One thing I hate about sports prognosticators is that there's no accountability. You can make whatever claim you want in October, safe in the knowledge that by May no one will remember how wrong you were. So I figured I'd put my money where my mouth is and go back through some of the predictions I made in the Lab at the start of the year, to see how well I did. I'll also give a few predictions for the end of the season and the playoffs, before going through some more potential free agent pick-ups that might help you make your final championship push. I've had a blast this year and hope that you all did too. And anyone still alive for their championship, good luck this week.
October 20, 2009: Back in the preseason I offered some value picks in the mid-to-late rounds for each position. I nailed some players that had ADPs well into the 100s, like Stephen Curry (ADP 123), Corey Maggette (ADP 126), and Tyreke Evans (ADP 137). Not so much on guys like T.J. Ford (ADP 103), Allen Iverson (ADP 106), or Daequan Cook. My forward picks were really hurt by injuries to Blake Griffin (ADP 69) and Anthony Randolph (ADP 76), two players I had scouted in Las Vegas last summer that I was sure were ready to explode.
November 3, 2009: A week into the year I listed some of my first impressions, things that I had decided since the season started. I was prophetic in saying that "owning Warriors will drive you crazy" due to Coach Nelson's oddly powerful offense and even more odd rotation changes, pointing out that Marc Gasol was a beast, and that Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby would both play well and one would be traded. I whiffed on Brandon Jennings as the most important rookie in fantasy this season, Gilbert Arenas' comeback, and the Celtics D maintaining their pace as the '85 Bears.
December 8, 2009: A month into the season I used some advanced stats to look at three players that were having outlier shooting seasons. At the time Tim Duncan was shooting 75% from the line, Rajon Rondo was shooting 40% from the line, and Paul Pierce was shooting 49.4% from the field. I predicted that Duncan would maintain his average, that Rondo would get his to the mid-60s, and that Pierce would come back to about 47%. With a week left in the season, Duncan has regressed slightly to 73.1% (still his highest average since 2002), Rondo's up to 62.4% from the line (up over 72% since March 1), and Pierce's field goal percentage is exactly 46.8%. I have to bask in the shine of one article where I got everything right.
January 19, 2010: I repeated my advanced stat prognostications a month later with Dwyane Wade (shooting 44.9% FG at time) and Vince Carter (shooting 39% FG at time). I predicted that Wade would end up between 46% and 47% from the field, but that Carter wouldn't even get back to the 41.7% that was his career low entering the season. As of today, Wade's field goal percentage is 47.4% and Carter's is 42.6%. Looks like I just missed on both of these guys, but I was really close, so I'm going to give myself the horse shoes benefit of the doubt.
End of the year thoughts:
# If you're in the championship game, and you've been depending on LeBron James to get there, you should be a bit nervous since the Cavs have clinched home court throughout the playoffs already, and James has said he'll welcome some extra rest. On the other hand, guys like Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade should carry you through your playoffs because their teams are still fighting.
# Manu Ginobili will win many people titles this year.
# Stat padders like David Lee and Andray Blatche are fantasy gold right now. I love the young, talented players on poor teams.
# There will also be a lot of who-the-heck-is-that-guy blowups this week. The playoff picture is pretty much set now, meaning that half of the league has nothing to play for and a bunch of young guys on their benches they'll be giving run to. If you've got a need, don't be afraid to raid the free agent wire.
# Old guys like Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett will lose your championship for you if you depend on them this week. Conversely, I expect their numbers to make a magical recovery a week later in the NBA playoffs, where they'll both likely be right around 20 and 10 guys again.
# NBA Championship thoughts: Everyone is wondering if this is the year we finally get Kobe vs LeBron for the title. There's a good chance that it is. But quietly, despite their pedestrian seasons, I wouldn't be surprised at all if we finally get Duncan vs Garnett for the title about a decade later than we expected.
There's only one week left, so news about star players that aren't on your team isn't really relevant to you. And if a newsworthy player is already on your team, you likely already know his news. So instead of the usual "Situations to Watch and quick hits" section, I'm just going to expand New Additions and talk about a bunch of players that could potentially be on your free agent wire and might just help you win your league in a pinch.
Anthony Morrow (65% owned): Morrow's taking his turn again on the Warriors rags-to-riches merry-go-round, averaging 27 points with seven boards over the last three games.
Taj Gibson (52% owned): Gibson has double-digit rebounds in seven straight games, but most importantly he's shown that he'll continue to clean the glass even with Joakim Noah back in the starting lineup with 31 total boards in his last two games.
Reggie Williams (36% owned): Williams has scored at least 23 points in four of his last seven games, and though owning Warriors will make you crazy, they tend to have larger upsides than just about any other free agent just due to the Nelly offense.
Terrence Williams (34% owned): Williams is eligible for every position except point guard and center, he has taken on a larger scoring role for the Nets (16.7 ppg last week), and most importantly he has been distributing the ball a lot (including a 14-assist effort on Saturday).
Ryan Gomes (28% owned): Gomes is steady and unexciting, but he'll score you double-digit points, knock down some treys, and grab some boards pretty much every game.
Quentin Richardson (27% owned): Richardson has been knocking down the 3-pointer again lately, making him a useful quantity for those that need a marksman.
Jared Dudley (19% owned): Dudley continues to be a solid "Garbage Man" off the bench, contributing to a variety of categories to maintain his value. Over the last week he has knocked down three treys per game, scored 11.5 points on 80% shooting from the field, grabbed 3.8 boards, dished 2.3 assists and snagged 1.3 steals in four games.
Chase Budinger (17% owned): Budinger took advantage of both Kevin Martin (shoulder) and Trevor Ariza (flu-like symptoms) missing time over the last week to average 19.3 points on 62% shooting from the field, 4.5 boards and 3.0 treys over a four-game stretch. Martin and Ariza are expected to be back, but Budinger is still a hot shooter that should contribute from long-range and could possibly continue to get extended minutes as a young player on a team with no postseason aspiratons.
Wesley Matthews (16% owned): Just as when he was in this space last week, Matthews continues to provide solid contributions in several categories that could help stabilize your team if you have a hole. He averaged 16 points, five boards, two assists, two steals, two treys and shot well from both the field and the line in two games last week.
Bill Walker (13% owned): Walker had a false-alarm week about a month ago where he scored 20-plus points in two straight games only to combine for 21 total points over the next week, then he repeated that process again just to be sure. But he has scored at least 14 points in three straight games and has made at least two treys in five straight. When you factor in the young-player-with-something-to-prove-on-bad-team thing, Walker makes a decent pick-up.
Nicolas Batum (13% owned): On any given night Batum might drop 31 points, or he might go scoreless. On the average, though, he'll contribute decently in several categories, and in a lineup pinch could hit a home run for you.
Kris Humphries (4% owned): Humphries is the epitome of a player on a bad team that is busting his hump down the stretch as he tries to earn playing time moving forward. He's averaging almost a double-double over the past week (12 points, 8.7 boards), and he's cleaning up in the hustle categories over that period as well (2.0 steals, 2.3 blocks).
Sonny Weems (4% owned) and Antoine Wright (4% owned): Weems and Wright have both moved into the starting lineup for the Raptors for defensive purposes, and both are double-digit scoring threats that can contribute modestly in a variety of different categories.