The Give and Go
By Charlie Zegers and Chris Liss
RotoWire Staff Writers
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: March 30, 2009 1:35 PM PDT
It's just about over for "Oakley’s Car Wash" in my home league… I'm pretty solidly in second place, but barring some really extreme statistical oddities between now and tax day, I won't make up the 6.5 points that separate me from the lead.
Unless, of course, Michael Beasley starts scoring 70 or so a night.
All things considered, I'm pleased with my team. Clearly, selecting LeBron second overall was the right call. (Chris Paul went first.) It would have been nice if I'd gotten more out of Beasley, but I got far more than expected from Ray Allen, Stephen Jackson and Zach Randolph (before the injuries), and Brook Lopez was an absolute steal of a free agent pickup.
My pick of Steve Nash in the second round probably did me in… Clearly, I didn't factor in enough of a downgrade based on the coaching change in Phoenix. According to the Yahoo! player rankings, Paul, Dwyane Wade (Yahoo lists him as PG/SG), Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Brandon Roy, Jason Terry, Mo Williams, Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby all out-performed Nashie this year. And Beasley didn't give me the numbers I'd hoped, even after the trade of Shawn Marion.
Speaking of Beasley - he's sort of dropped off the radar, huh? Rightly so, I guess... according to the Yahoo! rankings he's down in the 200 range on the year, and won't get much consideration in the Rookie of the Year voting. But I'm seeing encouraging signs. He's shooting over 48 percent from the field in February and March, and over 80 percent on free throws. To me, this says “room for significant improvement” to his 13-and-change scoring average. Is it outrageous to think he might be a 20-point scorer next season, if he starts attacking the basket more?
O.J. Mayo is another rook that people stopped discussing a little while ago. He scored more than 23 a game in November and is at 14 even this month. I'm thinking "rookie wall."
Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook is getting into some Rookie of the Year talk. I don't think that will happen – that award is Derrick Rose's to lose – but Westbrook's emergence has really been remarkable, especially considering the fact that he didn't play the point full-time in college.
I wish I was in a keeper league or two - I'd love to be building a team around LBJ, Lopez and Beasley - and trying like hell to acquire a couple of those other guys.
I realize that it's way early to start ranking players for next year, but given the amount of time I've spent watching future draft picks play in the NCAA Tournament (Blake Griffin will be a star - and Jonny Flynn can play for my team any day) I can't help but look to the future. Do you think any of the 2008-09 rookies will be making a serious leap to fantasy superstar status – a la Kevin Durant – next season? And the flip side of that question – which veteran fantasy stalwarts will you avoid on draft day next year?
Subject: Give and Go
Date: March 31, 2009 8:25 AM EDT
The problem with Beasley is that he's not a dominant post presence, and the Heat already have a dominant guy on the perimeter. So unless the Heat decide to play a Wizards-style game where there's room for Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler (and Antawn Jamison), you wonder if being the clear No. 2 scorer on a team with a much better No. 1 option will yield 20-plus. I'd say about 17-18 is more likely - if he develops.
As for Westbrook, I think his game translates well to the NBA - kind of reminds me of Arenas - a combo guard whose quickness allows him to thrive in the more open style of play. Of course, Arenas was a second-round pick, and Westbrook was No. 4 overall. But I think Westbrook will score 18-20 with assists, boards, steals and eventually more threes. Mayo is a strange case since he was a main offensive option on a bad team from the outset, and there was nowhere to go but down. I'm not sure how much more upside is left in his game - maybe he gets more consistent, but I'd rather have Westbrook in a keeper league for sure.
Speaking of which, you can't draft a one-year league team and then wish they were keepers! That would have affected everyone's draft value. And as good as Paul is, I think whoever had the No. 1 pick this year would have had a hard time passing on the 24-year old King.
As for the tournament, I haven't caught too much of it. I did see Griffin play, and he looks like he'll contribute 17 and eight right away. Maybe Carlos Boozer with more athleticism. But I'd almost rather have Hasheem Thabeet - at least where you'd get him because you might get nine boards and 2.5 blocks per night and a center-eligible player. As for the guards, I watched Eric Maynor in the UCLA loss, and he looked to me like an NBA point. I like DeJuan Blair, too - but he's probably too short to be a full-time guy in the NBA.
As for players I'm avoiding - I'll have to let you know closer to the season. I'm tempted to say Kevin Martin because he's been hurt so much, but by next year, I might decide that everyone thinks that, and he'll be a good value. A year ago, you might have avoided Dwyane Wade for the same reason. I might also avoid David Lee and Nate Robinson - they've been great under Mike D'Antoni - but even if one ends up back on the Knicks, you want to avoid players with particular skills who have landed in the perfect situation. If that situation persists, great, they'll repeat the numbers. But if it doesn't, you might have a Shawn Marion situation.
What about you, Charlie - anyone else you're targeting or avoiding?
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: March 31, 2009 10:10 AM EDT
The biggest change I'll make in draft strategy next year is to avoid veterans on title contenders. Teams like the Spurs and Celtics have become a little too accustomed to giving key guys a lot of rest during the season.
I will also go back to my "no Don Nelson players" policy.
I will try to draft second-year guys instead of rookies wherever possible.
And I will trust my gut more when dealing with coaching changes. If the Kings bring in some defense-first Jeff Van Gundy type to run the show, I'll adjust expectations for Kevin Martin and company accordingly. Same goes for the Lee/Robinson types, if they aren't with the Knicks next season.
Speaking of the Knicks, watching them every day has given me a much clearer picture of the pros and cons of D'Antoni-ball. Obviously, the "seven seconds or less" offense boosts New York's fantasy numbers, but D'Antoni’s "seven players or less" rotation really seems to burn his guys out. Chris Duhon seems to be dragging this month, Lee has been fighting knee problems and guys like Robinson and Quentin Richardson have gone through massive slumps. Don't know if that relates to the heavy load of minutes they’ve played this year, or the fact that New York's roster really isn't very good. (Duhon’s heavy workload was due, in part, to the fact that New York never replaced Jamal Crawford or Cuttino Mobley with a credible backup guard.) I still think D'Antoni's system makes every rotation player worth owning – but the actual value increase might not be as high as originally thought.
As an aside, heard a funny story about Lee the other day. Rumor has it that he was going to sit out a game last week to rest his sore knees - but that happened to be the game that the Knicks honored some of their all-time greats. Willis Reed walked into the Knick locker room – and at that point, Lee decided he couldn't possibly sit out.
No idea whether or not that’s true... but why let the facts get in the way of a good story?
You may be right about Beasley, but I think he has the potential to be a very good post player. Unfortunately, he also has the potential to play like Al Harrington – floating out to the three-point line and falling in love with the jumper, when he'd be 100 times more effective getting into the paint. With a full training camp and no need to compete with Shawn Marion for minutes next season, he's one of my (very) early choices for significant improvement next season.
I think Thabeet is going to have a rough go of it in the NBA, at least initially. He looks great against smaller players, but on those rare occasions when he goes up against a guy who a) has some size and b) isn't intimidated by his shot-blocking ability, he's looked a lot less impressive. See Pittsburgh's two wins over UConn as examples - DeJuan Blair thoroughly outplayed Thabeet, even though he's a good seven or eight inches shorter. Thabeet might become an excellent NBA center, but I suspect he's going to take a while to adjust to a league where there are seven-footers playing the three.
Subject: Give and Go
Date: April 1, 2009 6:21 PM EDT
You could be right about Thabeet - but he's a rare combination of mobility, height and length. Most of the guys that tall are lead-footed. It wouldn't surprise me to see him struggle more against a shorter, stronger more compact player like Blair, but most of the guys he'd be guarding would be close to seven feet, and not nearly as bulky.
I think it's time to buy Warriors next year - (assuming Nelson is still around, the pace will be fast, and he'll probably surprise people by sticking with a rotation). And D'Antoni was getting big numbers out of Chris Duhon, Lee, Robinson, Al Harrington, Wilson Chandler and Larry Hughes - it's still the best fantasy system going. Maybe some of them wear out, but I'm not sure you can pin that to the fast pace and not the stupid 82-game schedule generally. I know I harp on this every week, but it's a joke how many players get hurt every season, and unlike the NFL which is brutal by nature, the NBA injuries which are mostly wear and tear are largely avoidable.
The league should be 50-60 games and also have a stiff and incremental monetary penalty on the bottom-five finishers, so there's a big disincentive to tank.That way the best players would be on the floor as often as possible.
Article first appeared on 4/1/09