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The Give and Go: The Give and Go-Week 2

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: Give and Go
Date: November 3, 2008 12:32 PM PDT

Man. The Knicks can't stop anybody.

We sort of knew that would be the case, didn't we? They couldn't stop anybody when Larry Brown was their coach, and he's all about D. They couldn't stop anybody for Isiah Thomas, and Zeke at least pretended that defense was important.

Now Mike D'Antoni is calling the shots, and he treats defense like it's something stuck to the bottom of his shoe.

I won't make this into a Knicks rant - no one cares, I get it. But there's an interesting fantasy angle to New York's defensive offensiveness. Madison Square Garden is turning into the Coors Field of the NBA. Just last night, Ramon Sessions - in his first action of the season - torched the Knicks for 18 points, eight assists, seven boards and three steals. Elton Brand had 24-and-14 when New York visited the Sixers last week. And in the season opener against Miami, Udonis Haslem scored 23 and Dwyane Wade scored 26 despite a horrendous shooting night (9-24 from the field).

Seems to me that you could do pretty well for yourself by making sure all your scorers are playing whenever they face D'Antoni's bunch.

But that brings me to a larger question - do you think it's worthwhile to switch your roster around on a game-by-game matchup basis?

For some leagues, I can see the benefit of loading up on games played early in the season. I've seen guys build up a big lead in the counting stats early and coast to a win when the other players become uninterested. And we all know that playing time can be unpredictable in the season's last month, when good teams start resting guys for the playoffs, and bad teams start playing for lottery positioning.

On the other hand, I'd rather have a Kevin Garnett game than a Udonis Haslem game counting towards my position max.

I realize you probably don't do the lineup shuffle much, simply because of the number of teams/leagues you're playing. But do you think there's a real benefit? Or do these things even out over time?

And as I complete this entry, there's breaking news... is reporting that the Pistons and Nuggets are making a trade... Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess. Dice apparently doesn't want to go and is trying to force a buyout. Your thoughts?

Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: November 3, 2008 2:15 PM PDT

You're right, I don't have time to tweak my starting lineups daily, according to individual opponent, not only because of all my hoops leagues, but also because of the eight NFL ones - (though getting all your games out of the way early would also avoid any conflicts with your labor-intensive baseball leagues in April).

But if I only did hoops, and only had one league - would it be a good strategy to sub in players against the Knicks, Nuggets and Warriors? Yes, I think it would - at least as much as it's a good strategy to draft players moving into situations where the pace picks up. Teams that run get more possessions, and more possessions means more of every kind of counting stat. So when teams play against those fast-paced teams, a similar thing should happen.

Now, I'm not advocating playing Haslem over Garnett, but if you added up the games for your stars, there would still be several hundred left for your matchup players, and you'd be smart to maximize those based on opponent.

You also bring up a second point - whether it's good to sub in those players earlier in the year, and build up a lead in all the counting stats so people quit. Maybe. But the yahoo game allows you to check out how far behind or ahead of the pace everyone is, so that ploy might not work in a competitive league. The ploy that I think works better is to draft and trade for good percentages (FG and FT), so that when the bottom half of the league inevitably gives up in February and March, you benefit by passing them in the counting categories. Meanwhile, the juggernauts at the top, who are weak in either percentage category, are stuck behind the quitting teams, whose percentages don't suffer one bit from their sub-optimal lineups. In fact, I think percentage categories are worth about 10 - 15 percent more than the counting ones for that reason. (This would not hold true in a competitive league where all 12 owners made moves and set lineups from beginning to end no matter where they were in the standings).

As for the Iverson/Billups trade, I think it benefits J.R. Smith because unlike Iverson, Billups won't man the two at all, and Billups is also a true point (though Iverson is an underrated passer). It should benefit Carmelo Anthony who will again be the sole go-to guy and even Kenyon Martin and Nene. As for Billups, it's hard to imagine him in such a fast-paced attack after all those years in Detroit, but it should boost his stats - I'd expect him to play more minutes and also to get more assists, threes and steals.

On the Detroit side, I'm not sure what they'll do - maybe some small ball with Stuckey, Iverson, Hamilton, Prince and one big? I think it hurts Hamilton a bit - he had great on-court chemistry with Billups, and Iverson will take more shots. It'll also hurt Iverson because of the slower pace and increased focus on him. His days of 44-plus percent FG shooting could be a thing of the past.

What's your take on it? And who wins from a team perspective? Joe Dumars knows what he's doing - why do you think he made the deal?

Subject: Give and Go
Date: November 3, 2008 3:29 AM PDT

My first impulse is to say that Detroit made this deal for 2009-10 and beyond.

I really don't see how this deal makes Detroit a bigger threat to win the East this year. I view the Pistons the same way I view a really good offensive line - one of the things that makes them tough is their cohesiveness, and that comes from hundreds and thousands of practice reps and games. And now, they've replaced the most integral part of that unit.

But if you factor in Iverson's huge expiring contract and the fact that Dumars has generally been fiscally responsible during his tenure in Detroit, you can see this as the first move towards a re-tooling of the franchise around guys like Rodney Stuckey - who Dumars reportedly loves - and Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson.

Of course, that line of thinking makes me wonder which other Piston might be next to go.

From a fantasy perspective, I'd downgrade all my Pistons in the short term. I'd call Anthony and J.R. Smith the big winners as the new primary scorers on a team that scores a lot... as far as the bigs are concerned, I think this benefits Martin more than Nene. Even if this leaves Denver with a more controlled offense, I don't think George Karl will be calling Nene's number all that often.

So that's one long-rumored trade out of the way. Any thoughts on what might be next? Does this change the potential destinations for Stephon Marbury any? Sounds like Steph might be looking for a new home soon.

Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: November 3, 2008 12:45 AM PDT

That makes sense, but if that's the case, it's too bad. Iverson is one of the best players in the league to watch - his skill set is one of the most unique in his generation. If the Nuggets and Pistons have decided that in perhaps the last season of his prime he's basically just an expiring contract, then maybe he'd even lose minutes or shots as the season went on. I'd love to see the opposite happen - for Iverson to energize a team that had stagnated from its familiarity. Of course, there's some question as to whether Iverson's game could ever translate to winning a championship - we know Billups' could and did. Iverson came close in 2001, but the East wasn't particularly strong, and that Sixers team probably wouldn't have beaten any of the squads that won it in the last decade.

And speaking of players whose talents don't necessary translate to winning... Marbury until last year was the only player in NBA history other than Oscar Robertson to average 20 points and 8.0 assist per game for his career. (Even now he's at 19.7 and 7.8). But if Marbury wasn't a winner even with that sort of statistical output, you have to wonder what team's going to roll the dice on the current incarnation.

Article first appeared on 11/03/08