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Hoops Lab: Hoops Lab-Week 18

Andre' Snellings

Andre' Snellings is a Neural Engineer by day, and RotoWire's senior basketball columnist by night. He's a two-time winner of the Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Player or Great System?

Where is
the line drawn between a 'great player' and a 'player that plays in a great
system'? This question came about in response to the rash of bench players that
have been stepping up and posting huge numbers when called upon to replace an
injured star player. Just in the last few weeks we've seen:

injured Chris Paul (20.4 ppg, 11.2 apg, 4.6 rpg, 2.3 spg, 50.4% FG, 86.2% FT)
replaced by unheralded rookie Darren Collison, who has posted very similar
numbers in his recent seven-game stint as a starter (19.3 ppg, 9.6 apg, 3.6
rpg, 1.4 spg, 48% FG, 84% FG).

All-Star replacement Chauncey Billups (19.5 ppg, 6.2 apg, 3.0 rpg, 1.2 spg,
42.3% FG, 89% FT) replaced by another late-round rookie Ty Lawson (17.0 ppg,
5.9 apg, 2.9 rpg, 1.1 spg, 50.5% FG, 81% FT in eight games as starter).

Bynum (15.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.5 bpg, 0.5 spg, 56.8% FG, 74.5% FT)
replaced by Lamar Odom (17 ppg, 14.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.3 bpg, 1.7 spg, 54.8% FG,
80.9% FG in recent three game stint as starter).

Boozer (19.4 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.5 bpg, 54.6%  FG, 75.5% FT)
replaced by Paul Millsap (23 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, 0.3 spg, 2.0 bpg, 61.0%
FG, 90.5% FT in three games as starter).

Ellis (26.2 ppg, 5.4 apg, 4.2 rpg, 2.2 spg, 46.2% FG, 73.8% FT) having his role
taken up in his absence by Stephen Curry (30.0 ppg, 7.0 apg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 spg,
46.6% FG, 86.4% FT in the most recent four games when Ellis played less than 24
minutes due to injury).

I could
go on, but you get the gist. In each of these cases the understudy is putting
up numbers that are similar to or in some cases better than the injured starter.
There are also many different ways that I could take this, depending on my
purpose and my audience. If we were interested in actual on-court impact, for
instance, we could look more in-depth to see how the teams have done in these
instances. Are the subs just getting numbers, or are they contributing to wins?
We could look into the advanced stats and try to see if the stars have some
"it" factor that helps the team beyond the common box scores, or whether the
sub really is doing just as well. All types of fun could ensue from there…if
the subs can do it as well as the starters, what implications might that have
one what we actually consider "star" players? If, on the other hand, the
advanced stats show a big difference that isn't there in the box scores…what
implications might that have on whether the box score stats are even an
effective means to measure basketball quality anymore?

But, in
this space, we're concerned more about fantasy sports than real-life impact. So
let's look at how the "great system" effect is relevant in our day-to-day game
planning. First of all, this is important when deciding whether to take a flyer
on an injury replacement when a starter gets hurt. All of the above subs now
have pretty established names of their own, so it's a no-brainer to go after
them when the starter goes down. But what about the situation of Anthony Morrow
and Corey Maggette in Golden State? Anthony Morrow is a relative no-name in
fantasy sports, but Maggette has established himself as a big contributor (20.8
ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 51.9% FG, 84.1% FT) this season. Maggette goes down, and
in his first replacement start Morrow throws up 33 points (12-for-20 FG), 11
boards, four assists, five treys and 4-for-4 shooting from the line. Now, is
that a fluke? Perhaps, but we know from the Ellis/Curry situation above and
from the history of Golden State coach Don Nelson that the Warriors will put up
points and the starters will likely put up numbers. So, based on the "great
system" Morrow is a good buy while Maggette is out…and if you picked him up
immediately you were rewarded with a 26-point/10-rebound/six-assist/three-treys
performance in his second start.

also applies when looking at who is likely to see a numbers boost in a trade. For
instance, in the recent Mavs/Wizards trade (see below) the marquee names
involved were Caron Butler and Josh Howard. But Brendan Haywood was also sent
to Dallas to be the likely starting center over the hobbled Erick Dampier. So
let's look closer. href="">Dampier has averaged over 12 boards in the 15 games this season where he has
played at least 29 minutes, and Drew Gooden also averaged 11.4
boards in his 11 starts at center for the Mavs. It looks like the starting
center for the Mavs has a great chance to rack up the rebound numbers, which
means that Haywood (already a good rebounder and defender) probably deserves a
boost in value based upon this trade.

reading this article plays fantasy basketball, and all of us know to make the
obvious moves like grabbing Millsap if possible when Boozer is out. But to
really separate yourself from your peers, sometimes you have to look for little
things like this to know when to take a flyer and when to stand pat.

to Watch and Quick Hits: Trade deadline edition

dominant event for this week is the Thursday's trade deadline, for obvious
reasons. Trades and injuries can affect the productive talent pool more than
anything else this far into the season, and while you can't predict injuries
you have a hard deadline for when trades can be made. That said, let's look at
the big trade of last weekend and some of the other impact players that are
rumored to possibly change locations this week.

  • Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson to Dallas: If you follow the link above,
    I gave my breakdown of this trade for all of the major pieces involved. I think
    the move to Dallas will be good for Butler, who should fit well into the
    second-scorer-in-good-offense role that Josh Howard was previously unable to
    fill. Butler has been a bit disappointing this season, but in Dallas he should
    get a similar number of shots but at a higher efficiency when playing off of
    Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd. If he is healthy and meshes well (two significant
    'ifs') he could break out down the stretch.

    already mentioned Haywood, who I think is going into an excellent situation in
    Dallas. Stevenson wouldn't appear to have an impact role on a team as good as
    Dallas, but like always you should pay attention to the first few games after
    the trade just to see who might have taken advantage of all of the changes to
    grab a bigger slice of the pie.

  • Josh Howard,
    Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quentin Ross to Washington: For the Wizards,
    the trade has as many implications for the players left behind as it does for
    the new guys. Among the new players Howard has the best chance to come in and
    establish himself as an impact guy if he can stay healthy, since he is likely playing
    for a new contract this summer. Gooden is a vet and an undersized center on a
    rebuilding Wizards squad with some other young center possibilities, so it
    doesn't seem likely that he'd get or keep the starting job. But you never know.
    Singleton and Ross were essentially throw-in players in the deal and unlikely
    to see much court time.

    the interesting stuff is in what the Wizards decide to do about their incumbent
    players. This trade would seem to indicate the official start of the youth
    movement, so does that mean Antawn Jamison is definitely gone (see below)? What
    about a vet like Mike Miller? Randy Foye looked good when Gilbert Arenas first
    went out, but then fizzled for a while as vet Earl Boykins got more run…is this
    a sign that the youngster Foye will again get the keys and a longer leash? At
    center, do Andray Blatche and/or JaVale McGee get the lion share of the minutes?
    Blatche has proven himself fantasy relevant in the past with time, and
    seemingly he should now get more of it in DC. Stay tuned.

  • Amare Stoudemire - Cleveland? Philadelphia? Miami? Extension?: Stoudemire is getting
    the most trade buzz right now, but his destination seems up for grabs. Most of
    the talk this weekend had him heading to Cleveland, which would give him a shot
    at a ring but likely hurt his numbers as the Cavs run a slow-paced offense and
    LeBron has such a high usage that it's hard to see Amare getting as many shots.
    Recently the Heat have become another major suitor, and though Miami runs a
    similar slow offense with Dwyane Wade as the focal point, I could see Amare
    getting more touches there due to the struggling Heat really needing a second
    offensive engine. Supposedly the Suns really covet Andre Iguodala from
    Philadelphia, and if that move were made I think that would give Amare the best
    chance to put up big numbers on a poor team that likes to run as he'd be the
    offensive focal point. And then, there's the chance that he just signs an
    extension in Phoenix, but that isn't nearly as much fun to speculate about, is

  • Antawn Jamison - Miami? Boston?: As mentioned above, the Butler trade would seem to
    suggest that Jamison is on his way out of DC. Before the Butler trade took
    place there was a rumor that Jamison and Butler were headed to the Celtics in a
    Ray Allen deal, and even after the Butler trade there still is a bit of smoke
    that the Celtics would go after Jamison and Miller. This would be the worst
    case scenario for Jamison owners, as he would likely come off the bench and see
    fewer shots. On the other hand, his name has also been linked to the Heat and
    if that occurs, like with Amare, Jamsison still should get his shots and put up

  • Kevin Martin:
    There aren't any set destination rumors out there for Martin, but he was a
    popular rumor guy about a month ago and his skill set (efficient scoring
    shooting guard, when healthy) would seemingly fit well on several contending
    squads. But if such a trade is made it likely hinders Martin's fantasy
    prospects, because no team contending team will give him as much of a green
    light as he has in Sacramento.

  • Tracy McGrady – New York?: As of Monday night, rumor says that McGrady could be headed to New
    York (along with Joey Dorsey and Brian Cook) in exchange for Jared Jeffries,
    Jordan Hill and either Al Harrington or Larry Hughes. This would clear a lot of
    cap space for the Knicks, but would also give them a 3-month tryout of
    McGrady ... and maybe a look at what the D'antoni offense might look like with a
    dominant wing scorer (cough***LeBron**cough). It's now been almost a full year
    since TMac's microfracture surgery, so if he has anything at all left in the
    tank this (if it happens) would be his chance to shine.

  • Ray Allen:
    Allen has a huge expiring contract, which has made him a popular trade
    candidate all season. Add in the recent struggles and on-going injury issues on
    the Celtics, and it wouldn't be a shock for Allen to be wearing another uniform
    by Thursday night. Allen is the opposite of Martin, though, as he has already
    been sacrificing shots for the Celtics. If he goes to a lesser team that is
    looking for cap space (and isn't immediately cut), he could legitimately up his
    scoring and treys as a higher usage player on a poorer team.

  • Troy Murphy
    Cleveland?: Some rumors suggest that if the Cavs miss out on Stoudemire, Murphy
    would be their fall-back option. Murphy would actually fit well with the Cavs,
    as he would get many open looks from downtown playing off LeBron and would
    still have the chance to crash the boards next to the no-longer-agile Shaquille

  • There are
    many other names in play, from Marcus Camby to Kirk Hinrich to Ty Thomas to
    many others. Way too many to give blurbs on all of them. So if someone gets
    dealt that wasn't covered here, just look at all of the angles. Are they likely
    to have a larger role or smaller one for their new teams? Does their skill set
    fit well with their new teams? Did the trade open up space for previous bench
    players to shine? Hopefully this trade deadline won't be much ado about
    nothing, and if we do get some fireworks I look forward to the feeding frenzy
    on the waiver wires and I'll be back to break it down next week.


Morrow (56% owned): Morrow is averaging almost 28 ppg with four treys in the
last three games that he has played at least 30 minutes, and with Corey
Maggette still questionable due to his injured fingers Morrow is worth taking
that flyer on (as many of you have, as his percent owned has gone up
dramatically in the last two weeks).

Prince (44% owned): Injuries have slowed Prince this season to the point that a
consensus mid-round draft pick is now available on the free agency wire in most
leagues. In his last two games before the break he showed signs of life (20.5
points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 treys, 33 minutes played), though, and with the added
break maybe he is finally getting his legs under him.

Blatche (36% owned) and JaVale McGee (4% owned): As mentioned above, Blatche
and McGee are the most likely candidates to grab the lion's share of the center
minutes for the Wizards. Blatche has averaged 10.8 points, 7.5 boards, 3.0
assists and 1.8 blocks in four starts this season and he posted almost the same
numbers in 36 starts last season. He is the more interesting candidate, but
McGee also showed some signs of life as a young starter last season and is
worth keeping an eye on.

Hickson (9% owned): I added Hickson as a speculation pick-up this week, as most
of the trade rumors for the Cavs have Hickson going out along with Zydrunas
Ilgauskas in any potential move. The most commonly rumored sights for Hickson
are Phoenix (run-and-gun team led by Steve Nash), Indiana (young run-and-gun
team), and Washington (young run-and-gun team). All of these would be
potentially good spots for Hickson, and if such a move is made he has
double-double potential as a starter.

Tolliver (8% owned): Tolliver is another relative unknown in fantasy who
recently got big minutes for the Warriors. The Warriors are gold for people
that play, and in the last three games Tolliver has averaged 18 points, 8.3
boards and 1.3 treys in almost 40 minutes of play. He may eventually lose that
time to Andris Biedrins, but in the meantime…why not give him a shot?

Article first appeared 2/16/10