Saturday, September 17, 2005

Offseason Overview: Detroit Pistons

Roster-wise, it was a pretty quiet summer in Detroit, which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise since the team was just a few points away from repeating as NBA champions. Larry Brown’s departure was the big news, but in fantasy circles, it shouldn’t really have too much of an impact. The Pistons will remain a physical, grind-it-out team with five players who can carry them on a given night. The team attempted to address its depth with the additions of Dale Davis and Maurice Evans, but they will be looking for contributions from some combination of youngsters Darko Milicic, Carlos Arroyo and Carlos Delfino to lessen the burden on the starters.

The Stud: Chauncey Billups, PG
Billups’s main lines of 16.5/3.4/5.8 last year and 16.9/3.5/5.7 from the previous year are almost identical, but he upped his FG% from 39.4 to 44.3, an exorbitant leap. He also hit more than 2 3s per game, and is always one of the most valuable players in FT%, which is easy to overlook, but provides plenty of value. He doesn’t get quite as many assists or steals as you’d like from a top PG, but he’s one of the most reliable players around, and he makes a fine choice towards the end of the 2nd/beginning of the 3rd round depending on the size of your league.

The Support: Rasheed Wallace, FC
Nobody expected him to continue putting up numbers similar to those he put up in Portland, but Wallace has remained a solid fantasy contributor. None of his numbers jump out at you, except for perhaps his 1.5 blocks, but he doesn’t hurt you anywhere, and his center eligibility is a big plus. There’s little reason to expect much change from his numbers the last two years. He shouldn’t be a foundation for your team, but he’s an ideal complementary part.

The Supporting Support: Tayshaun Prince, SF
Prince took another big step forward last year and now the question is how much farther can he take it. With all the major pieces returning, you wonder if there will be more opportunities for Prince to improve his numbers. Either way, he’s another player who, like Rasheed, is a solid contributor everywhere without really grabbing your eye in one category. He hasn’t missed a game the past two seasons, which we look at as a huge plus. He’s the type of guy you can draft and just leave in the lineup and not worry about for an entire season. There’s something to be said for players like that.

The Sleeper: Antonio McDyess, PF
No, we will not list Darko as a sleeper, sorry. Instead we’ll go with the old guy, who at 31 really isn’t too old. But missing multiple seasons with knee injuries will give that perception. Anyway, McDyess certainly took to the role of 6th man last year, but that doesn’t really mean too much to fantasy players. What does mean something is that in the eight games he started, he averaged 14.1 and 9.8, and he shot 51% from the field on the season. If either of the Wallaces goes down, we’d expect McDyess to be plugged into the starting lineup and deliver. That might not make him worth a draft pick except in the deepest leagues, but be ready to pounce if the situation presents itself.

The Slacker: Ben Wallace, FC
Bear with me on this one. There’s no doubt Wallace is a valuable guy to have around, but there will surely be someone in your league who sees those numbers from a few years ago and will expect that kind of production. Hopefully, you won’t be that person. In the 01-02 and 02-03 seasons, Wallace averaged 14.2 rpg and 3.3 bpg. In the 03-04 and 04-05 seasons, Wallace averaged 12.3 rpg and 2.7 bpg. Still great numbers, but not otherworldly. And as he’s taken a bigger role in the offense, he’s seen his scoring increase only marginally, but his FG% has taken a big hit, and his atrocious FT% now cripples teams because he actually gets the line a decent amount. Don’t spend one of your first two picks on him.


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