Thursday, March 03, 2005

Don’t Need Wins? Don’t Play Stars

As DM wrote on Tuesday, for teams that are fighting for a playoff spot, their stars are going to get plenty of court time over the rest of the season. Some teams, however, are starting to face the facts, and realize that they are just not going to be able to get into the postseason. We saw some teams give up their assets at the trade deadline for cap space and draft picks. Others are starting to go with a ‘youth movement’, giving their younger players some more minutes at the expense of their established veterans. So today, we’re going to go over some of the worst teams in the league, and see what they’re going to be up to for the rest of the year.

New Orleans Hornets (12-45)

The Hornets were one of the most active teams at the trade deadline (and during the season, for that matter), making two separate deals that included 6 players. The interesting thing is, their rotation hasn’t been affected much. One of the players they sent out, Jamal Mashburn, hasn’t played this year. Another, Baron Davis, has been hurt more often than not. Two of the players they received – Glenn Robinson and Dale Davis – were simply for cap help, and have already been waived. So basically, what this all comes down to rotation wise, is Rodney Rogers – out, Speedy Claxton – in.

So who are going to be the standout players on this team? We’ve been championing JR Smith all year, and it looks like he’s finally getting his due. He’s been steadily getting more minutes all year, and finally last month he averaged nearly 30 minutes, and contributed 14.6/1.8/2.3 with 1.4 3’s and .9 steals, and racked up 7 straight games with double digit points. Jamaal Magloire should return to the lineup in a couple weeks, and he’ll throw the front court into flux. Dan Dickau should also maintain his value, although maybe have it cut a little bit by the presence of Claxton.

Portland Trail Blazers (22-33)

After treating Maurice Cheeks about as poorly as they possibly could have, the Blazers have finally let him go. And what he leaves in his wake is a total disaster. They’re on a 2-7 run with their only wins over the equally hapless Bobcats and Hawks. After not trading anyone at the deadline, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Zach Randolph have returned from injury to create a very crowded front-court. We count 8 players (Randolph, Stoudamire, Van Exel, Patterson, Anderson, Przybilla, Miles, and Abdur-Rahim) who have shown that, given minutes, can be quality fantasy players (and good regular players too, I guess). Please note that I did not include Theo Ratliff on that list.

Nonetheless, now that Cheeks is out and Kevin "who?" Pritchard is in, all eight of those guys are going to see even fewer minutes than they’re getting now. The Blazers now want to take a look at their younger players, including Sebastian Telfair, Travis Outlaw, Ha Seung-Jin, and Viktor Khryapa. What this means for your fantasy team is that the Blazers might very well kill any fantasy value that ANY of these players have. We’d think that Randolph and maybe Stoudamire will hold on to some value, but outside of them, you might want to try and unload Shareef or Van Exel or Miles on someone else, before today’s trade deadline is passed.

Charlotte Bobcats (12-43)

Let’s be honest – the Bobcats never had any thoughts of making the playoffs this year. Let’s give them some credit. But nonetheless, there have been some minor tweaks to their rotation over the last few weeks. First, Steve Smith and his 17.2 mpg has been shipped off to Miami. Second, Kareem Rush, acquired midseason from the Lakers, has hurt his knee and should be out about a month. So just like that, 2 of their shooting guards have been taken out of the rotation. The most obvious benefactor of this situation is Keith Bogans, he of the highest Brick Index in the league.

One thing that this may lead to – and we’re hoping that it does – is that Brevin Knight and Jason Hart see some time on the floor together. As you can see from the ridiculously awesome 82games.com, the duo has performed fairly well on the court together, and we know that they both can be very helpful in assists if given the minutes. So watch closely to see if maybe Hart and/or Knight get a bump in minutes at the 2 over the next week or so.

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