Tuesday, January 18, 2005

As the Point Guard Turns

Well, hopefully you’ve cut bait on Rick Brunson by now. That’s how these things work – talk of the town one day, FA fodder the next. Remember that it has very little to do with talent but everything to do about opportunity. We weren’t excited about Brunson because he overnight became something more than a journeyman point guard. We were excited about him because he was the only point guard on the roster and was going to see 40 mpg. Once Darrick Martin (the brother of a former intern of mine, actually – yes, I’ve had interns) came aboard, it was apparent Brunson’s time as a relevant fantasy name was limited. Once Martin had one decent game, Brunson was done. Let’s take a quick look at some stat lines. Pre-Martin would be the 7 games Brunson started before the Clips signed Darrick, and Post-Martin … well, you can figure that out.

Pre-Martin: 36.7 mpg, 11.7 ppg, 4 rpg, 6.7 apg, 1 spg, 1.6 3pg
Post-Martin: 29.6 mpg, 5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.4 3pg

Obviously a huge drop off, as he saw his numbers fall in every category except for steals. But all this does is back up our long-standing, constantly hammered-home mantra of “It’s (almost) all about PT.” Was Brunson really playing that much worse once Martin came around? Let’s look at some per-48 minute stats. And a quick note on per-48 stats – they aren’t meant to show what a player can do, just to compare players on an equal field, sort of like OBP or SLG or OPS in baseball.

Pre-Martin Per 48: 15.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 8.7 apg, 1.3 spg, 2.1 3pg
Post-Martin Per 48: 8.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 10.2 apg, 2.1 spg, .6 3pg

OK, his scoring definitely took a hit, mainly because he wasn’t connecting from downtown. But his other rate stats were actually slightly better once Martin came along. Brunson was more or less the same exact player, but once he lost that PT, he lost is FR (fantasy relevance – this is an abbreviation I’ll start using from here on out). So once again, this proves the theory: Germans love David Hasselhoff. Er, wait. I mean, it’s all about playing time.

We’ll stick with point guards, since I am always harping on and on about how important they are and how playing the FA list correctly can give you solid PG play throughout the year. With Brunson done, there doesn’t seem to be anyone to really fill his space, so let’s offer up a few names. (Before I start I’d like to point out that in general I’m assuming we are dealing with pretty deep leagues, at least 10 teams with 10 players per team, and in most cases 12 x 12.)

Dan Dickau
It’s hard for me in good conscience to recommend Dickau and his 39% shooting. But Baron Davis is down again, and even though he may play Wednesday, Baron is at the point where you’ve gotta see him on the floor to believe it. Dickau got the start, was on the court for 37 minutes yesterday, and despite shooting just 3-for-13 managed to score 16 points thanks for 9 perfect trips to the line. He also added 6 assists and a steal. Let’s just assume Baron misses a handful of games and Dickau sees 36 mpg. Taking his rate stats, that would put him at:
15.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.6 3pg

You’d like to see more assists there, as he’s really only helping in 3s and a bit in steals and assists, while doing serious damage to your FG%.

Juan Dixon
Not a point guard, I know. Believe me, I know. I’ve seen the majority of the games he’s played since he started college, and the guy is not a point guard. That said, we love PGs because they get assists, steals and 3s. Well, Juan won’t help you too much in assists, but he certainly will in the other two. Like my fantasy basketblog cohort pointed out, Juan will rack up the steals, even if it means blowing a coverage once in a while. He got only 27 minutes in the first game of Larry Hughes’ absence (don't say I didn't warn you on Friday) yesterday, but that’s because the Wizards starters were on the bench the entire 4th quarter.

But I like Juan for a couple reasons: 1) His 4th year option wasn’t picked up earlier this year, meaning he’s playing for a contract. And he knows this is likely his best chance to showcase himself. We’ve seen what playing for a contract can do for certain players (see Hughes, Larry). 2) Juan gets steals. He hasn’t been as effective so far this year, but in just 20.8 mpg last year he swiped 1.2 per game. He’s not even cracking the Top 50 in steals per 48 right now, but look for that to change with increased playing time. With Jarvis Hayes coming on, Anthony Peeler healthy and Gilbert Arenas not needing much time off, Juan isn’t guaranteed a ton of court time. Expect him to be closer to 30 minutes than 40 minutes. Taking his rate stats and putting him at 32 mpg, we see a line of:
16.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.8 3pg
That is very similar to the numbers above for Dickau. But since Juan is likely to increase his steals and Hughes is definitely out for at least a month, I like Dixon more.

Mike James
This one is a reach. Mo Williams left the game early a couple back but was back in the starting lineup the next game. He did rack up 9 assists, but was just 1-of-6 from the field and had 3 turnovers. Meanwhile, James has been trending upwards, averging 12 ppg on 51% shooting in January. In the Bucks win on Monday it was James, not Williams, who was in the entire fourth quarter. Now, as long as they are both suiting up, neither of them are reliable options. But should Williams take a few games off to heal, James should be grabbed. I’ll just point to his stats from his 55 games with Boston last year, in which he averaged a healthy – but by no means exorbitant – 30.6 mpg: 10.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.6 3pg. It’s those last two numbers that should jump out at you. That’s what you want from point guards, and given the chance, James can deliver. He's Mike James, bitch.

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