Fantasy Basketball Mailbag — What Happens To Nikola Pekovic?

The NBA schedule is out and the 2014-15 season now feels like a concrete object in the not-too-distant future. So, with that in mind, I thought it would be a time to debut a mailbag column. As people get ready, setting times for their drafts, there are sure to be questions abounding and I’m happy to help in whatever way I can.

So, without further ado, the inaugural Red Rock Fantasy Basketball Mailbag.

@igazic0 — I was wondering, do you expect now Pekovic to be a 20-10 player?

Nikola PekovicWith Kevin Love approximately one week away from officially being a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, things are changing in the Twin Cities. As for Nikola Pekovic, things are looking up. He’s been a productive player in the last three seasons, but that;s expected to increase this season. Now, don’t get productive player confused with fantasy elite, as Pekovic, while being a great scorer and rebounder, gives nothing in the other categories. His field goal percentage is good, shooting 54.1 percent last season, but he averaged less than 2.0 combined assists, three-pointers, blocks, and steals last season. I can forgive a big man for no triples, but to get less than one block, steal, and assist per game is poor.

Two more things to consider with Pekovic are the following. One, the most games he has played was 65 in his rookie season. Two, Gorgui Dieng emerged as a legitimate NBA talent last season when Pekovic went down. If Pekovic struggles or gets nicked up again, the Wolves may not have any hesitation in pulling the pin and rolling with Dieng for the rest of the season. I don’t quite see that happening, but it’s something to temper expectations.

So to answer Ivan’s initial question, no, I don’t see Pekovic quite as a 20-10 guy, but he’ll be close. I have projected his stats as follows.

2014-15 MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT% TO
Nikola Pekovic 32 18.2 0.0 10.4 0.9 0.6 0.7 13.8 52.4 4.9 74.5 1.7

@The_Oscarida Does Dennis Schroder hold value for an early sleeper round?

First of all, a shout out to Oscar, one of the first listeners and readers of the site since I started it in 2013. Your support has been great. Now, onto the question.

I really like Schroder as a player, but he underwhelmed last season.

2013-14 MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT% TO
Dennis Schroder 13 3.7 0.2 1.2 1.9 0.4 0.0 3.8 38.3 0.9 67.4 1.2

Out of 447 players ranked on BasketballMonster.com last season, Schroder ranked 430th. Obviously, not ideal. He’s due to improve on that modest output, but do I think he’s a late round sleeper pick. As with all fantasy basketball questions, it depends on your league. In 10 or 12 team standard leagues, I wouldn’t be taking a flyer on Schroder. He’s behind Jeff Teague and Shelvin Mack on the depth chart at the stage, so even with Louis Williams now in Toronto, the road to playing time isn’t paved with gold.The minutes Williams played will likely be filled in by Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore, so I’d expect Schroder to total similar playing time to last season. As it is his second season, improvements will come, but there are far better reserve point guards to grab onto in standard leagues.

In a dynasty league, I like his potential, but the earliest he’ll contribute is likely to be 2015-16.

@Cannoncruz1 Drafting 30 team dynasty in the late rounds. Thoughts on Troy Daniels this season and future. Small sample, but pot. 6th man?

I love a 30 team dynasty. I’m actually in the middle of drafting one at the moment and through six rounds, here is my team

G — Michael Carter-Williams
G — Jameer Nelson
F — Anthony Bennett
F — David West
C — Paul Millsap

Flx — Trevor Ariza

It’s really hard accumulating talent with 30 teams, so I’m mildly happy with how things have started off for me. I’ll actually write a piece on the draft when all is said and done. Onto Daniels.

Troy DanielsThere is definitely an opening in the Houston backcourt, with Jeremy Lin now in Los Angeles. At this moment, Daniels is fighting with rookie Nick Johnson to be the primary backup behind James Harden at shooting guard, but it’s a bit of a stretch to cast him as a sixth man, particularly for this season. I think that role falls to Isaiah Canaan, who played well when Patrick Beverley and Lin were out injured last season. In terms of the future, I prefer Johnson as the guy who could develop into a sixth-man over Daniels. This season, Daniels will likely contribute more than Johnson and if he can play as he did in the regular season finale, he’ll be a worthwhile fantasy option. In that game, Daniels drilled six triples for 22 points and five assists in 44 minutes, although that feels like an outlier.

Daniels did do this last season though.

It depends who is around in your league, but there’s nothing wrong with picking Daniels, although I’d prefer other guys.

@briancarlo what’s your go-to auction draft strategy/philosophy?

I covered this a little bit on the most recent episode of the podcast, which you can now listen to on Stitcher, but I’ll go over it a bit now as well.

In auctions, depth matters a lot. In a deep league, I never target a top 10 player. I look to get people to overspend on the top players and then stack my team with mid ranked players. In a 20 team auction I was in last season, the highest ranked player I went for was DeMarcus Cousins, who was a guy ranked about 30 last season, then stacked the rest of my team with guys ranked between 45-80. I got a ton of bargains as people went crazy on Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry, and the strategy of going for the middle ground works exceedingly well in deep leagues.

In shallower leagues, you can still win by avoiding stars, but it’s a little harder, given the quality of players you can stream off the waiver-wire. But the beauty with auction drafts, is that every one is different.

When nominating players, I like to get big money guys or overrated players who I don’t want to draft (hello Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose) in order to get a lot of the available money off the table. The more money spent early on by others, means the more bargains you can get later on. The flip side to this is that if everyone is holding off biding early, you can grab a superstar really cheaply. There’s always one big name guy that goes below market value as people get scared of bidding.

Set yourself a value for each player you like and for every guy you get under that value, use that money to go over your value on the other players.

Above all else, be prepared and be flexible. Be aware of which players are going high or low and use that knowledge to adjust how you value the rest of your players as if guys are going well above expectations, you’ll be able to get bargains later on.

@rakmjn1 who will rank higher in 9 cat next year Bennett or Wiggins? 14-15 stats for each?

I detailed a few of my thoughts on Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins when news of the Kevin Love deal broke, but that was assuming Bennett stayed in Minnesota. If he goes to Philadelphia as has been rumoured, things change.

2014-15 MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT% TO
Andrew Wiggins 31 14.4 1.0 5.4 2.3 1.3 0.8 11.8 43.5 5.3 71.9 2.0
Anthony Bennet 33 13.7 1.2 9.0 1.4 1.1 0.7 12.3 44.2 3.7 68.4 2.2

I’ve adjusted the projections I had in that initial article, due to the potential Thaddeus Young/Bennett swap and their numbers come out similar. I have Wiggins just edging Bennett as the better fantasy player, but I’m very high on Bennett. In the 30-team dynasty I mentioned above, I took Bennett at pick 101 and I expect him to be a very good NBA and fantasy player, but Wiggins has the potential to be super, particularly in Minnesota.

Great job on the questions for the mailbag guys, keep them coming and this will be a regular feature.

Also upcoming, I’ll be starting the team preview series of podcasts, kicking off some time next week.

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