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The Give and Go: The Give and Go-Week 24

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: April 6, 2009 11:51 AM PDT

First off - the Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2009 was announced today. Headliners are Michael Jordan, John Stockton, and David Robinson. And I'm thinking - why did they even bother to vote on those three? C'mon... why bother even having a Hall of Fame if Jordan, Stockton and the Admiral aren't in it? And shouldn't there be some sort of extra honor for the likes of Jordan? A hall of the super-duper-really-incredibly great, separate and apart from the run-of-the-mill hall of famers, where Jordan and Magic and Bird and Dr. J and Wilt and Russell get run of the place?

Speaking of today's announcement - Henry Abbott of TrueHoop and Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus ran an article today using stats to compare this year's class of Hall of Fame nominees to players of today. It makes for an interesting read, if only because it gets us away from the obvious comparisons we all tend to use between players of different eras. One might immediately compare John Stockton to Steve Nash - for both statistical (high assist totals) and... other reasons (little white guys who played for small West Coast schools) - but Pelton's formula says Rajon Rondo is a better match, mostly due to steals.

Abbott rightly points out that most fans wouldn't think Kevin Durant when looking for a parallel to Chris Mullin, either, but the stats put 'em together.

(As an aside - I continue to be disappointed that Mullin doesn't get more love from the Hall of Fame voters. Dude won the Wooden Award, played in a Final Four, was on the Dream Team... that says Springfield to me. And yes, I realize I just made a Hall of Fame argument for Christian Laettner. I'm OK with that. It's not the NBA Hall... it's the basketball hall. Contributions outside the NBA are supposed to factor in.)

I'm adding Gilbert Arenas to my unofficial "won't touch 'em with a ten-foot pole" list for next year's drafts. Not because I'm worried about his extensive injury history... he may very well have a great year next year. But there's just a little too much crazy associated with ol' Agent Zero. The Washington Times is reporting that he missed the Wizards' game on April 4 because it was the anniversary of his original knee injury, and that the date is now - in his mind - cursed.

Sorry, but if that dude starts refusing to play on the anniversary of his injuries, he's going to be good for... like... ten games a year.


Speaking of next year... I have a new - borderline devious - strategy to throw at you. Generally, I'm not a big fan of rotating my roster on a daily basis to build up a big "games played" edge... in theory, I'd rather have an April game from Tim Duncan than a November game from, say, Marc Gasol counting towards my final stats. But as we've discussed at length, the last six-to-eight weeks of the NBA season is an exceptionally dead period, what with good teams resting players for the postseason and bad teams openly tanking. Once you get to that point in the year, a lot of fantasy owners lose interest - even in highly competitive leagues - if their teams are down at the bottom of the standings.

It occurs to me, therefore, that churning one's lineup on a daily basis in November and December to maximize games and counting stats might be a very good strategy, as it could eliminate some of the competition at year's end.

Further... having watched the NBA schedule every week for my Strength of Schedule column, I've noticed a couple of trends:

  • The “lightest” schedule of the week is always on Thursday - most of the time, there's the two TNT games and that's it.
  • The TNT games seem to feature the same 3-4 teams every week... Boston, Cleveland, the Lakers, etc.

    So... here's the plan. I draft a team heavy on guys from the teams that TNT will showcase every week. I churn my roster each week so I have as full a slate of players active as possible, every night. Having a heavy concentration of “Thursday Night” guys means I'm padding my counting stats each week - even more than other teams that might be rotating rosters... which, by January or so, could give me a nice cushion in the standings.

    You think it would work?

    Are you appalled by the very suggestion?

    Generally, I'm not a big proponent of manipulating a game like this - fantasy leagues should be won by the guy who drafts the best players, makes the best trades, grabs the best free agents... not the one who's best at gaming the system. But I can't help thinking... this might actually work.

    Subject: Give and Go
    Date: April 7, 2009 2:04 AM PDT

    I like the idea of an inner circle Hall of Fame, though once they floated that notion, it might grow into the only *real* Hall of Fame. That or sentimental favorites who don't deserve inner circle status, e.g., Steve Nash, might get voted in. But overall, it's worthwhile though I'm not sure Dr. J qualifies, either. We're talking about Bird, Magic, Jordan, Wilt, Russell, Oscar Robertson, Shaq and few others. Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant probably qualify. Stockton, maybe, maybe not. (I don't care about all the records, he played with another borderline inner circle guy, and they never won a title. The Admiral - not inner circle.

    The problem with the Stockton/Rondo comparison is that Stockton could shoot - though he developed more range later in his career, and who knows - Rondo might, too. Mullin was a great scorer, but I don't think he's Hall of Fame worthy, based on five big years in the NBA, plus some resume padding. He was on the Dream Team, but he wasn't exactly needed. I think you need 10 big years in the NBA before the Hall should take you seriously. Or five LeBron James-type years. But it is cool that Durant's comp is Mullin - agree that it's not the first guy you'd think of.

    Earlier this year, I called Stephon Marbury the "Chad Johnson" of the NBA, but Marbury's too far past his prime at this point. Maybe Arenas fits the bill even better. A goofy guy that can play at a high level, but you don't want to be holding the bag when the skills slip, and the goofiness is all that's left.

    As for your idea - I don't think it would matter too much. Because Kobe, LeBron and Garnett will all be gone early anyway, and so you're not going to profit from putting in Lamar Odom on Thursdays in November all that much compared to picking up the next Anthony Randolph-type in April. And even if you do land LeBron or Kobe, you won't get extra games from them on Thursdays because they'll be in your lineup all the time anyway, i.e., you'll get their total number of games no matter what days they play. But I do agree with getting ahead of the games-played pace early on with all your solid healthy players to the extent you can - since you'd rather bank a few extra ones than have to fight for the hot players on the waiver wire late.

    And while I'm not appalled at the idea, I think gaming the system is a weaker route, and if effective, makes the league miserable for everyone because you either have to follow suit or lose. And it's not the gaming of the system per se - it's doing it in a way that involves more labor than enjoyment.

    Finally, one thought to leave you with - now that Manu Ginobili's done for the year, the West seems even more likely to be a cakewalk for the Lakers who own the Rockets and should outmuscle New Orleans up front with Tyson Chandler not likely to be 100 percent. Is there anyone who's going to take LA to seven games let alone beat them in the West?

    Subject: Re: Give and Go
    Date: April 7, 2009 9:34 PM PDT

    Seems like the appropriate time for one of your "vs. the field" bets... the bet is, "who wins the West." You want the Lakers? Or the field?

    Even before Ginobili's injury, the Lakers were going to be heavy favorites. Now, they'll get upgraded from "heavy" to "prohibitive." There really aren't any teams in the West that match up particularly well against Kobe and company... as you mentioned, Houston can't beat 'em, and Portland, Denver, Utah, New Orleans and the Spurs beat 'em once each.

    Without any clear evidence that one of the playoff teams in the West can beat the Lakers... we're reduced to guessing. The funny thing is... if you asked me to pick the Western Conference team that, on paper, would match up best against LA, I'd probably say the Rockets, with their world-class perimeter defenders, depth, size and ability to score in the paint. But if we accept the idea - based on the experience of this season - that the Lakers own Houston, we're reduced to guessing.

    Dallas? Please. They're only making the playoffs because the Suns have been even less impressive of late.

    Utah? They're finally healthy, and they have a nice balance of frontcourt and backcourt talent that would theoretically match up reasonably well with LA. But they lost three straight last week - including a home game against the T-Wolves. Hard to like any team that loses to the T-Wolves while they're fighting for playoff position.

    Denver? They've been the hottest team in the league... winning seven straight and nine of 10. Maybe they're coming together at the right time? But their recent hot streak is suspect... Since March 11th, their schedule has been: Oklahoma City, Clippers, Nets, Memphis, Wizards, Suns, Hornets, Mavs, Warriors, Knicks, Jazz, Clippers, T-Wolves. Anything less than 10-3 in that stretch would be an embarrassment... 11-1 isn't all that impressive.

    Portland? Almost want to pick against them, just because of the really unnecessarily long ticket promo intro on their website. (C'mon guys... flash intros are so very 2001.) But they seem to have the potential... they'd just need some of their young guys to play beyond their years for seven games.

    I don't think it's going to happen... but Portland beating the Lakers is the scenario that would surprise me the least

    Subject: Give and Go
    Date: April 7, 2009 12:21 PM PDT

    For Portland to beat the Lakers, Greg Oden would have to play a significant role, especially if Andrew Bynum is ready to contribute. I also think Houston is still the team to do it, even though the Lakers have handled them this year. The problem with the Rockets is what to do in the fourth quarter when teams double Yao. Sure, he can kick it out to Ron Artest, Shane Battier, Von Wafer or Aaron Brooks, but is that really who you want to match up on one end against Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol at the other? The Rockets just don't have a perimeter go-to guy that they can rely on down the stretch. And I just don't believe in Denver, either, though Chauncey Billups is one of the league's most poised players come playoff time, and Carmelo Anthony has delivered on the big stage - at least in college. You didn't say much about New Orleans who actually beat the Lakers in LA a couple months back, but with Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic gimpy, they also seem like a long shot.

    So I'd probably take the Lakers over the field in the West, though it's closer than one might think. Even if you give them on average an 80 percent chance to win each series, that's only a 51 percent chance to make the finals. (I assume 90 vs. Dallas and less than 80 in Rounds 2 and 3).

    Article first appeared on 4/7/09