by Matthew Bellerose
It’s week 5 and the Timberwolves are filling up the market. There are two to buy and one to sell. The 76ers won a game this week, Luke Walton is the coach of the month, and if you add up each of Stephen Curry’s highest scoring quarters the total is over 100. Enjoy the week and don’t let the Timberwolves best you.
Karl-Anthony Towns PF/C Minnesota Timberwolves
Towns has surprisingly seen decreased minutes as of late, and because of this his overall production has decreased. Gorgui Dieng has seen a spike in his minutes off the bench in place of Towns, hurting his stats. The first, and only, game that he played under 20 minutes was due to foul trouble. The recent stretch of games is most likely due to the coach deciding to rest him and lower his minutes. He is a franchise player and the Timberwolves do not want to overwork him in his first season. This is your time to go buy. Before these last five games he was averaging 16 points a game, and this stretch has brought it to fewer than 14 per game. This is your chance to buy low on a player with extreme potential for the remainder of the season.
Ricky Rubio PG Minnesota Timberwolves
The second Timberwolf on the buy list this week is the Spanish point guard. He has been sidelined for a few games with an ankle injury, but returned on Tuesday and put up a mediocre 3 points. He is quietly 5th in the league in assists per game, and that includes Tyreke Evans who has only played in one game (who I may have happened to suggest you buy last week, and if you haven’t yet, keep buying). He is also low on his steals this year averaging fewer than 2 per game, where his career average is close to 2.5 per game. This is by far the best offense he has ever played with, so he should reach a career high in assists (which seem hard to come by this year) as well as great steal numbers, and modest point and percentage contributions.
Pau Gasol PF/C Chicago Bulls
This seems like one of the before and after Wheel of Fortune puzzles. We relate Towns to Gasol using Rubio’s team, and Rubio’s nationality to get to the Spanish big man for the Bulls. He may be a tough one to pry away from an owner, but the convincing point is the point factor. His 13 points a game are not up to the standards of a third round pick many spent on him. However, he is putting up fantastic rebound, block, and steal numbers. Owners far too often overlook full categorical production for the fancy points per game. I would look into the Gasol owner in your league and see if they are selling, and if so, send them a nice offer.
Khris Middleton SF Milwaukee Bucks
Middleton is on fire for the Bucks. He is shooting an excellent .586 from 3 in his last five games, along with averaging over 16 points a game. This coincides with the rough week from Antetokounmpo. Middleton is a decent scoring option for the Bucks, but their team is full of solid players. He has no real position to flourish in Milwaukee, so he is virtually hit his peak with the current roster. He does not provide any real categorical production as he averages around 3 rebounds and 3 steals per game. I would sell while he is still hot and buy low on some other small forwards like Robert Covington or Wesley Matthews.
Ish Smith PG New Orleans Pelicans
We are going to play a little game here. These are two players with approximate per game averages for this season. If you can guess which player each of these players are you have the opportunity to win one of Shaquille O’Neal’s game used aglets (actual size approximately 7.2 inches longer than your wingspan).
Player A: 30 minutes, 12 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 1.2 steals
Player B: 14 minutes, 4 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound, 0 steals
If you knew that I’m a trickster, then you may have guessed that both of these are Ish, and if you did you are correct. Version A of Ish is without both Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, Version B is with both of these players healthy. Sell Ish now. The drop off is very significant, and with both of these players back and mostly healthy, Ish becomes fairly irrelevant. While he was a very good fill in point guard for the beginning of the season, he will not be a reliable contributor for the remainder of the season. Sell him now for whatever he is worth in your league, because soon enough he will be waiver wire fodder.
Zach LaVine PG/SG Minnesota Timberwolves
Once again we have another player impacted by the return of a player from injury. He will still see a decent amount of minutes, but will not have the total upside as he did as the start while Rubio was sidelined. He has improved significantly from last season, but he has not reached star status. I don’t expect too much point regression, but I do expect his rebounds, assists, and defensive numbers to slightly falter. I would rather take a chance on a player who has the opportunity to rise; where as LaVine’s ceiling is limited. I would look toward the waivers or seek out Jrue Holiday or Avery Bradley.