It looks as if it might be official that J.J. Hickson is going to be the starting power forward in Cleveland this year and Antwan Jamison will be the sixth man coming off the bench. Once Lebron left Antwan Jamison was supposed to be the guy to pick up the scoring slack and lead this team in points. Is that something he can still do coming off the bench? How much of a boost in fantasy value does Hickson get from being the starting power forward and what can we expect from him in the role? These are the main questions I am going to try an answer as I break down this move from a fantasy perspective, by looking at both men’s fantasy value in lieu of this decision.
Only once in his career has Antwan Jamison had a bench role and that was in the 2003-2004 season when he was playing for the Dallas Mavericks. That was the only season of Jamison’s career, since his rookie season, in which he averaged less than 18 points and less than 15 shots taken per game. The question is can he put up those numbers coming off the bench of a team that lacks a true number one scoring option?
This is neither here nor there as far as Jamison goes, but I think the Cavs may have been better off moving Mo Williams to the 2 guard spot with Jamison going to the bench in order to have a number one scoring option who wasn’t running the point guard position. But because the starting lineup now lacks offensive firepower, outside of Williams and hopefully Hickson, I still expect Jamison to log minutes early and often this year.
Without a true dominant scorer on the floor the Cavaliers may find themselves getting behind early in games and being forced to bring Jamison in quickly to try and give the team a scoring lift. So I do think Jamison will still put in 30 minutes or more per game, and I do think that while he will fall off somewhat statistically coming off the bench, he’ll still get plenty of shots and plenty of points. I think where he might be hurting is on the boards. While Jamison is listed as the number two power forward, I don’t trust Jamario Moon and I think the Cavaliers want Hickson on the floor as much as possible, so with those two things in mind I think Jamison sees a lot of minutes at the 3 spot alongside Hickson and Varejao and playing next to those two, will take a hit in his rebounding.
I think it is going to be a humbling year for Antwan playing second fiddle to some of these youngsters, but he could win a spot in the lineup back, most likely Moon’s spot and no Hickson’s, and even if he doesn’t he can still produce steady scoring numbers off of the bench. Here is what I expect to see from Jamison this season.
Projected Stat Line: 31 minutes, 17.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1 spg, .3 bpg, 1.5 3pg, 46% FG, 73% FT
This is the guy being labeled “the future” of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Considering the last guy who wore that label, he has mighty big shoes to fill. Luckily no one in Cleveland is actually expecting Hickson to live up to King James standards, and most of them are looking to Hickson more as a way of forgetting about Lebron than reminding them of him.
Hickson showed some flashes of his potential last season including eight games with 20 or more points. If you look at the fact that he started 73 games last season you might think his stats didn’t reflect his potential, but he still barely logged over 20 minutes a game despite all the starts. This year Hickson is expected to step up and should could easily surpass 30 minutes per game, even if Jamison does the same.
It should be noted that while HIckson has some very impressive tools to work with, he is still refining those tools and there could be some bumps in the road along the way. With that said, he is still a tremendous upside pick, especially now that we know he will be given the chance at significant playing time. Hickson has very solid post moves around the basket and is very efficient with his shot selection as seen by his .554 FG% last season. And he will be called on to score because, as was noted above, the Cavaliers starting five really lacks a dominant scorer and outside of Hickson and Mo Williams, the scoring options get scarily thin. I believe Hickson and Jamison will see a lot of time on the floor together, but I don’t think that will hurt Hickson to much, if nothing else it should get him better looks with Jamison bringing a defender out of the paint and hopefully opening up opportunities down low.
What Hickson does need to do to take his game to the next level is work on his rebounding and his defensive skills, particularly shot blocking. Hickson would have big games on the boards, but then the next night he’d disappear. He has to become a consistent rebounder and learn to hold his own against some of the other big men in the league who will likely be looking to run him over in the post.
I’m not ready to proclaim Hickson an all-star just yet, but the talent is there and he’s on his way to being an all-star I believe. Look for him to take the next step this season and not look back in coming years. Definitely a guy to bump up a round or two in keeper leagues. Here is what I am projecting he does this season.
Projected Stat Line: 32.5 minutes, 14.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.1 bpg, 52% FG, 68% FT
Both guys are going to be steady fantasy producers this season, and they may have similar value depending on what you are looking for at the time. Ultimately Hickson winning the starting job does bump him up a round or two and it probably bumps Antwan Jamison back a round or two, but Jamison is still very much a viable option.
What are your thoughts on these two guys and their fantasy values this season? Are you staying away from one or the other? Are you on the overloaded J.J. Hickson sleeper bandwagon? Give us your thoughts and feel free to ask any questions you might have.
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