Monday, February 14, 2005

As the Point Guard Turns

Time for our weekly journey around the league looking at the position most important to fantasy players everywhere.

A very low-scoring week for Gary Payton, as he averaged only 9.5 ppg in four contests. He’s still a fine second PG. You think Allen Iverson will win player of the week honors? I mean, he only averaged 42.7/5.0/8.0 with 3 steals and 1.7 3s. Call it a hunch, but those owners who snagged Jason Kidd in the 6th or 7th round and stashed him away for the first few months are probably rocketing toward the top of your league’s standings. The Rafer Alston situation seems to be under control for the time being, as he averaged 14.3/3.7/7.7 in (most importantly) 39.3 mpg since the latest incident. Milt Palacio saw just 49 total minutes in the last three, so let him go … for now. Thanks to two overtime games, Stephon Marbury averaged 44.3 mpg this week. He’s never quite dominant, but his durability and consistency from the PG position are quite valuable. Still, I’d like him a whole lot better as my team’s second best player.

Chauncey Billups has averaged 34.9 mpg in the eight games that Carlos Arroyo has played for the Pistons. He’s averaging 37.4 in non-Arroyo games. Not much of a change, but maybe something to keep in mind. Even with Ira Newble still out, the Cavs are going with a LeBron/Jeff McInnis/Sasha Pavlovic trio, leaving Eric Snow irrelevant. More assists for LBJ. You take progress wherever you can get it – Kirk Hinrich’s 41% shooting last week was his best in almost a month. Still, he’s registered 6 or fewer assists in 7 of his last 8 games. Chris Duhon continues to teeter on the brink of usefulness. His 4-3s game against the Mavs made his numbers almost respectable for the week: 9.0/3.3/4.7 with 2 3s. That’s still not doing too much for you. I told you not to expect Jamaal Tinsley back. He’s got a real chance to play 30 effective games after the all-star break, but this is two years in a row now with missing lots of games. That qualifies as a trend. Be extremely cautious next year. Anthony Johnson is basically putting up Duhon numbers in Tinsley’s absence. You can probably do better. It was somewhat disappointing to see Mike James get only 27 minutes even with Michael Redd out on Saturday, but his 18 points, 6 assists and 3 3s were very nice. The guy is #59 on the 15-Day Rater and has just one game of more than 27 minutes in that span. That’s rather amazing. Because he’s coming off the bench he’s still a risky play, but it’s hard not to put him in there right now when things are going so well.

Remember how I said it was risky to take Damon Jones out of your lineup because he could go on a 3s binge at anytime? Does 15 in three games count? It’s his best stretch since December, and hopefully he can make it last. Gilbert Arenas was actually held under 30 in two of the last three games. But he’s averaging 2.6 spg so far in February, which is downright awesome. Depending on how he plays when Larry Hughes comes back, he might be a late-first round pick next year, sneaking ahead of Marbury and ... Steve Francis responded to his all-star “snub” with a great week. He was especially aggressive, getting to the line 37 times in the last three games. Jason Hart alert! My favorite temporary PG solution might have a couple of good games in him this week if Brevin Knight’s ankle keeps him out until the break. It’s been well-documented what he can do with PT – in 33 minutes last night he went for 17/2/4 with 3 3s and a steal. Of his 19 3s on the season, 7 have come in the last four games, just another reason to get him in there. Tony Delk is too hot and cold to count on. People who put him in after back-to-back 25-point outings were given a 1-for-10 stinker on Saturday. Only for the truly desperate.

Tony Parker’s breakout season continues with 20+ points in five straight. He’s even averaged 2 3pg and 2.3 spg in his last four, but is still at 0.6 3pg and 1.2 spg for the season. Until he gets those numbers up, he still won’t be more than a #2 PG for winning fantasy teams. Jason Terry seems to have survived Don Nelson’s return, averaging 21/1/6 with 2.5 3s and 1.5 steals in 36 minutes in the past two. That’s very good. I’d rather have Terry than Parker from here on out. Bob Sura keeps rolling on. Even with only 4 points yesterday, he still chipped in 12 boards and 8 assists. He’s also a fun player to watch. Jason Williams, who has one of the funnier pictures for his Yahoo page, missed yesterday’s game and probably will sit out the last game before the break. Obviously, this makes Earl Watson a great pickup for at least one game. The break should let J-Will heal, but you never know. Watson had only 3 assists yesterday, but chipped in 16 points, a 3, a steal and 2 blocks. He’s 13.0/2.7/6.9 with 1.8 steals and 1.1 3s as a starter this year, so you know what to expect. The Dan Dickau show continues, as he pumped in a whopping 7 3s last night. Good stuff. Most impressive is his 49% shooting in 7 February games. As if to further taunt his owners, Baron Davis was activated from the IL but won’t play until after the break, making it near impossible for his owners to make roster moves. With Dickau, J.R. Smith, Casey Jacobsen and Bostjan Nachbar all playing pretty well to very well, the PT crunch when Baron comes back will be interesting. A situation where everyone gets 25-30 minutes would be horrific.

Antonio Daniels has started to assert himself in Seattle and take some of Luke Ridnour’s PT. Only 29 mpg for Ridnour in the last three, while Daniels has seen 28 and has done more with it, to the tune of 17.3 ppg. Not much help elsewhere, but anyone who saw the Thursday night game against Sacramento knows that Daniels is just as much of an option at the end of the game as Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis. Ridnour owners should be concerned, if not worried. The T’Wolves are such a ridiculous mess. It was good to see Troy Hudson in the starting lineup instead of Anthony Carter in Kevin McHale’s first game behind the bench, but he was only good for 9/1/7 with a three in 34 minutes. If he gets that much time in the next two games, he’ll be better. I’m still holding out hope for a productive final third from Sam Cassell, whenever he comes back. The insertion of Earl Boykins into Denver’s starting lineup is bad news for Andre Miller. Expect his effect on Miller’s assist totals to be similar to what Duhon is doing to Hinrich. Boykins has 10 assists in the past two games; Miller has 9. Like I’ve been saying, don’t expect Damon Stoudamire’s production to drop from its current levels as long as he’s in Portland. The guy is awesome. Raul Lopez had a very nice game Friday with 14/6/9, 4 steals and 2 3s. Still, you know my feelings on the Jazz backcourt.

It will be interesting to see how Steve Nash holds up in the final third of the season. He’s been better than ever so far in February, but has a history of tailing off. The Suns will probably be fighting the Spurs for home-court advantage, so Nash might not be able to rest too much. Mike Bibby is an all-star. That’s a fact. Get used to it, Chucky Atkins owners. In Kobe Bryant’s first game back, Chucky still saw 40 minutes, and still chucked 6 3s, but had just 11 points and 4 assists, as Kobe took a team-high 22 shots and dished a team-high 6 assists. Might we be on the verge of the Shaun Livingston era? With Marko Jaric’s feet giving him problems, and Rick Brunson being Rick Brunson, the Clips may as well see throw Livingston out there. Brunson got the start yesterday and will probably continue to do so, but Livingston scored 10 with 9 assists in 26 minutes off the bench. Don’t get carried away, though. He’s attempted only two 3s this season, so he won’t help there, and his FG% is unlikely to be higher than it’s current 42% mark. He’s a good one to keep on your bench if you have the room, but I’m not expecting anything great … this year. Speedy Claxton and Derek Fisher owners sure aren’t wishing Troy Murphy a quick recovery. In the four games that they have both been in the starting lineup, Claxton has gone for 14.5/3.3/6.8 with 1.8 steals in 36.3 mpg, while Fisher has been even better, with 22.3/4.8/3.5 with 2.8 3s and 1.5 steals in 41.5 mpg. Just huge numbers, getting him to #31 on the 15 Day Rater. He’s never produced like this in his career and is a logical sell-high candidate. Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.

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