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Hoops Lab: NBA Hoops Lab-Week 22

Andre' Snellings

Andre' Snellings

Andre' Snellings writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

The Hoops Lab



By Andre' Snellings
RotoWire Staff Writer




The Maestro

Last week I talked about the physical gifts that allow LeBron James to dominate the NBA game. This week, in the second piece of what will be a five-part MVP series, I want to talk about the best little man that we have in the NBA today: Chris Paul.

Paul has distanced himself a bit from the other elite point guards by being the absolute epicenter of everything that the Hornets do on offense. Paul, like all great point guards, knows the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates, himself and the opposition to such a degree that he's able to make pinpoint decisions on what weapon to best exploit the defense with. He knows that Tyson Chandler is extremely long and athletic but does not create his own offense, so they have perfected their alley-oop timing this season (lead the NBA in alley-oop connections). He knows that Peja Stojakovic is an excellent spot-up shooter, that he likes to shoot from some areas of the floor more than others, and how he likes to receive the pass to best get into his shooting motion (best 3-pt. shooting of career). Paul also knows how best to incorporate the inside-outside skills of David West to maximum benefit (career-high scoring). All great point guards know these things, but Paul is able to combine that knowledge with excellent floor vision and outstanding passing ability that only the greats have.

Paul also knows his own strengths and weaknesses well, and makes outstanding decisions about when to pass versus when to look for his own offense. Paul is incredibly quick with the ball in his hands, physically strong enough to finish in traffic, and has the touch to score from anywhere in the mid-range. The fact that Paul is the best scorer as well as the best distributor on his team makes him unique among the other elite point guards.

Fantasy-wise, Paul is also clearly the man among point guards. There are four players in the NBA averaging double-digit assists (Paul, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Jason Kidd). Of that group there are three shooting 50% from the field (Paul, Williams, Nash), and two shooting 85% from the line (Paul and Nash). But there is only one averaging 20-plus points with those 10-plus assists. There is only one averaging fewer than three turnovers/game with those 10-plus assists. And there is only one that is leading the NBA in steals. That one is Chris Paul.


Situations to watch and Quick Hits

Fantasy friendly Nuggets: The Nuggets are a very good team for owners to be aware of when setting your lineups because, whether you own players that are playing for or against the Nuggets, they're likely to put up good numbers on the night. Denver plays at such a fast and frenetic pace that their games are extremely high scoring with lots of possessions. This leads to plenty of points, assists, and rebounds to be distributed among both their team and their opponents. Also, the Nuggets are just good enough that the best teams won't often blow them out but they are just bad enough that they don't often blow out the really poor teams, either (of if there is a blowout, so many points are scored that it doesn't matter). This week the Nuggets beat one of the worst teams in basketball, Seattle, 168 - 116, then lost to the mighty Pistons 136 - 120, followed up by an extremely hard-fought 115 113 loss to the barely-in-the-playoffs 76ers. No matter the level of competition, the games were high scoring with lots of fantasy numbers all around.

Bosh is back: Chris Bosh returned to action Wednesday night after missing 10 games because of a sore right knee. He only had eight points on 2-of-10 shooting as he tried to work the rust off, but he did have eight boards and a blocked shot in only 22 minutes of play in a blowout. It goes without saying to get Bosh back into your lineups, but his return should spell the end of the fantasy relevance of Rasho Nesterovic and could also affect Andrea Bargnani as well.

Hibachi coming soon: Gilbert Arenas is practicing regularly now, and has reportedly vowed to return "way before" the playoffs and possibly as early as next Tuesday. He has been medically cleared to return, and since he is an impending free agent it's unlikely that Arenas would come back if he didn't expect to be at full strength. Thus, those that stuck it out through his long absence should be in for a big reward very soon.

Brand's return iffy: Brand, who resumed practicing in early March, was reported this week to say that he is still hoping to play a few games before the season ends. He did not sound definite that this will happen, though, and he intimated that he would approach the game similar to a 5-on-5 practice if he could play. This does not sound as though Brand will be returning in any kind of impact role this season, which makes him worth paying attention to on the FA wire but probably not worth a roster spot in any but the deepest leagues.

Bynum to return this season?: On Tuesday Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said that he did not expect Andrew Bynum to return until the playoffs in mid-April, which would end his fantasy relevance. Then, on Thursday it was reported that Bynum could return in two weeks which would have him back for the end of the fantasy playoffs. This uncertainty, as well as the fact that when he does return Bynum will have to fit into a different team than the one he left, take away from Bynum's fantasy relevance. Like Brand, he's worth keeping an eye on but not worth a roster spot at this time.

Gooden stepping forward: Drew Gooden has settled into a groove in Chicago recently, averaging 19.3 points, 10.7 boards, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.7 blocks per over the last week as the primary big man in the Bulls rotation.


New Additions

Kenyon Martin: Martin has averaged 16.5 points, 5.8 boards, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per over the last week as his game and explosiveness are starting to resemble those of the K-Mart from before the knee surgeries.

Tim Thomas: Thomas is quietly producing quality fantasy numbers, especially recently when he has averaged 19.3 points, 5.8 boards and 1.8 steals per over the last week of action.

Mikki Moore: Moore scored 19 points to go with 10 rebounds and three blocked shots on Tuesday night. His play in March has been reminiscent of last season's performance in New Jersey, when he led the NBA in field goal percentage (60.9). In his last nine games, Moore is shooting 68.8 percent and averaging 11.9 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Chris Quinn: The Heat scored only 54 points on Wednesday night. I repeat: the Heat only scored 54 points on Wednesday night, so you really need to debate whether or not to touch any of their players. That said, it appears clear that they'll be playing purely young players from here out, and even if they only average 50 ppg SOMEBODY will have to score those points. In deep looks it may be worth considering giving someone like Quinn or Daequan Cook a look. As long as you remember that the Heat only scored 54 points on Wednesday night.

Article first appeared 3/21/08