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The Give and Go: The Give and Go-Week 1

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Charlie Zegers

Charlie has covered the NBA, NFL and MLB for RotoWire for the better part of 15 years. His work has also appeared on,, the New York Times, ESPN, Fox Sports and Yahoo. He embraces his East Coast bias and is Smush Parker's last remaining fan.

The Give and Go
By Charlie Zegers and Chris Liss
RotoWire Staff Writers

Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: October 27, 2008 4:15 PM PDT

The NBA season starts tomorrow, and I feel the same way about it as I do about Opening Day in baseball - excited to see the teams I drafted reveal the genius of their creator. Unlike baseball and football, in which I'm forced to have about eight or nine teams, I've managed to keep my NBA portfolio down to a sleek five, and really only three that I need to manage as Andre' "The Professor" Snellings runs the day-to-day operations for "Liss and Dre's Dynasty" and another league is of the "no roster moves" variety where you draft and pray for health. I can handle three teams, and I've also made my life a little easier by drafting a lot of the same players on multiple rosters. It makes for less rooting conflict, and also less players to obsess over health, minutes and schedule-wise. Here are the guys I've got on more than one roster:

I wouldn't say this is my exhaustive sleeper (or "profit") list - there were other guys I think will deliver more than they cost like Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin, who I couldn't get in more than one league, but it's a pretty good sampling.

Horford had a fantastic rookie season, gets you a double-double, won't kill your free-throw percentage, will average almost a steal per game for a big man and should only get better in his second year. And he's by all accounts mature beyond his years which lowers bad attitude-related risk (which is significant among younger players).

Thomas has shown flashes of brilliance, and while he carries a lot of attitude-related risk, the departure of task-master Scott Skiles bodes well for him, and Thomas has been starting at power forward in the preseason.

I realize Stoudemire will go in the top four more often than not, but when we ran two different sets of projections through our formula he came out first overall both times - and that was before we adjusted for position scarcity. The thing about Stoudemire (whose numbers post-Shaq were off the charts), is that he shoots a ton of free throws at an 80-percent-plus clip from the center slot. In other words, he's far more valuable than Steve Nash or Ray Allen in that category for two reasons: (1) volume of attempts and (2) value above replacement. Consider that other teams will have to get their blocks, field-goal percentage and rebounds from Tyson Chandler, Emeka Okafor, Andris Biedrins and Dwight Howard - all horrible free-throw shooters. While Nash's 90-percent is great, almost every point guard shoots in the 80s, so the difference isn't as stark. I'd take Stoudemire No. 1 overall, even with the uncertainty of having Terry Porter replace Mike D'Antoni. (If LeBron could shoot 77 percent from the line, I might reconsider).

Granger does just about everything - solid percentages (especially from the line), lots of threes, steals, blocks and scoring. He's just getting into his prime, and if he builds on last year's totals, he'll be a top-five pick in next year's drafts. Roy is a 20/5/5 threat with some threes and good percentages - he just needs to stay healthy. Salmons produced whenever he got a chance last year, and he should see 30-35 minutes per game in Sacramento this season. He'll also provide solid percentages. Ray Allen's been slipping in drafts due to his age, declining role and durability issues, but even so - he had 180 threes last year, shot 91 percent from the line and scored more than 17 a game. Ben Gordon's in a crowded backcourt, but with Skiles gone, he could finally see more consistent minutes and come close to leading the league in threes. He's also a good FG-shooter for a three-point-shooting guard, and is money from the line. Jason Kidd is going to drop off the cliff one of these seasons, but I like his chances to bounce back for one more season with Avery Johnson out of the way, and a talented offensive cast (Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, et al.) around him. Ronnie Brewer averaged 1.7 spg in just 27.5 minutes last year, and shot 56 percent from the floor from the backcourt. Ginobili and Ellis are hurt and going at what I felt was a significant discount - especially in shallower leagues where you can fill in with decent replacements.

Do you disagree, Charlie? Have I made any mistakes investing heavily in this group? Are there some other players you think will produce a profit this season?

Subject: Give and Go
Date: October 27, 2008 6:43 PM PDT

As you know, I follow the college game pretty closely. That can be a mixed blessing - I know player names, skill sets, strengths and weaknesses sooner than, say, you... but I'm certainly not an NBA scout; I'm not much good at telling whose games will translate immediately to The Association and whose won't.

Why do I bring it up? Glad you asked.

Tyrus Thomas drives me nuts. I think the reason is, I was on the Tyrus Thomas bandwagon early - after seeing him play like a man among boys at LSU. It's possible I've been avoiding him mostly because it feels like I've been waiting on him forever.

Gordon's another guy that scares me a little - I don't place a ton of stock in the "walk year" as a predictor of fantasy value. I put more weight on the "clear role and minutes" - and Gordon's going to be stuck in a fight with Kirk Hinrich and Larry Hughes (when he's healthy) and maybe even Thabo Sefolosha for playing time.

The rest of your list is very solid. Your arguments for Stoudemire have me questioning my selection of LeBron second overall in my last draft (CP3 went first). You're right to suggest that Allen is available 2-3 rounds later than he should be because of age and injury concerns, and you could probably say the same for J-Kidd and Ginobili.

I mentioned taking LeBron when I landed the second overall pick in a recent draft. Here's how that team turned out:

  1. LeBron James
  2. Steve Nash
  3. Tim Duncan
  4. Mehmet Okur
  5. Ray Allen
  6. Stephen Jackson
  7. Michael Beasley
  8. Zach Randolph
  9. Rudy Fernandez
  10. Chris Wilcox
  11. Derrick Rose
  12. Ramon Sessions
  13. Vladimir Radmanovic
  14. Keith Bogans
  15. Louis Williams

This was a 12-team snake draft, so I was picking second in the first round and eleventh in the second, etc.

I'm fairly pleased with how this it turned out... LeBron and Nash - even if Terry Porter's offense hurts his overall numbers - will cover a multitude of sins elsewhere. I got Randolph and Jackson on the "knucklehead discount," but I think both could give me very good numbers this year. Randolph may even be center eligible shortly, and Jackson is going to have to hold the Warriors together until Monta Ellis is healthy.

Then, I have a bunch of high-upside youngsters in Rose, Beasley, Fernandez and Williams... and a couple of role players who could blossom in Sessions and Bass.

My best effort ever? Probably not. Went for Okur too soon, Wilcox is just holding a roster spot for the first waiver-wire acquisition that strikes my fancy, and no matter what Phil Jackson says, I don't really believe Radmanovic is going to hold on to a starting job. But I can work with this.

Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: October 28, 2008 12:45 AM PDT

I got Gordon pretty late/cheap in those drafts, so I think he's worth the gamble. Coaching changes, as you've written about tend to reshuffle the deck, and Gordon's skill set has a fair amount of value in fantasy leagues - probably more so than in real life.

Your team should do okay, and it looks like Rose will start off the bat, which is good news - I think. He probably won't do any favors for your field-goal percentage, but otherwise he could contribute in a lot of places if he sees decent minutes. You took Wilcox awfully high for a guy you're going to cut, but I like the Williams and Sessions picks, even if Sessions right now is in danger of getting demoted to third string by Skiles. (I can't see Skiles sticking with Luke Ridnour all year, and Tyronn Lue shouldn't be starting in the NBA these days).

I alluded to this before, but I wish I had Durant in more leagues. If you look at what he did after the All-Star break: 22/5/3 with nearly a steal and a block per game while shooting 89 from the line and 48 from the floor as a 19-year old, it's hard not to wonder what growth would constitute in Year 2. I'd like to get Greg Oden is a league, too - just because it would be fun to root for a guy with that much physical talent.

I'm agnostic about Randolph in D'Antoni's system - is he really the kind of player who will thrive in it? And also talk about "bad attitude" risk - it's almost Artest-esque. Actually, I'd take even money that Randolph is more likely to have a blow-up than Artest, who's on a good team and playing for a coach he respects. Stephen Jackson strikes me as more of a professional than Randolph - his shooting off a gun outside a strip club notwithstanding (who among us hasn't done that once or twice?). Jackson has averaged more than 4.0 assists per game the last couple seasons for the Warriors, and I agree he'll have a bigger role with Ellis out.

Any players you wanted to get and just missed out on? The problem with a draft (especially if you pick near the very beginning or very end where you have to wait 20-odd picks to go again), is that there are some players who you either have to reach for or miss out on. I picked first in one league, nabbed Stoudemire, then Kevin Martin/Steve Nash on the way back (couldn't take Durant over them), but then knew he wasn't coming back... sometimes you have to play the hand you're dealt.

Subject: Give and Go
Date: October 28, 2008 5:47 AM PDT

Wilcox was an auto-pick disaster. Happens at least once per draft when you've got little kids... baby starts crying, you throw a couple guys into the queue, settle her down, get back to the computer, and all of a sudden you've got a Brian Scalabrine. I'd never have picked him otherwise... he's on that same list with Tyrus Thomas, of "guys I loved coming out of college that haven't amounted to anything." In fact, he might be the reason for the list - I may name it in his honor.

I don't buy Ridnour or Lue holding on to a starting job for a Scott Skiles team, either, and I'm deep enough at guard to let that situation sort itself out. Same with Rose... if he follows the usual rookie productivity curve, he probably won't be a regular in my lineup for the first month or two. Beasley, I think, will be productive right away.

You're right to be skeptical of Randolph, but I think he's a safer bet than almost anyone else on the Knicks at this point. (Talk about damning someone with faint praise...) He won't have to share the low block with Curry, that seems clear. His new coach won't get on him about lax defense. And he's got a pretty diverse offensive game. I thought Jamal Crawford would be the guy to benefit most from D'Antoni's offense, but in the preseason it seemed that Crawford was really struggling. Could he blow up? Sure... but I'm looking at it as "potential 20-and-10," and in the eighth round.

One guy I really like for this season - and didn't get - is Elton Brand. I saw him play a couple of times in the preseason, and he looked dominant. He had 24 in one preseason game against the Knicks - and barely played after the first quarter. I'm having a hard time thinking of anyone in the East - short of Kevin Garnett - that stands a chance of slowing him down this year.

Article first appeared on 10/28/08