Friday, December 16, 2005

Weekend Preview: 12/16-12/18

I’m taking over weekend preview duties from BV for this weekend, so we’ll keep it like last week and give you not one, not two, not four, not five, but THREE games of the weekend, one for each day. I know lots of you have fantasy football playoff matchups to pay attention to (myself included – wish good health for Brady and Tomlinson for me), but don’t ignore basketball. It’s not like you actually need to pay too much attention to football, it’s all just a formality now. There isn’t going to be anyone to pick up or trades to make. But that’s not the case with the NBA. So here are some games we’ll be watching this weekend…

Washington Wizards at Los Angeles Lakers, Friday 10:30 pm EST

We here at FBB always pay close attention to Wizards games, but we’ll be paying extra close attention to this one. One of those reasons is that it will be the first time the Wiz face failed franchise savior Kwame Brown. While Kwame hasn’t at all been responsible for the Lakers impressive play of late, he does find himself on the better team at this juncture, and with the Wizards record standing at 9-11 as they embark on this five-game West Coast swing, it could remain that way for a while. We’ll be watching to see how Gilbert Arenas fares in his return to the lineup for the Wizards. Rest assured, he will be in the lineup and he will certainly be pumped to play in his hometown and to go up against Kwame for the first time since Kwame bashed Gilbert. For those expecting Gilbert to be a bit rusty, don’t count on it. I really think Gilbert is turning into a player quite similar to Allen Iverson, and that will, I suspect, include him missing a few games here and there because of the beating he takes on a nightly basis. This hasn’t been an issue yet for Arenas, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him intermittently miss a few games each season as his career wears on. At the same time, I see him being someone – like AI – who could sit out a game and then go for 38 points in 46 minutes the next night.

On the Lakers side, we’ll be interested to see what starting looks like. Last game Phil Jackson made a switch by putting Sasha Vujajic in for Brian Cook, which shifted Smush Parker to his more natural position of SG, Kobe Bryant to SF and Lamar Odom to PF. I said earlier this week that I thought Vujajic would have fantasy value at some point this season, so let’s see if that time is now. His first start wasn’t all that impressive, but three of the five shots he took in his 33 minutes were from long range and he did notch two steals. He’s never going to be major contributor, but injuries are starting to pile up and you never know when you’ll need to scrounge the waiver wire for a decent fill-in. We’ll also be monitoring the play of Kwame Brown, who hasn’t looked all that terrible since returning from his hamstring injury. He hit 6-of-6 shots against Dallas two games back and had 9 points, 6 boards and 2 steals in 25 minutes against Memphis. He also got to the line 6 times – a season high – showing a new aggressiveness. Will it last? Will he be able to work his way back into the starting lineup? Will he be able to actually help fantasy squads? We shall see. (In other words, no.)

Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs, Saturday 8:30 pm EST

Will the Kings have any new faces when they take the court in San Antonio Saturday? We don’t like to spend too much time talking about trade rumors here on FBB, but with trading season now open, expect at least a little action sometime soon. The Kings have been a major disappointment thus far as lowly Portland is the only team in the West with a worse record. You have to think that Geoff Petrie and the Maloofs will want to shake things up, whether that means something big (shipping out Peja Stojakovic) or something smaller (one of their trio of underused PFs – Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson, Brian Skinner). It would make sense for Sacramento to deal from this depth, since there are plenty of teams seeking big man help and since Rick Adelman has never been one to use his bench all that much.

For the Spurs, we’ll be looking to see if Tim Duncan’s early season run of impressive free throw shooting has indeed come to a screeching halt. After shooting a very impressive 76% from the charity stripe over the season’s first 19 games, Duncan has completely lost his touch over the past three contests to a tune of 29.6% (8-for-27). We all know it can’t stay this bad, but it’s definitely in his head now. And once it’s in there, it probably won’t leave. This is devastating news to his owners, as even if Duncan stays around his current 67% mark, it will be very hard for teams that have him to finish in the top half of FT% in cumulative roto leagues.

Denver Nuggets at Atlanta Hawks, Sunday 2 pm EST

The Nuggets play on Friday, so we’ll see if Marcus Camby is back in the lineup before the end of the weekend, but his owners will surely like to see him make it two straight on Sunday. Camby unexpectedly missed last night’s contest – and says he doesn’t expect to play tonight – with one of the worst maladies that can afflict man : the dreaded sprained pinkie finger. This is why he is called Cotton Camby. Yes, he’s had his share of more serious injuries over the years, but it’s the little ones like this that drive his owners crazy. A sprained pinkie? Please! Perhaps we shouldn’t scoff because his last three games have not been up to the standard that he set over the season’s first few months: 14.0/9.3/0.3 with 1.3 blocks on 40% shooting. Not terrible by any means, but it’s starting to look like those who dealt Camby when his value was sky high might have saved themselves lots of frustration, even if the didn’t get “full value” in return.

For the Hawks, we’ll be tracking the ups and downs of Josh Smith. His latest game on Wednesday night shows why you can’t just ignore him – 8/11/3 with 3 blocks in 36 minutes. But until he shows some consistency, he’s going to continue to be a headache for fantasy owners. What Smith really needs is for one member of the Hawks rotation to be dealt or get traded. He put up that productive line with Zaza Pachulia out, which meant there were some extra minutes to go around. Because Smith is so inconsistent and the Hawks have so many swingmen to choose from, his minutes are especially volatile. Unless you are in the shallowest of leagues, I just can’t endorse dropping Smith. Using my league as an example, the best guys available on the waiver wire are Smush Parker, Damon Jones, Andres Nocioni, Kareem Rush and Jarvis Hayes. Sure, some of those guys might be able to give you more solid short-term production than Smith (although that’s hardly a given), but it’s just not a logical risk/reward.

Have a good weekend … hopefully you’ll see some content on here at some point.


Anonymous bublitchki said...

I'm one of those owners who's stubbornly hanging on to Josh Smith - even though he has yet to play a single game in my starting line-up.

Yes, he's been maddeningly inconsistent thus far and the stories out of the ATL about his attitude problems don't exactly inspire confidence that he's going to turn things around anytime soon.

But the kid is just so damn talented, I feel he will have value at some point this season. Plus, the rumors persist that the Hawks are actively seeking to move Harrington, which would all but guarantee Smith 30-35 mpg. If that happens, watch out! Recall that Smith absolutely blew up following the Walker trade last year, pulling down more boards, as well as hitting some jump shots to go along with his 2 bpg.

Making the total package even more appealing is Smith's guard eligibility. So, like many other Smith owners in the Fantasy Hoops universe, I will continue to bide my time and hope that Smith will eventually do more than just take up space on my roster.

1:08 AM  
Blogger DM said...

He's a G/F who just blocked eight shots in a single game. He should be owned in every league there is. Sure, sit him on the bench for now, but he's going to be a difference maker at some point this season, which you can't say for most players who have been sitting on the waiver wire at any point.

10:38 AM  

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