Monday, February 28, 2005

As the Point Guard Turns

Ah, the frustrations of fantasy basketball. Two players who I’ve been begging to get more playing time finally get put into situations where they are going to see that time … and I miss out on both of them. Bah. Lots and lots of post-deadline PG situations to look at today, so let’s get to it. With most fantasy trading deadlines fast approaching, this could be the last real chance to improve your team for the stretch run.

The Celtics situation is far from resolved. After Gary Payton was shipped to Atlanta, Delonte West – who played a total of 120 minutes in the NBA prior to the trade – stepped directly into the starting lineup the past two games and in 37 mpg put up 17.5/5.0/2.5 with 2.5 3s, 1.5 steals and 1 block on 64% shooting. Wow. The assists are low, which isn’t surprising, and he should be looked at as more of a SG than a PG. But the 3s and steals are very welcome, and he’s obviously a hot pickup. That said, Payton could be back in the fold very shortly. The Celtics will probably welcome him back if he wants to come back, but you have to wonder, should they? In their two games without him, with their new lineup featuring the rejuvenated Antoine Walker and West, they’ve won tough road games at Utah and (an admittedly Steve Nash-less) Phoenix. It could be that this lineup of fresh legs is the way to go. Grab, West, hold on to Payton, but if The Glove comes back, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them both have middling value at best. In his first game with C-Webb, Allen Iverson racked up 14 assists. The guy’s just having a phenomenal year. If the 76ers can get past the Celtics for the Atlantic Division crown, it will be hard to deny him the MVP. Jason Kidd is #7 on the 30-Day Rater. He’ll be one of the more interesting draft choices next year. He’s obviously still worthy of a first-round pick, but how many people will be scared by his knee? A quiet week for Rafer Alston, both production-wise and blowup-wise. I’m sure his owners will take it, though. Only 29.7 mpg in his last three isn’t reason for concern, but it’s a slightly interesting trend to watch. If you can buy low on Stephon Marbury right now, I’d do it. The Knicks only have three guards on their active roster and one of those is the always-fragile Penny Hardaway. Expect Steph to see close to 40 mpg from here on out and to put up big numbers.

The Pistons are clicking on all cylinders. Wait, I didn’t even mean for it to come out that way. Even if Shaq is completely healthy come conference finals time, the Pistons are looking like the team to beat in the East. Chauncey Billups continues his strong play and Carlos Arroyo is thriving in his backup role. The Pistons will have one of the best PG duos in the league over the next three years should they hold onto both of them. I suppose that technically Jeff McInnis is the PG in Cleveland, even though I talk about LeBron here all the time. But I mean, there’s no news to report and it sure is a lot more fun to talk about LBJ than Jeff McInnis. Random LeBron thought of the day: I have one of these. I was thinking it’d be going for more. Oh well. It was bittersweet seeing Kirk Hinrich lay it on my beloved Wiz on Friday night. Check out his mpg in the last six – 42.8. Expect this to continue as the Bulls push not only for a playoff spot, but first round home-court advantage. He’s still not getting as many assists as you’d like, but he’s going to be a stud from here on out. As for Chris Duhon, well he’s seen 29.8 mpg in his last four, including three games of 30+. He’s hitting open 3s, getting assists and a few steals. That said, he’s #119 on the 15-Day Rater. Still, if you have PG games to make up, he’s not a bad option. I do other things besides obsess fantasy basketball. In fact, I’m in a band. (We both are, actually.) One thing I always have problems with is writing lyrics. Always drawing a blank. Maybe I’ll write a song about how much I hate Jamaal Tinsley. The chorus could go, “Day-to-day, why don’t you just go away?” Does that sound like a hit to you? Hmm, oh well. In any case, Tinsley is on the short list for most frustrating player in the league this year. Great numbers when he’s out there, but he’s absolutely killing his owners right now by being on the bench (not the IL), at a time in the season where most owners are cycling through all of their players in order to use their games in hand. It’s really starting to look like he won’t be a contributor the rest of the year. (Yes, I’m trying reverse psychology. Yes, I realize that actually saying that means it won’t work.) Anthony Johnson is still not an option – he needs to play basically a perfect game just to be an average fantasy contributor. We’re past the point of saying Mo Williams should be picked up. The question is who are his comparables as far as value for the rest of the season. BV pointed out his numbers earlier today, and they are tasty. Here’s his deal: plenty of assists, very few 3s, average steals and scoring. Think normal Andre Miller for a good comp. If you need assists more than 3s, he’s your man.

The Damon Jones binge continues. I like him better than Quentin Richardson for 3s from here on out. Gilbert Arenas got in one last monster game before Larry Hughes returns, going for 43/7/3 with 7 3s and 2 steals. Watching him and Mike Bibby duel was really a treat. There was also a Steve Blake sighting, which I couldn’t let pass. In 34 minutes he went for 17/5/5 with 2 3s and a steal. It’s all about opportunity, people. There’s just not that much separating Blake from Dan Dickau. Remember when the Magic were one of the year’s better stories? When they finish 37-45, four games out of the playoffs, those memories will be even more distant than they are now. Still, at least they’re getting Jameer Nelson in there. I was clamoring for it, and in his first two starts he was good for 13.5/8.0/6.5 with 1 steal on 50% shooting. Now there’s some talk that he creates bad defensive matchups and that his spot in the starting lineup isn’t completely secure. Eh. I’d still take my chances. I maintain he’ll be a Jamaal Tinsley type, although it looks like he’ll be more valuable on the boards and he might not his as many 3s as of yet (it took Tinsley a few years). Hopefully he won’t inspire me to write hateful songs about him. Oh right, I didn’t get him, so he won’t. As for how this affects Steve Francis … he’s still the same incredibly overrated player he’s always been. And now he’ll have fewer assists. Brevin Knight has seen 30+ in two straight. You know what you’re getting. He’s like a rich man’s Rick Brunson. Or something like that. Tyronn Lue alert! In his four games since returning from injury, he’s received 36 minutes, and put up 15.3/2.8/7.0 with 0.5 steals and 1.0 3s. Solid, but a few things to notice: The assists are a bit high, expect him to be closer to 5. The 3s and steals are about right. He should be closer to 1.5 3s, but he’s never been a top thief. He’s seeing plenty of PT now, and should for the near future. But I’ll echo the rest in thinking that those 13 year-old kids at the end of the Hawks bench might start taking his time as we get closer to April.

There’s an emerging trend in San Antonio, and that’s of Tony Parker being the secondary scoring option behind Tim Duncan. He averaged 20.4 ppg in February compared to Manu Ginobili’s 16.5. Man is that PG situation in Dallas frustrating. After scoring 18 points in three games, Jason Terry goes off for 27 on Saturday. Don Nelson needs to keep him in the lineup, although it should be said that in Terry’s two best games in February, the Mavs lost both times. That probably doesn’t mean much. You have to stick with him and hope that maybe Brad Miller lays another one into Devin Harris, and Darrell Armstrong too, while he’s at it. Although that would certainly upset this guy. It’s just wrong, I tell you. Who’s the one who’s been yapping endlessly about Mike James all year? Me. Who snagged him the moment he got traded to Houston. BV. That stands for Bastard Verymuch. Hmm, I could have probably done better. Oh well. So out of all of the newly valuable PGs, it should come as no shock that I like James the best. Bob Sura’s on the IL, Rod Strickland was given the boot, Andre Barrett’s on the IL … yeah, Moochie Norris and his hair are around, but this is James’s show, and that was very evident as they put him in the starting lineup in his first game and he was good for 19/2/3 with 3 steals and 3 3s in 34 minutes. This is an especially good game, but he will be solid. Don’t expect tons of assists, but the 3 and steals will be there. Until Sura gets back, he’s got every chance to be as good as, say, Chucky Atkins. Remember, Atkins is the 62nd best player in the league this year, fantasy-wise. That’s good. Ho-hum in Memphis. Jason Williams is the man, but you’ll have to deal with games like Saturday when Earl Watson is the better player and J-Will gets only 23 minutes. I like Mike James more as long as Sura’s out, unless you really need assists. We got our first look at post-trade deadline New Orleans and it wasn’t pretty at all. That’s a very Hubie-esque looking box score, with 10 guys seeing at least 14 minutes and no one logging more than 35. Dan Dickau stepped up with 22 points, 3 assists and 3 3s, but if you can sell high right now, you might want to try. He’s playing for a contract, so you know he’ll look to put up numbers, but his PT is in the hands of Byron Scott. As for Speedy Claxton, he might be able to salvage some value, but if they keep sharing time like that in the Big Easy, it will be tough for anyone to really distinguish themselves.

We’re approaching 2,000 words. Sports Guy would be proud. My employer wouldn’t be. Luke Ridnour is on the verge of uselessness. I guess you can throw out yesterday’s game because it was a blowout early on, but that’s still one decent game out of his last four. He’s lucky Antonio Daniels has hit a rough patch as well. It’s unlikely Ridnour will be removed from the starting lineup all season, but he’s no Mike James. Sam Cassell has been every bit as frustrating as Jamaal Tinsley this year. Even more so. Sammy owners, I feel for ya. He’s slowly working his way to the point where he can re-enter the starting lineup. With Latrell Sprewell looking like he might have finally turned it around (someone should fine me for saying that), if Sammy can come back the Wolves can make that push to get swept by the Spurs in the first round. Continue to be patient. But then again, what else can you do? You think Andre Miller was glad to see Earl Boykins banished to the bench. Maybe it’s a mental thing. Boykins still saw almost 30 mpg off the bench, just slightly below what he was getting as a starter, but it still made all the difference in the world for Miller. Hopefully George Karl makes this a permanent change. It’s best for everyone; even Boykins might hold his value. But probably not. He won’t make it to the line 16 times every game. Yesterday was the first time Damon Stoudamire was held to single digits since Jan. 2. He’s been over 20 only once in the past five games. Is his run over, or should you buy low? The minutes are still there, so I’m buying (relatively) low. Keith McLeod should be a top point guard option from here on out. Ha, just making sure you’re still paying attention this far in. You should be, I mean, is your job really any more exciting? Well, it’s gotta be more exciting than the Jazz PG situation, at least.

Leandro Barbosa got plenty of PT with Steve Nash out (36.3 mpg), but didn’t light it up, all things considered: 15.3/4.7/3.7 with 1.7 steals and 1 3. Very solid, but on the Suns it’s easy to have high expectations. Since Nash is likely to miss a couple more games as we wind down, he’s a good guy to have around for single game fill-ins. I always say how much I love Mike Bibby. No, not that like that. Not entirely like that, at least. He’s always been better in real life than fantasy, but this is the year that’s changed, and with Chris Webber taking his Monistat 7 to Philly, Bibby will be a total stud the rest of this year and next year and the year after, etc. He’s #13 on the Rater, #4 in the last 30 Days and just might be a late-first rounder next year. Maybe. Chucky Atkins will be up and down with Kobe Bryant back, but his 3s will keep him valuable. Rick Brunson is fine for those of you who need assists, but he just doesn’t shoot/score. He was getting a lot more 3s last time he saw lots of PT. Not this time. Poor man’s Brevin Knight, right? And finally, the Warriors. Good to see Baron Davis out there. Hard to see him coming off the bench too much longer, and the Warriors probably want to keep his minutes down so as not to risk an injury in a meaningless season (insert Warriors meaningless season joke here), but he might want to show his new home crowd that he’s still got it. Derek Fisher owners should get ready for the letdown. After averaging 43 mpg in his last four, he was back down to 33 last night. Still put up an awesome 19/4/2 with 3 steals and 3 3s, once his minutes slip into the 20s, his time will be up. That said, it’s not like he isn’t signed for another 5 years, so the Warriors might as well keep running him out there because like it or not, he’s a part of their future.

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