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Hoops Lab: NBA Hoops Lab-Week 21

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

The difference between Deron Williams and Chris Paul

Last night while I was watching the NBA on TNT, Charles Barkley described why he's losing confidence that the Jazz could really compete for the championship this year. ╩Ultimately, he said, it came down to the fact that the Jazz don't have that one transcendent player that defines the team and that they follow. ╩He pointed out that Williams and Carlos Boozer are both great players, and the best two players on the team, but that neither has stepped forward to become the team's identity. ╩He then went on to list many of the recent championship teams and the players that defined those teams, and suggested that a team really couldn't be a title contender without that player. ╩As I thought about it, this gave me some insight into the difference between Williams and Paul, the player to whom he is most often compared. ╩

Williams and Paul were picked back-to-back in the 2005 draft, with the Jazz trading up to pick Williams ahead of Paul. ╩They have since taken up residence at the top of most people's point guard rankings, and each has already taken their teams well into the playoffs. They are one of the more natural comparisons in the NBA, and even though Paul is already being mentioned in the same breath as Magic Johnson as an all-time great there are still those that believe Williams is better. ╩

I believe that Williams is a great young player, but right now he isn't quite on Paul's level. ╩I could make my case with numbers and stats, as Paul's statistical advantages over Williams are very clear, but instead I'll take my nerd glasses off and keep it simple. ╩Returning to Barkley's statement, one big difference between the two is that Paul is absolutely the identity of the Hornets. ╩That team is Paul's from top-to-bottom. ╩They have taken on his personality, they look to him to lead, and his fire is the engine that runs the ship. ╩While Williams is an outstanding player for the Jazz, Paul IS the Hornets.╩

Another way to look at it is that Paul can already be compared to historical greats based upon his own merits. ╩Williams, on the other hand, can't. ╩The only way Williams can be brought into the conversation is by also invoking Paul (i.e. Paul can be mentioned with Magic, and Williams is often mentioned with Paul, so therefore Williams is a great as well). ╩Real generation-defining comparisons don't rely on this transitive property. ╩LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are compared to each other, but each has the resume to stand on his own against historical competition. ╩The same is true of Tim Duncan vs. Kevin Garnett, or Hakeem Olajuwon vs. David Robinson a generation ago, or Larry Bird vs Magic two generations ago. ╩To be a really great all-time comparison, both sides have to be historically great in their own right. ╩Williams may get there in a few years, but he isn't there yet.╩

Situations to watch and Quick Hits

Wade won't get rest down stretch: While some superstars may be rested down the stretch in order to remain fresh for the playoffs, Dwyane Wade is not likely to be one of them. ╩In an ideal world, coach Erik Spoelstra could give Wade a night off, but the Heat are tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with Philadelphia and hoping to avoid a first-round series against Orlando or Boston which means that the Flash should remain in action down the stretch.

Garnett shut down: Garnett was shut down this week after briefly attempting to return from a knee injury that's kept him sidelined for the past six weeks. ╩The full extent of the injury is still a bit nebulous to the public, but the upshot is that Garnett is unlikely to contribute meaningfully again this fantasy season and should be cut from most teams.

Thaddeus Young done: Young had been on a hot streak for the past few weeks, but a right ankle sprain likely ends his regular season. ╩Thus, he is not worthy of a roster spot in most fantasy formats.

Arenas back in spurts: Arenas has played in two games this week, and has registered a points/assists double-double in both. ╩On the other hand, Arenas also sat out two games in that stretch as well. ╩Arenas will only play in one game of any back-to-back situation, and his actual playing time is not guaranteed on any given night. ╩Nevertheless, if you've held onto him through the entire year, you should get something out him down the stretch.╩

Wallace as backup/Iverson done for the year: Rasheed Wallace will come off the bench when he returns from his one-game suspension on Saturday. ╩Pistons coach Michael Curry wants to limit Wallace's minutes to keep him fresh for the fourth quarter, so Kwame Brown will continue to start at center.
Meanwhile, Allen Iverson is done for the year due to back problems. He might return if the Pistons make the playoffs, but he's not available for your fantasy ones.╩

Chandler still out: Chandler had the cast removed from his ankle on Wednesday, and doctors will check to see if there's fluid in his inflamed left ankle. ╩He is still using a walking boot to keep his ankle stationary, and is likely out at least another week. ╩This puts the best case secenario for a return as the season's final three games, making him unlikely to contribute meaningfully to any fantasy teams this year.

New Additions

Jason Thompson (51% owned): Thompson continues to have a solid rookie season, and is taking advantage of the youth movement that the Kings are undergoing. ╩Thompson is averaging 15 points and 9.3 boards over the last week, including a 14-point/19-rebound effort on Wednesday against the Warriors.

Shane Battier (50% owned): Battier is finishing the season strong after injuries and team role derailed him for much of the year. ╩He's averaging 16.5 points, 5.0 boards, 3.5 assists, 3.0 treys, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals over the last week and would make a great pick-up in the half of the Yahoo leagues in which he is currently unowned.

Chris Andersen (47% owned): Andersen continues to block shots at a high rate, averaging 3.3 per game over the last week. ╩For those in need of a last-second boost in blocks, he makes a nice addition. Ronny Turiaf (45% owned) is another shot-blocking role player available in most leagues.

Beno Udrih (44% owned): Udrih continues his solid play for the Kings, with averages of 11.8 points, 6.8 assists and 5.0 boards over the last week. ╩As a starting point guard with decent production, Udrih should be owned in more than half of Yahoo! Leagues.

Andres Nocioni (43% owned): Nocioni has become an impact player off the bench for the Kings, and is one of their primary scorers. ╩He's averaging 17 points, 5.3 boards, and 2.5 treys over the last week and is definitely fantasy-worthy down the stretch of the season.

D.J. Augustin (25% owned): Augustin seems to have gotten through the rookie wall that had stopped him in recent months, and is back to averaging 15 points and 2.3 treys per game over the last week.

Anthony Randolph (22% owned): Randolph has become a walking double-double for the Warriors, averaging 12 rebounds, 11.7 points, 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals over the last week. ╩The Warriors and their fans are excited about Randolph, and he could help some lucky fantasy owners get excited about their own teams down the stretch as well.╩

Brandon Rush (23% owned): Rush has become a primary scorer for the Pacers down the stretch, second only to Danny Granger in the offensive pecking order in recent games. He's averaging 23 points on 59.6 percent shooting from the field with 5.7 boards and 2.0 treys over the last week.

Eddie House (12% owned): House is playing a larger part in the Celtics offense of late as they look to replace the scoring production from Kevin Garnett. ╩House also does better as a scoring guard than as a point guard, and now that Stephon Marbury has gotten up to speed, House can play to his strength.╩

Article first appeared 4/3/09