The Give and Go
From: Charlie Zegers
To: Justin Phan
Sent: Tue, November 17, 2009 8:30:41 PM
Subject: Give and Go: Injury Replacements
I'm not sure that there have been more injuries than usual in the NBA in the last two weeks or so - but it sure feels that way. In one of my leagues, I was scrambling for a Kevin Martin replacement. In another, my astute pickup of Travis Outlaw will go to waste. Other owners lost Chris Paul, Jameer Nelson, Andris Biedrins, Eric Gordon…
You know it's been a rough week, injury-wise, when Wes Matthews is getting run for Jerry Sloan.
The situation in Philly is particularly interesting. The Sixers lose Marresse Speights - who has been their best big man for most of this season -- for six-to-eight weeks. Meanwhile, they're actively trying to move Sam Dalembert, and Elton Brand isn't even practicing with the first unit. My initial thought when I heard about Speights' knee injury was, "Maybe this will force Brand to step up and show us something..." but it seems Eddie Jordan isn't convinced. Is Brand a lost cause?
I'm also interested to see how the loss of Nelson impacts the Magic. The Vince Carter trade left Orlando pretty thin in the backcourt. Do we think "White Chocolate" Jason Williams is worth the attention he's getting in lots of leagues now? Personally, I'm guessing Magic management is wishing they still had Rafer Alston on the bench.
Speaking of injury replacements - what's up with your Warriors? They finally deal Stephen Jackson, lose Kelenna Azubuike for the season and find out Raja Bell might be done for the year. Does that sort out Nellie's rotation on the wing? Are we going to start seeing decent numbers from Corey Maggette and Stephen Curry? Where does Vlad Radmanovic fit in?
Do you think Jackson will fit in Charlotte? On the one hand, he's probably their best perimeter scorer. On the other - he's going to need to play the two, and I don't think he can keep up with quick twos any more - Larry Brown won't like that. Can he help Charlotte space the floor enough to get that offense moving a little? Are you buying or selling a guy like D.J. Augustin after the trade?
And speaking of Larry Brown's favorite players… what about Allen Iverson? You think he's got anything left in the tank? I think he could be a worthwhile fantasy play if he lands at Madison Square Garden… certainly can't be any worse than Chris Duhon.
From: Justin Phan
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2009 12:28 AM
To: Charlie Zegers
Subject: Re: Give and Go: Injury Replacements
It's definitely been a crazy week with a significant news item seemingly breaking every other day. There's a lot to get to so I'll forego the formalities and dive right in.
Elton Brand got the start at the 4 on Wednesday amidst all the controversy about him practicing with the second unit. He certainly made the most of it, playing a season-high 41 minutes against the Bobcats with a solid line to boot -- 19 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks, and three steals. That's season-highs in four different categories. This certainly puts Brand owners in a tough spot. Do they buy this as a sign that things are legitimately turning around, or do they capitalize on this opportunity to sell high? I'd recommend selling ... hard. We're not talking General Motors here, but I firmly believe that this was more of an aberration than anything on the heels of coach Eddie Jordan seriously considering benching him for Rodney Carney. This was a desperation effort as Brand was about one more mediocre 10/5 line away from riding the pine. In the end the scheme will win out, and there's no getting around that Brand is an awkward piece in the Princeton offense puzzle.
Are you selling or buying Brand right now?
(Disclaimer: I fully expect Brand to make me look like a fool for the next week or so, but just give it a little time and he should revert back to his early-season levels.)
The dysfunctional nature of the Warriors' management has reared its ugly head once again this year and has taken a major toll, leaving a trail of bodies in its wake. Golden State was trimmed down to just seven healthy bodies on Tuesday, but Raja Bell's ominous return on Wednesday takes it to a tentative eight. Monta is reportedly unhappy and looking into a possible trade, but he should be a stud as long as he's in a Warriors uniform. Really like the outlook for Anthony Morrow and Anthony Randolph now as Nellie is pretty much forced to play them 25-plus minutes (even if they are coming off the bench). You figure Stephen Curry would see a nice boost in value with Jack gone, but I'm not so sure the added offensive responsibility is in his best interest. He seemed awfully overwhelmed in Wednesday's loss to Boston and was a turnover machine when he was on the floor (dribbling all over the place, passes constantly deflected). Maggette is an awful ball player -- I'll just leave it at that. As to VladRad, I can only endorse in deep leagues (14+ teams). He is holding down a starting spot on one of the most fantasy-friendly squads out there, but you can't change the fact that he's a career 41.8% shooter.
(Sidenote: Bell is still expected to undergo season-ending surgery even though he played on Wednesday)
Allen Iverson is only a story in the fantasy realm because of the negative impact he will have on his teammates' production. It annoys me to no end when I see people talk about the fantasy potential of the washed up stars of yesteryears, Tracy McGrady included. I have no interest in owning Iverson or TMac, but am definitely concerned about the fantasy values of Nate Robinson, Wilson Chandler, and Toney Douglas (deep-leaguers can feel me here) if AI signs in New York. Duhon's unraveling was his own doing.
By the way I can't even fully endorse Mike Conley with Iverson gone. Is it just me or do the Grizzlies exude absolutely no confidence in Conley? I'm waiting for them to let him loose as the team's unquestioned starter at the point. First it was Kyle Lowry, then Iverson, and now Jamaal Tinsley?
I'll close with some quick thoughts on various situations around the league -- Jason Williams will be viable in place of Jameer Nelson, but I'm not buying him in standard 12-team leagues. There's way too many options on that squad for him to make a sizable impact. Jackson will fit anywhere where there is a dearth of scoring. He doesn't need any sort of specific offensive scheme to be a volume chucker. It's also a damn shame how the Bobcats have underutilized DJ Augustin this year. I understand he's in a shooting slump, but he's easily the second-most talented player on that roster.
Lots more to talk about that I did not touch on. It's been pretty established that Brandon Jennings is the frontrunner to win Rookie of the Year, but how good will he be beyond that? How surprised are you by the rapid development of Trevor Ariza and Aaron Brooks? Are the Hawks a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference? Have the Hornets officially mailed in their season with the Byron Scott injury?
From: Charlie Zegers
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2009 9:48 AM
To: 'Justin Phan'
Subject: RE: Give and Go: Injury Replacements
I have no idea what's up with Duhon. Suddenly, his shot selection is like Jamal Crawford on his worst day. In last night's game against the Pacers, there were several occasions in the first half where Duhon ran up the court and immediately took a three from four feet behind the arc. Even the notoriously Knick-friendly MSG Network announcers were shaking their heads.
As a Knick fan, I'd rather see the team develop Douglas and Chandler and the kids too. But from a fantasy perspective, I can't overlook Iverson's potential to put up numbers in that system. Same goes for McGrady - if he's as healthy as he claims, the potential is there. Generally, I'd rather go with a player on his way up than a player on the down side of his career, but guys like McGrady and Iverson - but there comes a point when the McGradys and the Iversons and the Grant Hills and Marcus Cambys of the league start to get under-valued because of their age or injury history. That's when they become viable "buy low" candidates again.
Elton Brand might be getting to that point. But here's the thing… do we think his talent has eroded to the point that Rodney Carney is a better player? Or is Carney simply a better fit for Philly's system and personnel? If the latter is the answer, doesn't it raise the possibility that Brand could be traded to a team that would better use his skills? (Yeah, I know, his contract is brutal. So is Stephen Jackson's. To paraphrase Michael Corleone… if history teaches us anything, it's that you can trade anybody.)
I'd buy… but I'd be looking for a discount.
My take on Tinsley is that he makes a lot more sense for that team than Iverson did. After essentially being out of the league for a year-plus, Tinsley can't reasonably come in and start making demands about playing time. But if his skills haven't completely eroded since being banished by the Pacers, he could be a productive third guard behind Mayo and Conley. But you're right… Conley strikes me as one of those guys that will have a very productive career and make the Grizzlies look dumb for jerking him around - as soon as he signs somewhere else.
I'm not real high on Jason Williams, but then, I wasn't real high on Nelson going in to this season, either. But Rashard Lewis (17 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists against OKC last night) looks like he can still play, even without the diet pills. I'm curious to see if the addition of Jackson helps shake Augustin out of this slump… but worried that D.J. is stuck in Larry Brown's doghouse on a semi-permanent basis.
Brooks' emergence doesn't surprise me… he showed what he can do down the stretch last season. And Ariza was a very good bet to produce this season, especially given the fact that we knew McGrady would be out until December or so. Ariza isn't a great shooter - just 39 percent from the floor - which is going to prevent him from becoming a super-valuable option in fantasy if he doesn't improve.
Jennings has been tremendous - far better than anyone could reasonably have expected. We knew he was quick… but his three-point shooting is a real revelation. He shot around 25 percent from three last year - right now he's just under 56 percent.
Fifty-six percent from three.
Obviously, I don't think that will last. The best shooters in the league last year came in at around 45 percent - some regression is coming. But it's clear that his shot has to be respected - which means defenses can't give him jumpers and try to prevent his dribble-drives. And that means he's going to be able to get in to the lane whenever he wants. I think he'll wear down - rookies always do - and I think coaches will come up with ways to defend him better. But he's for real.
As for New Orleans… they showed us last year that getting under the luxury tax threshold was more important than winning when they tried to trade Tyson Chandler for a can of coke and an order of nachos. Some may have mis-interpreted the Okafor deal as a sign they were trying to build back to contender status - but that deal just got them closer to no-tax land. Look at the new coaching staff - their general manager (someone already under contract) and a disgraced college coach (someone who can't command a high salary) and you'll see where their priorities lie.
That said, the New Orleans situation presents some opportunities for fantasy players, because I think we'll see the start of a real youth movement. We're already seeing Marcus Thornton and Devin Brown get more minutes, and Darren Collison is getting a look while Chris Paul is out. Maybe Julian Wright will get a second look next.
From: Justin Phan
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2009 5:28 PM
To: Charlie Zegers
Subject: Re: Give and Go: Injury Replacements
If you're a Brand owner and can't sell then you're either hoping for one of two things -- that Eddie Jordan goes small and plays Brand at center while Speights is out, or that he gets traded to a team that implements more of a post up-type offense (similar to the one he saw in LAC). Even then his fantasy ceiling won't be much higher than fifth-to-sixth round value because he simply lacks the power and athleticism that he had pre-injury.
You hit on what's surprised me the most about Jennings so far -- his perimeter shooting. That was easily the biggest knock on his game coming into the season and he's put all of that to rest early on. I watched the entirety of his 55-point outburst against the Warriors where he hit 7-of-8 treys, and I'm still not convinced his three-ball is legit. He's more of a rhythm shooter than anything and if you evaluate his shooting form without being results-oriented, you would think that his FG% would be in the mid-to-low 40s. He does this natural fadeaway on his jumpshot coupled with a small leg kick forward. Maybe it works for him though. Only time will tell.
It's disappointing how miserably the Emeka Okafor erperiment failed early on. I'd suspect that Byron Scott would still have a job if they opened at 5-4 instead of 3-6. I'm glad that Jeff Bower is having to face the music though and that he's seeing first-hand how poor of a squad he has constructed over the past few years. Gotta say that Chris Paul's eventual departure from New Orleans may have been sealed wth the way things have gone down over this past week. Wasn't it just a year ago that we were annointing the Hornets as THE up-and-coming team in the Western Conference? How the mighty have fallen.
Article first appeared on 11/20/09