Monday, November 28, 2005

As the Point Guard Turns

Apologies for today’s abbreviated version. Computer issues, lots of words lost into the vortex, sad times. Check back this afternoon for the Comet Gain, The Hold Steady and The Fall portions.

Delonte West serves as a good example of why it’s never the worst idea to hold off on any roster moves the first week or so of the season. After seeing his 14/9/9, 3 steal, 4 block performance on opening night, it’s quite likely he was scooped up that evening. Now, if you drafted a crappy team, then all bets are off – if you had to go hang out with grandma and had autodraft pick for you and you got stuck with someone like Bob Sura in the last round, then yeah, go nuts in that first week. But if you took time ranking players before the season started and actually know what you’re doing – which I’m going to assume is the case with most people who come here – then stick by your guns. My last three choices this year were Brendan Haywood, T.J. Ford and Mike Sweetney. I wouldn’t be too happy if I dumped one of them for Delonte West, at this point. I did dump Sweetney eventually (as well as Josh Childress), but at least I was able to pick up two solid players who should be locked into starting jobs all year in Nick Collison and Brevin Knight. This doesn’t have much to do with anything and you might argue that I’m contradicting the point of this column – to identify point guards who might be coming into some more PT and jumping on them quickly. But even though West was a starting PG (even better, right?) sitting out there, he doesn’t quite qualify. We’re looking for guys who are seeing the big bulk of minutes because of some sort of injury, suspension, etc. A guy who gets 30 mpg with shaky production doesn’t quite qualify. West should be back and will regain his starting role, but Dan Dickau should have enough of a role to make West a very shaky play. Even though Doc Rivers started Orien Greene, Dickau was always the one out there when it mattered. He’s still enough of a liability on defense that West should still see enough minutes to be at least a fantasy tease, but definitely give him a game or two to see how the minutes shake out before deciding whether or not he belongs in your lineup.

I have no earthly clue why the Magic decided to sign Keyon Dooling in the offseason. Yes, he looked good in the playoffs and yes, his length at PG can cause problems for opposing players. But he’s not really a point guard – just like the guy they already have as the centerpiece of their team – he’s young but not all that young, and Jameer Nelson only went for 15.0/3.8/4.6 with 1.5 steals and 1.3 3s over the season’s final 24 games. Instead of getting Nelson a shot at a starting job this year, it got him the coveted second guard off the bench role. Ugh. I still thought he was worth drafting and stashing because I thought the Magic just didn’t have that much firepower and they’d need Nelson to provide a spark. It took a couple of injuries, and he still hasn’t gotten a real showcase, but for those that forgot what Nelson could do, take note of the games on Nov. 23 and 25. With Steve Francis out in the first of those and Dooling out in the second, Nelson still didn’t start but saw 56 total minutes. So in 28 mpg, what did he do? How’s 19.5/2.5/4.0 with 1 steal and 1 3. OK, those aren’t mind-blowing numbers, but steals and 3s are fickle. The point is, he can deliver. But as tempting as he is, games like Saturday’s against the Heat prove an even more universal point – you can’t win with bench players. After those two impressive games and Dooling still out, some folks might have been tempted to plug him in. But bench players have such little margin for error, as Nelson proved. If you’re not productive right away, you won’t see enough time to make an impact. So Nelson still isn’t much help to anyone in fantasy land. But he still isn’t the worst person to keep on your bench. DeShawn Stevenson has been playing pretty well this season, but he’s still DeShawn Stevenson and he does have a bum knee. Nelson’s got enough -- I don’t want to say upside, because he’s actually proven that he can do it – but whatever it is, Nelson has it, and is worth keeping on your bench.

We’re 13% of the way through the season and Chris Duhon has clearly been the more valuable player than Kirk Hinrich. No, I don’t get it either. Everyone likes to write Duhon off as a fluke – like after his 2-for-21 back-to-back a few weeks ago – but then he bounces back with a three game stretch like his recent one, where he averaged 16.7/4.7/7.0 with 3.3 3s and 1.3 steals on 58% shooting. Those are serious, serious numbers. So we have to look at the facts – Duhon is averaging 35.6 mpg. That’s tops on the team. He has played at least 34 minutes in all but two games, and has seen at least 38 minutes in six of those. So he seems to be safe in Scott Skiles’ “system.” He’s attempted at least 3 3s in every game he’s played and is averaging nearly 1.8 per game on the season. Combine that with his 6.3 assists and 1.2 steals and 89% free throw shooting and I think it might be time to give the Blue Devil his due. He isn’t the flashiest player and he will be prone to cold streaks, but it’s quite likely that he will be a solid asset as a #3 PG/utility option for the entire season.

It’s still just a matter of time before Hinrich overtakes him as the most valuable member of the Bulls backcourt. His 0.6 spg is what’s really holding his value down, but you have to think it’s just a fluke and that as long as sees his minutes (up to 38 per game over the last four) they will come. He’s attempting two fewer 3s per game this year, which is a bit worrisome, but he’s making a higher percentage and he’ll start gunning more soon. Perhaps I’m being optimistic because Hinirch is one of my players, but he’s still looked at as the leader of this team and his numbers will soon look might similar to the ones he put up last year. Those who were hoping for a sharp improvement from last year might be a little disappointed.

I’ve already talked about Jameer Nelson, so now another one of my favorites – Devin Harris. He’s averaging 10.1/2.1/2.8 with 1.1 steals on 49% shooting in just under 22 mpg. Those are mighty impressive numbers. With Josh Howard out for at least a few games, Harris could be in for more action. He saw 31 minutes the other night when Howard played 38 himself. I’d love to see Avery Johnson start Marquis Daniels at SF and go with Harris and Jason Terry in the backcourt, but that’s not going to happen. Keith Van Horn will likely get the nod, but Harris could still see 30+ mpg off the bench. All the normal bench player caveats apply, and Harris doesn’t have quite as much of that u-word thing as Nelson because he doesn’t shoot 3s, but if you are in a super deep league and need a warm body, Harris could very well be your man. His explosiveness is undeniable and he attacks the rim with a vengeance, averaging nearly 4 FTA per game in his 22 minutes. For comparison’s sake, that ties him with Mike Bibby and Shawn Marion. This is a great trait to have. To get to the line, you have to have the ball. Having the ball leads to stats. That’s why we like PG in the first place. Keep Harris on your radar. Trust me.

Los Angeles Lakers
Smush Parker is officially in “driving owners crazy” mode right now. He’s alternating average, excellent and crappy games with regularity, which is not what you want from any player. He’s still getting enough steals and 3s to merit keeping him in your lineup, and that’s what you should do. Just keep him in there and leave him alone. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to decide when he’ll have a good game and when he’ll have a bad one. He’s in the top 30 in value for 3s and is #6 in steals. Until this stops being the case, take advantage of it and deal with the inconsistent numbers elsewhere. Those are the only two categories he’s an asset in – he’s even slightly below average in assists – but considering the fact that you are likely using him as a #3 PG/utility guy, it’s easy to deal with. In the past 15 days (which doesn’t include his three best games of the season) he’s #108 on the player rater. Not very hot at all, obviously, but if you are in a 12 team, 10 starter league, that’s still worthy of a spot. Barely, yes, but worth it. With Kobe Bryant drawing lots of extra coverage and still chucking up shots and an utterly ridiculous rate, Smush will be open to keep firing those 3s. If his name was Damon Jones and he had a bit more of a track record, would you feel more comfortable keeping him in there?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my favorite column, thanks again guys.

I have a quick question about Hinrich, I've been looking for a player that shoots threes to replace Andre Miller without giving up a lot of assists, should I trade Miller for Hinrich? I'm a little worried about his move to 'SG' with Duhon at point. His assists haven't gone down though, but will it last?

12:16 PM  
Blogger bv said...

hey, if you can dump the struggling miller for hinrich, then go for it. But andre has been a huge let-down this year. his percentages (particularly from the line) are killer, especially from a PG, and unless he picks them up you're not going to get anywhere neat the caliber of player that kirk is.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey another excellent article...this question might seem a bit out of place because i forgot to post this over thanksgiving break but i just have to ask...

do you see ike diogu blowing up? and if so, would a swap with haslem or swift be a good move? swift has been discussed ad nauseam before so i didn't want to bring him up without mentioning someone else...

3:49 PM  
Blogger DM said...

It didn't affect his numbers or PT all that much (mainly because of foul trouble), but Swift actually entered the starting lineup in the last Rockets game. Who knows if it will last, but a team that struggles to score 80 points doesn't have much to lose by going with him over noted scrub Ryan Bowen. So if you've held onto him for this long, this isn't the time to cut bait, I'd say.

It's hard to see Diogu blowing up. That's a pretty deep team. He's been putting up crazy numbers off the bench, and it's possible he could eventually find himself in the starting lineup at the expense of Adonal Foyle. But that's getting way ahead of ourselves. I can't see a team playing .600 ball messing with their lineup to install an undersized rookie who missed most of the preseason as starting center. I have a feeling that if Diogu was picked up in your league recently, he'll be dropped within two weeks. I'd stick with Swift.

And no addendum to this morning's post. Sorry folks. I'll make it up to you with a new regular feature later this week.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:51 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

What is your guy's take on Al Jefferson. I've held onto him tonight, when I dropped him in favor of Dalembert (who was on the wire because of the injury, despite my extremely deep league).

In limited minutes he appears to be doing the same as he did last year, with about 6 points and five boards in ~15 minutes. He was supposed to start and blow up to a 12/10 type of guy (if not better) as he was supposivly the 3rd/4th option on the team. I know that the injury has held him back, but he's only played more than 20 minutes in one game (which was a blowout loss to San Antonio). Even Kendrick Perkins is getting more playing time, which upsets me as I was expecting Raef (whom I also own) and Jefferson to start once Blount went into the dog house.

I guess it doesn't really matter, as I've already dropped him, but what if your guy's opinion of the situation...will he every crack the starting rotation...or even get 25 minutes a night?

In any case, I now have a lower-end of players including Dalembert, Luther Head (replaced Alston) and Sweetney (replaced Damon Jones) that I'd be willing to part with when I pickup Amare 2 weeks before all-star weekend and ride out the time till he returns.


5:48 AM  
Blogger DM said...

There's no comparison between Dalembert and Jefferson. Dalembert came off a long injury and went right into the starting lineup and played 30 minutes. Jefferson has played 30 minutes once in his entire career. Dalembert is potentially dominant in blocks and should be picked up in every league, regardless of size. Jefferson has lots of potential but there are lots of guys he has to fight through to get minutes. Until he's at least seeing 20-25 regularly and seems like he could crack the starting lineup, you don't need to worry about him.

9:41 AM  

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