Monday, March 28, 2005

As the Point Guard Turns

We’re down to the final three weeks of the regular season. If you have games to use and you need help in 3s, assists and steals, you best pay attention. I’ll try and cover relevant backups here as well, for the truly desperate, and aren’t we all at this point?

Gary Payton’s nagging back injury hasn’t kept him from seeing 30+ minutes in 11 straight games, but it has hampered his effectiveness, as he’s just #90 on the 15DR. Marcus Banks and Delonte West are mere afterthoughts at this point, and even with Payton’s status somewhat up in the air, can’t be counted on at all. Along with plenty of others, I’ve talked about Allen Iverson as an MVP candidate if he could get the 76ers into the playoffs. It looks like he’ll succeed, but it’ll still be tough to deny Shaq. The big man’s won only a single MVP award in his career. How’s that? Jason Kidd is back to his FG% killing ways, shooting 35% for March so far. His numbers have been down across the board this month, but he’s still a top player. He’ll be an interesting pick next year, as it will be interesting to see what the offesason holds for him and the Nets. There’s never much to say about Stephon Marbury. I’ll commend him for shooting 46% from the field this year, making him one of the most valuable point guards in that category. Rafer Alston has taken far fewer 3s as the season has progressed, but has picked up his steals. He’s settling in as a prototype #2 fantasy point guard. But if he’s the best you have at the position, you’re going to be in trouble.

Chauncey Billups is up to #18 overall on the PR, but he’s another guy I feel makes a fantastic #2 fantasy PG, mainly because 15 guys have more assists than him and 47 guys have more steals than him. Even the most desperate shouldn’t take a waiver on Carlos Arroyo, unless it’s a game you’re sure the Pistons will win by 30. Word is that Kirk Hinrich will be back in the lineup tonight after missing the last three games, but we know how that goes. No harm in putting him in there, as he’s proven that he can put up his usual numbers even if he isn’t 100%. Chris Duhon sure did nothing to assert himself in Hinrich’s absence. He averaged 33.3 mpg in the three contests, but was good for only 5.0/3.3/6.0 with 1 3 and 1.7 steals. Those last three numbers are OK, but are in line with his usual numbers. It’s a good ol’ time share situation in Cleveland. Eric Snow has the possibility of giving you empty assists; Jeff McInnis will give you nothing. This is ugly. Anthony Johnson is still at #35 on the 15DR. His lack of steals is a bit distressing, but he’s getting assists and is even making some 3s, which he usually doesn’t do. Keep using him. Mo Williams is back and seems to be fine, although he came up empty in the assist column on Saturday. That’s just a fluke, though, as he had 8 the night before that, and he’s still shooting like Andre Miller. Get him back in there. Someone in my league actually picked up Anthony Goldwire for a day. I never, ever thought I’d type that.

It’s clear now that Damon Jones was playing over his head in February. He’s still hitting 2+ 3s a game, so he still has value, but 3.8 apg and 0.7 spg in March are ugly. The Wizards might have to get Gheorge Muresan out of his behind-the-basket seats and into a jersey the way things are going. This just means more production for their backcourt, though. Gilbert Arenas checks in at #30 on the 15DR, but he’s that low only because of his brutal shooting. Steve Blake had been seeing some decent minutes, but was down to just 10.7 mpg in the last three. Oddly enough, he’s become more of a three-point threat than a playmaker, but with Arenas and Hughes both capable of playing 48 minutes, he’s not a great desperation pickup. Jameer Nelson returned to the bench with the return of Steve Francis, but still put up a great game with 19/3/2 with 3 steals and 2 3s. Nelson is clearly the team’s best player right now and he has no business coming off the bench. His numbers for March: 16.5/3.7/5.2 with 0.9 3s, 1.7 steals on 50% and 77% shooting in 37.4 mpg. He needs to be starting next year. To be 5+ on the PR in any category shows complete and utter domination. Brevin Knight is there for assists in steals on the 15DR. By my count, he’s had five instances where he’s missed games this year, making him terribly frustrating to own, but you can’t argue with the results when he’s out there. That 15 assist, 8 steal game on Thursday was something else. Jason Hart’s doing his best to have some value, but it’ll be tough since he’s replacing Keith Bogans and not Knight. Knight obviously has a monopoly on Charlotte’s assists, so that means Hart has to get his value from 3s and steals, which makes things trickier.

Tony Parker has been held to 14 points of less in three of the four games since Tim Duncan went down. Even with his step forward this year, he’s another guy you should be looking at as a #2 PG. We’ll throw Brent Barry in here, I suppose, even though he’s averaging only 2 apg in his last three. Still, it’s nice to see him show signs of life. Still, playing on the Spurs, with Parker and Manu Ginobili around, it’s tough to see him as a fantasy option anymore. He’s got value right now, though, obviously. If you own Jason Terry and you’re frustrated, just think – you could have drafted Sam Cassell or Jamaal Tinsley instead. As for those of you who drafted two of the three … sorry. Devin Harris has 7 3s and 5 steals in his last four games. If you can use that, go for it, but with a four-game road trip ahead, he might not see any blowout garbage time PT. Bob Sura won’t be the same as he was pre-Mike James, but he should be fine to get in there. Mike James is just one of many “how desperate am I for 3s” guys. Jason Williams has only 14 assists in the four games since returning from his latest injury. At least he’s hitting 2+ 3s in that same span. Don’t bother with Earl Watson now, but chances are that J-Will will miss one more game this year, just hope you know in advance when it will be and scoop up Earl for that one. Speedy Claxton is back and is probably the best cheap steals guy available to you. His return is a buzzkill for Dan Dickau, who might have lost himself a few million dollars this past month.

Luke Ridnour has sort of broken out of his funk. He’s a quality #3 PG for your team. Even with his second half slump, he’s still at #74 on the overall PR, thanks in large part to his durability. Take it by averages and he drops to #103. Andre Miller has definitely broken out of his funk. The Nuggets have scored at least 113 points in their last six games, which is so 1980s. Miller’s at #31 on the 15DR, about where he should be. With the team clicking like that, it’s no surprise that everyone has value. Earl Boykins is at #48 on the 15DR and should most definitely be in lineups. Well, you’ve waited this long for Sam Cassell to come back, so of course you should use him. Who cares if he’s still coming off the bench? He’s still arguably the best percentage shooter in the backcourt in the league. It’s getting ugly for Sebastian Telfair: 5.7/2.0/3.7 with no steals or 3s in his last three. Yikes. Keith McLeod is a step below Speedy Claxton when it comes to desperate steals guys.

Steve Nash has totaled 10+ assists in 10 straight, one short of his best of 11 games, which he’s done twice this year. Shaq’s still my MVP. Leandro Barbosa is emerging as a desperation option, and could be especially valuable in the last week of the season, depending on how the home court advantage battle is going. Mike Bibby only #59 on the 15DR. What?!?! That’s what happens when you make about a third of your shots. You tell ‘em Chucky Atkins, you tell ‘em. Shaun Livingston should fare better than Sebastian Telfair from here on out, even in less minutes, just because he’s more likely to bust out an 11-assist game like he did last Wednesday. Don’t look now, but Baron Davis is #16 on the 15DR, even as he continues to shoot like, well, Baron Davis. But when you rack up the 3s, assists and steals like he’s been doing, that’s how it works.

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