Wednesday, November 30, 2005

O Dallas ... Checking In on the Mavs

As if you needed anyone to tell you differently, Dirk Nowitzki is the unquestioned star of this team. Even when his shot isn’t falling, like the past couple games, where he’s shot a miserable 17-for-51, Dirk is still able to be a real asset. He still puts plenty of points on the board, makes his free throws, hits some 3s, grabs a ton lot of boards and throws in a block or steal. But there are some interesting trends for Dirk so far this year. He’s attempting 19.6 shots per game so far, which is the highest in his career. He’s being looked to even more on offense and seems to be taking more shots that he creates on his own, which aren’t always the highest percentage shots, hence his 44.7% shooting, lowest since his rookie season. He’s never shot below 46%, and you’d like to think he can at least get back to that number, but when you then see that he’s shooting a remarkable 46% from 3-point land on nearly 5 attempts per game, you start to think that it might actually get worse, not better. His owners would probably take the 1% hit in FG% to get an entire extra 3 per game, but that might be a bit much to ask. Dirk’s steals and blocks are also down from recent years, but you can feel more comfortable chalking that up to a small sample size so far. Earlier this week I talked about Kirk Hinrich not getting as many steals as past years, and then he turns around with a 5-steal game last night. Dirk has averaged between 1.0 and 1.4 steals and between 1.0 and 1.5 blocks each of the last five seasons. He’s at 0.5 and 1.0 right now, but it’s hard to see any reason why he shouldn’t end up at his averages. His assists are lower than any season since his rookie, but that’s one more likely to stay that way, given that he’s shooting even more. He scared some owners earlier this year with back problems, but he never missed a game and has never missed more than six in any season. He’s as much of a sure thing as there is, and that always makes him one of the best guys to put together a deal for.

I slotted Jason Terry at #32 on my preseason rankings, a bit higher than most other places I saw. But it was pretty much a no-brainer – here’s a guy who managed to finish 30th on the player rater last year in just 30 mpg. Now he was going to be locked in as the starting PG and #2 scoring option and he missed 9 games in the first six years of his career. This is the kind of guy to have on your team, because his perceived value is almost always lower than his actual value. And that’s the whole key to success, after all. He’s at #36 on the player rater right now and should stay in that general area all season. He’s a point guard who’s averaging just 4.1 apg, so it’s possible his owner is frustrated at the lack of assists. If you can make a move for him, I would highly recommend it. Like Mike Bibby, he’s a point guard, but is really more of a scorer and has never really racked up the assists. Save for a 7.4 apg season in Atlanta, he’s been between 4.9 and 5.7 in all of his other seasons besides his rookie campaign. He’ll likely finish around 5 per game, which is still a plus. He doesn’t have a standout number in any single category, which is another reason why his perceived value is probably lower than it truly is. But except for rebounds, he contributes across the board. OK, his 0.4 blocks will drop back down to his normal 0.2, but that’s normal for a PG. But it’s time to start considering whether he really has become a lights-out shooter. He never shot above 43.6% in Atlanta, but in his first year in Dallas he managed to shoot 50%. It was on just 9.3 shots per game, far down from 15 or so he averaged in Atlanta, so that seemed to be the logical explanation. But in 14 shots per game this season he’s still at a sterling 49%, and he’s even shooting more 3s. He’s still a 44% career shooter, and there’s still plenty of reason to except a somewhat precipitous drop in that percentage. But even keeping it in the 45-46% range will help him keep plenty of value there.

Erick Dampier is one of those guys you just don’t want to mess with. He’s a pretty confounding player, actually. Just five minutes into last night’s game against the Bucks, Dampier had 6 points and 3 boards and seemed to be on his way to one of his good games. But in 23 more minutes he went 0-for-2 from the field and scored just a single point. This really isn’t that out of the ordinary for Dampier, either. The Mavs try to establish him as an inside presence early on, but he either gets himself into foul trouble or loses interest and the Mavs decide to go with DeSagana Diop at center or just use a smaller lineup. Dampier’s had just three useful games this season out of 14. That’s not a very good percentage. If you have him on your team, he’s the kind of guy that will make you make sure you draft two reliable centers the next season. Well, assuming you play in a two center league, which you should, because that can really separate the fantasy boys from the fantasy men. Depending on what league you are in, there are anywhere from 8 to 12 reliable fantasy centers around, most likely. And that includes guys like Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Raef Lafrentz who are prone to throwing up clunkers. As for Diop, yes, he blocks shots, but that is truly all he does. If you're starting him, you are probably in the middle of the pack, at best.

Devin Harris I’ve written plenty about already. You know I love him, and Avery Johnson seems to like him too, as evidenced by all of the crunch time PT he’s been getting. But he still doesn’t want to start him. I mean, Darrell Armstrong getting the nod over you is one thing. He’s a seasoned vet who can bring a defensive intensity. But when an undrafted rookie like Josh Powell gets the starting nod before you do, that’s saying something. He’s still intriguing in the deepest of leagues, but since the very durable Terry is the one that’s blocking him from a starting gig, it’s hard to see Harris being a no-brainer fantasy starter this year. In time. I wrote about Marquis Daniels recently, too. He’s just playing a lot more passively this year. Here’s a guy who averaged 7.3 FGA per game in 18.6 mpg in his rookie season and 8.4 FGA per game in 23.5 mpg last season. So this season he’s averaging 33.2 mpg. At those rates, he should be averaging 12.4 FGA per game. But instead he’s at just 8.6. You can blame some of this on the me-first tendencies of many of his teammates – guys like Dirk, Terry, Josh Howard, Keith Van Horn, even Devin Harris are usually looking out for themselves. So Daniels has picked up some of slack with a career high 2.9 apg, but this isn’t an impressive number or really out of line with what he should be averaging with his increased time.

If Jerry Stackhouse ever comes back, it’s a lot more likely that he’ll mess up other players’ fantasy value instead of actually having any on his own. A guy who can only score, but does so while shooting 40% and doesn’t even start is the ultimate drag. If you can steal Josh Howard off his owner right now, I’d do it. It’s tough to make an offer for a guy who is out for two weeks, especially a fair offer, but Howard is a legit top 50 player and even though ankle injuries have a tendency to linger, I’ll trust in youth and think that he’ll have an easier time putting it behind him for good than an older player might. OK, that’s all the time for today…

3 Comments:

Anonymous bublitchki said...

I'm this close to cutting Marquis loose. I thought he's blow up following Howard's ankle injury, but that's hardly been the case.

Yeah, he had an OK line against the Bucks last night (21/4/4 w/ one steal) but considering he played 40 minutes and the game went into OT, I'd expect a whole lot more. He seems to disappear for long stretches in which he not only doesn't score, but fails to grab any boards or drop any dimes as well. Not too impressive for a guy that has hyped as a "potential triple double threat" every night.

I'll probably hang on to him for the duration of Howard's absence. If he fails to establish his niche by the time Howard returns, I imagine he'll only have margnal fantasy relevance from there on out.

5:35 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Unrelated to the article and last post, but what do you guys think of Boris Diaw's value...will it last?

Right now he's great for a guy who was picked up off the waivers...especially since I didn't get him. I'm trying to trade Michael Sweetney for him straight up (for someone that needs more points/rebounds) and if rejects then I'll go Sweetney + Luther Head for Diaw and Marc Jackson (whom I'll cut and replace with someone else).

Do either of those seem reasonable. Hoepfully Diaw will get Center Eligibility in Yahoo leagues, and when Amare comes back I think he'll slide and continue to start at PF with Amare at C and Marion as SF.

Sorry to be so random, but did anyone experience the effects of Yahoo's server crash. I lost my lineup change, which resulted in my having Dalembert on the bench along with his 11 boards and 5 blocks. Argh...

K, enough of my nightly rant.

Speaking of which, I'd be willing to put together an article (or not...I guess I'll just give you guys the idea), for when news is slow. Make a post about the fantasy sleepers no one has talked about. What I mean by this is the guys who have only marginal value right now, but who will have tons of value if there is an injury on their team. My best examples are Eddie Griffin and Sarunas Jask..whatever (Indiana) for when players like Tinsly eventually go down. Seeing players like Luther Head take off when given PT (once again, coming back to the statistic of minutes), we can find some potential sleepers, or at least guys to keep on your "watch" list should their teammates get hurt during the year.

I don't know about you, but my waiver wire is pretty slim pickings right now.

6:11 AM  
Blogger DM said...

I think you have to hold on to Daniels while Howard is out. But I agree that if he doesn't prove it over these next few weeks, he's someone to think about letting go. He just got dropped in my league, and I'm considering dropping Haywood or Collison for him, but probably won't just because I don't mind have backup bigs on my bench for contingency.

As for Diaw, it's hard not to love him right now. I'm having problems erasing the memory of the old Boris Diaw -- you know, the guy who couldn't have fantasy value even if he played 35 minutes -- but the Suns system makes stars. But players have been cycling in and out of fantasy relevance all year for them, so I might not get too comfortable.

2:49 PM  

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