Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Checking in on the ... Nuggets

It’s been a tumultuous season for the Nugs. Expectations were high … but Carmelo Anthony’s friend wasn’t, because he left his weed in ’Melo’s bag. In some ways, I think that Kiki Vandeweghe almost didn’t mind the team’s rough start because it gave him a good excuse to get rid of Jeff Bzdelik, who he obviously didn’t care for. But team has never really had a chance to gel, starting from the first game of the season when Voshon Lenard went down with a torn ACL. His outside presence has been missed, but you’d think that a team whose other four starters include a #1 overall pick, a #2 pick, a #3 pick and a #8 pick (not to mention a #5, a #6, a #7 and a #9 on the bench) would be better than 23-28, even with Lenard. But Anthony has been fighting injuries all year, Kenyon Martin has been banged up a bit, Marcus Camby is Marcus Camby, and Nene just went down with a bum knee. But all hope is not lost for the Nuggets who find themselves in 11th place in the conference, three games behind in the race for the last playoff spot. The team is 6-3 since George Karl took over, and if they can get over their road woes and win their final two games before the break at Atlanta and Charlotte, the team will be in a good position to sneak into the playoffs, as 17 of their final 29 games will be played in Denver. So what’s this all mean for your fantasy squad? Let’s see.

Let’s start with Kenyon Martin. Looking at his career stats, it’s amazing how consistent he’s been, especially over the past three years. After two straight years of 16.7 ppg, he’s at 15.8. His assists have gone from 2.4 to 2.5 to 2.6. Steals from 1.3 to 1.5 to 1.5. Blocks from 0.9 to 1.3 to 1.0. FG% between 47 and 49, FT% between 64 and 68. This should tell us that this is the player K-Mart is, and at #47 on the Player Rater, he was probably overvalued on draft day. But I’m still holding out hope for a more impressive final third. With both Camby and Nene likely to be fighting injuries from here on out, K-Mart will be depended on more. Before playing just 30 minutes in a blowout against the Nets on Sunday, K-Mart saw 43 minutes in back to back games. If George Karl keeps him out there, expect K-Mart to bump his numbers up to his current February line, which sees him with increased scoring, steals and blocks.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Andre Miller owners might have a reason to be worried. Not only has Miller scored in single digits in five of the nine games since Karl took over, but Earl Boykins is starting to steal some of his assists. Miller had 22 assists in the two game prior to Boykins joining the starting lineup. He had 9 in the next two. This is definitely a situation to watch. Miller needs those assists. His 6.4 per game might not seem all that great, but it’s good for 11th in the league. He can’t afford for that number to drop closer to 5, because he doesn’t hit enough 3s to make up for it. He’s a great shooter and will always get his roughly 1.5 spg, but you’ve got to be concerned about that #105 ranking in the last 15.

How about little Earl Boykins? First off, I’m a fan if only because whenever the Nuggets are on TV and he’s on the court, my girlfriend enjoys watching him scoot around and isn’t complaining that we’re watching basketball. As for his fantasy prospects … I’m still not sold. Getting 30+ minutes a night is a great start, but Boykins problem is that he just doesn’t do that one thing especially well. Let’s take his season stats and pro-rate them to 33 minutes, which might be a bit generous. Here’s what we get: 15.3/2.3/4.7 with 1.0 3s and 1.1 steals. Actually, that’s pretty solid, but like I said, it may be a bit generous. His 92% free throw shooting is a thing of beauty, though, and with more PT he should be even better than the 9th best in that category. I’m starting to sell myself on him, but I just have a hard time seeing him consistently getting 30+ minutes. If the trade deadline passes without the Nuggets adding a shooting guard, he should be a nice utility player for the rest of the season.

Marcus Camby … there’s not much to say about Marcus Camby. He’s had just about every minor injury possible this year, but he’s avoided the serious back problems that made him a perennial most hated fantasy player. When he plays, there are only a handful of players who can help you more in rebounds and blocks. He’s avoided a major injury for one and a half seasons now. I’m not going to pretend to be Will Carroll and know if that means anything, but it seems like you can count on him for 75% of the games from here on out. We’ll see.

As for ‘Melo … I’ve never been a fan, but I didn’t expect his season to be this much of a disaster. He’s missed only 7 games to injury, but he still finds himself at #105 on the Player Rater. That’s not what you want from what was probably your third or fourth round pick. Here’s his problem, which is pretty simple: he’s a player whose value comes from his scoring. As a general rule, players whose strongest category is points are overrated, and the hype machine on ‘Melo obviously didn’t help. But while his scoring isn’t down much this year, his 40% shooting and lack of an outside game make him a middling fantasy player. He’d seem a logical buy-low candidate, but his hype still makes him overvalued. The team who drafted him in the 4th round in my league is in 9th place. That sounds about right. Until he shows another skill besides averaging one point for every shot he takes, he’s not someone to have on your team.

Horrible break for Nene owners who were holding on to him waiting for the inevitable Camby breakdown. He probably wasn’t in lineups the game Camby got hurt, when Nene went for 17/8/4. He probably was in there the next game when he himself went down. He’ll be out for at least five games with a sprained MCL, and that doesn’t sound good. Put him on IL, of course, but it’s starting to look like he won’t get an extended chance to show what he can do this year, which is a shame. Let’s hope he gets dealt somewhere he can start. Check out his numbers in 9 games as a starter this year: 15.9/7.8/2.8 with 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks on … 62% shooting!


Blogger Nels said...

I realize it was a really long post... but I'm not down with the partial posting via RSS/Atom. Long live full text!

10:29 AM  
Blogger DM said...

I have no idea what you are talking about. My expertise is limited to writing in Word, pasting into Blogger, bolding player names and throwing in the occasional hyperlink. Any idea on how to fix our problem?

11:10 AM  

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