Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Offseason Overview: Los Angeles Clippers

Don’t look now, but the LA Clippers improved their record last year for the third season in a row. Sure, they didn’t make the playoffs or anything, but still, improvement is improvement. That said, they certainly made a lot of moves in the offseason, but whether or not they’ve improved themselves is still up in the air. They lost the NBA’s Most Improved Player in Bobby Simmons, and traded a decent point guard in Marko Jaric for a decent point guard – if this was two years ago – in Sam Cassell. Plus, they signed a decent outside threat in Cuttino Mobley. Will Mobley and Cassell be any better than Simmons and Jaric? Maybe so, maybe no … but how about in the fantasy world?

The Stud: Elton Brand, PF
A couple years ago, Elton Brand was a borderline first-round pick, but not anymore, though it’s no fault of his own. His loss of center eligibility pushes him back into the middle of the second round, but he’s still a solid pick. There aren’t many guys in the league who can put up 20-10 with 2 blocks, so regardless of his position, he’s well worth taking at that point in the draft. He missed some time in both 2002 and 2003, but he logged 81 games last year and should be a solid pick in the second round.

The Support: Corey Maggette, G/F
Let’s do a little Player A/Player B:

Player A: 22.2/6/3.4, 0.8 3’s, 1.1 stl, 43% FG, 86% FT
Player B: 23.9/4.5/3.7, 2.7 3’s, 1.1 stl, 43% FG, 88% FT

Player A is Maggette. Player B is Ray Allen, a perennial 1st or 2nd round pick in fantasy drafts. Maggette gives you pretty similar numbers to Allen, except for the three pointers. Granted, he’s missed between 13 and 19 games in 4 of the last 5 years, but still, he’s probably underrated in most drafts. With Cuttino Mobley and Sam Cassell there to attract more attention on the perimeter, he’s a good bet to improve his FG% and scoring this year, making him a great value pick late in the 3rd or in the 4th.

The Supporting Support: Cuttino Mobley, SG
Mobley is a guy that can be easily overlooked, but he’s a valuable addition to just about any fantasy team. Seeing how consistently he performed in Orlando and Sacramento last year is a good sign now that he’s entering his fourth organization in three years. He’s value lies mostly in his scoring and threes, but he’ll also contribute in steals and will put up decent rebound and assist numbers. He’s a great mid-round pick.

The Sleeper: Chris Kaman, C
I nearly put young PG Shaun Livingston in this spot, but Kaman could be in for a nice year for a couple reasons. One, he’s entering a contract year. Two, he’s a center, meaning he’s automatically got more value in the fantasy world than he does in real life. Three, his per-48-min numbers suggest that given 35 mpg, he’ll be sort of a Jamaal Magloire lite. He’ll be worth a late-round flyer or maybe even better, depending on how the playing time shakes out.

The Slacker: Sam Cassell, PG
Cassell was a rough guy to own last year, and this year doesn’t look to be much better, despite the change of scenery. He’s not even necessarily going to see the most minutes at PG on this team, as Livingston is the point guard of the future. Barring an injury to Livingston, Cassell is probably not worth being on a fantasy roster this year.

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