We’re gonna mix it up a bit this week at Damn Lies. Now that the season is roughly halfway over (emphasis on ‘roughly’), we thought it would be fun to hand out grades to each player who has made an impact, positive or negative, on the fantasy landscape. Think of these as sort of the Golden Globes to our annual postseason awards, The Dammies, only with fewer scientology jokes. This isn’t very scientific, in the sense that the three of us were liberal arts majors and are much more comfortable making stuff up rather than postulating an actual theory, which I can rarely do without pulling a muscle. For each team, we’ll assign grades based on how players have lived up to fantasy expectations. If a guy has disappointed or has been hurt more than not, he could get a ‘D’ or ‘F’ even though his numbers aren’t totally awful. If someone went undrafted in every league but has come out of nowhere to offer solid value, he could get an ‘A’. Or not. It’s really up to us. Don’t think to much about it.
I’ll start with the Atlantic Division, and we’ll have a new division per day. Enjoy!
Average Draft Position and Rankings are based on Yahoo! standard leagues (the ranking is for season total).
Paul Pierce (ADP: 36; Rank: 9)
Having the best year of his career from a percentage standpoint (FG & FT), which has led to his sublime ranking. Steals are down a bit, but solid everywhere else and hasn’t missed a game.
Rajon Rondo (ADP: 16; Rank: 81)
He’s missed 11 games, and has traded three points off his scoring average for nearly three more assists per game. He is also shooting 51.7 percent from the field and averaging 2.4 steals. His free throw percentage is a laughable 41.7 percent. In other words, he is doing everything we thought he would do, only to the ultimate extreme. A strange player to own, but mostly a positive.
Ray Allen (ADP: 59; Rank: 20)
One of these years Allen will break down or show signs that he has even reached 30. I’m worried he may be a machine. With percentages of 50.7-45.1-86.9, he may be.
Kevin Garnett (ADP: 56; Rank: 35)
Yahoo! tells me his average ranking is 13th, which should tell you how good he has been when he’s played. Forget the numbers – just watch Garnett and you see a changed man who fooled every fantasy owner on the planet into thinking he was washed up. He did miss nine games, but has returned and looks like he will be fine.
Shaquille O’Neal (ADP: 120; Rank: 215)
Speaking as a Celtics fan, it feels like Shaq has been a lot more than I thought he’d be. The truth is that he’s been about what we’ve expected: Occasionally helpful, rarely healthy and pretty damn funny. None of that helps in fantasy.
Jermaine O’Neal (ADP: N/A; Rank: 299)
The Celtics are paying Jermaine $6.7 million per knee over two years, making them the world’s most expensive pieces of china.
Glen Davis (ADP: 129; Rank: 110)
Unsurprisingly, Davis has picked up the slack as both O’Neals and Garnett have sat. While Baby has helped fantasy owners in need at times this year, the truth is that his numbers are sub-par for what we want from regular fantasy plays at the position (46.4 FG%, 76.5 FT%, just 5.4 RPG in 30.7 MPG).
NEW JERSEY NETS
Brook Lopez (ADP: 18; Rank: 61)
What else can be said about Lopez this year that won’t get us fined by the FCC? I mean, 5.8 rebounds per game from a second-round pick? After he averaged 8.7 the year before? At least give us a hint this was coming, dude.
Devin Harris (ADP: 63; Rank: 83)
Harris has been relatively healthy and relatively productive and basically relatively blah. It is hard to fault him too much for treading water, and it’s not like fantasy owners were reaching for him in drafts. He’s been fine. Relatively.
Kris Humphries (ADP: N/A; Rank: 75)
Dating Kim Kardashian. Is there anything else to write?
Troy Murphy (ADP: 52; Rank: 357)
Some people are able to function knowing their teammate and main competitor for minutes is dating Kim Kardashian. Some aren’t.
Anthony Morrow (ADP: 103; Rank: 181)
Injuries have killed Morrow’s season, and when healthy he was a middling shooting guard of little help to fantasy owners in standard leagues.
Travis Outlaw (ADP: N/A; Rank: 177)
So the Nets won’t get Carmelo Anthony. At least they have Outlaw, who is making $7 million per year to average 10 points on 37.5 percent shooting in 32 minutes a game. Oh, the Nets.
NEW YORK KNICKS
Amar’e Stoudemire (ADP: 13; Rank: 8)
If you owned Stoudemire in the past, and didn’t see him averaging 2.3 blocks a game this year, raise your hand, then repeatedly beat yourself over the head with it. It’s what I do almost nightly. And I still don’t feel any better about not owning him in any of my 4,300 leagues.
Raymond Felton (ADP: 60; Rank 17)
There was a palpable buzz around Felton in the preseason as savvy fantasy people knew that his move to New York and the D’Antoni system would work wonders. But the buzz didn’t really translate to draft position, did it? Most of the more boring point guards went off the board before him, and anyone who got Felton in the fifth round or later is likely in contention for their league championship.
Wilson Chandler (ADP: 121; Rank: 18)
While we’re handing out A’s like they are breath mints, let’s not forget the Knick who has pleasantly surprised us the most. Wilson Chandler, take a bow.
Danilo Gallinari (ADP: 54; Rank: 51)
Gallinari has managed to be just about everything he was last year statistically, with slightly less threes and six games missed due to an injury. We’ll take it even if there’s a tinge of disappointment.
Landry Fields (ADP: N/A; Rank: 53)
Averaging a steal and a three a game and the most rebounds of any guard in the NBA. Still, if you are counting on him every week in standard leagues you have problems. Major bonus points for what he’s brought to the table, though.
Anthony Randolph (ADP: 80; Rank: 408)
Oh yeah. Randolph. He was supposed to break out this year, wasn’t he? Or was that the year before? Or both?
Andre Iguodala (ADP: 25; Rank: 117)
There’s really nothing that can be said to console fantasy owners who counted on Iguodala as a 2nd- or 3rd-round pick.
Elton Brand (ADP: 85; Rank: 32)
On the other side of the coin we have Brand, who has appeared rejuvenated for much of the year. Strong percentages, a career-high in steals and a 2.6-per-game improvement in rebounds has made him a very solid No. 2 center in shallow leagues.
Jrue Holiday (ADP: 83; Rank: 55)
I could nit-pick Holiday’s season so far, but the bottom line is he, at the very least, is meeting his most optimistic expectations in his second season. He is not yet great in a single category, but fantasy owners know you need just as many players who are good across the board to round out your team.
Evan Turner (ADP: 107; Rank: 202)
It is unfair, sure, to kill Turner for not being good or even helpful right away. But he was the No. 2 pick in the draft, and fantasy owners at least had a right to expect some kind of return on their investment. Instead he isn’t worth owning.
Lou Williams (ADP: N/A; Rank: 159)
With the struggles of Iguodala and Turner, it makes sense that Williams has stepped up, but he gets negative points for not really doing it until lately. He has 10 straight double-figure scoring games going right now and is a hot pickup in most leagues. So how to grade him? If this was a month ago it might be a D. We’re willing to bump him up for what he’s currently bringing to the table.
Thaddeus Young (ADP: 129; Rank: 79)
What to make of Young? Yahoo! likes him because he shoots 54 percent from the field, but there’s nothing else he does above average. He’s an emergency plug-in only.
Andrea Bargnani (ADP: 35; Rank: 69)
This is a tough one. To the naked eye, Bargs has broken out in a big way, averaging four more points a game to get to 21.4. The problem is that nothing else has translated. His blocks have fallen from 1.4 to 0.8. His boards are down to 5.7 from 6.1 and even his threes are suffering slightly (1.3 this year, 1.5 last). Bargnani is at least shooting a nice 81.2 percent from the line on 4.8 attempts a game, but this year he’s taking as much off the table as he’s putting on it.
Jose Calderon (ADP: 116; Rank: 78)
I want to give Calderon a great grade, I really do. It’s just that he’s the king of nagging injuries this season and nobody can count on him. I dig his averages, especially the 8.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 threes. But he really could be so much more fun to own if he could just stay healthy and hold off Jerryd Bayless.
DeMar DeRozan (ADP: N/A; Rank: 132)
Yeah, I realize DeRozan is sort of Nick Young North in that he doesn’t do anything but score, but the kid is ahead of schedule and a threat to drop 20+ points every night. His lack of, well, every other stat keeps him in deep formats for now, but the future is bright.
Amir Johnson (ADP: N/A; Rank: 54)
Again, a Yahoo! fave for his percentages (57.8 FG/81.9 FT) despite pedestrian counting numbers (9.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.0 BPG). I’m not sure his inconsistency warrants him anything higher than a B- like his Raptor teammates, but he gets it based on not being a total flop. That stands for something. Now, if we could just get a great second half from him… dare to dream.
Leandro Barbosa (ADP: 123; Rank: 157)
He had, basically, one nice stretch of the season and that’s it. Now he’s shelved with a hammy injury and we’re all left shaking our heads how he couldn’t carve out a niche on a Toronto team dying for his skill set.
Linas Kleiza (ADP: 123; Rank: 222)
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Kleiza as he was being drafted as a trendy sleeper by many fantasy owners including this author. And this author tends to hold grudges. Kleiza lost his job to Sonny Weems, then when he won it back he couldn’t sustain any kind of quality play. Disappointing.
Check back Wednesday as Tom Lorenzo will break down the Central Division.