By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
While it was nice having the Olympics to quench our basketball thirst this summer, it's time for the real season to tip off. The Association gets rocking Tuesday, so let's take a look at some of the biggest offseason trades and prep everyone for another high-flying year of fantasy hoops.
While there wasn't a KG-like blockbuster deal this summer, plenty of teams shipped players who will have a big fantasy impact this season. Let's take a look at a few.
Around the League:
Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining, or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 every now and again - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time or role or skill level. Comments and questions are always welcome - just post 'em on the message board at the bottom of this page.
Amare Stoudemire (PHO) - How does a top-10 fantasy option see an increase in his stock? Pair him with Shaq. After the All-Star break last season, Amare threw up 28.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks a game. Stoudemire will be matching up with the second biggest player on most teams, giving him the clear advantage at 6-10, 245. If Amare's potential for a 30/10 season isn't enough, his solid percentages should sway your vote – 54.1 from the floor and 74.5 from the charity stripe (for a center-eligible player) for his career. Need we say more?
Luke Ridnour (MIL) - After battling for playing time in Seattle the past two seasons, it looked like an offseason trade to Milwaukee meant a return to starting duties for Ridnour. Not so fast. Ridnour was forced to prove himself in Milwaukee as well, engaging in a preseason position battle with Ramon Sessions and Tyron Lue. Many expected Sessions to walk away with the gig, but coach Scott Skiles recently anointed Ridnour the starter after a solid showing. Skiles is big on defensive responsibility, and Ridnour would have trouble guarding the local gym rat, but for now, he's the starter.
Spencer Hawes (SAC) - Many were sleeping on Hawes before his 25-point, 16-rebound preseason performance against Yao Ming. Now, he will be one of the hotter early-season scoops off the waiver wire. Brad Miller is serving a five-game suspension to start the season, and Hawes will be starting in his place. While Hawes' value may be short-lived, he can help you for the first two weeks of the season, and it's possible he'll continue to see time alongside Miller on the Kings' frontcourt.
Wilson Chandler (NYK) - Whenever a coach compares a player to four-time All-Star, you better listen. That's exactly what coach Mike D'Antoni did this preseason when he compared Chandler to Shawn Marion. Chandler has similar skills to Marion's and could produce solid 3pt./stl./blk. totals. He's currently day-to-day with a sprained left knee, but D'Antoni expects him to be ready for the season opener. It's anyone's guess how the Knicks rotation will pan out, but look for Chandler to become one of the key cogs.
Matt Barnes (PHO) - While it may not be the "seven seconds or less" Suns, Phoenix is still a hotbed for fantasy potential. Barnes is slated to start at small forward for the Suns. He fell out of favor in Golden State last season, but Barnes should hold plenty of fantasy value playing in the desert with Steve Nash.
Nicolas Batum (POR) - The 19-year-old rookie is has been anointed the starter by coach Nate McMillan. He doesn't offer much on the offensive end, but Batum could be a solid contributor in steals and blocks. Think Jamario Moon-light.
Baron Davis and Marcus Camby (LAC) - The Clippers two big offseason acquisitions are both looking doubtful for Wednesday's season opener. Davis is wearing a splint on his sprained left ring finger, while Camby has been limping around on a bad heel for the past couple of weeks. Both stayed relatively healthy last season, but their injury histories have to be considered when evaluating them for fantasy purposes.
Larry Hughes (CHI) - After an original diagnosis had Hughes sidelined for up to two months with a dislocated shoulder, he might return as early as next week. That said, the Bulls have a crowded backcourt, so they might elect to take their time with Hughes's return.
Chris Wilcox (OKC) - Wilcox was limited the entire preseason by a hamstring injury and is questionable for the season opener. Check his status before putting him in your lineup.
Samuel Dalembert (PHI) - He dealt with knee issues all preseason, but is expected to play the season opener. Seeing little action during the preseason could result in a slow start for the Sixers' big man.
Ramon Sessions (MIL) - He lost the starting point guard gig to Ridnour and is now in danger of falling to No. 3 on the depth chart. Sessions became a fantasy darling after his 24-assist effort against Chicago last year, but coach Scott Skiles doesn't appear to be a fan.
Jerryd Bayless (POR) - It just goes to show you can't believe everything you see during the NBA Summer League. Bayless took home MVP-honors this summer when he led the league in scoring with 29.8 ppg. He's currently the Blazers third option at point guard and will spend most games stuck in his warm-ups.
Jamario Moon (TOR) - Moon dealt with injuries all preseason and is currently in coach Sam Mitchell's doghouse. He's the type of player who needs to see a large chunk of minutes to have a fantasy impact.
Tim Thomas (LAC) - A groin problem has caused Thomas to miss the past three weeks. Even if he plays in the opener, he will be limited.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. (IND) - He has already been ruled out of the season opener against Detroit and could miss another week with a balky knee.
Article first appeared on 10/27/08