Editor’s note: This is a guess post from Justin Becker of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. You can follow him on twitter at @NBAFantasyInfo, and for more information on the NBA visit www.FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com – your online source for anything about fantasy basketball.
Word association can be a strong evaluator of whether or not a NBA team has their franchise player. When you think of the Miami Heat, you immediately think LeBron James. Oklahoma City Thunder? Why of course your mind wanders to Kevin Durant. The same can be said for a handful of other franchises. One of those used to be the Orlando Magic in the days of Dwight Howard. Now, the team is a group of young players trying to find themselves.
Since the departure of Dwight, the front court has been trying to find an identity. Nikola Vucevic proved last year that he is a solid NBA center. That part of the evaluation process is over. Two questions remain in the Orlando front court: are Tobias Harris and Glen “Big Baby” Davis the answers? Fantasy owners are wondering the same thing.
Harris showed flashes of his potential in the second half of 2012-13. In 27 games post All-Star break, Harris averaged 17.3 PPG, 8.5 REB, 2.1 AST, 0.9 STL and 1.4 BLK. Davis, on the other hand, had a strong 2012 season from start to finish. Big Baby averaged 15.1 PPG, 7.2 REB, 2.1 AST, 0.9 STL and 0.6 BLK for the year. Both are not too shabby. How about if we were drafting today though? Which would you prefer? Who would you build your fantasy front court around? With a quick skim of the numbers, it is too close to tell. So let’s take a close look at each and make both their cases. Only when we have the full story will we be able to given an educated opinion on who truly reigns supreme amongst the Orlando Magic bigs.
Even though he wasn’t a lottery pick, Harris’ career started by being selected in the first round of the 2011 draft at the 19th pick by the Charlotte Bobcats. Davis, although a big name player in college, fell to the second round of his respective (2007) draft. As theoretically the better prospect, Harris escalated to 30+ minutes of playing time quicker than Big Baby. After a trade from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Orlando Magic in just his second season, that’s when the big numbers followed. The numbers I mentioned above are the numbers I am speaking of because every game he played with the Magic came after the All-Star break. In all likelihood, Harris would have been the easy choice had he not began this season injured.
Unfortunately for Harris, his injury earlier this season opened up playing time for his competition. Victor Oladipo, Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson all saw extended minutes in the team’s first 30 games with Harris on the shelf. The injury seemed to linger on and at one point I even lost hope that he’d return and be productive. I was wrong. Although not quite his 2012 second half numbers, Harris is averaging 11.9 PPG, 6.6 REB and 1.4 AST this season. Of course, the overall numbers don’t really take the games he was getting back in shape into account. In two January games, his numbers have risen to 13.5 PPG, 7.5 REB, 1.0 AST and now has a relevant number of blocks (1.5). Coach Vaughn basically has had his hand forced to give Harris the minutes because of his strong play. Harris now starts at SF just about every game and has sent Oladipo and Nicholson to the bench. Nicholson actually has been nearly invisible the last few games. Yes, Harris’ strong play has made him a staple in rotation. Well, his three point shooting makes his overall fantasy game that much more special. Big Baby is a solid mid-range shooter but Harris consistently shoots threes. Averaging 0.6 made per game on 3.3 attempts, he is one of seventeen NBA players to average 0.5+ 3PM and 6.5+ REB per contest. Last but not least, Harris shoots free throws at solid clip (75.0%), which is more than Davis can say for himself (62.9%). If you are looking for the better all-around talent with better pedigree, three point shooting and a FT% that doesn’t bring your team down, then Harris would be the own you’d prefer to own.
We’ve been over the strengths of Tobias Harris, but there are plenty of aspects in Davis’ favor also. For starters, I intentionally left out Harris’ 40.2% shooting from the field for the season. To give perspective, 40.2% is a below average percentage for a point guard. For a power forward, sub-41% is downright ugly. Not that Davis comes from the Tyson Chandler school of shooting percentage, but his 45.3% is definitely an upgrade. Davis spends most of his time in the paint and shooting open mid-range jumpers, so the percentage differential makes sense. Most people like higher percentages from their forwards and lower ones from their guards, so Davis makes for a better prototypical fit to any fantasy team.
Aside from efficiency, Davis has the slight edge in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. By slight, I mean they are all truly slight edges: in REB he leads 6.9-6.6, AST 1.8-1.4, STL 1.1-0.6 and BLK 0.6-0.3. Just like Harris, Davis has stepped his game up in the absence of Vucevic recently. In two January games for Davis, he’s averaging a 15.0 PPG, 11.0 REB, 2.0 AST and 2.0 BLK double-double. In terms of outlook moving forward, the addition of Vucevic means back to season norms for both Davis and Harris. Anyways, somewhat importantly, Davis also averages about two minutes more per game. With more time for production, it should keep his production steadier than the inconsistent Harris. Davis is closer to the prototypical player at his position than Harris. He’s solid but not spectacular. In terms of fantasy, there is a lot to be said for a solid role player who you presumably drafted late.
As you can see, deciding between the two is no easy task. In reality, Jacque Vaughn can just start both of them in the same lineup. In a fantasy draft, you must choose one. At the point you’d take the first, maybe the other one would fall to the next round. That scenario is unlikely however. This article is to determine who carries more value in a fantasy article. So even if you could draft both, what if you had just one of them. Would you trade Harris for Davis or vice versa? You now have all the facts. It’s time for the decision.
If the decision were up to me, I’d rather own Tobias Harris. Harris’ 2012-13 proved to me his ceiling is higher. In terms of numbers, Harris is a watered down version of Luol Deng. Forwards that mainly score and rebound are a dime a dozen, just like Glen Davis. If Vucevic were to miss extended time once again moving forward, I would surely give Davis a boost. With Nikola healthy though, I’d rather have the player with unique qualities. Poor field goal percentage included, give me what Harris offers my fantasy team as opposed to Big Baby.
What do you think? Who has more fantasy value? Let us know in the comments section below.