Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Afternoon Basketball Alert!!!

One of the major advantages that baseball had over all the other sports is that every Monday and Thursday, you can generally find some afternoon baseball to distract you from work. I mean, um, to enhance your work day. Or, well, whatever. You know what I mean. The important thing is, out of absolutely nowhere, the NBA has scheduled an afternoon game for today! That’s right, a marquee match-up (of sorts), right in the middle of the day. So, obviously, we’re going to preview the game for you so that you’ll know what to be watching for. So without further ado:

Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Today, 2pm EST


Each of these teams are going to have quite a bit of depth-chart-shuffling going on, and the number one thing to watch is going to be minutes. In Golden State, they are trying to figure out how much Baron Davis is going to be able to contribute, and how to work Troy Murphy back in to the rotation. In Memphis, their rotating door of swing men got another twist the other day when James Posey came off the IL, and Dahntay Jones moved on to it. Plus, they’re dealing with injuries to big men Pau Gasol and Stromile Swift. So let’s break down each team and what to look for in their fantasy-worthy players:

Golden State

Baron Davis – Yeah, we’ll start with Baron. Color us conflicted on his value over the rest of the year. On the one hand, obviously he wasn’t happy in New Orleans. The team was in the dumpster, he didn’t get along with the coach, he had nagging injuries to keep him out of games, and he missed LA so much that he left the team to rehab there. So maybe, now that he’s in a new spot, he’ll turn over a new leaf and come out and play. On the other hand, he’s still on a team that’s in the dumpster, he’s still got those nagging injuries, and sure, he’s closer to LA, but he’s not IN LA.

We’ll leave it at this – Baron is just as much of a risk now as he was at the beginning of the season. His ceiling is just as high as it was, his bottom is just as low as it was. You’re going to learn absolutely nothing today. If he plays well, he still might not show for the next game. If he sits out, he might blow up for 30 and 13 next time out. It’s just going to be hard to predict.

Derek Fisher – The biggest benefactor of the "small ball" strategy that Mike Montgomery has been using is Fisher. After seeing about 25 minutes a game in November and December, he got 31 a game in January, and finally 18.5 in February. His stats rose accordingly, and last month he put up 17.6/3.6/4.2 with 2.1 3’s and 1.9 steals. Of course, now that Baron’s in, and Speedy Claxton is out, Fisher is going to get bumped back down to 30 minutes a game or so. Of course, when Baron is out, Fisher should see 40+ minutes, so he should be able to maintain his value throughout the season.

Jason Richardson – J-Rich is enjoying the best year of his career, seeing almost 40 minutes a game and responding with career-highs in points, assists, steals, and threes. Don’t expect this to change.

Mike Dunleavy – I think Dunleavy could very well be the odd man out right now in Golden State. He’s been a disappointment thus far, and right now the Warriors have other priorities. They need to at least PLAY Adonal Foyle, if they’re stuck with his contract. Troy Murphy is a rock at the 4, or the 5 when they go to small ball. Look for Rodney White and Nik Tskitishvili to get decent minutes as the Warriors want an idea of what they’ve got. Dunleavy has been inconsistent at best, and look now for his bad games to seriously outweigh his good. He is likely trade bait in the offseason, as well.

Troy Murphy – As I said above, he’s a rock. He’ll get his 35 minutes and his points and boards. Don’t worry about him.

Adonal Foyle – Useless. I mean, yeah, 1.8 blocks, but really, you suffer so much in EVERY other category, he’s useless. Sorry.

Memphis Grizzlies

First things first …

James Posey/Mike Miller/Shane Battier/Bonzi Wells – Who knows. Nobody knows. I mean, Mike Miller probably has the most value, But he doesn’t help much outside of FG% and 3’s. Battier is totally hit or miss, as are Bonzi and Posey. Every night, a different swingman has a good night. We spent a whole lot of time on these guys earlier in the year, but it’s an exercise in futility. Just forget it.

Brian Cardinal – With Pau Gasol out seemingly forever (seriously, his season may be over) and Stromile Swift out for a bit, Cardinal is enjoying a lot of playing time. Since Swift went down, Cardinal has put up 17.3 points, 5.6 boards, 2.6 threes, and 2.3 steals in 38 minutes over the past three games. Swift has a history of being injured longer than expected, so Cardinal is a great short-term pickup.

Lorenzen Wright – We’ll be honest. Here at Fantasy Basketblog, we are NOT big fans of Lorenzen Wright. All he does is take away minutes from our favorite Grizzly, Stromile Swift. I mean, look at Wright’s 48-minute averages: 14.4/13.1 with 1.3 blocks, 1.2 steals and 44% from the field. Swift, on the other hand: 22.5/10.7 with 3.8 blocks, 1.4 steals and 44% from the field. Plus, Swift is four years younger. But nonetheless, Wright sees 27 minutes a game to Swift’s 20. Argh! Anyhow, now that Swift is injured, Wright is seeing about 40 minutes a game and is being fairly effective, particularly with his rebounding.

As for the rest of the Grizzlies, it’s business as usual. Jason Williams will see his 30 minutes or so a night. Earl Watson will back him up admirably. The thing is, I can count 8 players: Williams, Watson, Miller, Posey, Wells, Gasol, Swift, and Cardinal - who are quality fantasy players if they got 35-40 mpg. And two more – Wright and Battier – who have moderate value with that kind of PT. But instead, they’re all getting timeshared. Yuck.

Enjoy the game.

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