As I've said in the past, one thing I hate about sports prognosticators is that there's no accountability. You can make whatever claim you want at the start of the season, safe in the knowledge that by the end no one will remember how wrong you were. So, in what has become a yearly tradition, I figured I'd put my money where my mouth is and go back through some of the predictions I made in the first lab on 12/15/11 to see how well I did.
In the article I listed a bunch of players I liked at their current average draft positions. I nailed Andrew Bynum (ADP 72.1, Y! rank 24), Kevin Garnett (ADP 46.9, Y! rank 11), Marcin Gortat (ADP 53.4, Y! rank 23), and Brandon Jennings (ADP 72.7, Y! rank 25). The Jennings one was especially satisfying, because I had projected him to break out last season only to have to list him at the end of the year as one that I whiffed on - now I can just say I was a year too early on him.
On the flip side, I completely whiffed on Andray Blatche (ADP 71.9, Y! ranking 316) and DeMar DeRozan (ADP 81.4, Y! ranking 140). Both players were still fairly young and should have still had upside, but regressed this year.
Then there were the special cases. Carmelo Anthony was one of my favorite first round sleepers (ADP 16.6), but he started off the year relatively poorly as the entire Knicks team seemed dysfunctional then got caught up in Linsanity. Since coach Mike D'Antoni was fired, though, order has been restored and Melo has been outstanding down the stretch (No. 6 by Y! average over last month). On the other hand, JaVale McGee actually began the year outperforming his draft status pretty handily, only to get traded midseason and never find a niche with his new squad.
Second Lab: 12/22/11
In this article, of the players I liked, I nailed Kris Humphries (ADP 97.7, Y! rank 46) and Jeff Teague (ADP 128.9, Y! rank 47). I was also looking good on Jarrett Jack (ADP 92.1, Y! #69 by average) before his season-ending injury and Evan Turner was making me look good there for awhile when he moved into the starting lineup for the 76ers in February and wrecked shop. I also had another whiff in Andrew Bogut, who was performing up to expectation before an injury sidelined him for the year (though with his injury history perhaps I should have known).
My biggest whiffs were with Stephen Jackson (ADP 81, Y! rank 228) who just never got into any rhythm this year and Michael Beasley (ADP 88.9, Y! rank 263) who lost his job in Minnesota. But my most painful whiff was Tyreke Evans, who didn't terribly underperform expectations (ADP 54.6, Y! rank 78) but who dramatically underperformed MY expectations (I touted him as a 2nd round sleeper). One commenter in particular, maxdogov, called me out in January for being so high on Evans after his slow start, but I was confident he'd turn it around - but he never did. At the moment I'm thinking of Evans as my Brandon Jennings for this year - perhaps I was just a year too early.
All told I didn't do too badly this season. Got more right than I missed, and some that I missed were due to injuries or trades that I couldn't have known about. If any of you listened to me, I hope it worked out well for you, and you went with Bynum and KG early but ignored me on Evans.
XM/Sirius Fantasy Sports Radio Experts league
I only did one "experts" league this year, with the lineup that gives advice on the various fantasy sports shows on XM/Sirius radio. We did the draft live over the radio, so some of you may have followed it. The good news is that I took home the title for the league, winning in the finals over Scott Engel from RotoExperts in a tie-breaker. But since the final was so close, the good folks at XM asked me to give Scott another shot at the title. And me being the magnanimous soul that I am, I agreed. So, for the next few days I'll be going head-to-head with Scott in a daily fantasy league where best 2-days-out-of-three wins. Wish me luck!
Around the League:
• Howard's back and coach: The Dwight Howard saga for the 2012 season came to an anticlimactic end this week, as he decided to undergo season-ending back surgery to fix a bulging disk. But of course, no Howard story from this year would be complete without drama, which was supplied a local Orlando newscaster quoting anonymous sources that Howard would never play for Coach Stan Van Gundy again. Howard's people and many other NBA sources have since refuted the claim so we'll never know for sure if it's true, but either way it's a fitting ending for one of the most uncomfortable player/team dynamics I've ever seen in a given season.
• Rose's foot: Derrick Rose simply can't get healthy this year. After getting his ankles taped extra tightly to help with his sprain, he then started experiencing foot problems due to the tape being too tight. My expectations for Rose are low moving forward, as I don't even know if he'll be right for the playoffs. It's hard to imagine the Bulls risking him very much in these last few games, even if it comes down to a question of home court advantage.
• Love's return?: There are reports that Kevin Love (concussion) could return to the Timberwolves as soon as Sunday. Personally, I see no reason for the Wolves to risk their franchise player in any way, especially with a co-franchise player already recovering from torn ACL surgery. So I would not count on Love playing again this season - but for those stashing him and desperately hoping, it's still possible you could get another game or two out of him.
• "Fine Line" between rest and playoffs: Once they had clinched the Atlantic division, the Celtics joined the Spurs and Lakers in towing that fine line between rest and postseason seeding. Ray Allen (ankle), Rajon Rondo (back), and Mickael Pietrus (knee) have all missed games this week, and it appears that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will be given their second games off this week to rest when the team visits Atlanta on Friday. Considering the Celtics are within a half-game of Atlanta in the standings in the race for home court advantage, the decision to sit their stars can only be seen as a willingness to sacrifice the rest of the regular season to get everyone rested for the playoffs.
• Kobe's shin: After being sidelined for the past seven games with a shin injury, Kobe Bryant is expected to play on Friday against the Spurs. There have been those that questioned whether Kobe was also getting extra time off in preparation for the postseason, but even if he has it's clear the Lakers would like to get him some more game action to shake the rust off before the playoffs begin.
• One-game injury absences up 63% this season: In news that shouldn't surprise anyone, one-game injury absences are up 63% this season. With the compressed lockout-induced schedule, it was inevitable that we would see more nagging and fatigue-based injuries, so it was nice to see an article that articulated the exact numbers to go with it.
• Wade in/Bosh out: Dwyane Wade (ankle) has been in and out of the line-up for the past few weeks, and this week Chris Bosh (general soreness) has joined him in missing time. Either could play or sit seemingly on a case-by-case basis, and once the final seeding battle between the Heat and Bulls concludes, I have to feel that LeBron James is likely to join them on the sidelines for the last game or two.
• Irving's return: Kyrie Irving (shoulder) returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday after missing nine games, but he played only 20 minutes. He is expected to play more on Friday against the Knicks, but like Love above, the Cavs have zero impetus to risk their franchise player getting injured in meaningless games.
• J.R. Smith (47% owned in Y! leagues) and Steve Novak (21% owned): I personally watched Smith and Novak drain 15 treys on the Celtics on Tuesday, and both of them can just catch fire at any time.
• J.J. Barea (42% owned in Y! leagues): Barea has had injury issues of late, but when healthy he's been dynamite. He has six double-doubles in his last 11 games, and is the only proven lead guard on the Timberwolves team with both Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour injured.
• Nate Robinson (31% owned): Be careful because Robinson had to sit out on Wednesday with a sore hamstring, but he could be back as soon as Friday. And with the Warriors having shut down or traded their entire starting backcourt, Robinson has been putting up great numbers of late (including a combined 58 points, 15 assists and seven treys in his last two games).
• Meta World Peace (30% owned) and Matt Barnes (18% owned): World Peace and Barnes have both been playing well in Kobe Bryant's absence, posting solid numbers in scoring, rebounds, assists and treys. Those numbers likely decrease with Bryant due back on Friday, but I don't believe Bryant will play many games moving forward so they're likely to produce again before the season ends.
• Avery Bradley (18% owned): Bradley has been scoring at an almost 20 ppg clip of late, and he's been knocking down more than two treys per game as well. And with the news that the Celtics plan to sit everyone on Friday, it would appear that Bradley, Brandon Bass, and Greg Stiesma (13% owned) should be the big beneficiaries of the extra minutes and shots.
Keeping up with the Professor
If you're interested in my takes throughout the week, you can follow me on Twitter @ProfessorDrz. Also, don't forget that you can catch me on the radio on Rotowire Fantasy Sports Today with Chris Liss and Jeff Erickson on XM 87, Sirius 210.