Monday, January 31, 2005

Weekend Review

Two of the toughest players to gauge draft value for this past year were Donyell Marshall and James Posey. Marshall was a top-20, Shawn Marion-esque player when he got the minutes, which he finally got last year. Posey, meanwhile, exploded during the second half of the year, but who knew what the minutes situation would be like in Memphis. Now, it looks pretty clear that neither one is going to have much impact this year, and each had a pretty rough weekend, rough enough that we’re going to feature them during our weekend review.

How the (Sorta) Mighty Have Fallen

Donyell Marhsall, F – Marshall may have been the 4th overall pick in the draft coming out of UConn in 1994, but he only got more than 32 minutes a game once in his career, back in 1997 with the Warriors. Last year, though, after being shipped off to Toronto, Marshall started getting nearly 40 minutes a night, and he responded big-time. He averaged better than 1.2 blocks, steals, and three-pointers. That’s a claim that only Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki can make this year. His 16.2 points and 10.7 boards were career highs, and his percentages were good enough for a PF. In fact, he ended the year an incredible ninth on the Player Rater, just ahead of Tracy McGrady.

And yet, there were questions. Why had he suddenly exploded? Even we here at Fantasy Basketblog had our doubts. It just seemed a little odd for a journeyman, 31-year-old power forward to suddenly be a first-round type force in the NBA. And it turned out our doubts were valid. While Marshall hasn’t completely fallen off the face of the earth, he shouldn’t be starting in most shallow leagues. His season last year looks like it may have been a fluke, and now he’s again struggling to get minutes. He’s had flashes this year, but now a sprained wrist has forced his numbers to take yet another hit. Yesterday against the Suns, he was on the court for only 12 minutes, had 2 points, 3 boards, and an assists, with nothing else. It was the 7th time this year that he had scored under 5 points while getting over 10 minutes of court time. It may be time to cut the cord on Marshall.

James Posey, GF – Posey didn’t seem to be as big a risk as Marshall was. He certainly wouldn’t be mistaken for a top-flight fantasy player, but in his first year with Memphis, he looked like he was on his way to becoming a decent mid-round pick. Early in his career, he wasn’t even worth drafting, he was just another dime-a-dozen swingman who would hit a three now and then and maybe grab a steal or two. But in the second half of the season last year, he suddenly became more dependable, and started showing up on fantasy rosters. By the end of the year, he really helped some teams win championships. He was absolutely on fire at the end – over his last 8 games, he averaged 22.6 points, 2.3 3’s, 2.2 steals and 5 rebounds. Suddenly, he had the fantasy basketball world’s attention.

Enticed by his strong numbers at the end of the year, fantasy owners took him around the 7th round of the draft this year, ahead of players like Al Harrington, Chris Bosh and Tony Parker. Consider those that took him there to be disappointed. He suffered a sprained left foot early in the year, and missed most of November. Since returning, he’s gotten about the same minutes he had last year, 29 – but has done far less with his time on the court. For the season, he’s averaging only 8.7 points per game, with 4.8 boards, 1.3 3’s and 0.8 steals. This weekend, he returned to the IL with a strained Achilles tendon. It may be due to injury, but Posey is no longer worth owning in fantasy leagues.

Vince? Is That You?

Perhaps the biggest story that no one is talking about because they don’t want to jinx it is the re-emergence of Vince Carter in New Jersey. This weekend he posted back-to-back 30 point games, throwing in 9.5 assists, 2.5 3’s, 1.5 steals, 2.5 blocks, and 5 rebounds. What is this, 2001? What happened to your knee there, Vince? Now that he’s finally giving a "full effort" (don’t get us started on THAT one), Vince is returning to top-30 status in the fantasy basketball world. Of course, who knows when he’ll get hurt again, or stop trying on the court? He may end up being Webber-esque in his value.

Also Hot

Here at Fantasy Basketblog Headquarters, we try not to talk TOO much about our favorite team, the Washington Wizards. But lately, it’s been tough to ignore just how on fire Gilbert Arenas is. When Larry Hughes went down with injury, all the talk was about either Jarvis Hayes or Juan Dixon would really step up their scoring. And while they’ve certainly performed better than usual with the extra minutes, Gilbert Arenas has been absolutely unconscious. He’s scored over 30 points in 5 straight games and 6 of the last 7. In fact, over his last 7 games he’s averaging 3 3’s, 5.9 assists, 2 steals, and 3.4 boards to go with his 32.7 points per game. Should Hughes bolt in free agency during the offseason, Arenas could have a ton of value next year, and might be worth a mid-to-late second round pick.

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