Thursday, December 22, 2005

Yao What Do I Do?

So I had a strategy this year going into the draft. It was pretty simple – draft players who were likely to play 80 games, take the best player available over the first 6-7 rounds but also make sure to get two solid centers so I wouldn’t have to play the dreaded “Find a Second Center” game, and do not ignore percentages. It worked pretty well, I think. In a 12-team league I got Dirk-Yao-Pau-Kirk-Cuttino-Sheed-Rip with my first seven picks. I felt that with those picks guys I had seven guys who would stay in my lineup all season, and that included two centers and two guys with an outside shot at qualifying at center.

So you can imagine my frustration now that Yao is going to miss approximately six weeks with a booboo on his big toe. First off, I don’t doubt that the big man is in pain, as when you are 7’6” and nearly 300 pounds, your feet have a lot of weight on them. But the thing is, Yao was playing his best ball of the season right before he got hurt. His last three games before sitting down he was averaging 26/11/1 on 62% from the field on 15 shots per game and 85% from the line at nearly 9 attempts per game. His blocks had been disappointing all season, but you can’t complain about those other numbers. If he had been putting up 14/6 on 43% shooting over five games before going down, then maybe I’d comprehend it a bit more. But as it is, it just doesn’t make sense.

So now I’m stuck without my #2 draft pick for at least a month. Lots of you are in similar situations, if not with Yao then with many of the other guys fighting injuries. So what to do? Don’t freak out. Stick with your strategy. You did have a strategy, right? For all the advice we give on guys who make hot pickups and all that, my team has remained pretty much in tact the entire season. With Eddie Jones and Marquis Daniels as my only SF, I needed some help there so I dumped Daniels this morning (with Josh Howard and Jason Terry back in full force, there’s simply not enough production to go around I feel) for James Jones, who should be able to help me out in 3s when he moves back into the starting lineup. That was just my fourth roster move of the season.

Yao leaves a big hole for me at center, but I kept Brendan Haywood around for this specific reason. This was another part of the strategy – don’t be left without a quality backup at the key positions, those obviously being PG and C. Haywood’s no star, obviously, but he certainly qualifies as a quality backup. His PT is a bit volatile, swinging between 20 and 30 minutes per night, but he does what you want a fill-in center to do: hit a high percentage of his shots and block some shots. His 57% from the field should come down a bit, but he is a 53% career shooter, so there shouldn’t be too much of a drop off. A good number of his shot attempts are layups/dunks/follows. And at 2.0 blocks per game, there are only 14 guys better than him there. What you want from injury fill-ins is to not lose ground. Everyone team in your league will suffer through injuries at some point during the season, and how they deal with them will go a long way towards determining who will end up at the top of the standings.

One thing I certainly won’t be doing is making a panic deal for another center. If you play in a league with people that pay attention, most people will see someone with Yao on their team and think that they’ll be able to gouge that owner for an extra center. The odds just aren’t in my favor in a situation like this. Would I love to someone like Jermaine ONeal manning my other center spot instead of Brendan Haywood? Of course. But to get him I’d have to deal from another strength, and then you invariably end up creating more holes for yourself. Basically, I go with under-management as opposed to over-management as a general rule. That is, as long as you have good players.

And I suppose I should address the Rockets frontcourt situation. As one helpful, anonymous commenter pointed out, Stromile Swift did indeed get nutted by Chris Bosh last night, which led to his receiving the same PT as Lonny Baxter. If Stro has recovered he should be back in the starting lineup as long as Dikembe Mutombo is out. But unless he really explodes, it’s hard to see Van Gundy sticking with him as a starter when Mutombo comes back. The Rockets were having enough trouble outscoring anyone with Yao, so without him they’ll need to be even tougher on D, and even in his second century in the league, Mutombo is still a solid defensive presence. If you are willing to use a roster spot on someone who will help you in blocks while killing you in every other category except rebounds, have fun with Mutombo. As for Juwan Howards … he’s just so boring. He just doesn’t help you anywhere – his per 40 numbers are .7 steals, .1 blocks and 0 3s. He’s shot exactly 45% from the field the past three years, so you know what to expect there. He’ll basically need to go for 21 and 12 like he did last game every night to have even mediocre value.

That should do it for me for a few days, at least in terms of posted content. Have a happy holiday of your choosing.


Anonymous CN said...

I was offered Webber and Diaw for Kirilenko. This was before he left the road trip, and the owner pulled the trade back. But if i reoffered it, I think i could swing it. Thoughts? I was also offered Cassell and D. Howard for Billups and Ilgauskus. I turned it down and countered with Bosh in place of Cassell. I know that's asking a lot, but I'm from Detroit and Chauncey is just too damn good. He finally offered Cassell, Howard, and Bosh for Billups, Big Z, and Chris Paul, who I consider untradeable. Help me out here boys...

5:41 PM  
Blogger DM said...

I think the second scenario isn't going to work out. I'm all about trading high, but Billups is just on another level right now. I'm usually against big trades like this where it doesn't seem like you clearly come out better.

As for the first deal, I think it's going to be tough to deal AK47 until his status is cleared up a bit. And I'm still not sure that I'd do the deal. I mean, sure, Kirilenko could be out for ages, but that could happen to Webber, too. And Diaw, like most guys who aren't Nash/Marion on Phoenix, is running hot and cold.

Trades are fun, but they don't always help.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous James said...

When Yao went down, my partner and I settled (after some debate) on Jarron Collins as a replacement. We won't deal. We'll slum it a center until Yao gets back and hope our stud guards can carry us to some W's. What do you guys think of Collins? Haywood's available. I'm thinking about it. But my partner has eyes for Vlad Radmanovic.

11:54 PM  
Blogger bv said...

james, if I were you, i'd drop collins and forget about him for the rest of the year. He just doesn't help anywhere and is a total fantasy wasteland. Haywood would be a much better option, if only for the blocks.

11:50 AM  

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