Thursday, May 26, 2005

Playoff vs. Payoff, Part Deux.

OK, so on Monday we took a look at some peak playoff performers the last few years, and how they did the following season. Today, we’re gonna pick three guys who outperformed, well, the regular-season versions of themselves, and see if we should expect this sort of performance next year.

First, let’s look at Manu Ginobili, who has turned a lot of heads with his unique style of play. He’s putting up great all around numbers – 21.8/5.4/4.1 with .8 steals and 1.9 3’s, and has established himself as the clear number 2 option on offense after Tim Duncan. But while his scoring is up about 5 points from his regular season averages, his other numbers have seen just a slight bump up. The biggest jump has been in his ability to get to the line, which makes sense as you watch him twist and spin into the lane. He’s getting to the line nearly 10 times a game – only Wade, Bryant and Iverson made it to the line that much in the regular season from the guard position.

Will he keep it up next year? We say no. In the playoffs, when it’s all on the line, you go to your best players. In the case of the Spurs, that means that you turn to Duncan, Manu and Tony Parker to carry the team. In the regular season, the trio combined for about 40 shots a game – just over half of the team’s shots. Now in the postseason, Gregg Popovich has turned to his Big Three to take on an even bigger share of the scoring. They’re averaging nearly 47 shots a game – over 60% of the Spurs’ attempts. Look for their numbers to return to normal next year. Manu might improve slightly on his scoring averages in ‘05-’06, but don’t expect a 20-point scorer. He will very likely be drafted way before he should be.

Next, let’s check in on Jerome James, who played way over his head for at least a few games in the playoffs. Now, I would like to think that anyone who reads fantasy basketblog in the middle of freaking May would know that you shouldn’t expect James to average anything close to the 12.5/6.8 with 1.8 blocks that he managed in the playoffs when he returns next year. But is he going to be worth a late-round flyer? Possibly. He did manage to block almost 1.5 shots a game this year in just 15 minutes of action. Maybe his nice play in round 1 of the playoffs will lead to more playing time and turn him into an Adonal Foyle type – where he blocks a good amount of shots but just murders you everywhere else. If that’s your thing, go for it.

Finally, what’s in store for Samuel Dalembert? He was one of the most frustrating fantasy players this year. He has knack for having huge rebounding games (he grabbed 15+ rebounds 7 times this year), is one of the best shot-blockers in the league (3 or more blocks 22 times), and shoots over 50% from the field. On the other hand, his coach didn’t like him, and he was always in foul trouble (5 or 6 fouls in 16 games). But in the playoffs, he finally put together a string of nice games. Against Detroit’s vaunted front line, he put up 11.6/13.8 with 1.4 blocks over the course of 5 games. One major reason for this was he got 38 minutes a game, much more than he got in the regular season, but maybe he also is coming into his own.

Now with Mo Cheeks coming in to Philly, Sammy is poised for a huge year next year, wherever he is. He’s a restricted free agent, so the Sixers can match any offer – and you can bet that if they pay big to keep him around, they’re gonna want to see him on the court. Look for Dalembert to be a consistent double-double threat next year with great block numbers. But be aware: you're gonna have to take him early - much earlier than you should for a guy who has yet to prove himself over the course of a full season.

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