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Hoops Lab: NBA Hoops Lab-Week 16

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.

The Hoops Lab

By Andre' Snellings
RotoWire Staff Writer

Young Man's Game

I have heard a lot of people saying the NBA has been hit with more impact injuries this season than any in recent memory. Right now Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash and Tracy McGrady are all on the shelf. One thing that they have in common is that all were born in the 1970s, meaning all of them will be 30-something before the year ends. While there are certainly younger players that are also having injury problems, the ratio of injured vs. healthy among Generation Next is lower than among Generation X.

Bill Simmons pointed out in a Sports Guy bit last year that if the entire family were together for a holiday, the heavy manual labor like shoveling the snow would be given to the younger 20-something brother to do while the older folks would stay inside to prevent aches and pains from mounting up. This is what seems to be happening in the NBA. It's not that unusual for older players to get hurt, but it's more noticeable this season because the players that carried the league in the post-Jordan era are all getting long in the tooth but are still making an impact. The next crop of young stars led by LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade are all on the cusp of taking over but haven't quite pushed the old guys out the door yet. Think about it: every NBA MVP since the lockout of '99 is still in the league producing, and all of them are 30-something. And four of the seven members of that club are currently on the sidelines, with only Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki still thriving.

To that end, with the trade deadline approaching I would seriously consider trading old legs for new when you can. Shaq, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Marcus Camby, Baron Davis - even Bryant and Nowitzki are probably higher injury risks than their younger counterparts. If you can find an owner willing to give up youth for experience, it might be in your best interest to make that move.

Situations to watch and Quick Hits: Trade deadline edition

Lakers better without Bynum? George Karl suggested this week that the Lakers might be better without Andrew Bynum, and in the regular season I agree with him. A big reason for that is Lamar Odom, who has exploded since joining the starting lineup. He's averaging 18.4 points, 13.5 boards, and 2.5 assists in his last 10 games.

Garnett's injured knee: Kevin Garnett has a posterior strain of his right knee and is expected to miss 2-to-3 weeks of action. Since the diagnosis was given last weekend, that should put Garnett back on the court with about a week to spare before the fantasy playoffs begin. Injuries can linger so that makes him a risk down the stretch, but if the Garnett owner in your league can't afford to have that lack of production on the bench he could be a tempting buy-low trade target.

Amare done, Nash ailing: Amare Stoudemire is expected to miss eight weeks or more due to a detached retina suffered last week which would sideline him for the remainder of the regular season. This is a big hit to Stoudemire owners who were just getting used to big numbers from their star big man after the Suns reverted to a run-and-gun offense.

Meanwhile, Steve Nash was also in street clothes Thursday night, sitting out the Lakers game with an ankle injury. The injury is not expected to be serious or long-lasting, but it raises the question of whether his body can hold up to the kind of pace that the Suns have returned to under Alvin Gentry.

Duncan ailing, Parker going nuts: Tim Duncan has missed the last two games with right quad tendonosis, and his return for this weekend is still questionable. The Spurs have continued to win in his absence despite the fact that Manu Ginobili (shin) is also sidelined because Tony Parker has exploded to average 38 points, 10.5 assists and 5.0 boards in the two games since Duncan has gone down. But even after Duncan returns, Parker should continue to put up numbers with Ginobili out. Over the first month of the season Parker was one of the biggest producers in the league, and after dealing with his own injury issues, it appears Parker has re-found his stride.

Oden still out (knee): Greg Oden, who is suffering from a chipped left knee cap, will not need surgery, but his return date is still uncertain. The injury's lingering longer than originally expected, but team doctors assured coach Nate McMillan that the setback wouldn't require surgery. He is already ruled out for Friday's game, and is day-to-day from there.

Boozer is back: Carlos Boozer has finally returned from his long injury layoff, and now has two games under his belt. He has started slowly as should be expected, but pretty soon he should be back up to speed and putting up numbers. Those numbers may be lower than his previous 20/10 peak if Paul Millsap eats into his playing time, but even in that scenario Boozer should still be a productive roto starter.

Iverson's back: Allen Iverson started but played just nine minutes before leaving Wednesday's loss to New Orleans with back stiffness. Iverson, who twisted the back in Tuesday's loss at Miami, had two points on 1-of-4 shooting before departing. There was no immediate word as to whether he'll be able to play Friday night at Orlando.

Wallace breaks leg: Ben Wallace suffered a fractured leg Thursday night when he was kicked by Yao Ming in the second quarter. He continued to play until the third quarter, when he left the game for good. Wallace is expected to be out for four to six weeks, which may give Anderson Varejao and even rookie J.J. Hickson the opportunity to post better numbers.

Nene nearing return? Nene (bone bruise) could return for Friday's game against the Lakers if his injury responds favorably to treatment, the Denver Post reports. Nene's trainer, Alex Santos, was the source of the information, and while he wouldn't speculate on the likelihood of a Friday return, he didn't rule it out.

Agent zero back in practice: Gilbert Arenas (knee) has confirmed that he's been all-out practicing since the Wizards got back together following the All-Star break. Arenas has been feeling a lot better since meeting with a knee specialist in Miami in the last week of January, and says that he has been running, jumping and dunking with no problem. Although there's still no definitive timetable for his return, it's looking more and more like he'll appear in games at some point before the end of the season, albeit most likely in a limited role.

Dunleavy Done; Granger still expected back; Murphy's Law: Pacers coach Jim O'Brien admitted on Monday that Dunleavy (knee) is likely out for the season. Dunleavy is currently seeking outside medical opinions, but Indiana is moving on as if he won't be available for the rest of the season. This means a steady stream of playing time for Marquis Daniels, Jarrett Jack and Brandon Rush. Meanwhile, breakout star Danny Granger is expected to be out for another couple of weeks with a tendon tear in his right foot. This would put his possible return just before the fantasy playoffs.

"It's just me and Stephon..." and Mikki Moore in Boston: Marbury is expected to sign with the Celtics after clearing waivers on Friday morning. Marbury is scheduled to meet with reporters in Boston Friday morning and is expected to be in uniform Friday night against the Pacers. I don't expect Marbury to have a big fantasy impact in Boston, but I think you should check out that link purely for comedic value. It had me singing "It's just me and Stephon" all day.

Mikki Moore also joined the Celtics this week. He'll give the team some depth in the frontcourt - especially needed now with Kevin Garnett (knee) and Brian Scalabrine (neck) down. Moore's a hard worker and has some length, but isn't a big rebounder/shot blocker type of power forward, and he gets overpowered by bigger bodies so don't expect much fantasy relevance from him.

New Additions

At this point in the season, a surge in injuries is expected. We're entering the last third of the season, when bodies have been taking a steady pounding for four months. And every injury is potentially a "season ending" one, since the season has less than two months left. As such, it's important to keep one eye on the injury list and the other on the waiver wire, because every injury to a starter is another opportunity for a backup to gain value.

Marquis Daniels (48% owned): With Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Danny Granger both out, Daniels has picked up his production dramatically. He's averaging 20.5 points, 4.5 boards, 1.8 steals, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 treys over the last week.

Shane Battier (47% owned): Battier is still the ultimate garbage man, not producing big numbers in any category. But he consistently contributes to the hard-to-fill blocks, steals, and 3-pointers categories and should get more minutes down the stretch with Tracy McGrady out.

Rasual Butler (31% owned): Butler has had his long-range stroke going of late, averaging 17.8 points and 3.0 treys over the last week.

Michael Finley (15% owned): At this point in his career Finley is purely a 3-pointers role player, but with Manu Ginobili out he's been taking advantage of his extra court time by averaging 16.0 points, 5.0 boards and 3.3 treys in the last week.

Charlie Bell (7% owned): Bell has helped step into the scoring vacuum created by all of the injuries in the Bucks lineup. He's averaging 15.7 points and 2.7 treys off the bench over the last week, and has scored in double digits in five of his last six games.

Kurt Thomas (4% owned): Tim Duncan's injury has allowed Thomas to put up solid numbers (9.0 points, 12.5 rebounds in two games). Duncan could return soon, but as long as he's out Thomas is a nightly double-double threat.

Professor's Crib Notes

"Just like I told you, you must learn!" KRS One, Retrospective, 1989

Today, we'll look at how two different types of stats can be used together to produce stronger analysis. Several weeks ago we talked about PER and +/-, and noted the strengths and weaknesses of each. Well, Roland Beech from has combined variations of the two in an ad hoc measure that he calls the Roland Rating. Mr. Beech has also been kind enough to weigh in with some thoughts about his measurement, to help us understand the strengths and weaknesses of using it.

What is it: The Roland Rating is comprised of 3 parts: Production (similar to PER), Opponents' Production (basically the PER of the person being guarded), and on-court/off-court +/- (The difference between the team's +/- with a player on the court vs. when that player is off the court). Roland Rating rates the net difference in Production a bit more than +/-, but combines them into one output number where higher is better.

Strengths: The biggest strength of Roland Rating is that it gives a more comprehensive view of a player's impact than many individual stats do. It uses tangible offensive and defensive box score stats, as well as +/- stats to cover all of the major parts of the game. Also, by combining PER and +/- into one stat, the Roland Rating lessens the weaknesses of each stat.

Weaknesses: Mr. Beech was very clear that he does not believe there's one magical statistic that completely and accurately measures a player's impact. In Beech's words: "I'll tell you up front though that I'm not a believer in 'one number overall player ratings' since I think player value is not some kind of constant, but is very much dependent on the specific teammates, coaching schemes, role the player is asked to fill, etc."

Also, Mr. Beech tells us that Roland Rating was "just kind of a quick wag at a
player rating", and on his web site he mentions that there are more sophisticated analyses available. While Roland Rating produces a good, fast read on player performance it is not necessarily optimized to be the best way to do so.

Usage: The Roland Rating is a comprehensive player measure, so in theory one could simply say "player X has a higher Roland Rating than player Y so he is better," but as Beech pointed out, we should all know by now that there is no holy grail stat that is always right. You should still corroborate the Roland Rating with a variety of other stats and personal observations before making a final conclusion. Keep the pros and cons of the statistic in mind, know exactly what the stat is saying and what it isn't, then decide for yourself how much weight to give to the results of this measure.

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Article first appeared 2/27/09