Under the Radar
Since the opening tip took place Tuesday night, I thought I'd share some of my predictions for the season, fantasy and otherwise. Thanks to Mockdraftcentral.com for the ADPs. Here we go:
Carmelo Anthony (ADP 36!) will win the NBA scoring title this year. He averaged a four-year low of 22.8 PPG last season and played in only 66 games while battling injuries. He is a solid veteran point guard in Chauncey Billips and no Allen Iverson chucking up 20 shots a game. I don't see Dwyane Wade replicating his 30.2 PPG last season (his previous career-high for a season was 27.4) and Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have enough of a supporting cast that they won't need to score a lot to win every night. Only 25 and playing an up-tempo style of basketball, expect Anthony to propel himself into a solid first-round fantasy pick next year.
Zach Randolph is far from a model citizen, but it seems his off-court troubles have actually impacted his ADP (87). His three-year averages look something like this: 20.6 PPG, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. I get the lack of blocks and mediocre shooting percentages, but I'd take the 28-year-old before Lamar Odom (ADP 77), Richard Jefferson (ADP 71) or even teammate Rudy Gay (ADP 50).
The Celtics made a big mistake by not locking up point guard Rajon Rondo with a long-term deal. I think eventually they'll come to their senses (he's a restricted a free-agent), but it will cost them more. He's just 23 and nearly averaged a triple-double in the playoffs last year (16.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 9.8 assists). Yes, Kevin Garnett was not on the floor, but the last player since Rondo to record three triple-doubles in the playoffs was some guy named Larry Bird. He's basically another Jason Kidd, except no three-pointers and a 10-point increase in field goal shooting percentage.
It won't be this year, but expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to make the playoffs in 2010-2011. My apologies to Nenad Krstic and Etan Thomas, but all this team will need is a solid big man in the middle. The starting lineup at the beginning of next season at the 1-4 spots should be Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Jeff Green and Kevin Durant. Right now, Jeff Green is the elder statesman of the bunch at a ripe old age of 23, quite possibly making this the team with the most upside in the NBA.
Enough of my ramblings, here's this week's look at players who have gotten a bump in minutes, and players who can help your team in the different roto categories.
Anthony Parker, G, CLE - With Delonte West dealing with several off-court issues, Parker will get the chance to play big minutes for the Cavs. Opening night, he got 40 minutes of court time, second on the team only to LeBron James. He responded with 10 points, two three-pointers made, four assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block. Expect Parker to log a bunch of minutes while West is out and post modest stats across the board.
Randy Foye, PG, WAS - Foye scored 19 points Tuesday night, playing 30 minutes off the bench. He was brought over in an offseason trade from Minnesota to back up the oft-injured Gilbert Arenas but will get ample time even when Arenas is healthy. Don't forget he averaged 16.3 points last year and would be in line for even more playing time if Arenas was to go down.
Travis Outlaw, F, POR - Outlaw came off the bench to play 33 minutes on Tuesday night for the Trail Blazers. He scored a team-high 23 points, grabbed four rebounds and hit three treys to lead his team over Houston. Don't expect him to score 23 every time out, but expect him to play 28-plus minutes a night with Nicolas Batum dealing with a torn labrum in his shoulder.
Kyle Lowry, G, HOU - Lowry handed out eight assists and added 12 points, three rebounds and two steals Tuesday night. He also spent some time on the court with starter Aaron Brooks, a positive sign for his fantasy prospects. Keep in mind that one game is the smallest of sample sizes, but Lowry would be worth adding with more games like this.
Rebounds and Blocks
Roy Hibbert, C, IND - Hibbert was a block machine during the preseason, averaging four blocks a game. His problem has always been staying in the game and out of foul trouble. If he can do that, expect solid "big man" numbers out of the 7-foot-2 center from Georgetown.
J.R. Smith, G, DEN - Owners may have soured on Smith, based on his seven-game suspension to start the season. Looking at the bigger picture, there's a lot to like about him. Last year he averaged 17.9 points, 3.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 2.9 three-pointers made per game after the All-Star break. In weekly leagues, he'll be eligible to play in all three of the Nuggets games in the third week of the fantasy season. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Smith could be in for a big season with Dahntay Jones gone and a hopeful jump in maturity after a short stint in jail.
Article first appeared on 10/29/09