Tag Archives: Josh Smith

Reverse Engineering an NBA FanDuel Winner

If you’re like me, you spend hours on DFS nearly every day. Truthfully, there are countless ways you can build a winning lineup, and even more countless ways you can spend your time researching and digging through stats to build it. One commonly overlooked aspect of building a winning lineup has nothing to do with the day you’re actually building that lineup. I’m talking about really sitting down and taking 10 minutes to look over the previous day’s winner of the GPP you played in. More so, look at the top 10 on the leaderboard of your GPP and analyze each and every pick and try to reverse engineer what that person was thinking and why. How did this person make sense of the market today, and take advantage of weaknesses and strengths. Let’s take a look at February 11th’s 13 game slate so I can give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

First, I’ll show you what I had…

thor1

I won’t spend much time here because I really had a crappy lineup. Somehow it managed to cash in all three of my 50/50s and I made $12 on the night. James Johnson was dubbed the starter again about an hour before tipoff and his salary was rock bottom so I thought I was getting a lot of value there. That was really my first mistake, as I should’ve spent up more there and gone with a mid-tier option like Middleton, Parsons, or Ariza. Truthfully, I got lucky because Johnson was one of the most owned SFs of the night, so it didn’t sink me. The other mistake I made was going for Tyreke and I suppose Asik. That game should’ve played a lot closer, but the Pelicans just did nothing and the pacers were great. It probably made more sense to go with Oladipo or a Lou Williams/Crawford there and take my 30-35 points and upgrade elsewhere.

Now, let’s take a look at the winner of the Wednesday 150K NBA Shot tournament. On a night like Wednesday where there were 13 games, I wouldn’t worry about making contrarian picks, except in the case of James Harden, so I really won’t include much talk about being contrarian in this article.

thor2

Point Guards

This guy went after a lot of players I really like on Wednesday. Barea was an excellent option, especially as Monta Ellis was a GTD. I used him in my DK lineup, but not on FD. There’s really not much analysis that needs to be done here. That pick made a lot of sense. Barea had been playing really well with Rondo out and had a great matchup against the Jazz. The other PG pick is the more unique pick, which helped propel him up the leaderboards. George Hill was owned in just 7.2% of entries, and was certainly on my radar, but it felt riskier, which is why I went Payton who was supposed to see an uptick in usage with Harris out. Anyway, Hill was coming off bad games against San Antonio and Charlotte. Neither are particularly good defensive teams, but before that he had a small stretch of 30+ FP games. The Pelicans were giving up the most FPPG to opposing PGs over their last five games (thanks Russell), and had played in a number of tough games recently giving Hill a reasonable opportunity for another 30+ FP night. On a night where PG scoring was relatively low, Hill was the greatest value.

Ricky-Rubio-nails-crazy-circus-shot.

The strategy of going cheap at PG on Wednesday was really what you needed to do. There was so much value with guys like Rubio, Hill, Parker, Barea, Clarkson, Chalmers and Payton, that you really didn’t need to spend up for a Steph Curry, Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook although you could have done fine with either Curry or Westbrook (more so for Curry). The main lesson you can take away from Wednesday night here is that on large slates the position with the most viable plays is where you need to save your money, as you can get much more overall value out of cheaper guys than the high priced studs.

Shooting Guard

jklein didn’t blow anyone away at the SG spot, but most importantly he faded Harden, Tyreke, Thompson, and Monta (obviously). The Harden and Monta fades were easy, but the Tyreke and Thompson ones were a little harder to make. DeRozan was a quick lock in my lineup and I bet jklein’s. He just plays too big of a role in the Raptor offense for his price of $6,900, and the Wizards were going to be without Beal in a seemingly close game. I was surprised to see him owned at just 13.3% in this GPP. He made another very safe play with Crawford at his second SG spot. The LA/Houston game was a game that I was planning to go after hard (as you can see by my Paul, Barnes, and Smith plays), and jklein had a similar strategy while nabbing Crawford, Ariza, Smith, and Jordan.

Again, on a big slate it can pay to take certainties over wildcards. Crawford at $5200 was almost a lock for 25 FPs, and facing Houston on a back to back left room for upside if Houston fell behind (which they did in the fourth quarter).

tumblr_mgt6iwvMVQ1rge74zo1_1280

Small Forward

Small Forward was a position where you could’ve gone in a million different directions Wednesday. There were attractive options everywhere and at all tiers of salary. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the position can be somewhat of a crapshoot at times. Going with the “safe” theme, he took KD at home against the Grizzlies. Not an ideal matchup, but you know in all likelihood Durant will get you a minimum of 40 FPs. It worked out well in his favor as Durant was the top scoring SF on the night, and was only owned in 9.1% of entries. If you’re paying up for Durant, it makes sense to go cheap at the other SF spot, especially with aspirations of getting DeAndre Jordan as your Center. Thus, he went for Ariza in a game that had the highest O/U of the night and a close spread. Smart! Personally I liked Barnes more, and he was the better value but hey, he won.

kevin-durant
Power Forward

Josh Smith was another guy I knew I had to have Wednesday as he had a great matchup against the Blake Griffin-less Clippers and had been on a roll without Dwight Howard around. Super easy pick to make. Going with Sullinger was quite a bit ballsier, but the spread was surprisingly small for that game if I remember correctly (maybe 7.5), and he had been playing really well since he was taken out of the starting lineup for being late for a walkthrough a couple weeks back. Anyone who finished in the top ten Wednesday had Sullinger, West, Josh Smith, or Jason Smith. There was really not much else you could do there with the exception of Dirk.

joshsmithrocketsdebut

That being said, PF was definitely one of the weakest positions Wednesday loaded with a lot of iffy matchups and poor punt options. Instead of paying up for picks like Favors, Millsap, Bosh, or Aldridge, he took Sully, who was sure to be a huge part of the Celtics win if they were going to keep the game close, and it held true. Honestly, the Sullinger pick was probably the riskiest pick outside of maybe George Hill this guy made, but more importantly it allowed him to spend money on guys like Durant and Jordan, who were in much better positions to produce solid numbers in weak position groups.

Center

Finally, the pick you almost had to make to finish high on Wednesday was DeAndre Jordan. I toyed with throwing him in my lineups, but decided against it because I thought the value with Asik was too good to pass up while AD was out, and it was contrarian. Well I was wrong about that, and he went for 59 FPs while only being owned in 17% of entries, which was nearly 8% less than Josh Smith. I partly shied away from Jordan because I thought the market would go really hard on him, and there was a chance of getting in foul trouble against the white hot Harden. The important takeaway from that is don’t bother trying to be contrarian on giant slates. Let the market do its crazy things, and take guys you know will perform at or above expectation (Smith, Jordan, Durant, Barea, Hill, Sullinger).

lat-sp-clippers-jordan-20131219

Conclusion

Looking at the top entries from Wednesday tells us a few things. First, on big slates like this it’s important to remember to not try to be overly contrarian. Let the market do its crazy things, and just pick who you like to have a nice game. Josh Smith only being owned in 25% of entries is insane. The odds of him going for 5 or 6x value was likely the highest of any PF.

Another thing that’s important, but difficult to do on a big slate, is make sure you’re spending your big money wisely. It was all too easy to fall into a trap of spending big on Curry or Paul Wednesday who had good scenarios for big production, but that would’ve left you with significant holes elsewhere. The PG market was very strong, and he took advantage of that by playing Barea and Hill who were both criminally undervalued by both the market and salary. SG was also very strong with a lot of good mid-tier plays, so he attacked the strength of that spot as well landing two high usage players in DeRozan and Crawford and avoided spending big on Harden, Thompson or Evans, which were all riskier than DeRozan and Crawford. Nothing crazy, but both would keep him in the running to cash a GPP.

Then, he spent big on Durant and snuck a great value play in Ariza into his lineup. Durant was one of the top scorers of the day, and had a very good floor for production Wednesday, which made sense in the always unpredictable SF group. However, there were a number of solid value plays that day, so you could’ve done fine with two of those and spending on Curry instead, but the top four entries all had Durant.

Josh Smith was then an easy decision for a lot of people, but Sullinger was a sneaky good pick. The Hawks had been struggling against PFs, and had played a lot of tough games recently. I don’t love the pick, and would rather have David West, but Sullinger won him this GPP. More importantly though, he avoided falling into a trap of just spending up at a position when you’re not sure who to pick there, and landed two guys in Smith and Sully who play big roles for their respective teams when they’re in the game.

Finally, he went with another safe, but extremely high upside pick in Jordan, who had scored 60 FPs in his previous game without Griffin. Again, an easy pick to make in retrospect, but this is why we’re reverse engineering this lineup and understanding the strategy. To get back to my main point, on big slates it’s important to not make very unusual picks for players with high upside. The market will do that for you, and you’ll be able to take advantage of knowing that and landing a big number of great value plays. However, on smaller slates it makes more sense to go contrarian as you need picks to differentiate yourself from others if there are only four or five games that day.

I hope this analysis proves useful to you, and please don’t hesitate to contact me on twitter (@thoreosnmilk) or by email at thor.akerley@gmail.com for DFS or fantasy sports related questions!

 

Fantasy Focus: Give Inefficiency a Chance

The NBA season is underway and in full throttle. As a fan, I must admit that this year’s happenings thus far have left me rather baffled, yet also entertained. The main headlines are glaring and unexpected at this point of the season. With the Cavs struggling much more than expected early on, the Griz in first place in the West, and the Sixers rapidly trending towards unchartered waters of historically bad franchises, it’s tough to not be at least mildly amused.

However, these are not headlines that we’re used to seeing. There’s something different about the NBA this season that draws a fascination from fans like myself. Maybe it’s the fact that the top two teams in the Eastern Conference (Toronto and Washington) are being led by emerging young superstar point guards. Or how about the fact that young squads like the Kings and Pelicans are in the mix for a potential playoff spot this year? Whichever way you slice it, it’s very transparent to the objective NBA fan that different mixes of young athletic talent make sense for some teams (Phoenix) but not others (my Celtics…).

The NBA has certainly drawn more intrigue from a fantasy perspective because of how players can take advantage of opportunity when it strikes (Tony Wroten) or become more effective when used in the right role (Tyreke Evans). It’s tough to measure a player’s value because of the different metrics used. An NBA coach will value a good close out by a defender on his team while a fantasy owner will just be upset he didn’t get the rebound. However, for the sake of today’s article, we’ll be looking through my eyes as a fantasy owner. That being said, let’s dive into today’s topic: why some bad shooters should be given a chance.

Let’s look at some scenarios where it can be deemed acceptable to roll with guys that like to shoot around six for 15 (or worse) consistently. There are two guys on my current fantasy roster that fit the bill perfectly for this article: Josh Smith and O.J. Mayo. Both have different styles of play and are involved in different team dynamics, but they do have one thing in common: dreadful shooting percentages. My boy J-Smoove is coming in hot with a shooting percentage of 38% this year while Mayo is shooting at a 39% clip. Why keep them you ask? For different reasons.

Josh Smith's contract hasn't worked out as planned in Detroit but you aren't paying him!
Josh Smith’s contract hasn’t worked out as planned in Detroit but you aren’t paying him!

Let’s start with Josh Smith. This talented guy somehow finds a way to suck night in and night out. He only averages 13 PPG while taking close to 15 shots per contest. Such terrible field goal percentages have always been a turn off for most fantasy investors. I am not one of them. I am a big believer in what people like to call next-level statistics. Take this particular case. People place so much emphasis on Smith’s field goal percentage that they tend to neglect everything else he brings to the table. He is a very valuable commodity due to his ability to contribute in virtually every fantasy category. He is good for around seven boards, five assists, a block and a steal per game. Throw in the added bonus of a three every two games for a power forward and you have a better look at why he is often ranked higher than people would have guessed on fantasy lists.

Smith’s all-around game is surprisingly consistent, especially considering how bad the Pistons have been playing this season. In a fantasy league where each category is a win, I will no doubt bite the bullet on his field percentage and turnovers for his multi-category contributions.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks

Let’s switch gears now. Mr. Mayo lacks the defensive consistency that Smith brings every night and doesn’t really do too much other than score in the high teens on a good night. Now the question comes up again. Why keep him? Unlike Smith, Mayo has had to really earn his minutes this year. A couple of good scoring performances saw him move to a starting role recently, which has also gifted him, and fantasy owners, with more minutes on the floor.

One of the underrated metrics in fantasy basketball is the effect of a team system or rotation on a player’s performance. The increase in minutes due to the reliance on Mayo’s ability to score the basketball gives him the opportunity to contribute more heavily across the board. There are already scorers in the Bucks lineup around Mayo and he will need to find other ways to keep his starting role and increased usage moving forward in the season. His minutes and role are not guarantees by any means, but the potential that comes with increased minutes is intriguing enough for me not to drop him like other expendable players who barely average double digit points. With the fantasy football playoffs coming up, let’s make analogy. We see this every week with less skilled running backs; they get a heavy volume of touches on a weekly basis when it comes to carries, targets, or both, which is why fantasy owners take a gamble on them. I think of Mayo’s situation the same way. He is obviously more likely to accumulate more categorical stats for my team if he is on the floor more. He is one player in my opinion who will keep that starting role if he is able to display and improve his overall value in fantasy and actual performance with the bump in playing time.

There you have it. Two vastly different justifications for why some bad shooters can be given a chance in the fantasy basketball world. Who knows? In two weeks I could be singing a different tune but that is just the nature of the NBA, which is why is why I find it so addicting. I hope this sheds some light on your fantasy basketball woes and go Celtics.

The Blueprint to Gaming Your Fantasy Basketball League: Trade Execution

Hey Guys,

I hope you were able to put up with last week’s craziness and learn a thing or two about basic economic concepts and their application to the NBA.  Today, we’re going to couple last week’s lesson with some of the league’s latest happenings to construct profitable trade opportunities.

Remember, the key to developing trade targets and expendable trade chips is understanding where pockets of excess supply and excess demand exist.  Hopefully, you’ve taken the last week to identify these two parties specific to your league.  For simplicity sake, I’ve established lists of candidates for both that should generally apply to most scoring settings.

Serge-Ibaka

Pockets of Excess Demand (where buyers will buy at the slightest of opportunities)- Kawhi Leonard, Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka and Ty Lawson.  Notice how this group of players all have demonstrated superstar ability but have under performed (to some extent) in the early part of the season.  Nonetheless, their respective performances probably have been affected by short-term noise and there is a high probability that they bounce back sooner rather than later.  I included a guy like Ty Lawson on this list because prior to posting 15+ assists in two out of his past three games. the former Tar Heel had been reeling a little bit in Denver. Leonard is dealing with this weird, fluky eye issue. Ibaka is weathering the storm until KD and/or Russell Westbrook get back. You get the jist.  If you have one of these guys, don’t sell low.  If somebody in your league is impatient and a bit short-sighted, give him a ring immediately after you finish reading.

brook-lopez-1

Pockets of Excess Supply (where sellers will sell at the slightest of opportunities)- Goran Dragic, Al Jefferson, Dwyane Wade, Brandon Jennings, Kenneth Faried,  Brook Lopez, Josh Smith.  One thing these guys all have in common- a fundamental, serious obstacle that impedes each asset’s long term value.  For a guy like Dragic, it’s the glut of point guards in the Valley of the Sun. For players like Big Al and Brook Lopez, it’s their inabilities to jump and gobble up rebounds. Scott Skiles had similar remarks regarding a certain Bulls’ big man a decade back..  For creatures like Jennings and Smith, it’s their unwillingness to play team basketball. For Wade, the fact that he can’t physically be counted on for extended periods of time significantly deters his value. You get it. All of these guys are expendable if someone will ante up.  A suave owner would best either a) underpay for such assets or b) avoid them altogether.

Once we’ve established our targets, it’s finally time to formulate trades.  Here are some strategies that I find most effective.

1. 2 for 1 or 3 for 2 in shallow (10-12 teams) leagues– I talked about this last week, but the strategy of acquiring less elite players and giving up more good players is preferable when one’s opportunity cost for refilling roster spots is less significant.  In other words, the value of a rotating roster spot depends on the strength of your league’s waiver wire.  If I could get a guy like Boogie for Dirk and someone like Wes Matthews, I’d do it every time.

2. Selling into strength– When deciding it is most opportune to part ways with an asset, selling into strength is a counter intuitive must.  Most people understand the notion of buying low and selling high, yet these same individuals cannot successfully enact this strategy when the appropriate time comes.  At the height of one’s excitement regarding a certain individual’s play, a crafty fantasy owner should be asking themselves if it’s time to sell.  In the market, the phrase “Bulls make money, Bears make money, Pigs get slaughtered” has held true throughout history.  When profits (good trade opportunities) are there, take ’em and don’t look back. Even if the asset continues to perform or even outperform, green is green.  When you play in a league with 11 or so of your friends, the ability to have trading partners is often taken for granted.  It’s important that your friends feel like they are getting a fair (or even superior) deal when you decide to pull the trigger.  You never know when you’re going to need to draw from the well again :).

3. The Initial Offer– This may be common sense, but if you’re serious about getting a transaction completed, you best not make your first offer your best one.  As a buyer or seller, your strongest source of leverage is keeping your reservation price private.  If you spill the beans from the get-go, it will be nearly impossible to capture the edge in your trade.  Along with this strategy, I find the underutilized tool of proposing a “serious” offer, deleting it, and proposing a lessor offer very effective.  This tactic plays off the idea that recency bias is legitimate in fantasy basketball markets.  Even if you constructed the initial offer thinking it was too light, it will look great in comparison to the second offer and will provide you a solid starting point for progressing talks.

4. Knowing, then asking what the market needs– Bringing the article full circle, understanding the intricacies of the market is essential to sustainable success.  To put it simply, you need to understand your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses better than they do themselves.  Additionally, understanding his or her personality and biases toward marquee names is also beneficial.  It will allow you to a) not offend the person on the other end and b) potentially give up less real talent if you play your cards right. By asking what your opponent needs, you are already operating in good standing and your odds of getting a trade done are substantially higher.

You’ve got the basketball knowledge and you’ve got the strategies. Now, it’s up to you to turn your team from a dud into a stud.

Thanks for the read and happy Thanksgiving,

-Stav

The Trade Machine Diaries, Part 1

The ESPN Trade Machine has been a great innovation for avid basketball fans like us. If only real trades were able to go down so easily and without everyone’s consent like in your 2K franchise. I tried my best to come up with 15 realistic trades with all 30 teams involved. So when I say “go” everybody grab a dance partner and make a trade…go!

(Disclaimer #1: because you can’t swap draft picks in the trade machine, I ad-libbed and traded picks based on what I thought was fair value. Disclaimer #2: You may or may not be aware that I’m not a real NBA GM, so what I thought was fair value is subjective. Enjoy.)

Atlanta Hawks/Phoenix Suns

Atlanta sends Pero Antic and a future second round pick to Phoenix for Gerald Green

Right now Atlanta has a decent squad, I think ownership’s main focus is just getting into the playoffs and trying to generate some extra revenue as honest as that sounds. (Editor’s note: the Atlanta Hawks are likely to change owners in the near future after this summer’s very weird scandal). Paul Millsap and Al Horford are a great frontcourt and Jeff Teague is really good at times. They could use another scorer out on the wing though. Kyle Korver can fill it up, but it’s hard to get any consistency out of him; DeMarre Carroll is also a really nice role player. But Gerald Green can be asked to score 15-20 points a night for the Hawks, which is something they lack out of the two or three spot. The reality of this trade is that both Green and Antic are expiring deals, and the Suns might have a real concern about trying to resign Green, if they actually want to keep him. The Suns also just gave PJ Tucker and a new deal and drafted TJ Warren in the 1st round this year. Green is definitely expendable.

Boston Celtics/Sacramento Kings

Boston sends Rajon Rondo to Sacramento for Ben McLemore, Derrick Williams, and a future top three protected first round pick

This would be a perfect move for both teams. Danny Ainge should really be on the phone 23 hours out of the day trying to get rid of Rondo before he becomes a free agent. If the Celtics get absolutely nothing for Rondo, they are insanely stupid. We know Sacramento is willing to make a splash, and this move might actually make them a contender to get into the playoffs. Celtics would get young assets and a future pick. The Kings would get a true facilitator and someone who could make DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins even better (that’s a scary thought for the Western Conference).

Brooklyn Nets/Indiana Pacers

Brooklyn sends Kevin Garnett and a second round pick to Indiana for David West

It’s crazy to think that last year we thought the Brooklyn Nets would be able to compete with Miami for the Eastern Conference title. Oh, how quickly things can change in the NBA. I don’t think anyone still believes they can compete, but the reality is that the Nets are still probably bound for the playoffs. Deron Williams has been playing much better than last year, and Joe Johnson is still a very gifted scorer. If Brook Lopez can stay healthy they still may have a slim shot at making the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers could easily be sellers come the deadline and David West could be the first guy they relieve themselves of. The Nets could really use an upgrade from the walking dead that is Kevin Garnett. West is a proven guy come the postseason and could really complete this Nets squad and make them a headache for other teams in the playoffs. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, and David West is a pretty formidable foursome. Pacers meanwhile acquire Garnett’s expiring, and could use the extra cash to put more pieces around Paul George upon his return. Also, losing West will clearly help the Pacers lose more games and yield them a higher lottery choice.

Charlotte Hornets/Detroit Pistons

Charlotte sends Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller and PJ Hairston to Detroit for Josh Smith

This trade I admit is a little bit of a stretch, but it also makes sense for both teams. It’s not a secret the Pistons and Stan Van Gundy have become very disenchanted with Josh Smith. It’s also obvious watching Josh Smith play that he is simply not a small forward. This trade would send Smith to the Hornets where he could play power forward for them and stretch the floor creating space for Al Jefferson. The Hornets have invested a lot in Lance Stephenson and Kemba Walker this offseason, if Charlotte doesn’t make the playoffs it would be a huge disappointment for the front office. Adding Josh Smith would really create an offensive juggernaut, if they can become a cohesive unit before season’s end they would have a real shot at a playoff series victory. In return Detroit gets a few young assets including MKG and Cody Zeller. Kidd-Gilchrist might benefit from a change of scenery and Zeller is a fundamentally sound scorer who could develop under great tutelage from Stan Van Gundy. Detroit also sheds Smith’s bounty of a contract. It may be a long shot, but this deal has me pining for a Josh Smith/Al Jefferson frontcourt.

(Editor’s note: If SVG pulled this off, I would move to Detroit and join a Van Gundy cult. Josh Smith’s contract, style and attitude are terrible. I would rather have MKG or Noah Vonleh than him on my team).

Center swap? Highly unlikely, but Portland would love it.
Center swap? Highly unlikely, but Portland would love it.

Chicago Bulls/Portland Trail Blazers

Chicago sends Joakim Noah to Portland for Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson, Dorell Wright and a future first round pick (lottery protected)

I realize this move may be unpopular with the (D)Roses and Thorns faithful, but just hear my explanation before you excommunicate me. Derrick Rose’s and Pau Gasol’s health is a real concern, it doesn’t really seem like the Bulls are going to be able to make a real run at the title as is. Noah is almost 30 and has been banged up himself; if a willing suitor comes along looking for a center the Bulls would really have to consider. Noah has a costly contract, and the looming Jimmy Butler deal is not going to weigh favorably on the Bulls salary cap. This trade enables the Bulls to take on three expiring deals and a future first rounder. Even if you swap Robin Lopez for Noah, I don’t think this necessarily takes the Bulls out of playoff contention if they’re close to getting a spot at the deadline. Thibs will for sure get the most out of his players, this includes Robin Lopez. The Trail Blazers will get a legitimate defensive stopper to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge. Noah will help the Blazers get past the first round in the playoffs once again, and potentially win another round. Noah’s passing ability will also make Aldridge and Dame Lillard better as well. The Bulls have certainly gotten the best years out of Noah; the Blazers are hoping for a couple more.

(Editor’s note: NOOOOOO STOP IT)

Cleveland Cavaliers/Minnesota Timberwolves

Cleveland sends Dion Waiters to Minnesota for Corey Brewer and a second round pick

The displeasure that LeBron James shows for Dion Waiters is painfully obvious, and as we all know, LeBron is the real GM of the Cavs. So GM LeBron decides he’s had enough of Dion and sends him to a city that’s even colder than Cleveland. It’s a disappointment for the Cleveland front office that this is all they’re receiving for the former #4 overall pick Dion Waiters. But they’re clearly “all in” this season, and if swapping Corey Brewer for Dion Waiters will make them a better team and more formidable in the playoffs, this a deal they have to do. The Timberwolves on the other hand get another young Cleveland asset, and they are hopeful they can squeeze any remaining potential Waiters has out of him–but with Flip Saunders calling the shots that’s pretty doubtful. Eventually Waiters will hook on somewhere that utilizes him properly. He can really be a spark off someone’s bench where they ask him to be a pure scorer when he’s in the game. It won’t be in Cleveland and it certainly won’t be in Minnesota, but the kid has talent.

Miami Heat/Houston Rockets

Miami sends Norris Cole to Houston for Clint Capela and Nick Johnson

This trade is really simple for both teams. Listen, I can’t be expected to produce blockbusters every time. Houston isn’t necessarily desperate for a PG, but they could really use an upgrade for their second unit. That is something Norris Cole has proven he can do for the last three seasons. Isiah Canaan has been a good surprise for Houston, but he can’t be expected to deliver in the playoffs. Norris Cole could really be a valuable piece for Houston come April. Miami has really gotten a steal in Shabazz Napier. Between Napier and Mario Chalmers, the Heat are pretty much set at PG. Trading Cole for some young assets like Clint Capela and Nick Johnson isn’t too shabby of a deal.

PART 2 OF THE TRADE MACHINE DIARIES

BULLet Points: Healthy Starters Fuel Win Over Pistons

  • Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah all started a game together for the first time and the results were very enjoyable. Each starter had a positive double digit plus minus, while all the bench players were negative.
  • Rose looked great after sitting out the last two games. He was active early and often in his 32 minutes, scoring 24 points on 9/20 shooting and dishing out seven pretty assists. SB Nation has all sorts of highlights in Vines for you. The play that really stood out to me was a double clutch pass that shouldn’t be physically possible. Jo grabbed it and finished inside.
via @_MarcusD_
via @_MarcusD_
  • Speaking of Joakim Noah, he had by far his most complete game of the season. He finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes of his own. He only shot 5/13 and is clearly still working his way back, but the results were encouraging.

  • Pau Gasol locked up his fifth double double in eight games…by halftime! He finished with 17 points, 15 boards, four assists and four blocks. While his defensive rebounding had quietly been an issue, Pau did a much better job boxing out tonight. He’s been the Bulls’ most consistent player by far.

  • The Bulls finally won the rebounding battle, outboarding the Pistons 49-46. It was pretty much even throughout the game, but with a starting lineup including Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond (not Drummund), the margin was more than satisfactory.
  • Jimmy Butler played 43 minutes, including the entire second half. Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott got ten minutes combined. Tony Snell did not sniff the floor. Something to keep an eye on.
  • A late foul by ex-Bull DJ Augustin gave Derrick Rose the Big Mac clinching free throws that the fans were craving. The Bulls have played three home games but were yet to deliver the Macs.
  • No one on Detroit had a particularly good game, although it is extremely entertaining watching Stan Van Gundy shake his head after terrible Josh Smith shots and pull Brandon Jennings for Augustin.
  • Greg Monroe pissed himself while getting a DUI this summer. It has nothing to do with the game, but I think it’s important we remember this. Have any of your friends ever gotten so drunk that they peed themselves? They were probably too drunk to walk, let alone drive, right? Screw Greg Monroe. He put innocent people’s lives in grave danger. Remind people about this when you can.
  • The Bulls get two days off before taking on the conference leading Toronto Raptors on Thursday. The off days should do wonders for the banged up Bulls after a stretch of five games in seven nights.