Fantasy NBA: Pau Gasol and the fountain of youth

Pau-Gasol-Chicago-Bulls-versus-Boston-CelticsIt seems all is right in the world of Fantasy NBA again as Kevin Durant is back in a big way (44 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists with 6 threes to usher in the new year). In contrast, LeBron James owners are dealing with a two-week lull as the Cavs’ main man deals with knee soreness. The biggest fantasy hoops story in my opinion so far, however, is Pau Gasol.

I got Pau in my public auction league for $4 (out of a $200 budget for 13 players). Pretty sure his average rate at the time was $5 to $7. I bid $53 to get Serge Ibaka. Compared to the bids for other bigs, Brook Lopez went for $19 in my league, David Lee went for $12, and Jonas Valanciunas went for $10. I wanted to get Pau in at least one league because he just can’t lose in Chicago fantasy-wise even if his stats dip a bit.

What he’s done so far is unprecedented. He’s found the fountain of youth in Chicago. A couple of games ago, he set a career-high with 9 blocks (at 35 years old). He is currently fifth in the NBA in rebounds per game (11.2), second in blocks (2.35 bpg), and is tied for fifth with a bunch of other guys at 17 double-doubles so far this season. Check out Pau’s averages over 31 games below:

pau

Not bad at all for $4. His average draft position in pre-season drafts was around the 60th pick in Yahoo! leagues, if I remember correctly. Not bad if you got him in the late fifth to early sixth rounds. Just sheer genius if you copped him even later on.

It was easy to see how people could have had misgivings about Pau. Who knew how many minutes he’d get, or how durable he’d be especially in such a demanding environment (at least on the defensive end) as Chicago. Plus, he would be sharing floor space and playing time with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.

But then, observers noted that Pau would be a perfect fit on the Bulls. He’d have more touches than he got with the Lakers, and having Noah and Gibson meant he won’t have to extend himself too much covering for other people’s lapses on D. Regardless, he’s still getting his defensive stats.

Over the past two weeks, Gasol is playing top-5 fantasy ball on a per-game basis. The rebounding is a bit down, with both Noah and Gibson healthy, but you still get great percentages with a well-rounded line. There’s even 0.4 threes in there, SMH.

pau2

The last game, Gasol had 29 points, 16 boards, and 5 blocks on a night Jimmy Butler (another Bulls player who’s having a great season) was out. I really should have targeted him in more drafts, especially seeing how Ibaka hasn’t panned out for me so far (mostly due to inefficiency established during the period where KD and Russ were out). For sure, Pau Gasol owners are hoping that he stays healthy while keeping up this incredible pace.

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