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Hoops Lab: Hoops Lab-Week 7

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.

Efficiency vs Net Dominance: KG vs Howard

The perfect rotisserie basketball player would be dominant and efficient, contributing across the board while taking nothing off the table. In reality, though, there is always some trade-off between what we want and what we can realistically get from our players. If a player has flaws in certain areas, we need him to be dominant enough in other areas to make up for it. Likewise, if a player isn't going to dominate in any given category they had better be able to efficiently contribute in more ways. But if you could only build around players of a certain type, which should you choose: the flawed dominator or the unspectacular but efficient contributor?

This has been on my mind lately as I've blogged about the relative roto value of Dwight Howard vs the value of Kevin Garnett. Howard and Garnett had almost exactly the same ADP in Yahoo! Leagues (11.3 and 13.2, respectively), with each as borderline 1st/2nd round picks. And both are off to slow starts this year as Howard has had to adjust to new teammates while KG is struggling to recover from offseason knee surgery. But even with his slow start the general impression would be that Howard is still among the best bigs in the league as the NBA leader in rebounds and field goal percentage, while KG's 14 and 7 stat line sounds more like a role player than a first rounder.

Why, then, is Howard ranked 124th by average in the Y! player rater while KG is a more respectable 48th? Because while Howard has two dominant categories (rebs, FG%) and two more strong ones (points and blocks), he is still murder on free-throw percentage (56.1% on 10.5 FTA) and is second worst among bigs in turnovers (3.1 TO). Garnett, on the other hand, shoots 52.5 percent from the field, 78 percent from the line, and only turns the ball over 1.5 times per game. Since he doesn't hurt your team in any way, his pedestrian but across-the-board contributions ring up as more valuable according to the Y! system.

That is an interesting result to me, and one to keep in mind when considering potential trades. If you build your team around a category killer like Howard or Gilbert Arenas (39.2% FG on 17.5 FGA, 3.9 TOs/game) it is almost inevitable that you get at least one '1' or '2' category in your point total, which is difficult to overcome in most roto leagues. On the other hand, a roto team built around several Garnett/Brandon Roy/Tim Duncan types might compete for the title even if it doesn't have any gaudy statmakers. In a roto head-to-head league this doesn't apply as much, as an owner of Howard could simply punt a category or two and try to dominate the others. But in a rotisserie league there is a legitimate question as to whether it's ever worth having a best player that comes with a guaranteed '1' as baggage.

Situations to Watch and Quick Hits

  • Superman still heating up: I know I just made a case for why Dwight Howard is a roto risk, but it should be noted he's averaged 23.7 points, 17.7 boards and 3.3 blocks over his last three games. He still has the negatives (17-for-34 FT, 13 TOs in those three games) but at least he's starting to dominate where he should. On a side note, teammate Vince Carter seems to be finding his footing in an Orlando uniform as he's in the midst of six straight 20-point scoring efforts.

  • Ellis gone wild: Monta Ellis has clearly been the big winner thus far in the Stephen Jackson trade, as the short-handed Warriors have made him the major focal point of their extremely potent offense. In the last 10 days Ellis has had games scoring 45, 42, 37 and 34 points while shooting 52 percent from the field on almost 26 shot attempts per game. He's also averaging more than 43 minutes played in that stretch, well beyond his career high, so you have to expect him to slow/wear down at some point. For now, though, enjoy the ride and see if you can talk any of your leaguemates into trading for him at a super-elite price.

  • Return of the Green Giant: Andrew Bogut (leg) returned to the court in spectacular fashion Monday, scoring 22 points with 15 boards, four blocks, three steals and three assists in a Bucks victory. He had been ramping up to a consistent 20-10 clip before going down with an injury, and could make a nice trade target as he seems to be blossoming this year.

  • Jennings slowing down: After bursting out of the gate on a scoring tear, rookie Brandon Jennings has slowed way down in the last week. He is shooting only 25-for-84 from the field (29.8%) in his last five games while averaging 14.2 points. The good news is that he's obviously green-lighted to keep shooting through his slump as he continues to take almost 17 shots per game, and with Bogut now back and healthy opposing defenses can't focus entirely upon Jennings anymore.

  • Bynum has been Gasoled: As pointed out in this space last week, Pau Gasol's return is having a negative impact on Andrew Bynum's roto value. After coming out of the gate with eight double-doubles in his first nine games and averages of 20.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 59 percent field-goal shooting that put him atop of the fantasy heap, Bynum has gone 0-for-5 in double-double chances next to Gasol and has seen those averages drop to 14.6 points, 7.6 boards and 51 percent FG. In the last three games those averages fell even further to 12.3 points, 7.0 boards and 43 percent FG.

  • Arenas struggling to find balance: Gilbert Arenas has been asked by new Wizards Coach Flip Saunders to be more of a distributor than just a pure scorer, and Arenas is having trouble finding that balance. He has scored in single digits in each of the last two games, averaging 7.5 points with only one total free throw attempt after averaging 22 points with 7.6 FTA in his first 13 games.

  • Class of '96 Bigs in Throwback Mode: Marcus Camby, Ben Wallace and Jermaine O'Neal all entered the league in 1996, and all are playing like young men right now. Camby has averaged 15.3 boards, 12 points and a whopping 5.5 combined steals and blocks over the past four games. Wallace has pulled down 34 boards in the last two games, and O'Neal has recorded three straight double-doubles. This isn't shocking from Camby, and Wallace seems like he will be consistent as a rebounder for as long as he wears a Pistons jersey, but O'Neal and his injury history could be fool's gold, so be wary of depending on him too heavily.

  • Williams out two months - replaced by the Answer? Louis Williams has had his breakout season interrupted by the news that he'll miss eight weeks after undergoing surgery to have his broken jaw wired shut. In the short term he has been replaced in the Sixers lineup by Willie Green and rookie JRue Holliday, but the rumor mill suggests that Allen Iverson could be a Sixer by as soon as next week. If such a move were to occur it could have ripple effects on the values of every Philly rotation player, and could seriously impact whether or not Williams is able to continue his breakout when he returns.

  • Boozer in contract mode? Carlos Boozer has been playing like a man possessed of late, averaging 25 points and 10 boards on 70 percent shooting from the field and 90 percent from the line in his last five games. Most impressively, though, he is dishing 5.4 assists with 1.6 steals and a blocked shot per game in that stretch. If Boozer continues to round out his numbers like that he would join the roto elite in a way he never has, and with him playing for his immediate basketball future in a contract year, it's conceivable he could keep this pace up for quite a while.

    New Additions

    Ronnie Brewer (57% owned): Brewer had a slow start to the season, but has been returning to form lately with averages of 13.5 points, 3.5 assists, 2.8 boards and 1.8 steals in the last week. Last year he was universally owned and helped a lot of teams win 'steals', so add him if he's available.

    Mike Dunleavy Jr. (53% owned): Dunleavy was an impact player in 2007-08, and is finally back on the court after injuries essentially derailed his last year. If he can stay healthy he is a roto starter.

    Ersan Ilyasova (47% owned): I continue to beat the drum for Ilyasova, who is owned in twice as many leagues this week as last but still should be picked up in more. He is a consistent double-double threat that is on a nine-game streak with at least one trey made.

    Beno Udrih (47% owned), Donte Green (5% owned), Sergio Rodriguez (3% owned): The Kings backcourt has been a bit of a turnstyle of late as they continue to try to replace Kevin Martin's value, so any of these guys could be worth taking a flyer on in deeper leagues.

    Samuel Dalembert (47% owned): Dalembert is averaging 4.0 blocks over his last three games and 16.5 boards over his last two. He is an up-and-down producer, but when given minutes he can really dominate inside.

    Luke Ridnour (21% owned): He's still coming off the bench behind Brandon Jennings in Milwaukee, but Ridnour has been pretty solid lately while Jennings has slowed down. Ridnour's averaging 14.5 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.8 boards over the last week, and those numbers would look even better before a clunker performance on Monday.

    Willie Green (3% owned): Green has been the scoring beneficiary since Lou Williams went down, averaging 20 points in his two starts. Keep in mind, though, that Green has always been a streak scorer, and if Allen Iverson is signed, it would likely end Green's fantasy relevance.

    Article first appeared 12/1/09