Bradley Beal Demoted, Jordan Crawford Starting

Bradley Beal ($3800) was taken out of the starting lineup Saturday, with Jordan Crawford ($5900) getting the start at shooting guard.

Fantasy Analysis – Beal has really been slumping and this could simply be a move to let him get his head together and possibly play against some opposing second teamers rather than tougher starters.  Beal is a keeper and I wouldn’t advise dropping him to the wire.  Once the Wizards regain their starting point guard, John Wall, Beal should have a much easier time getting the ball in better shooting spots.  If someone in your league drops Beal and you have an open bench spot to stash him, make the waiver grab.

Jordan Crawford ($5900) could see a short term spike in value, but we clearly know what Crawford is, he’s simply a low percentage gunner with a little playmaking ability.  The Wizards just don’t need this type of player around once Wall returns and this could be a great audition if Crawford wants a trade.  If you need a short term fix at shooting guard, give Crawford a look.

Kobe Bryant Could Miss Opener

Kobe Bryant is suffering from what is being referred to as a right foot strain’.  He’s been sitting out practice and getting treatment, but still remains questionable for the opener.

Fantasy Analysis – Owners with weekly roster settings face a tough decision on Kobe, especially head to head league owners in a short opening week.  If Kobe can’t go, Jodie Meeks could get the call.  Meeks can score and put up threes to help you, but he’s definitely no Kobe.

Dwight Howard should be a go and could benefit greatly with Kobe out.  The Lakers would likely look to feed the ball inside to Howard and Pau Gasol, with Steve Nash taking some extra scoring chances from outside.  Metta World Peace is also dealing with a hand injury and could be limited.

Charlotte Bobcats Shooting Guard Battle: Gerald Henderson vs. Ben Gordon

The Charlotte Bobcats have a few position battles going on, but the most interesting battle seems to be between Gerald Henderson and Ben Gordon for the starting shooting guard spot.

Each of these guys has a unique skillset that is quite different from the other and the starter will likely be decided by what happens in the battles at the other positions around them.

Gerald Henderson should be the clear cut starter, but his primary weakness is Gordon’s strength.  Henderson took 35% of his shots inside of 9 feet from basket, while Gordon took 73% of his shots outside of 16 feet.  Henderson only managed 7% of his shots from three point range, while Gordon took 28% of his from that range.  Basically, Henderson is an interior player while Gordon is strictly a perimeter player.

This really becomes an issue depending on whether Kemba Walker or Ramon Sessions is playing point guard.  Unfortunately, Walker and Sessions have the exact same issues as the Henderson/Gordon pairing.  Walker took 61.2% of his shots from outside of 16 feet last season while Sessions took 57.6% of his shots within 9 feet of the basket.

If Sessions wins the starting job, then I’d probably be more inclined to think Ben Gordon gets the starting SG spot.  If Kemba Walker takes the starting PG spot, then Gerald Henderson might make more sense starting at SG.  It’s all how the Bobcats want to go about spacing the floor to work to the advantage of their chosen starting point guard, rather than simply handing the starting SG job to the most qualified player (which is clearly Henderson).

Either way, I think Henderson and Gordon are both going to harm each other’s fantasy value by evolving into some type of timeshare, although it’s a real possibility that the loser of the battle becomes the first scoring option off the bench, therefore insuring that they both are able to log near starters minutes.  I’m guessing that a Walker/Henderson pairing starts the game, but a Sessions/Gordon pairing will also see plenty of minutes.

Be careful with Gerald Henderson, I’ve seen some sites really hyping him up and advising to draft him in the top 10 shooting guards, but I’m not really comfortable with him being that high unless he’s showing a serious advantage in minutes over Gordon in camp.

Jamal Crawford Joins the Los Angeles Clippers as Sixth Man

The Los Angeles Clippers agreed to a deal with Jamal Crawford for four years, $25 million.

Fantasy Advice:  Crawford will once again be a contender for sixth man of the year with his new team.  He’ll backup Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups and should get around 30 minutes a game.

Crawford is a scorer, but also has the ability to make plays when he needs to.  He’s averaged nearly 4 assists a game over his career and should hit that mark this season in LA.  He’s not a great three point shooter with a 34.8% career mark, but he’ll definitely help you in that category by launching at least four threes a game this season.

His biggest help to LA this season will be his ability to create his own shot.  If he’s subbing for Paul or Billups, then there’s one less playmaker on the floor for the Clippers, which isn’t quite as harmful if Crawford doesn’t need the help.

Another little known fact is that Crawford lead the league last season in free throw percentage with a 92.7% mark.  He got to the line 3.4 times a game, so fantasy owners can definitely use him to bolster that category.

Overall, Crawford is a great fantasy asset that helps in assists, points, threes, steals and free throw percentage.  He can probably be had in the middle rounds too, which is fairly cheap for all that he provides.

NBA Rookie Draft Ranking and Fantasy Outlook: Jeremy Lamb

The Houston Rockets selected  shooting guard Jeremy Lamb with the twelfth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Lamb’s career stats at Connecticut:

75 Games, 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 48.1 FG%, 80.5 FT%

Fantasy Advice:  The Rockets recently traded Chase Budinger and the only real threat at small forward is Chandler Parsons.   While Lamb is probably more of a shooting guard type player, if he can adjust quickly he should be able to carve out some nice minutes in a platoon with Parsons, much like Budinger did last season.  He’s 6’5, but he’s got a 6’11 wingspan which should help him if the Rockets decide to give him some run at small forward in a small lineup.  It’s really his only hope of getting solid minutes since the Rockets still have Kevin Martin full time at shooting guard.

Lamb is a great offensive threat with an excellent shot.  He managed to hit 60% of his two point shots last season.  He’s got a good three point shot too and he can stroke it from well outside the three point line, but he’s going to have to keep working on it to develop into elite status.  He attempted 6.2 threes per game last season, but only hit them at a 33.6% rate.  He’s a solid career free throw shooter at 80.5%.

As we get further down the list of the players drafted in 2012, it gets much more difficult to make early fantasy predictions.  It does appear that Houston is going with youth, so anything is possible for Lamb this season.  Keep an eye on summer league and training camp to get a feel for his role.