The Hoops Lab
Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady: Both Yao and McGrady have huge names, and Yao in particular is off to an excellent start. But both have big injury concerns, and Ron Artest has already shown signs of cutting into TMac's scoring opportunities this season. If I can, I'm selling high on Yao and trying to get reasonable value in return for McGrady.
Andrew Bynum: Big things are expected from Bynum this year, especially in terms of making the Lakers stronger championship contenders. On the fantasy front, though, it just looks to me like Pau Gasol and to a lesser extent Lamar Odom are going to squeeze Bynum's scoring and rebounding opportunities. Bynum should still be a solid big man, but if I can find a trade partner that believes he could approach 20/10 this year I'm selling high.
Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman: Both of these players' fantasy value is tied heavily into their ability to rebound and block shots. There are only so many rebounds to go around, and with both clogging the lane I could see them getting in each other's way on help defense as well. Plus, Camby is 36 years old, has a reputation for being fragile and is already dealing with a sore heel.
Boris Diaw: I had a debate with my boss about Diaw before the season started. It's my stance that he should no longer have a spot on any fantasy team, because his production was entirely based upon creating mismatches at the center position in Mike D'Antoni's offense. With Shaquille O'Neal and Robin Lopez in the fold to play center, and D'Antoni now residing in the Big Apple, I see no fantasy category in which Diaw could be productive. Yet, he's still ranked relatively high and on many fantasy teams. If you can trade him for anything at all, don't hesitate.
Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard: The Mavericks are currently starting Nowitzki, Howard, Jason Kidd, Antoine Wright, and Erick Dampier. In other words, Nowitzki and Howard could legitimately be the only two scorers in the starting unit to average double-digit points. They scored a combined 65 points in the opener, and while that may be too much to ask on a regular basis, I would not be surprised at all if each approach career-high marks on offense since the team is entirely dependent on them to carry the load.
Tim Duncan: Duncan's in a unique position this year - for the first time in perhaps five years he'll have to play big minutes at a very high level during the regular season in order for his team to have any shot at home court advantage in the playoffs. While this turn might not be good for the Spurs' postseason success, it's great for fantasy owners who could find themselves getting a Duncan more like the consensus first-round pick version of five years ago than the third-round pick he's been in recent years.
Danny Granger: Granger looks to be absolutely electric this season, a roto gold mine with big scoring numbers, good percentages, lots of treys, solid boards, solid defensive categories and even some assists. Granger is like a mix between Shawn Marion and Rashard Lewis, but at this point he still doesn't have superstar fantasy name recognition. You may be able to use this to your advantage and get him cheap, if you act now before he produces many more 33-point explosions like he did in the opener.
Greg Oden, Manu Ginobili, Gilbert Arenas: (The injured guys except for Monta Ellis). All three of these players have depressed value right now due to their injuries, but all three play for playoff hopefuls and should be well enough to play for the last four months of the season. Especially in head-to-head leagues, I'd see if I could get them for 60 cents on the dollar as part of a larger trade that somewhat hedges against their risk.
Andrew Bogut: I just have a good feeling about Bogut this year. In each of the last two seasons, he has had dominant stretches where his combination of size, skill and touch has allowed him to control both ends of the court with strong numbers. Although his first two games this season have been modest, now that he has a few years under his belt, he could put it together and have a breakout campaign.
Tyrus Thomas: Thomas was hailed by many as the most talented player drafted in 2006, but the rawness in his game and his lack of experience/maturity caused some to question if he would ever put it together. Well, this is magical year three, he's no longer playing for Scott Skiles, and he has a coach that seems willing to let him consistently get on the court. I believe Thomas has early Josh Smith-like potential, which could mean many double-digit rebounding games and nice blocked shot numbers.
Rajon Rondo: Many like Rondo to break out this year, and for good reason. He's in the magical third year, he plays for a Celtics team that emphasizes his strengths (defense, passing, rebounding) and minimizes his main weakness (shooting) by ensuring that he always gets a lot of wide-open shots. Plus, Rondo has zero pressure on him after helping lead the Celtics to a title last season. So he basically gets to just go out and play, and I think that will lead to lots of steals, assists and boards.
John Salmons: Most people expect Kevin Martin to be a stud in Sacramento, and for good reason. But Salmons has the ability to have a similar roto impact, but at a much lower cost. He has legitimate 20/5/5 ability and balances that with solid numbers in the peripheral categories.
Guys available in many Y! leagues that should be on rosters, or at least on the fantasy radar. This list is primarily comprised of young players that had strong debut performances and have upside this season.
Kevin Love: The Timberwolves rookie looked good while nearly producing a double-double in only 19 minutes of action in his first NBA game. He'll need to get more court time to be able to produce consistently, but if the first game is any sign it won't be long before he gets those minutes.
Rudy Fernandez: Fernandez was the only Blazers rookie to justify the hype on Tuesday, scoring 16 points with four assists and three treys. He has an excellent head for the game and plenty of star quality. There's upside here.
Yi Jianlian: Yi is in a new location this season, and so far the New Jersey life seems to agree with him. He produced solid scoring and rebounding numbers in a win, but the two treys and three combined steals/blocks are even more encouraging signs that he may have better adapted his game to the NBA style this offseason.
Corey Brewer: Brewer was in the starting lineup and provided great peripheral numbers (seven boards, four assists, three steals) which helped hide the fact that he still doesn't put many points on the board.
Spencer Hawes: The 12 points/14 boards were a good sign for the second year center, but the six blocks were the real eye-openers. He might lose some minutes when Brad Miller returns from suspension, but the Kings are in re-build mode which means that Hawes will have plenty of opportunity to earn playing time.
Mario Chalmers: Chalmers got the starting nod in Miami, and the second round rookie responded with a 17-point, 8-assist, 7-rebound debut. He played like a mini-Dwyane Wade, and if he can continue to hold the starting job he could challenge Derrick Rose for the best point guard numbers from this draft class.
Darrell Arthur: Arthur had some bad off-the-court press this summer before his rookie campaign, but if he keeps producing 15 boards and three combined steals/blocks off the bench he will soon make people forget his past transgressions.
Article first appeared 10/31/08