Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Head On

So the popular pickup in leagues across the country last night was surely Luther Head. I must give credit to the guy in my league who snagged him a few hours before last night’s tip off. Good thinking. Head started, played 43 minutes and poured in 28 points, grabbed 7 boards, hit 5 3s, made 9-of-17 from the field, all 5 free throws, and added 3 assists. Quite a game. Still, color me skeptical that Head will be able to keep this up, or even come close. First off, the Rockets just don’t score enough so that anyone but Yao will have consistent value when Tracy McGrady is out. Yao is clearly the team’s first option, and they slow the game down to a crawl to get him involved. Usually there’s one player that manages to have a fantasy-worthy game in addition to Yao (who it should be noted is shooting 36-for-89 – 40% -- with T-Mac out compared to 44-for-76 – 58% with him in there). Maybe it will be David Wesley, maybe Derek Anderson, maybe Head. It’s risky to be counting on any of them. The more intriguing development is that if Head does manage to have a few more games close to this level, Rafer Alston might have a really, really hard time finding those 35 mpg he needs when he comes back. It’s looking worse and worse for Rafer everyday.

Some other recently won starting jobs and thoughts on them…

Jarvis Hayes – It’s well known that we’re Wizards fanatics around here, so it’s quite rare that I’ll miss a minute of any Wizards game. Over the past week this has caused me much frustration. In an effort to shake things up, Eddie Jordan replaced the struggling (putting it quite mildly) Antonio Daniels in the starting lineup with Jarvis Hayes. I’ll say this about Hayes – he is clearly the most improved player on the Wizards this year. He was drafted as a jump shooting specialist, but the thing was, over this first two years he could not shoot. He hit 40% and 39% of his shots in his first two seasons, and also had trouble staying healthy. But something has clicked this year. His jumper has always looked smooth and now it’s actually starting to fall, as Jarvis is connecting on 46% of his shots. His ideal range is out to 20 feet or so, he’s not a great three-point shooter, but he’s taking more than ever this year, and could connect on just over 1 per game if he keeps his starting job. He’s a good rebounder when he wants to, and the Wizards could really use him crashing the boards more, but he’ll never be much of a plus there. And that’s the rub with Jarvis’s fantasy game. He’ll never hit a ton of 3s, get many steals or blocks or score all that much. He got 31 minutes in his first start last night, and if he stays around that number he’ll be a very borderline fantasy play, because he’ll need to shoot a high percentage to have much value. Also, he’s no better than the fourth option on this team. Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler will all get their production. Butler didn’t play as much last night, but it’s hard to see Eddie Jordan leaving him on the bench in favor of Jared Jeffries for too much longer. Hayes is worth a look if you have a roster spot to play with, but it’s hard to see him helping you out too much.

Jim Jackson – It’s hard to imagine anyone picked up JJ after his 0-for-7 stinker last night. Jackson entered the starting lineup with Leandro Barbosa out of action for a couple of weeks, but didn’t take advantage of the opportunity at all. But take a look at the minutes column – in his first game as a starter, JJ saw 35 minutes of action. Only Steve Nash and Shawn Marion, who played 42 minutes each, saw more time on the court. So if Mike D’Antoni was willing to keep JJ out there for 35 when he couldn’t hit a shot to save his life, it will be interesting to see what happens when the shot does start to fall. But that might be wishful thinking. JJ is shooting an almost impossibly bad 27% on the season, which is why he hadn’t seen more than 18 minute since the season opener before last night. Still, he’s a proven vet, and he did connect on 3 or more 3s in 18 games last season. He’s likely completely off most people’s radar right now, but there’s a slight chance he could erupt for a boat load of 3s in the next game or two. He’s worth keeping an eye on at least.

Josh Smith – So he’s making his way back into the starting lineup tonight, mercifully putting Josh Childress on the bench. Young guys coming off a strong second half, never trust ‘em. Wait, so that means Smith too, right? Eh, maybe. Anyway, Smith will move back into the starting lineup, but will that mean a big boost in his value? He played 27 and 28 minutes as a starter in the first two games of the season. Since he moved to the bench his PT has been very inconsistent, but he’s still managed to at least 30 minutes in four of those games. In those four contests that he’s seen at least 30 minutes his numbers are 11.3/5/1.8 with 1.3 steals and – here it is – 3 blocks. OK, the dude has a worse looking jump shot than your sister, as his 34% FG will attest, and every time I see him launch a jumper I cringe. If there is anyone who ¾ of his FGA should be dunks, layups, follows, alley-oops, it’s Smith. The point is, moving into the starting lineup is always a good thing. Even if he doesn’t see much more than the 30 minutes he was often getting off the bench, there is a much better chance he won’t see those killer 15 minute outings. Everything’s obviously up in the air in Atlanta, but Smith still has the potential to slot as the team’s #3 option on offense, behind Joe Johnson and Al Harrington. Smith’s blocks make him and obvious fantasy dream, but he’s a borderline play until he gets his rebounds and FG% back to where they were last year. If he can manage consistent time as a starter, I’d bet on both of those happening. I might still wait a game or two before plugging him back in there, but soon it will be time.

We’ll try to have something up on Friday, but we make no promises. Happy Thanksgiving.


Blogger Rook said...

Enjoyed your thoughts on Josh Smith. With his minutes possibly becoming more consistent, is he a perfect "buy low" guy now? Or do you think his jumper and youth will keep us FG% down in the 30's, keeping him a "borderline play?"

3:25 PM  
Blogger DM said...

In theory, Smith is a good buy low candidate. But the thing is, he was probably drafted relatively high. In my league he was taken in the 7th round. So even though he's been underperforming, it's hard to see one of his owners giving him up super cheap, especially since he was probably drafted to carry a team in blocks. So yeah, if you can get him really cheap, it's not a bad move, but that's easier said than done.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

I don't know bout y'all, but I'm having a real tough time getting a read on some of the early season results.

Here's a few off the top of my head that I find particularly perplexing:

1) Gerald Wallace: I thought the injury might have cooled him off after his torrid start, but 24/9/4 with 2 blks & 3 steals in his first game back? Yeah, it was aginst the Knicks but, lawdy, those are some sick, sick numbers.

2) Bonzi Wells: 8.5 rpg? Where in hell'd that come from? Yeah, I know dude's in a contract year but to be averaging nearly the same number of boards as Yao, a man almost a full foot taller?

3) Marquis Daniels: A player I fully expected to blossom as a starter, given his tantalizing flashes of brilliance in a limited role the past two years. But his mediocrity thus far has been breathtaking.

Now, I know that every year there are players who step up, others who regress but in most of those cases you can kind of see the reasons behind it. But in the three cases above, I'm kind of at a loss for an explanation. Do these early season results represent a trend? Or,will each of these players eventually revert back to being the players we expected them to be coming into the season?

1:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One guy i have been really dissapointed in is Joel Przybila(sp?). I dont know if you have mentioned him before, but i had him last year in my league and he was tearing it up. But, this year?? yesterday he had 18min, and his minutes are slowly going down. Do you think this trend will continue? Is it time for me to send him to the waivers?

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is not really related to this topic, but I really need you guys' opinion on my center situation.

I've been sitting on Jamaal Magloire since the start of the season. He's getting his blocks and good rebounding numbers, but the points and the percentages are just HORRIBLE. I have the following center options, should I replace one of them and drop Jamaal?

Adonal Foyle
Desanga Diop
Mark Blount
or even take a chance on Ike Diogu? Not sure about his minutes though.

please help me out on this one

1:00 AM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

Of the centers you listed, I like Chandler's upside the most. He's underperformed so far this year, but his blocks and scoring should improve. As the hosts of this site have pointed out on numerous occasions, he's really the Bulls only option in the middle so heavy minutes are all but guaranteed in the future, barring a trade.

Diogu has the opposite situation. I know he's been a pretty trendy pickup since his return from injury but he's going to have a hard time getting much burn in Golden State's crowded frontcourt. The Warriors just gave Foyle a huge contract, so I don't see them benching him anytime soon; Murphy is entrenched at the 4; and both Capabarka and Biedrins have shown promise in limted minutes. I just don't see Ike leapfrogging the lot of them to get the 25-30 mpg he needs to be relevant, fantasy-wise.

Having said that, I don't much care for Foyle either as I don't see him emerging from that crowd with any kind of significant playing time advantage. As for the others: Diop appears to be a Theo Ratliff type, a two-dimensional boards/blocks guy who's also prone to foul trouble; Olowokandi still can't play; and Mark Blount is...well, he's Mark Blount.

Other than Chandler, I actually like Magloire better than any of the centers you mentioned.

2:31 AM  
Blogger bv said...

You know, i'm in the same situation. I've got Magloire and last weekend i finally had to put him on my bench. You certainly can't drop him - he's still getting minutes and his upside is as big or bigger than any of the guys you listed.

that said, if you do decide to drop him i'd go with either chandler or Blount.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Rook said...

bublitchki, I can't make sense of the developments you mentioned either. I'd say Bonzi can't possibly keep this up. He's a good rebounder, but he's never been above 6.0 in his career.

12:19 PM  

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