The All-Star break is coming, and while it’s not the official mid-point of the NBA season, it does give you time as a fan to analyze some of the action during the 1st half of the season. With the trade deadline fast approaching, some of these things may change over the next few weeks, but knowing the league in totality should give you an edge when picking out your fantasy lineup each night.
Everyone that follows our NBA picks each day knows I have selected the PG that plays against Cleveland for a while now. Kyrie Irving gets (too much) attention for his offensive game – and not enough attention on how the opposing teams PG usually lights him up for a big night. It’s not all Irving’s fault however – give him a shot blocker like Serge Ibaka or Roy Hibbert playing behind him – and his defense might look a lot better.
Defense – Defense – Defense
Speaking of Roy Hibbert, he plays for the Indiana Pacers – and given they are one of the best defensive teams in the league, I will try to avoid picking players who face-off against this solid defensive team. I also mentioned Serge Ibaka, who plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder – I tend to shy away from that matchup too. Funny how the 2 best defensive teams in the league have two of the best shot-blocking centers! Maybe NBA GM’s should take note and find a shot blocker to plug into the middle … and so should you – picking players that rely on scoring around the hoop is not a good idea on most nights against these two teams. You can find NBA team defensive rankings on ESPN.
Almost any warm body is a good start against this team. Maybe not quite that far – but the 76ers are by far & away the worst defensive team in the NBA. For every steal Michael Carter-Williams has, he’s overplayed and given up a backdoor layup. The other good thing with starting guys that play against the 76ers is that Philly are capable of keeping up on the scoreboard against most teams in the east … which means your guys are playing at least 3 1/2 quarters before garbage time. Finding poor defensive teams and starting the guys on the opposing team is a very effective strategy, Other poor defensive teams I like targeting are the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings.
Walk the line
Knowing what the key (high scoring) matchups are each night in the NBA is key. Large sports books are analyzing NBA games on a level the average fan is not. They look at the referees, how far players have traveled, some talk to wives/girlfriends and beat writers to get the inside scoop on a team. They are trying to gain an edge so their sports book makes more money. While not always correct – their research and somewhat successful track record should at least have to interested in seeing their opinion. Not to mention it’s free information. I check the lines each day. – #1 I look for the two or three highest over/under games of the night The more points scored, means more fantasy points for those involved. #2 I located the ‘blowout’ games to avoid – where one team is highly favored. I tend to avoid those games because starters may be taken out early.
If there is one thing you want to keep an eye on in the NBA – it’s injuries. There are only 12 guys on an NBA team – and only about 9 usually play each night. So when one guy gets hurt – it often opens the door up for players to elevate their game. Always analyze who is getting hurt on an NBA team before starting a guy on your fantasy team just because someone is hurt. Kevin Love is a good example of when a top-level player goes down …. non-scorers like Ricky Rubio promptly set a career high in points scored! If a role player goes down who only averages > 10ppg … it’s not going to move the needle on the other players. But when a big piece of the offense like Love, Al Horford or Kobe go down – you’ve seen it can elevate the other players on the court.
I mention earlier that this is looming. There are going to be nights where a team trades some players on the day of a game. If they trade 2 or 3 key players … it will leave them with only a handful of players to play. That has always leads to huge opportunities in the past.