Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Where Can You Find These Guys?

Let’s take a second to do some quick math. Let’s say that your average fantasy basketball league has 10 teams. And each team has 10 starting players on it, plus 2 bench players. That’s 120 total NBA players who are on fantasy rosters, not counting players on the IR. Now, in the NBA, there are 30 teams. That means that on average, each NBA team should be providing 4 fantasy-roster worthy players.

I had this in mind when going through the box score of a game featuring 2 of the top teams in the NBA, San Antonio and Seattle. While San Antonio has the best record in the league, it’s surprising to note that they have only three players (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobilli, and Tony Parker) who are worth owning on fantasy teams. Bruce Bowen (8.3 ppg, 1.2 3’s) and Rasho Nesterovic (5.4 ppg, 1.5 blocks) may have slight category-specific value, but you’ve really got to be in a bind to have either of those names sitting in your lineup.

What’s really notable about the Spurs, however, is that even though they’ve only got 3 players who are really producing, they don’t look anxious to mess with what’s working. Brent Barry, Devin Brown, Beno Udrih, Robert Horry … all of them are getting under 20 mpg, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change. Of course, that’s not the situation on every team with 3 or fewer producing players. So let’s take a quick look around the league at three teams where the opportunity is there to break out, and see who might have the best chance of doing just that:

Atlanta Hawks
Roster worthy players: 2 (Antoine Walker, Al Harrington)
Players with a chance to emerge: Josh Childress and Tony Delk.

Well it looks like the lovefest may be over for high-flyer Josh Smith. After seeing over 30 minutes for pretty much a month straight, he hasn’t topped 20 minutes in his last 3 games. He’s lost interest in rebounding and lost confidence from his coach. Oh, and now he’s sprained his ankle. While Delk may be a decent player, the Hawks will probably start rewarding Josh Childress with more minutes. Remember, he was the 6th overall pick this year. He has shown flashes, including 19/9 with 4 steals against Boston last month, and could be given a chance to shine as the year moves on.

New Jersey Nets
Roster worthy players: 3 (Vince Carter, Jason Kidd, Nenad Krstic)
Player with a chance to emerge: Rodney Buford.

In January, New Jersey scored an average of 93.8 ppg. Of those, Vince Carter scored 23.6, Jason Kidd scored 15.9, and Nenad Krstic scored 11.1. That meant that the entire rest of the roster scored just 43.2 points per game in January. The only one who really scored with any sort of consistency would have to be Rodney Buford, who put up 11 points of his own in 31.6 minutes of action, adding 5.3 boards, a steal and .8 3’s. He’s a classic example of a guy who’s only moderately effective, and even then it’s only because he’s getting big minutes due to injury. But hey, numbers are numbers and if you need steals and/or threes, he won’t really hurt you anywhere else.

Utah Jazz
Roster worthy players: 2.5 (Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, and maybe Mehmet Okur)
Player with a chance to emerge: Raul Lopez.

Ah, the Jazz. Talk about preseason sweethearts gone wrong, huh? But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The departure of Carlos Arroyo means that a guard spot is up for grabs. It was supposed to go to Keith McLeod, but he got hurt. So now it’s between Howard Eisley and Raul Lopez until McLeod returns. Eisley is a 32 year old veteran who has never scored 10 points or averaged 5.5 assists in his career, plus my fantasy basketblog cohort has a crush on him. I wouldn’t expect him to have much, if any, fantasy impact. Lopez, on the other hand, controls his own destiny. If he performs well until McLeod returns, he may have wedged himself into a starting spot. He has problems with foul trouble, but in the games so far where he’s had 30+ minutes, he’s averaged 17 points, 10 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.5 3’s. In case you were wondering, those are some sweet numbers.

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