coffee and pastries, because if they don’t, someone puts their stuff in a toilet.

Those three points apply to two groups of people: rookies in the NBA, and puppies who manage rock bands. Because this a fantasy basketball column, we will be focusing mainly on rookies. Today, we are going to make you the proud owner of a rookie-but you have to promise to feed him. And walk him every day! Even if you don’t feel like it. No one said this would be easy.

Rookie Monsters



They’re adorable.

They’re impressionable.

They show up to practice before everyone else with coffee and pastries, because if they don’t, someone puts their stuff in a toilet.

Those three points apply to two groups of people: rookies in the NBA, and puppies who manage rock bands.  Because this a fantasy basketball column, we will be focusing mainly on rookies.  Today, we are going to make you the proud owner of a rookie—but you have to promise to feed him.  And walk him every day!  Even if you don’t feel like it.  No one said this would be easy.

 Much like puppies who manage rock bands, the best ones are probably already taken.  Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, Michael Beasley, Rudy Fernandez, and Greg Oden are likely owned in your league.  Even shaggy, confused-looking Marc Gasol has already been snapped up in 82% of ESPN’s fantasy basketball leagues (we’re using their ownership numbers in this column).  You have to ignore the big names and grab the players getting less attention:

 Brook Lopez.

Lopez is owned in 19.5% of leagues.  Here are his averages over the past fifteen games:

 

FGM/FGA

  FG%

  FTM/FTA

  FT%

  3PM

  REB

  AST

  STL

  BLK

  PTS

5.1/9.9

0.51

2.0/2.5

0.789

0

8.6

0.9

0.4

2.3

12.1

 

This is the part where I remind you that

1) Brook Lopez is a man

2) Brook Lopez starts at center for The Surprising New Jersey Nets

3) Brook Lopez has statistically outperformed three guys by the names of

 

FGM/FGA

  FG%

  FTM/FTA

  FT%

  3PM

  REB

  AST

  STL

  BLK

  PTS

3.1/5.7

0.536

2.6/4.1

0.652

0

8.4

0.7

0.4

1.5

8.8

3.3/6.1

0.541

1.7/2.8

0.607

0

7

0.5

0.4

1.3

8.3

2.3/5.3

0.44

0.6/0.9

0.667

0

7.6

0.3

0.6

1.3

5.3

 

At least, that is how those men are named on Planet Spreadsheet.  On your inferior soil they are called Greg Oden, Tyson Chandler, and ZARUNAX-4000.

Um, I mean Samuel Dalembert.

Oden, Chandler, and Dalembert are all owned in at least four fifths of ESPN leagues.  Will Lopez continue to be a better fantasy option than them?  If you twisted my arm, I would say: maybe, probably, and yes.  But you are not twisting my arm, so I will simply say: food for thought.  Delicious, delicious food for thought.

 Eric Gordon.

Owned in 10.8% of leagues despite a two-game 49-point outburst at the end of November, the speedy Clippers shooting guard has a winsome smile and a painfully obvious nickname.  Furthermore, no one is going to challenge him for minutes.  I mean, look at the Clippers bench.  Seriously, look at it.  They have Mardy Collins, and that’s about it.  Incidentally, “Mardy” isn’t short for anything.  I looked into it.

The Clippers are a fascinating team; uncannily awful, yet loaded with fantasy gold.  Eric Gordon should advance that tradition in the coming weeks.  He slings threes at a reasonable 36.4%, but look for him to get to the basket and improve his FG% as he gets a better feel for the speed of the pro game.

Mario Chalmers.

The rookie signal-caller for the Heat, like a Venetian prostitute, is good for two things and two things only.  Unlike a Venetian prostitute, those things are three-pointers and steals.  Over the last month, he’s averaged about two of each, and in early November he had nine steals in a game against Philadelphia, a game in which he had six points.  If he had gotten one more, he would have had a single-double.  Owned in just a quarter of leagues, Chalmers also provides 4.2 assists/game, and he once won an elementary school championship with a team called the Alaska Salmon.  His percentages aren’t great, but at about 7.1 FGA and 2.5 FTA per game, they’re not very heavily weighted.

Russell Westbrook.

The Thunder have lost over 90% of their games.  21 of 23.  That’s insane.  Not even the baby snatchers of Oklahoma should have to root for that.  It makes me not even want to talk about Russell Westbrook’s 5.5 assists/game over his last twelve games, including eight starts, because what’s the point?  Life is bleak and absurd.  Westbrook also has two steals per game over that same period, and his percentages, while not great, are bound to improve.  He is owned in 38.6% of leagues.  I am going to go lean over the side of a bridge and just stare at the water for a while.

D.J. Augustin.

In 68.3% of leagues, D.J. Augustin is available at guard.  Have a look at his averages over the past month.

 

FGM/FGA

  FG%

  FTM/FTA

  FT%

  3PM

  REB

  AST

  STL

  BLK

  PTS

5.1/11.6

0.443

3.4/3.7

0.932

2.1

2

4.8

0.7

0

15.8

 

And now consider that this person is available in only 14.2%:

 

FGM/FGA

  FG%

  FTM/FTA

  FT%

  3PM

  REB

  AST

  STL

  BLK

  PTS

5.2/11.1

0.468

2.1/2.7

0.778

1.2

1.5

1.5

1.1

0.1

13.7

 

Bom dia, Leandro Barbosa.  Some caveats: Barbosa’s minutes are down, and he’s shooting less than 30% on threes, a number which can’t deviate for long from his career average of 40.4%.  And Augustin may not be able to maintain his numbers: Larry Brown, unlike you, doesn’t like to play rookies, and he brought in Raja Bell for a reason.  But right now, the statistical contrast is striking.  That’s all I’m saying.

In conclusion, Jose Juan Barea is also a beast.