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Mo Wins in Motown
While everyone is talking about the seemingly-unbeatable Celtics and the upstart Trail Blazers, few have noticed that the Detroit Pistons have now won 11 games in a row and have improved to 26-7.

The Pistons haven’t just been winning. They’ve been winning big. During the streak, they’ve won nine games by 10 or more, including a 45-point shellacking of Milwaukee on New Year’s Eve. They also won in Boston two weeks ago, and will face the Celtics in Detroit Saturday night.

The Pistons have had one of the most stable – if not the best – starting lineups in the league throughout the last several years, and this season is no different. Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Rasheed Wallace are essentially doing the same things they’ve done since they all started playing together in 2004. Antonio McDyess, the newcomer to the starting lineup this year, is playing his best basketball since 2001. Dice his five double-doubles during the streak, and is leading the team in rebounding and field goal percentage.

Although Wallace has declined a little, Billups, Prince, and Hamilton have been as good as ever. So what is the difference between this year’s Pistons (on pace for 65 wins), and the lethargic 53-win team from a year ago? One word: depth.

Hamilton, Billups, and Prince are all averaging about three minutes/game less than a year ago, yet have been putting up similar numbers. Wallace is about one minute a game less. Guys like Jason Maxiell and Jarvis Hayes have picked up most of the slack, but the Pistons have received contributions from a mixture of youngsters and veterans. Now that Rodney Stuckey is finally on the floor, the Pistons can rest their backcourt even more. Detroit is as deep as they’ve ever been in the Larry Brown/Flip Saunders era.

If Billups et al can continue to stay fresh while the bench gets all the experience they need in the blowouts, the Pistons will be primed for a deep playoff run this spring. Let’s not hand the Eastern Conference to the Celtics just yet.


Posted by Kenn Ruby at 1/4/2008 7:49:00 PM

Comments (1)

Ownable Wolves?
Like Charlie I received an e-mail from a friend of mine with the first initial J asking me questions about players to own. In my case, though, this other J was asking two questions about Timberwolves players. More specifically, he asked me:

1) "What the heck is going on with rotation and minutes for (Rashad) McCants and (Marko) Jaric. Are they worth holding on to and/or starting these days?"

2) "Also, just picked up (Ryan) Gomes for (Travis) Outlaw, good or bad move?"

These two questions perfectly illustrate the situation for fantasy owners with regard to Minnesota right now: outside of Al Jefferson, everyone else on the roster is "play at your own risk". They can be blazing hot one week and invisible the next. The player rotations change on almost a daily basis, and when combined with the natural inconsistencies of young and enigmatic players just makes it impossible to predict week-to-week production.

My opinion is that Randy Foye (if he gets healthy) and McCants are the two non-Jefferson Wolves that I'd hold onto on a roto team just because they're the only two that I think have fantasy impact potential this season...but even they are risky. Foye's risk is mainly due to health, because if he returns he should be the featured guard. McCants I'd hold onto for his 3s if nothing else, though whether he ever in fact becomes a roto impact guy or safe to start on a daily basis is still very much in question.

Jaric, Gomes, Corey Brewer, Craig Smith, Sebastian Telfair and everyone else would be on my "ride when hot, but don't really want to depend on" list. If you can pick one up and trade them before they cool back down you should probably do it, but until the Wolves establish a set rotation and stay with it (and these players show that they can produce in this new, fixed paradigm) I can't put them into my long-range plans.



Posted by Professor at 1/4/2008 9:56:00 AM
Comments (0)

Star of the Future?
In fantasy we are always looking for the next guy who can go from borderline fantasy player to starter, from starter to star, and from star to superstar. In my evaluation of players, I look for players who can improve or who are improving in multiple categories. When I first started playing fantasy basketball, I got caught up in just points and rebounds or points and assists. As most of you know, it is much better to have a player who is good in five or six categories as opposed to a player who is great in two categories but can't do anything else. For me, the next player who can take that leap from starter to star and maybe ultimately to superstar is Rudy Gay.

Gay has a lot of things that I like in an up-and-coming fantasy player. First of all, he is improving in several different areas at the same time. Gay has significantly increased his scoring, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and 3-pointers made from his rookie season. Secondly, Gay is just in his second year and has a lot of room to grow. His assist totals are still very low and as he improves his knowledge of the game, Gay's free throw attempts should go up. Finally, Gay is on a team that runs an up-tempo style that suites his game. The Grizzlies want to run and have young NBA players in the backcourt like Mike Conley Jr. and Juan Carlos Navarro that are only going to get better with experience.

I'm not saying that Gay is going to blow up like a Chris Paul, Lebron James or Dwight Howard, but Gay has the skill set to settle into a 22 point, seven rebound, two 3-pointers made, four assist and 2.5 combined block/steal player who has solid shooting percentages. If Gay can reach those numbers, he can definitely be the next fantasy star of the future.



Posted by Kyle Fisher at 1/3/2008 9:17:00 AM
Comments (0)

A Second Look
A friend who instant messages me regularly looking for fantasy hoops advice was asking me earlier today about Willie Green. My friend... we'll call him J, because that's the first letter of his name... wanted to know if Green was worth a pick-up.

My first impulse was to say no... even though I just wrote that basically every wing player on the Sixers should be on your fantasy radar. Why not Green?

It occurs to me that I just don't like the guy.

This is nothing personal, mind you. It's not like we've met. But like most fantasy owners, there are some players that I tend not to draft for my teams. In Green's case, I feel like he's been a "sleeper" on the cusp of fantasy relevance for such a long time that it's hard to believe it'll actually happen.

Course, before this season I'd have said the same of John Salmons.

The lesson? Sometimes it pays to go back and figure out why you don't like a particular player. You might find out that the reason just isn't good enough. Aside from Green, here are some players that I'm reconsidering:

Carlos Arroyo - ORL [PG]: Arroyo is another guy that's had lots of opportunities to make a splash but hasn't ever come through. That doesn't change the fact that, as a pass-first point, he's probably a much better fit for the Magic than a scorer like Jameer Nelson. Maybe Nelson's recent ineffective play will allow Arroyo to step up.

Al Harrington - GS [SF,PF,C]: My problem with Harrington is that -- with his skill, athleticism and size, and on a team like the Warriors with a coach like Don Nelson -- I feel like he should be an absolute fantasy superstar. And he's not. But the idea that he should be a 20-10-5 guy doesn't make his 15-5-2 any less valuable... my perception is the issue, not his production.

What about you guys? Any players that you've been avoiding for no particularly good reason?

Posted by Charlie Zegers at 1/2/2008 5:56:00 PM
Comments (1)

Would You Buy a Used Car From This Man?
Chris Bosh has launched a rather unique YouTube campaign to get himself voted to the All Star Game:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv7IZP7u9FE

Personally I think he's really just bucking for a chance to host next year's ESPYs.

Posted by Erik Siegrist at 12/30/2007 8:53:00 AM

Comments (0)

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