Thursday, November 10, 2005

Don't Look Now, But...

After going 7-for-8 last night, Tim Duncan is now shooting a cool 21-for-24 – that’s 87.5%, folks – from the free throw line. It’s still too early to declare an end to his free throw woes, but his owners have to be quite encouraged right now. Combined with his 56% shooting from the field and 3.6 bpg, he’s clearly been the top fantasy player over the season’s first eight days. The FG% and blocks will come down – he will lock into his normal averages of right around 50% and around 2.5 bpg – but his numbers across the board are extremely predictable except for FT% and games played. Duncan has never been a great free throw shooter, but he did manage to shoot 80% in 2001-2002. Of course, that was preceded by a season of 62%, followed by 71% and then 60% and 67%. In fact, over the past seven seasons, Duncan has had at least a 7% fluctuation each season. It’s really one of the more bizarre stats out there. So what does it mean? It means that even though this is a very small sample size, perhaps this will be one of his good seasons. His owners can be cautiously optimistic, but should know that a 3-for-12 may be waiting soon. But if he can keep it around 75%, even if he misses 8-10 games, he should still put up total numbers worthy of a first round pick.

After going 0-for-1 last night, Pau Gasol is now shooting a not at all cool 18-for-32 – that’s 56%, folks – from the line himself. This number has been overshadowed by his otherwise brilliant play, but as a Gasol owner, I am very worried. Might Gasol be the new Duncan? He’s not grabbing nearly as many boards as Timmy, but the 21.8 ppg, 2.4 bpg and 52% from the field are very Duncan-esque. And Gasol finally looks like a dominant force on offense. He has an unstoppable spin move on the baseline and when matched up against slower defenders, he can drive right past them to the hoop for a one-handed jam. Memphis is running its offense through him and everyone banking on a breakout season looks like they banked correctly. But that FT% could be really harmful. Gasol shoots his free throws with just one hand, and it’s quite unnatural. He’s never shot below 71% and was up to 77% last year, so you have to think he’ll turn things around. But if he doesn’t, he’s going to be one of the most frustrating players to own this season, despite his otherwise standout numbers.

Kobe Bryant has attempted three 3-pointers over the season’s first five games. This is downright shocking, and it’s all on Phil Jackson. Kobe became one of the top 3-point gunners last year, averaging six attempts per game and hitting on two. Not the greatest percentage, but fantasy owners weren’t complaining. But we heard a lot this offseason about the Zen Master wanting Kobe to increase his FG% and Kobe actually seems to be listening. Anyone who has seen the Lakers play this season knows that Kobe is playing like a man possessed, and he’s attacking the basket with authority. He attempted two 3s in the opener, one in the next game and hasn’t attempted a single one since then. This isn’t going to last, but there seems to be very little chance of Kobe matching his 2 3pg of last year and at this point it would be surprising if he averaged even 1 3pg. This is concerning because Kobe will not shoot 50% on the season – 47-48% maybe, although I’d still expect it to be around 45-46%. Kobe is also getting just 0.6 spg, and his rebound and assist numbers are down as well. This is all overshadowed by his insane 34.8 ppg, but it’s worth paying attention to. Kobe will average at least 30 ppg this season and will be closer to 35 than a lot of people think, but if he doesn’t get these other numbers up, he might still end up being a slight disappointment.

Samuel Dalembert and Carlos Boozer still haven’t played in a game and don’t appear to be all that close to doing so. This is less about Dalembert and Boozer as it is about injuries in general. Never expect the best estimate. Until you see a player on back on the court, consider him out. Injuries have a tendency to linger. We’ve actually seen some impressive bounce backs this season, with Kirk Hinrich not missing a game after spraining his ankle, Gerald Wallace not missing time after suffering a concussion and Baron Davis missing just one game with hamstring issues. But day-to-day rarely means just that. Have other options ready. And speaking of injuries, they are starting to mount. McGrady and Shaq already went down, while Dirk Nowitzki, Rashard Lewis and Jamaal Tinsley got banged up last night. This is where things start getting interesting, where it pays to have depth. At the same time, teams withoutdepth can take advantage of these situations as well. If you have a very weak end of the bench, then there’s little risk in grabbing guys like Keith Van Horn, Vladimir Radmanovic or Sarunas Jasikevicius just in case any of those above guys are out for a while. On the other hand, teams with very solid benches might be hesitant to jettison a solid player for someone who might just have a single game of relevance.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeh they said give dalembert ANOTHER 10-14days (they said 10-14 days when it 1st happened)! hope he comes up big when he does return

love the blog, keep it up

10:31 AM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

And what is the deal with Richard Jefferson?

The man is out-Lebroning Lebron so far this season and appears to be a triple-double threat every game. Plus his TOs are way down from last year and his FG% is up.

And, yes, I'm bitter. I had RJ on my team last year, was badly burned when he tore his wrist tendon and consequently downgraded his ranking going into this year. I could've grabbed him in the fifth round, but opted for Stromile instead. Doh!

10:45 AM  
Blogger bv said...

Jefferson is a good example that the TYPE of injury a guy has is really important in predicting future impact. Creaky knees? Achy-breaky back? Stay away (T-Mac is a great example).

Broken bones? Torn tendons? Those things heal.

11:17 AM  
Blogger DM said...

Jefferson will come back to Earth. He's still not getting many steals or blocks, and outside of that one game he hasn't hit any 3s. He's still going to be a very, very solid player and you were f'in crazy to pass on him for Stromile (no offense or anything), but his days as a top 10 player are numbered.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

Yeah, I know it seems nuts to take Stro over RJ.

But I'm in a wacky-ass league that requires we start two centers every week. By the fifth round of our draft, I still was center-less and Stro, with his center eligibility and his escape from Memphis, seemed the best option on the board.

Given the way that things have turned out, though, it wound up being a bonehead move of epic proportions

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this was the topic from yesterday but, whats the matter with Rasheed so far this season? The pistons are playing so well but Rasheed has not been producing at all. Do you guys think it's because of Tayshaun's increased involvement in the offense?

7:41 PM  
Blogger DM said...

As a 'Sheed owner I too have been a little disappointed with his early season output. But you just have to chalk it up to the Pistons being too good. In their three blowout victories, 'Sheed just hasn't been needed and he's spent lots of time on the bench, seeing between 19 and 26 minutes in those games. Once they start getting tested more he'll start putting up his usual numbers. There's nothing wrong with his game, we're not expecting more than 15 ppg anyway. Just solid rebounding, some blocks and 3s. And his 1.8 spg has been nice, too. Patience.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to how you think things will shake out in Boston's frontcourt. I have both Al Jefferson and Raef on my team; up until tonight, Jefferson hadn't played much, but am expecting decent stats from him this year. However, seeing as Raef only played 17 minutes tonight, I'm somewhat worried his value is downgraded.

With that said, I think I might be able to trade him for P.J. Brown...what do you estimate he'll throw up this year without Magloire around, as his career stats are pretty consitant. Thanks.

3:30 AM  
Blogger DM said...

Well, I'm watching this Celtics-Rockets game right now and Lafrentz looks ... oh, pretty good. Al Jefferson will have every chance to be a star some day, but I still think he's pretty far away from having fantasy value. That 31 minutes is the most he's ever played. I just can't see him being a 35 mpg guy unless there is an injury in the Boston frontcourt. And remember, he's all FG% and blocks -- and his FT% is potentially killer with big minutes.

Magloire or no Magloire, P.J. Brown will put up the same numbers he always puts up. Around 10.5/9 with good percentages and not much else. Useful to have around, but not much more.

8:10 PM  

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