Tuesday, January 10, 2006

As the Point Guard Turns

I think this might be the shortest ATPGT yet. I blame it on my being on verge of vomiting for the past few hours. Not just due to last night's Wizards game, even. BV's got a mailbag coming up tomorrow, so that's going to be pretty damn exciting.

Three Situations to Pay Attention To

New Orleans
Perhaps some good will come of Chris Paul’s injury. The rookie wall is sometimes more myth than reality (check out the splits for Emeka Okafor and Dwight Howard last year), but with a small point guard, it’s reasonable to expect that Paul wasn’t going to keep up his insane pace. So now he gets a few weeks off and hopefully will be refreshed and ready to keep up his ROY pace when he comes back from his thumb injury. In the meantime, Speedy Claxton belongs in just about all lineups while Paul is out. This is the classic fill-in point guard situation. Claxton is already a semi-viable fantasy option in deep leagues; he currently sits at #96 on the player rater, mostly due to his steals and the fact that he’s stayed relatively healthy this year. It should be noted that Claxton is one of those guys that’s perpetually banged up. He hasn’t topped 62 games in the last three seasons, and he’s fighting through a finger injury now. So there’s always a chance that he’ll go down. But you have to take your chances. There’s a big difference between 25 minutes and 35 minutes, and that’s roughly the bump that Claxton should get, maybe a little less. Claxton is a legit steals machine – he’s top 10 in the league in steals per minute this year and was right there last year, too. He didn’t start the Hornets’ last game against the Hawks (coach Byron Scott says he’ll be in there starting tonight), but he still managed to get 32 minutes and grabbed 4 steals in that time. Claxton’s an extremely aggressive player who loves to get to the basket, and he’s done that better than ever this year, averaging 5.1 free throw attempts in just 28 mpg. He attempted 13 free throws in that game against the Hawks and should continue to get to the line plenty. Think of Claxton as Brevin Knight but with more points and fewer assists. Like Knight, the three-pointer is not part of Claxton’s arsenal, as he has just 10 this season. But like Knight, he can single-handedly shoot you up the standings in steals with a solid 10 days or so. As PR said in his column yesterday, get him in your lineup.

Portland
Sebastian Telfair returned after a 12-game absence and picked up right where he left off, with a 3-point, 3-assist, 2-turnover, 1-of-7 shooting performance. Well, perhaps that’s a little mean, he is at 10.5 points and 4.2 assists on the season. With the extinction of the IL, Telfair is most likely available in your league, as it’s doubtful many owners wanted to waste a roster space on him while he was out, if he was even on a roster at that time. FBB all-time favorite Steve Blake didn’t embarrass himself while taking over the reigns during Telfair’s absence (9.4/3.1/5.3 with 0.9 3s and a mighty impressive 4.3:1 assist/turnover ratio), but he didn’t exactly light the world on fire or change the perception that he’s no more than a long-term backup. So is Telfair, a much-hyped lottery pick just a year ago, worth your time? Probably not. There are three major factors working against Telfair, and that’s never good. Factor #1 is that Blake and Jarrett Jack are still around and will get their PT. Jack has been far from spectacular, but has shown that he belongs in the NBA and has a nice 2.6:1 assist/turnover ratio. The Blazers don’t have a lot of talent, but all three out of Telfair, Blake and Jack are clearly best suited at point guard. Telfair saw only 35+ minutes in five games so far this year and that’s not good because … Factor #2 is that Telfair doesn’t have a broad enough skill set to put up big numbers without big minutes. He’s shown a better outside shot this season, averaging just over 1 3pg, which isn’t bad. But he is a huge liability at steals for a point guard and is one of the worst rate rebounders in the league. Not to mention the fact that it will be a miracle if he can shoot 40% on the season. The final factor working against Telfair is that Portland … well, Gary Payton said it best to Ruben Patterson on Sunday night “You guys suck. You all bad, Ruben.” The Blazers are a terrible basketball team right now. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them shift lineups the entire season, with guys constantly switching roles. This is a situation that’s best to avoid.

Orlando
Regular readers of FBB know that Jameer Nelson is one of my favorite players. At the beginning of the season he was buried on the depth chart, the second guard off the bench for the Magic, but I still couldn’t rank him lower than #114 in our preseason rankings because he’s just got too much talent on a team with not that much of it. Everyone knows that he’s been lighting it up off the bench lately and now finds himself in the starting lineup. There’s a reason PR started his column yesterday with Jameer; the guy is just a fantasy stud when given the time. So now he’s in the starting lineup for the time being while Grant Hill recovers from his latest malady. But perhaps it will be more than just for the time being. Who knows if – or even when – Hill will return. They say it might be as soon as Friday, but even if that does happen, another injury might be right around the corner. It’s a good sign that while Hedo Turkoglu got the starting nod when Hill was out earlier in the year, Nelson gets the call now. It makes plenty of sense because Nelson has arguably been the Magic’s second best player this year, with only Dwight Howard being clearly better. If you put any stock into John Hollinger’s PER stat, Nelson and Steve Francis have been basically the equal this season. One thing working against Nelson is that he’s so great late in games – almost half of his points have come in the closing quarter – that Brian Hill might opt to keep him coming off the bench if he can, to keep him fresh for the end of games. As I’ve said before, this is never a tactic I’ve understood. If it was working with great success then maybe, but the Magic are 13-18. They need to worry about the first three quarters, too. It should be noted that Nelson is much less attractive in leagues that count turnovers. He’s averaging 2.4 in just 26.5 mpg so far, and since he’s another one of those SG in a PG body, he doesn’t have the assists to necessarily offset those. As a refresher, his numbers in 21 games as a starter last year – 15.7/4.7/5.2 with 1.1 3s and 1.7 steals. To me – and probably to lots of you – the Magic would seem best off starting Nelson and Francis even when Hill was healthy and moving DeShawn Stevenson to tbe bench. The return of Keyon Dooling might be a bit of a buzzkill for Nelson, but – and perhaps this is foolish of me – I’d like to think that talent will win out. Some people might say, “Well, look how that’s worked out for guys like Eddie Griffin and Al Jefferson.” But the thing is, those guys just aren’t very good (yet). Nelson’s a pretty proven commodity at this point. Worst case scenario, Nelson seems to be in the same boat as Mo Williams as a guy who can still have value coming off the bench and is next in line for a starting job if any one of three (rather fragile) guys go down.

Comet Gain
Steve Nash – The man is just amazing; a mind-boggling 20.8 ppg (on 52% shooting) and 13.5 apg in his last eight games. He might actually deserve the MVP this season.

Jason Kidd – He deserves to be here two weeks in a row. Yet another data point for not selling low on established stars; having his best shooting season since 98-99, and all the other numbers are right where they should be.

Rafer Alston – One absolute stinker against his old nemesis Sam Mitchell, but otherwise has been playing like the 5th/6th round pick most were expecting since his return. McGrady’s absence should mean continued chance to shine.

Kirk Hinrich – As expected, he has bounced back, and in a big way; Duhon’s demotion to the bench should be good news for his assists.

Earl Boykins – Little(st) man has been huge lately with 18.5/1.5/3.3 and 2.0 3s over his last six. He needs to keep hitting those 3s to maintain his value.

The Hold Steady
Stephon Marbury – The Knicks have won three in a row and Steph has gone for 23.7/2.7/12.0 (!!) with 2.0 steals in those games. Still wish he’d bring those percentages up to last year’s levels, and you never know when it will all go sour again in the Big Apple.

Tony Parker – He – and all other FG% studs – are sorely undervalued by Yahoo’s ranking system; has been one of the most consistent players around this season.

Allen Iverson – Huge game last night was nice to see; shooting has been shakier lately and if Webber misses more time you sort of feel one of those 40% shooting on 28 shots per game stretches coming on.

Bobby Jackson – His line of 12.3/4.7/2.7 with 2.0 3s and 0.7 steals are just about exactly what we were expecting in place of Stoudamire. Nothing great, but still useful.

Tyronn Lue – Continues to defy the odds and offer value to those in deep leagues; starting and getting 5 to 7 extra minutes would make so much difference.

The Fall
Chris Duhon – Had started 101 straight games that he appeared in before hitting the bench last week; now he’ll be too inconsistent to count on.

Baron Davis – Still a stud, but shooting is as bad as ever and he’s getting banged up.

Raymond Felton – Bottom line is that his 31% shooting just does not make up for the steals and assists he offers, even if he starts while Rush takes time off.

Mo Williams – Had a disappointing run filling in for T.J. Ford, shooting just 36% over his last four games; with Ford back he should return to being started in just deep leagues.

Damon Jones – Absolutely pitiful in Hughes’s absence so far, but he’s still capable of throwing in 14 3s over a three-game span.

8 Comments:

Blogger "rem" said...

surprised to see that Delonte West is nowhere to be seen in this week's episode of ATPGT (maybe in the hold steady category) he has picked up his 3pt shooting as of late and is becoming for of an option for the C' as Ricky Davis starts to show some wear and tear from logging all those minutes West's still got to work on getting to the ft line though

I would hesitate (just barely)to add Ridnour to "The Fall" whose injuries have reduced his playing time but is still valuable for his steals and assists while his 3pt shooting has become a liability

and Watson is still in limbo but could be turning the corner on the heels of his 20 pt performance going 6-7 from downtown vs. Houston

12:38 PM  
Blogger Da Schmuzer said...

We still haven't heard anything about Watson being traded, so his value is still limited at this point IMHO.

12:44 PM  
Blogger DM said...

I've said so many good things about Delonte in the comments over the past week, I felt I could leave him out. I love those St. Joe's guards. Think Portland would rather have Nelson or West instead of Telfair? What about Cleveland instead of Luke Jackson?

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey guys wat do you think about tradin t parker for g wallace? i've got bdiddy and billups on my team already so i've got a bit of room to give in the assists dept.

i'm interested in gwallace coz of his steals and blocks but i'm worried about takin a hit in my %'s and i just dunno how consistent he is goin to be for the rest of season. apparently he's had slumps throughout season so far, but i thought that had to do with his injuries.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone offered me C.Anthony for Brad Miller.

I have Big Z and Z. Pachulia as my centers.
Looks tempting

11:29 PM  
Blogger DM said...

Wallace is great -- 25th on the player rater when you take it by averages. But he's been a little banged up and has a tendency to go hot and cold. Like I said earlier today, Parker has been one of the most consistent guys in the league this year. But since he doesn't hit many 3s or get many steals, he'll never be a true top player. It's a pretty even deal; Wallace without a doubt has more upside, but Parker's the steadier choice.

Melo for Miller? I don't know. They are pretty even, but trading a top center for a SF isn't usually my favorite thing. I probably wouldn't do it, but you know your team better.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

True, I have Miller and notice he's had a bad few games in a row now. But, he overall is a guy who can easily get 16/10/6, and that is pretty nice from a Center. Also, Center is probably one of the biggest positions of scarcity, especially with so many teams playing small ball. Melo only really helps in scoring...and quality swingmen are the easiest position to get a hold of. I probably wouldn't do it, if for the simple fact that Melo doesn't contribute a lot of 3's or assists, which is something I'd want for giving up Miller. But then again, it depends if you're playing in a Roto or head to head leave and if your lineups are daily/weekly....

2:25 AM  
Blogger "rem" said...

funny about the Carmelo trade i just gave him away for... Chris Bosh. My other centers are Magloire (underachieving so far) and Pachulia but I love the PF/C option that Bosh gives me in my lineup. I might take a slight hit in total contributions pts/steals but a scoring center is more valuable than a SF (plenty abound even on waivers)

A move that I was looking at was perhaps dropping Stackhouse (injury prone)for Raja Bell (draining threes from all over)

10:53 AM  

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