The Give and Go
By Charlie Zegers and Chris Liss
RotoWire Staff Writers
Subject: Give and Go
Date: January 19, 2008 2:23 PM PDT
I try not to write about the Knicks every week... really, I do... but I have to get this column kicked off on Monday afternoon, and this Monday happens to be Martin Luther King Day, which means a matinee at MSG. Knicks vs. Bulls - which is worth the watch, if only because you know they'll show clips of the infamous Trent Tucker shot with .01 left.
The physical impossibility of catching an inbounds pass, turning 180 degrees and throwing up a jumper in one-tenth of a second aside, this is turning into a pretty interesting game. I just watched Danilo Gallinari block a Derrick Rose shot, recover the loose ball and send an outlet pass to Nate Robinson on the break. The sample size is very small - his only significant minutes have come in Saturday's loss to Philly and today's game against Chicago - but I'm starting to understand why Donnie Walsh drafted him sixth overall. He's got a pretty nice jumper - something in short supply at Madison Square Garden - and appears to have a good feel for the game. He's also pretty agile for a guy his size - especially considering he's been fighting back trouble for most of the season.
Most importantly, he's getting serious fourth-quarter minutes... which, to me, indicates that his coach believes in him.
This may be premature, but I'm strongly considering buying this Italian import for the second half.
Another observation from the same game... Vinny Del Negro - who is still sporting my sixth-grade haircut (that's not the observation) was using Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich on the floor together. A lot. Hinrich was one of my prime "guys who might be better off on another team," but now I'm not so sure. Having two point guards on the floor gives the Bulls a really interesting look - they're able to initiate the offense through either guy, which makes them tough to defend. I don't know how well that lineup will work against a team with bigger guards than the Knicks - but the Bulls have the same "too small in the backcourt" problem when Ben Gordon plays anwyay.
In general, it's a bad idea to judge any player based on how well he performs against the Knicks - New York's defense is the basketball equivalent of Coors Field on batting averages. But I think I like Hinrich for the second half as well.
You picking up any second-half sleeper ideas while watching today's MLK Day triple-header?
What about trade targets? I can think of quite a few big names that haven't lived up to their draft position so far. What's your take on a guy like Elton Brand? The Sixers seem to be playing better without him - does he give up some of his touches when he gets back to better fit the team concept? Or do the values of Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams take a beating once Brand gets back?
You bullish or bearish on Shawn Marion? Does he have a chance to get back to his pre-Miami fantasy value if he is moved to a more up-tempo team? Or did he just get old in a hurry?
Would you take a risk on Carlos Boozer? Or are you assuming that the Jazz will be very careful about bringing him back, especially with the way Paul Millsap and Andrei Kirilenko have played in his absence?
Do you like Jason Richardson? Or are you scared off by his inconsistent scoring numbers?
Anyone else I missed?
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: January 20, 2008 1:10 AM PDT
I don't know much about Gallinari other than the scouting reports - 6-10 forward who can shoot from range and get up and down the floor. That sounds like Tim Thomas, but you always hope for more upside than that if you're a Knicks fan, and anyway, Thomas is on the team, too. But I wouldn't discount what you observed - Malcolm Gladwell talks about the concept of thin slicing where you can know everything you need to just from a small glimpse. (Gladwell's example was a marriage counselor who could know whether a marriage would work out long term just from an hour or so of watching the couple interact). You have to be a very experienced observer to thin slice accurately, but the psychologist who did it was 95 percent accurate after a while. And you've watched a lot of basketball, so maybe you can do it at least some of the time. (Not anything approaching 95 percent, but more just the concept that a glimpse can often be indicative. Of course Isiah thought he caught a glimpse with Jerome James in the playoffs a few years ago, so we don't want to get carried away).
As for Hinrich, I doubt the Bulls can go small too often and have all three guards on the floor. If not, there are only 32 minutes per player available on average as long as they're all healthy. And that's not counting any minutes for any one else like Larry Hughes. It's possible Hughes or Gordon could get traded, but Gordon has the right to refuse any deal, and Hughes is vastly overpaid. As a point guard, Hinrich could still produce in less than a consistent 30 minutes per night, but it limits his ceiling.
I watched parts of the last two games of the triple-header, but the Boston-Phoenix one was too much of a blowout, and the Cavs-Lakers was mostly the usual suspects. Lamar Odom had only eight points, but he looked active and energetic - and checking the box score, he had 10 boards, a steal and three blocks, so I wasn't imagining it. He's had a down first half, but I might try to pick him up on the cheap.
I still like Brand, and I think the Sixers will slow it down for him and try to get it right. We talked about this before - that the Sixers might be better right now without Brand, but their upside is much higher with him integrated into what they do. Maybe there's a compromise of styles, but the Brand-less Sixers have no chance in the East. If somehow they incorporate him without killing their energy and fast-break ability, they'll be a much tougher out in the playoffs.
I'm bullish on Marion, but he's already picked it up of late with double-doubles and nearly two steals a game over his last six (before a groin injury sidelined him). Assuming it's no big deal, he'll still produce, and if he were lucky enough to find the right situation, he could make it halfway back to his Phoenix levels. Boozer you're getting for two months at the very most, and there's no guarantee he'll be 100 percent. Throw in Millsap and Kirilenko, as you point out, and I'm not holding out too much hope. Sure, I'd take him for cheap, and I wouldn't cut him if I had bench room, but even when healthy he's never been a fantasy superstar.
I don't love Richardson because the Suns aren't the Suns anymore. If Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire have fallen to earth this far, what chance to Richardson have to be anything special there? Interestingly, I just looked up Stoudemire's numbers to prove my point, and actually, he's still a monster, fantasy wise (22/8 with a 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks, 55 from the floor and 83 from the line). Not what we had hoped given his ridiculous post-Shaq numbers last year, but nothing to sneeze at. (His percentages have less value, though because he's taking less attempts).
I'd probably roll the dice on Monta Ellis - due back soon, and the Warriors have nothing to play for so it'll be a free for all in the second half. Ellis could be huge if he's 100 percent healthy, and the latest reports sound pretty good - apparently he just needs to get back into basketball shape. I'd also target a struggling Rudy Gay - he's in a shooting slump, but it won't last forever, and he's going to get huge minutes no matter what. I also think LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden could put up better numbers as the year goes on. Oden will get more experience, and Aldridge could benefit from having another big man on the floor teams have to worry about offensively. Finally, it depends what the going rate is, but Allen Iverson looks like he's getting more comfortable in Detroit, and I think at the very least the next few months won't be any worse than the last two. I wouldn't pay Denver-Iverson money, but I doubt anyone will be asking for that.
You agree with those picks Charlie? And is there anyone you want to unload before it's too late?
Subject: Give and Go
Date: January 20, 2008 7:35 AM PDT
There's glimpses and there's glimpses. You don't have to be Malcolm Gladwell to recognize that Jerome James' playoff run in 2005 was an aberration. (Of course, there's also the fact that Isiah signed James to be his starting center... and then went out and made a deal for Eddy Curry... which probably didn't inspire ol' Jerome to hit the gym too hard.)
As for Gallinari, like I said... very small sample size. But the fact that that small sample does seem to confirm his advance billing, I'm encouraged. (And as for the Thomas comparison - Timmy was a pretty good fantasy player during his first run with D'Antoni.)
As for the Bulls, sure, Hinrich is competing for minutes with Gordon... but I doubt Gordon is part of the Bulls' long-term plans, and Hughes has been a DNP in four straight - it seems he's currently on the Stephon Marbury "stay away and wait till we trade or release you" plan. If they run into matchup problems they can use a Thabo Sefolosha - but for now it looks like Rose/Hinrich/Gordon will rotate through the two spots.
When it comes to players who are under-performing, I'm always willing to take a chance - well, almost always. It all depends on what I'd need to give up to get a guy like Brand or Boozer or Marion. On the other hand, if I'm holding one of them - say, Richardson - I'd probably wait until he has a string of three or four 20-plus scoring nights and offer him around a bit.
Timing is everything.
A guy like Stoudemire is much harder to figure. Lots of people had him in the mix for first overall pick this season, and, while he's still a top-20 player, he certainly hasn't generated "first overall" numbers. That's the sort of thing that kills a fantasy team - picking Stoudemire over, say, LeBron or Kobe or Chris Paul.
If I could get him in a trade now I absolutely would - but what's a fair trade for Stoudemire at this point? In the offseason he was in the conversation with the top players in fantasy hoops - based on his production this year he's more in the neighborhood of Ray Allen, Marcus Camby, Kevin Durant and Jason Terry.
Would you trade Stoudemire for Camby? For Allen? Trade like that would raise all sorts of protest flags - even though Yahoo's player rankings have Allen 13th on the season, Stoudemire 14th, and Camby, Durant and Terry at 15, 6 and 17, respectively.
(I know computer-generated player rankings are an imperfect system for determining actual value - but they can be useful as a quick-and-easy way of discussing production.)
Players to unload? Anyone on a hot streak is a potential "sell high" - I'm not sentimental. If I owned Jameer Nelson in any leagues (I don't - I'm not a fan) I'd be shopping him heavily. I do own Ray Allen in a couple of leagues, and he's another guy who has out-performed expectations over the last several weeks. Then there are guys whose numbers might owe too much to other players' injuries... Andre Iguodala. Nene Hilario. Andrea Bargnani. Even Eric Gordon. I don't know what happens to those guys when Elton Brand and Carmelo Anthony and Jermaine O'Neal and Baron Davis are healthy - but I expect it won't help their overall numbers.
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: January 20, 2008 3:41 PM PDT
I made that mistake not realizing that Terry Porter would change the system to this extent. But Stoudemire is still playing like a first-rounder, just not a top-five pick. Normally, that distinction would be a subtle one, but LeBron, Paul and Wade have been so huge this year, it's really cost me.
And no way I'd trade Stoudemire for any of those guys - the Yahoo! player rater notwithstanding. I think it undercounts percentages which Stoudemire helps out a ton in (his FT shooting from the center spot is enormous), and it's not adjusted for position scarcity (I don't think).
As for unloading streaking players, it's usually a good idea - though it's always hard to say when a streak becomes a career year, or when a career year becomes a new baseline for a player's performance. The players who will lose minutes are good sell highs - assuming your trading partner is naive enough to pay for current numbers rather than future adjusted playing time ones. But in most of our leagues that's rare. Sometimes it makes more sense to do the opposite and target a Bargnani while reminding his owner that he's bound to lose minutes. Sometimes, the hot player solidifies a more permanent role, or the injury-prone one, in this case O'Neal, never gets healthy enough to cut into his minutes.
Article first appeared on 1/20/09