Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Depths of Western Conference Point Guards

OK, let’s finish up this point guard thing. Before we do that, though, let’s revisit the East really quickly. Remember when I was discussing the Nets situation and said: “Vaughn is not a scorer, he won’t even get you any 3s, and he won’t get many steals either. He’s the better bet of the two for now, but add him only if you are truly desperate for assists.” Well, forget about that. In the Nets last two games, Vaughn has played a total of 21 minutes, while Zoran Planinic has averaged 36 mpg, 13.5 points, 7.5 reb, 4 ast, and 2 steals. It would still be nice to see more assists from Zoran, but he seems to have taken the upperhand in this battle and should be worth picking up if he’s out there.

Dallas Mavericks

This situation is pretty messy. Devin Harris has been getting the starting nod, but he’s averaging just 18 mpg, which isn’t enough to have any value. He’s played only 23 minutes combined in the last two games, as with Michael Finley out Don Nelson seems to be looking for a more veteran presence. Harris is probably worth hanging on to if you have the space, but he’s certainly not worth using right now. Jason Terry still hasn’t gotten too acclimated to the big D yet, at least not for fantasy purposes. The team is winning, so there’s little reason to tinker, which is bad news for Terry owners, as the 27.5 mpg he’s receiving now keeps him right on the play/bench border. You certainly can’t drop him, considering that you probably spent a fairly early draft pick on him, and chances are he’ll emerge from the pack here, so be patient. Marquis Daniels is a favorite of mine, and if someone dropped him, you must grab him now. He was recovering from an injury to start the season, but has averaged nearly 35 mpg over the last four contests, and has put up a solid 15.5/5/2.5 line with 1.5 steals. Not earth-shattering, but the kid can play. Right now none of these three players are much more than utility players, though, and it could stay that way for a while.

Houston Rockets

People thought Tyronn Lue and Charlie Ward would battle it out for PG duties, but Ward looks to have the definite upperhand, averaging nearly 35 mpg over the last five. He saw more time with McGrady out and played only 28 minutes with T-Mac back in the lineup, which is cause for concern. But what’s more cause for concern are his very pedestrian numbers of 7.8/3.4/4.1. He is getting 1.6 3pg and 1.4 spg, so those of you desperate for help at the point could do worse, but not much. Checking out his career numbers, you know things just won’t get much better.

New Orleans Hornets

OK, this is sort of a trick one. With Baron Davis out (already, ugh), Darrell Armstrong becomes a must-start in all leagues. He’s long in the tooth but is still a top fantasy contributor when he gets the PT, and one needs only to look at the Hornets first game without Baron to see that. In 35 minutes of action Armstrong totaled 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting, including 5-of-9 from downtown. He also chipped in 5 assists and 2 steals. He won’t get that many 3s every night, but his numbers should be somewhere around 16 pts, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 3s as long as Baron is out, which any team could use.

Seattle Supersonics

A very interesting PG situation shaping up in Seattle, where it looks like both Antonio Daniels and Luke Ridnour could have considerable value. Ridnour, who looked totally overmatched last year has been a revelation early on, averaging 6.4 assists, 1.9 steals, and nearly a 3 a game in 30 mpg. Daniels, meanwhile, is the Sonics third-leading scorer at 14.4 ppg. The Sonics are using a crunch time lineup that sees both Daniels and Ridnour out on the floor together. Because Ridnour is handling the point, with Daniels at the 2 (and Ray Allen at the 3), Ridnour is the better bet right now. But with both of them playing so well, a slump by one could lead to increased minutes by the other. More likely, they will both continue to see around 30 mpg, and when the Sonics stop winning 6 out of every 7 games, their values will both drop. We like Ridnour more long-term and think he should be picked up.

Utah Jazz

The Jazz have gotten off to their fast start with neither of their top two point guards playing a minute, which is quite impressive. Keith McLeod and Howard Eisley have done fine work in place of Raul Lopez and Carlos Arroyo, but both will get well acquainted with the bench when those two return. But the fact that there are seemingly four capable point guards in Utah certainly can’t make owners of Arroyo happy. Those of you hoping for much improvement over his 12.6 points and 5 assists of last year probably aren’t going to see it. Jerry Sloan likes to spread the wealth, and even though the team is super solid, Boozer and Kirilenko are the only sure-fire fantasy starters on this squad.

Los Angeles Clippers

Marko Jaric has long been a favorite of mine, but I finally gave up on him after a few games this year, opting to pick up Ridnour instead. Of course, Jaric then went out and put up a 19/5/8 game with 3 steals and 3s the next night, but he’s done that before. It was still the first game this season that he had more than 4 assists, and Shaun Livingston is only going to get more time as the season goes on and the Clippers inevitably fall out of the race. Jaric has always been a good source of steals and 3s, so he’s always intriguing, but chances are he will continue to be just a tease. You could take flyers on worse players, but I’ve been let down plenty of times before, and you should prepare to be as well.

Golden State Warriors

Derek Fisher and Speedy Claxton are in a true timeshare right now, with each averaging right around 27 mpg. Neither has been able to assert themselves, as Fisher followed a 23-point game with a 2-point game, and Claxton followed an 18-point, 9-assist game by getting hurt. Neither player has a huge upside, as Fisher has never been one to rack up assists (although he was often really the 2 to Kobe’s 1 in L.A.) and Claxton has no long-range game to speak of. This is a situation that really changes from day to day, as Fisher’s 15-point, 7-assist performance last night gives him the momentum, but who knows what will happen next time out? This is a team searching for anything that will work, and nothing has so far. I would stay away from both, but lean slightly towards Claxton. He could be a solid Eric Snow circa 2000 player, but has proven fragile. A long-term injury to either would obviously make the other a no-brainer pick-up.

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