Monday, November 15, 2004

Weekend Review

The Best Things in Life are Free (Throws)

OK, you might as well face it. If you own a guy like Shaq or Tim Duncan, you're going to need major help in the free throw department. Duncan went 11-24 from the stripe over the weekend, including an incredible 5-14 against Shaq and the Heat on Friday night. Not to be outdone, O'Neal went 5 of 17 on Sunday against the Bucks, bringing his year total to 28 of 76, or 36.8%. Yikes!

But these two aren't the only clankers who can kill your fantasy team. Kevin Garnett (62%), Ben Wallace (43%), Kenyon Martin (57%) and Antoine Walker (50%) are also wreaking havoc. So what can you do to offset these disasterous lines from otherwise-studly fantasy players? You might want to consider picking up/trading for some of the following players, who can help eke your percentage over the 70% mark, while not killing you in other categories:

Jerry Stackhouse (DAL) - A career 81% free-throw shooter, Stackhouse has been getting to the line 5.4 times per game, and that number could go up depending on how well he plays over the next few games with Finley out. Jerry could be a valuable asset just like Antawn Jamison was last year.

Luke Ridnour (SEA) - A Fantasy Basketblog favorite, Luke is 17-18 from the line so far this year. While 18 free throws does not a fantasy contributor make, the good news is, he's starting to get to the line more, and getting more minutes, too. After averaging 1.25 FTA over his first 4 games, his last 3 has seen him shoot 4.3 free throws a game. He'll give you nice assists, points, threes, steals ... an all-around nice point guard.

Austin Croshere (IND) - Hey, whaddya know? Give a guy some minutes, and he might just help out your team. After playing under 17 mpg each of the last three years (despite a ridiculously large contract), Croshere has taken advantage of some injuries to showcase his talents, scoring 11.6 points, grabbing 6.3 boards, hitting 1.4 3's, and shooting 95% from the line. His career average is about 85%, so he could be a nice contributor at FT% if he maintains his minutes.

Men of Steal
Don't look now, but Manu Ginobilli has been one of the 5 best fantasy players so far this year, due in large part to his 3 steals per game. Of course, he's also shattering his career highs in points, 3's, FG%, and rebounds, despite essentially getting the same amount of minutes he got last year. Don't look for this production to last (he only scored 9 points against the Hawks on Saturday) but if he keeps up his steals he could be a very valuable member of your squad. Who else is burgling? A lot of the usual suspects, but here are some folks you might not expect to see:

Kenyon Martin (DEN) - He may not be shooting, rebounding, blocking, or scoring as well as he has in the past, but K-Mart has been racking up 2 steals per game, which is very valuable from a forward. He might be a nice buy-low candidate if you can pull him from his current owner.

Andre Iguodala (PHI) - Another Fantasy Basketblog favorite, you might be able to find Iguodala on the waiver wires in your league. He's not dominating in anything, but he gives you good all-around numbers. He helps in 3's, blocks, boards, FT%, and he's stealing the ball 1.5 times a game. He's earning minutes in Philly (he got 40 last week in New Jersey), and should steadily improve those point totals.

Carmelo Anthony (DEN) - Another Nugget off to a rough start, Carmelo has picked up his scoring the last few games, and is stealing the ball almost twice a night, making him a legitimate 6-category player. You won't be able to convince his owner to give him up on the cheap, but it's worth noting that he's added another weapon to his arsenal.

It Don't Gotta Be Pretty
Even the worst teams in basketball will score a good 70 or 80 points per game. And somebody on those teams will be getting rebounds, blocks, 3's, etc. Just because a team stinks doesn't mean that you're not going to find a few fantasy gems. You just have to put up with watching the games (or at least looking at the box scores). For example:

We talked a little bit about The Bulls last week, and while they're 0-4, there were some good signs in their one-point loss to the Clippers on Saturday. Eddy Curry took advantage of 40 minutes of trade-value-raising action and laid down 20 points and 11 boards. Tyson Chandler played a season-high 36 minutes and scored 17 points, had 13 boards and 2 blocks. Meanwhile, both Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni saw their playing time slip yet again, as neither saw 30 minutes of action, and it might be time to put them on the bench for a little while. As long as the Bulls keep losing, they'll continue to tinker with their lineups and depth chart, which could make for a frustrating season for fantasy owners.

We also discussed the woes of the New Orleans Hornets, and things have gone from bad to worse, as now Baron Davis is out at least a week with a back injury. This could be a recurring problem, as he has shown no desire to actually play for the Hornets this year. With Davis out, we think that JR Smith should be getting more action, but instead it was Darrell Armstrong getting 35 minutes against the Bucks on Saturday night. If losing to the lowly Hawks on Friday night didn't wake up the coaching staff and make them realize they need to start playing for the future, then who knows what it'll take.

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