“Big Three’s” You Need to Recognize: NBA Strong Plays
Darren Collison (@ Golden State Warriors): He’s not the best point guard on his team, but Collison is a speed demon who should thrive against a team like the Warriors. The reserve has seen extended minutes of late (73 minutes in the last three games) and has responded nicely (31 points on 68.4% shooting over the weekend). Listen, I’m not saying Collison is going to lead the league in fantasy points today, but given his price tag, a 15-20 fantasy point day would bring home tremendous value. The Clippers hung 126 points on the Warriors in their first meeting, and while Collison was hardly a factor, this offense has the potential to put up a big number, thus adding to the fantasy upside of all involved.
Alan Anderson (vs Chicago Bulls): The Bulls are an elite defensive team, but with Luol Deng’s status up in the air and their struggles to contest three pointers (third worst in 3P% against), this is an ideal matchup for A-squared. Anderson has emerged in December, making 1.5 three pointers and scoring nearly ten points a night while seeing his minutes rise by 39.5% from last month. The Brook Lopez injury has left the Nets searching for scorers, and while Anderson isn’t a direct replacement for the big man, he certainly appears to be handling a large portion of the scoring role that was vacated. Anderson has given his owners more than a steal per game over his last ten and is only five days removed from his top performance of the season (26 points, five 3PM, five rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block).
LeBron James (@ Los Angeles Lakers): We learned that the ideal time to roster James is on the road in a game Miami figures to win, and this fits that exact mold. Playing at Staples Center on a holiday isn’t a bad spot for the star member of the original big three either. The Lakers play at the third fastest pace in the NBA, meaning the King could see even more possessions than we normally would. The Heat are shooting a league high 51.4% from the field this season, and I don’t see that changing in an offense that is now lead by Nick Young and that truly believes “good defense” is defined as scoring more points than the person you’re guarding. This isn’t a spot to bet against royalty.
Serge Ibaka (@ New York Knicks): I don’t care what anybody says; they have a big three (from a fantasy perspective if nothing else) in OKC. Westbrook and Durant get most of the attention, but a paint protector that can knock down 20-footers is a rare commodity that holds strong value in any fantasy format. I love Ibaka’s skill set, but I love one thing more and that is the fact that Andrea Bargnani figures to be matched up with him. Ibaka has nailed four three pointers in the last three games (connected on just three during the first 24 games), something that indicates a high level of confidence that will not change with #77 standing across from him. In addition to what I expect to be a solid day in the scoring column, the versatile power forward is averaging a career high in assists and rebounds on top of another stellar season of shot swatting (2.4 bpg). Leave the highlight plays to his teammates, but Ibaka is capable of being the most valuable fantasy commodity at The Garden today.
Kawhi Leonard (vs Houston Rockets): They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes this swingman’s fantasy value. With the Rockets coming to town, I expect Tony Parker (vs Patrick Beverly) and Tim Duncan (vs Dwight Howard) to struggle to lead the offense, thus giving the reigns to the third member of their big three. The 22-year old (doesn’t it feel like every Spur is younger than you think?) is chomping at the bit to break out in a big way (back-to-back double doubles after recording just two in his first 25 games) and has what figures to be a favorable matchup against the offensive minded Chandler Parsons. Leonard is shooting 53.6% from the field at home (which includes 1.2 3PM) to go along with 2.4 stocks, making him a safe option as he can contribute in a handful of ways. Leonard already has four games this month with multiple three pointers (the second highest total for an entire month in his career) and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him build on that in what promises to be a high-scoring affair.
Tyson Chandler (vs Oklahoma City Thunder): With the Knicks primary scorers (Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony) battling recent injuries, look for the team’s only real efficient player to step up and have himself his best fantasy day of the season. New York has not been scared to give Chandler major minutes since his return (110 minutes in his last three games), making it only a matter of time until they place more of the offensive burden on his shoulders. He’s proven to be a capable passer (each season in New York he has surpassed his career assist average) and is a top shelf defender (nearly two stocks – steals plus blocks – per game over his career), so a projected increase in workload is all he needs to rank among the most productive big men in our fantasy world. He’s a career 58.3% shooter from the field and should have his way with Kendrick Perkins on the interior in this one.
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