Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fading Hopes

Every year there are guys who get a whole lotta hype and then end up disappointing all of their fantasy owners. This year was no exception - every owner who took Samuel Dalembert, Erick Dampier, Gerald Wallace or Eddy Curry (2 years in a row now, Eddy!) for example, can't help but be very unhappy with their decision. But to be honest, no one was really expecting these guys to be studs this year, and none of them went much before the 5th round in most fantasy drafts. There was an understood level of risk associated with all of them.

But there are a few more established players that went in the first couple rounds of your draft, who aren't just underperforming - it's much worse than that. A couple of them may not be slumping, but rather just playing at their normal level, which just happens to be much lower than you anticipated. Let's take a look at who might have been taken in the first couple rounds for the last time:

Yao Ming, C (HOU) - While Yao certainly isn't a 'dud', if he continues his current level of play you'll have trouble convincing me he's even worth a late-second round pick. For a guy who's supposed to be the next dominant center, he's had major trouble on the stat sheet. He doesn't get you 20 points, 10 rebounds, or even 2 blocks. His scoring (17.9 ppg so far this year) is nice, but every pick in the first couple rounds outside of Ben Wallace should be getting you 20 points. Here's a little player comparison, using career stats:

Player A: 12.8 rebounds and 5.3 blocks per 48 minutes.
Player B: 13.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per 48 minutes.

Player B, of course, is Yao. Player A? The biggest (size-wise) bust of all-time, Shawn Bradley. Bradley has been considered soft by just about every analyst out there. What does it say about Yao when he's blocking about half as well, and rebounding about the same, as Shawn Bradley? If you took Yao in the 1st round this year, you've learned your lesson. He's a 3rd-rounder next year unless he really picks up his game.

Shaquille O'Neal, C (MIA) - I'll admit it. For a number of years, Shaq was one of my least favorite players in the league. I thought he was just a big body that moved around at will in the paint, played selfish ball and didn't have much skill. However, I also thought he was one of the most valuable fantasy players in the league. Now my feelings have switched. I love the way he's playing in Miami right now, letting Dwayne Wade be a star, but his value as a fantasy player had plummeted.

It's no secret that Shaq's biggest liability is his free throw shooting. But this year he has sunk to a new low, shooting just 45% from the line. Opposing teams are taking note, and his FTA are the highest they've been since 2000. He's starting to show signs of slowing down, though, picking up more personal fouls per game (4.4) than at any point in his career. That's a good sign that he's not picking up his man as quickly as he used to, and as a result is fouling on a shot. His scoring, obviously, is way down from his peak years, but he's shooting less and at 20.3 ppg is still the top scoring center (unless Dirk qualifies at C in your league). Shaq might be a late-second rounder next year, but age and injury concerns might push him into the third.

Carmelo Anthony, F (DEN) - Let's do another Player A/Player B:

Player A:
Year 1: 37 mpg, 22/6/2, 1.1 3's, 1.4 steals, 45% FG, 80% FT
Year 2: 40 mpg, 20/6/4, 1.1 3's, 1.2 steals, 45% FG, 81% FT

Player B:
Year 1: 36 mpg, 21/6/3, 0.8 3's, 1.2 steals, 42% FG, 77% FT
Year 2: 36 mpg, 20/6/3, 0.4 3's, 1.3 steals, 40% FG, 73% FT

Player B, of course, is Carmelo Anthony. Player A? None other than the first 2 years of Glenn Robinson. Now, keep in mind that Robinson was 21 and 22 years old in those 2 years, and Carmelo was 19 last year and 20 (surprise!) this year. Nonetheless, the stats are scary close. When my fantasy basketblog cohort pointed this out to me recently, I scoffed, but at this point I think he might be right. Melo's age might keep him up in the 3rd round for another year or two, but after awhile, if he doesn't improve his numbers (particularly his boards and 3's), I'd have trouble picking him before the 4th round, at best. Think Corey Maggette-type value.


Blogger Nels said...

Might want to revise this - in the Yao Ming part, you refer to all basketball players outside of the first two rounds as "spicks." I think you meant to say "picks" so I thought I'd warn you before anyone gets offended.

5:17 PM  

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