Friday, February 25, 2005

Weekend Preview

The surprising thing is, with all this movement in the NBA this week, there really aren’t too many guys who are obviously going to gain a lot of value. Sure, Mo Williams is now a quality PG in Milwaukee, and Baron Davis might decide that he wants to play in Golden State, but there’s no big-time winners or losers this year – yet. Now that all the movement is done (at least for a bit), it’s time for teams to settle into their stretch-run rotations – starting with this weekend. What teams, positions and players are we going to keep a close watch on? These ones:

The Atlanta Hawks – As my FBB cohort mentioned yesterday, somebody – anybody – is going to have to step up for the Hawks for the last 30 games. Antoine Walker took the most shots on the team, was their leading rebounder, and contributed 3.7 assists per game. Basically, he had the ball in his hands a whole lot. But now? They’ve gotten rid of him, picked up Gary Payton (who will never play) Michael Stewart (ditto) and Tom Gugliotta, who might play but you’ll never know it. So who’s going to make up those 20 points and 9 boards?

Look for Al Harrington to play the pre-Kidd Richard Jefferson role for the rest of the year. He’s the only guy who you can count on night in and night out to play 35-40 minutes and put up at least 15 points. Harrington, in fact, should bring his scoring over 20 ppg, pick up some more rebounds, and even see his assists numbers improve. Josh Childress should also maintain numbers like he’s had over the past 5 games – 13.8/8.8 with 1.4 steals, certainly a valuable player to have. Josh Smith will continue to be blocks machine and contribute a little in points and boards. But be sure of this: over the next couple months, Tyronne Lue will be a serviceable, if not spectacular, point guard. If you’re desperate for assists, keep an eye on him this weekend, tonight at Portland and Sunday in LA against the Clippers.

The Milwaukee Bucks – Now, there aren’t many people talking about this, but here’s something that I just don’t understand. The Bucks are 22-30. They are in last place in the Central division, 4.5 games out of a playoff spot, and have no real prospects that are going to get better down the line. So what do they do? They trade away a couple of their main-rotation guys, in order to clear up cap space so they can re-sign their top player, and keep this team in tact. Excuse me? Why, exactly, are they so desperate to keep this team together?

Whatever. I’m not here to play GM, I’m here to play fantasy GM. Now that the Bucks have moved Keith Van Horn and Mike James (who combined for 50 minutes and 21 points a game) for pretty much nothing, someone is going to get a chance to step up. As you already know, Mo Williams is one of those guys. But if I had to pick one other guy to really pick up some value, it would be FBB favorite Marcus Fizer, who I continue to believe would be a quality NBA player if just given the minutes. Also in line for a bump in value are Joe Smith and Toni Kukoc, but not a huge bump. I could be wrong, though, so watch the Bucks closely at home this weekend against Toronto tonight, and Seattle on Sunday.

Game of the Week(end)
Sacramento at Philadelphia, Saturday, 7:30 PM.
Duh. Like we were gonna pick any other game! Obviously, all eyes will be on Matt Barnes, as he goes up against his old team for the first time. Also Chris Webber, I guess. But really, the game is going to be filled with drama, and it will be interesting to see how quickly AI and Webber start to gel. We already know how the Kings will play without Webber, but the battle between Kenny Thomas and Darius Songaila should be a developing story.

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