Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Amare Fallout

And this is why I will always refuse to be in a league that drafts more than a week before the season starts. There’s just too much risk involved. There’s almost always a situation like this that comes up, and someone starts off at an extreme disadvantage. And that’s no fun. And remember, this stuff is supposed to be fun, in addition to financially rewarding and ego-boosting.

For all of you folks out there that spent a first round pick on Amare Stoudemire – and if he’s on your team, then you did exactly that unless you are in a keeper league or a retard league– I feel for you. You’re probably thinking that your season is ruined and hopeless three weeks before tipoff. And, I hate to say this, but you’re probably right. Hey, we tell it like it is here at FBB. Not only are you missing a first round pick, but you are seriously screwed at center, since you probably felt that you could sleep on the position a bit after drafting a stud like Amare. The word right now is that Stoudemire will miss around four months, which takes us to mid-February. That’s almost certainly a best-case scenario. Assuming he can make it back in mid-February, he will be slowly worked back into shape, meaning that he would be back to full speed by early March, in time for the last 20 or so games of the season. And remember, this is a best-case scenario. So that means that realistically, you can’t really count on Amare for anything this year.

Now, he could prove us wrong. I hope that he does, because for my money, there’s not a more exciting player in the league – LeBron, Dwyane, AI, all those guys included. He’s young and is a physical specimen, so if anyone is going to recover in the “best case” times, it would be someone like Amare. That said, the Suns will obviously want to protect their $73 million investment for the future, and if it’s looking like a lost season – which is quite a possibility now, given what the Suns lost this offseason and the depth of the Western Conference – they may just give him the entire year off. So Amare plummets down draft boards, from the very top to nothing more than a late-round gamble.

His absence obviously effects the entire Phoenix team, some positive, some negative. Let’s take a quick look…

Steve Nash – Nash will obviously be hurt by Amare’s absence, as it will be very tough for “the MVP” to match last year’s 11.5 apg. Now that he doesn’t have the best finisher in the league to dish to, we should see that number drop back to around 8. Remember, when he was running the show on all those high scoring teams in Dallas Nash averaged more than 8 apg just once, his final season there when he dropped 8.8. The three seasons before that it was 7.3, 7.7, 7.3. It’s hard to see any reason why he should average much more than that this year. He’ll be called on to pick up some of the scoring slack, but his career high is 17.9 ppg, so an absolute best-case scenario would see him scoring around 20 per contest. His dynamite FG% should also take a hit as he shoots more and has fewer offensive weapons to take away attention. He’s clearly the biggest loser (besides Amare, obviously) and should be knocked down at least a few spots on your draft lists.

Shawn Marion – I expect Marion’s value to change very little based on this injury and he could actually benefit quite a bit. Marion put up brilliant numbers before Amare, while Amare was developing and when Amare became a stud. After averaging a career high 11.3 boards last year he’ll be looked at to pick up some of Amare’s slack, so don’t expect any drop off there. Much of Marion’s value comes from his steals and blocks, and he should be fine there without Amare. He should see his scoring bump up past 20 ppg and might even hit a few more 3s in the process, although his FG% should drop back to around 45%. Still, the bottom line is that Marion is very clearly a first round pick.

Kurt Thomas – Man, you think the Suns wish they still had Stephen Hunter around? Thomas should see lots of PT, which can only be good for his value, it’s just that he’s a pretty limited upside player. He’s always solid, but he’s a 32-year old who will once again be playing out of position at center. He’s not going to suddenly start blocking shots, hitting 3s or dishing assists. He has a solid shot of being a 15/10 guy, and the fact that he’s played at least 80 games in four straight seasons makes you think he’ll be able to hold up under the increased workload. Bump him up a few spots, but don’t expect any miracles.

Paul Shirley – Expect Shirley to take Stoudemire’s place in the starting lineup and to put up around 17 and 8 while being an asset in blocked shots and entertaining blogging. Ha, just making sure you’re paying attention.

Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa, Jim Jackson, Boris Diaw, Eddie House, James Jones – The only other proven big man on the Suns besides Thomas is Brian Grant, who just doesn’t seem capable of being much of an asset anymore. He was only ever valuable for rebounding, and as the Suns are forced to adjust, they will probably find it easier to go with a lineup of Nash at the 1, Marion at the 4, Thomas at the 5, and two of the six guys above at the 2 and 3. Now there were a lot of numbers in that sentence, but the key one to notice is one that I spelled out – six. It’s all about PT, we’ve said that a million times. With six guys battling for time at two spots, it’s not a sure thing that any of these players will see enough time on the court to amass value. The smart money on the player to have the most value is on Raja Bell, who was already penciled in as a starter and has a solid all-around game and could average 15 ppg while chipping in a little over a 3 and a steal per contest. Jim Jackson is a known marksman from downtown, but even when he was seeing 40+ minutes per game in Houston he was barely able to contribute in any other categories. Boris Diaw was apparently a revelation over the summer, but he’s still Boris Diaw. James Jones managed to have a few weeks – OK, one week -- of fantasy relevance during the brawl fallout last year. Eddie House has always been a capable scorer and pickpocket (11.1 ppg and 1.9 spg in just 23 minutes per in 13 games for Charlotte last year) but is just too small for a SG. Barbosa has yet to establish himself in the NBA. Basically, if any of these players establishes himself as a fixture on the court, he should be worthy of a roster spot in most leagues. But until we see how the preseason and early stages of the season play out, it’s too tough to know. Bell is certainly worthy of being drafted in most leagues, but with the other guys, it’s just too hard to tell.


Blogger bv said...

On a side note, what a bonehead move by the Suns! Sign a guy to a 5-year $72M extension knowing that he has knee problems. 4 days later, he sees the doctor, and 3 days after that, he's out for four months. How could you not run those tests before giving him that huge extension? Stupid move.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Mike Plugh said...

Bonehead move of the Fantasy Universe....

My league drafts by e-mail over the course of a week or so....10 guys.

We started drafting 2 days ago and the talk around the league was that no one could take a chance on Amare early in the draft with his arthroscopic surgery upcoming. What does the guy picking before me do in the 2nd round? Picks Stoudemire. Not 15 minutes later the news broke that the big fella would be out 4 months. I scored Paul Pierce mid-2nd round and he was left a high priced IL player.


6:57 PM  
Anonymous fba said...

The question??

What about a keeper league. I would probably draft amare

6:36 PM  
Blogger bv said...

well, that all depends on the rules of your keeper league. most keeper leagues should have at least a 2-rounds-up keeper cost, meaning you couldn't even keep amare unless you picked him in the third or later. still, I'd wait until the fourth even in a keeper league.

9:37 PM  

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