Friday, November 05, 2004

Weekend Preview (11/5-11/7)

Houston and Sacramento are winless...while the Clippers and the Bulls are undefeated! What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. We could learn plenty this weekend though, as 20 of the league's 30 teams play twice over the three-day span. We'll witness the debuts of Andres Nocioni, Ben Gordon and Luol Deng in Chicago, see if Tracy McGrady can nudge his ppg over 20, and see if Michael Ruffin can even slow down the Diesel (probably not). Here are a few more things to watch on opening weekend:

Game Of The Week(end)
Sacramento at Houston (Sat. 8:30 EST) - While Tracy McGrady will be in the spotlight, many fantasy owners will be keeping their eyes on Sacramento's own sharpshooter, Peja Stojakovic. He's shooting only 27% from the field, and has only connected on 2 3-pointers in his first two games. On the other side of the ball, be sure to watch Maurice Taylor a bit closer that usual. He shot 2 3's in his first game, making one, and shot another one in the next Houston game (which he missed). Nonetheless, if a borderline fantasy player (he gets you 12 pts, 5 boards, and decent FG% already) starts making a three every other game, he's worth picking up.

The Battle of the Baby Bigs
The top two picks of the draft are getting off to a great start. Dwight Howard is making Kwame Brown cringe, and Emeka Okafor is living up to the "he's ready" hype, while showing even more than expected on the offensive side of the ball. While Howard will certainly have his ups and downs, Okafor could be a very solid performer all year long. He only gets one shot to impress us this weekend, and it will be against Howard and the Magic on Saturday in Charlotte.

Finding the Net(s)
One game down for the Nets, one player in double figures other than Richard Jefferson. Don't look for Zoran Planinic to keep lighting it up, however, if he only gets 21 mpg. The more likely contributor? How about Ron Mercer, who played 32 minutes (1 less than RJ), took 11 shots (again, just 1 less that RJ), and even got a block! Remember, until he got relegated to a bench role after being traded to the Pacers, Mercer was a 15-point, 3 board, 3 assist kinda guy. Not gonna win you any championships, but he's worth a Util spot if he can keep getting 30+ minutes. Meanwhile, if this Richard Jefferson-led Nets team doesn't remind you of the Juwan Howard-led Wizards of the late '90s, you're just not paying attention.

Give the Guy a Shot!
In a move only noticed by people who are way too tied up with basketball, the Bucks dropped one underachieving draft pick (Marcus Haislip) for another (Marcus Fizer). Not only does coach Terry Porter not have to learn a new name, but he might have added a nice weapon to his arsenal. Fizer is one of those guys that produces whenever he gets minutes - the problem is, he never actually gets those minutes. Over his career, he's averaged over 23 points and 10.9 boards per 48 minutes. He was the 4th overall pick in the 2000 draft, and for some reason nobody wants to let the kid play. This probably won't change in Milwaukee, but it's something to keep in the back of your mind.

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