Thursday, January 05, 2006

Feeling Supersonic

First off, did we wish everyone a happy new year? I’m not sure we did. If we didn’t, then happy new year. If we did, well then really – happy new year. Thanks for reading and thanks for all of your comments. And thanks to all of you who respond to other people’s comments, creating some nice dialogue. We like that. We can’t respond to every single comment – it may shock you to realize that we actually have other things to do in life than obsess over fantasy basketball, such as making sure our bosses aren’t looking when we are writing about fantasy basketball – so thanks to you who pick up the slack for us. If you’re smart enough to be reading FBB in the first place, you’re probably someone who can be trusted. That’s how I feel.

So the Sonics fired Bob Weiss and handed the reigns over to Bob Hill. Not too surprising, given the Sonics disappointing record this year and the fact that due to their crappy division, a quick turnaround would put them right at the top. Hill really put his stamp on the team from the beginning, making lots of lineup changes, with only Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis being holdovers from the last lineup that Weiss threw out there. (Theire values won't change, by the way. Both will continue to be all-out studs as long as they are healthy.) Hill called a timeout just 90 seconds into the game, ran the players through an intense “off day” practice on a game day – he’s making this team his own. So this means we might have some changes on the fantasy landscape. So while everyone else was watching USC/Texas (don’t worry, I saw the last quarter and a half – the only college football I watched all year), I was watching the enthralling matchup of the 12-18 Bulls vs. the 13-17 Sonics.

It’s never the best idea to look too much into one game, and there are lots of reasons why that’s extra true here. First off, the Sonics were playing an extremely small Bulls team that was made even smaller due to the absence of Tyson Chandler. And secondly, the Sonics finished the game without Allen, who got elbowed in the eye and was held to 28 minutes. So that means there were more minutes to go around.

We’ll start with the bad news. Reggie Evans – who started 79 games last year and 23 of 30 this year, and played some of his best ball in December, averaging 8.7 points and 8.6 boards on 56% shooting – was a DNP-CD. He seems to be out of Hill’s plans completely. The Sonics announcers were saying that it was because he didn’t draw double teams and it made the offense stagnant, and that with Vladimir Radmanovic on the floor it would open things up more. Could be. We’ll see. Evans was never the best fantasy option since all he could be counted on for was rebounds, but he’s not even worth stashing on your bench at this point. Cut bait. Same goes for Damien Wilkins, who was a pretty popular pick up just a few days ago. Done for. Useless. Cut him. Nothing else to say there.

The hot pickup yesterday was Vladimir Radmanovic. He’s always been one of those tantalizing talents that has never gotten the full opportunity to show what he can do, but at the same time has never really proven he deserves that opportunity. This is his fifth season and we’re still waiting for him to break out. He’s a tough fit because he’s 6’10”, which means he should probably be a PF, but is really more suited for a SF. He has yet to show any real discernable skill besides a supersweet stroke from long range, but that plus minutes is enough to make him a fantasy asset, and last night’s game was a pretty good microcosm of that. Radmanovic did indeed replace Evans in the starting lineup and was given free reign to fire away. He hit a 3 on the team’s first possession and kept on chucking from there on out. He attempted 10 3s, connecting on four, on his way to a pretty ugly 5-for-15 shooting night. But those four 3s are hard to look past. He managed to snag two steals, and has always been right around average in that category, but is nothing special in boards – especially if you are using him as a PF – and doesn’t help out anywhere else. But anyone who has carte blanche to launch that many 3s is going to have value, and Radmanovic has the chance to establish himself as the #3 option on an extremely high scoring team, which is always a good situation to be in. Like I said, his only skill is shooting, and shooters always fall into slumps, and when those slumps happen, he’ll hurt you a lot. If he’s shooting 3-for-13 with only a single three, that’s not good. He’s not going to be a savior but: 1) he can help dominate a category, 2) he plays on a high scoring team, 3) he’s playing for a contract.

If you had the foresight to buy low on Luke Ridnour after his bout with nausea/ineffectiveness, well done. With a return to the starting lineup and Hill supporting him, he should go back to being a solid, low-upside PG2. With all the talk about ignored categories, I certainly believe that percentages are ignored, if only because it’s the hardest to figure out how much impact a single player has since it’s not a counting stat. ESPN’s player rater tells me that Ridnour has been exactly as valuable in FT% this year as Chris Bosh – averaging 22 ppg – is in scoring. This is one reason why he’s always underrated – no one will ever want to trade for a guy who excels at FTs.

Perhaps the best development of Hill taking over is that Robert Swift sightings will now be a regular occurrence. This is good news for fans of gawky white dudes being dunked on repeatedly. Swift played 8 minutes last night and picked up five fouls in that time span – and remember, this was against a team that was playing Darius Songaila at center for most of the game! Johan Petro received the bulk of the minutes in the middle and he might be able to step into the Reggie Evans “if you’re desperate for boards” role. He qualifies at center, so that makes him a little more attractive, but his lack of blocks – not to mention his “wait, that’s not a typo?!” percentages of 38% from the field and 27% from the line make him a non-factor. Nick Collison looked very solid in his 22 minutes off the bench, but the “22 minutes off the bench” holds much more weight than the “very solid.” Unless he can work his way back into the starting lineup, even his center eligibility leaves him pretty much worthless.


Anonymous bublitchki said...

I don't think the coaching shake-up in Seattle really changes things all that much. From a fantasy perspective, the Sonics are basically a two-man show IMHO.

Beyond Ray and Rashard, there's just not much there to get excited about. Yes, Ridnour is a serviceable #2 PG but I see him as interchangeable with numerous others who are routinely availbale on a waiver wire near you. West, Duhon, Alston, and Mo Williams all show roughly the equivalent value on the Fantasy Analyzer and can be plugged in to a line-up to fill whatever your particular need happens to be. Yes, Luke is stong in FT%, but his FG% is poor and he doesn't get you many threes for a PG. For my money, Delonte West is a better option as a #2 PG because(1) he seems to have locked down the starting job in Boston and has shown marked improvement with the increase in minutes and (2) he's one of those guys that won't wow you in any one particular category but won't kill you in any either; his FG% and FT% are strong, and his boards and block numbers are much better than your typical PG.

As for VladRad, I'm staying clear. At best, he's little more than a poor man's Rasheed Wallace - but minus the C eligibility. Every year, he gets picked up and dropped several times in my league by people who are dazzled by his upside (kind of like me with Eddie Griffin) I don't see his numbers getting much better - even with a new coach and more PT.

The one guy I'm keeping half an eye on is Collison. I liked him as a sleeper coming into this year and he's done nothing but disappoint thus far. But with Evans out of the picture, he might conceivably be relied upon to play a bigger role. Plus, he recently gained C eligiblity in Yahoo, so if he ever does get it going, he'd have more than a little value.

2:22 PM  
Blogger DM said...

I basically agree with most of that, bublitchki. RadMan is the classic waiver wire tease, but the fact remains that if he gets 30-35 mpg, he will be top 10 in the league in 3PM. And there's obvious value in that. But like I said, he's a shooter, so when his shot's not falling, he's going to have trouble having value.

Delonte > Ridnour, for sure. I have changed my tune completely on Delonte from the beginning of the year. I love him. He's like if Tayshaun Prince was a PG.

3:35 PM  
Blogger boredinpittsburgh said...

I just wish they gave Collison some minutes!!

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been keeping my eye on Radman a lot also, from games earlier this year, the ones he got minutes in, he produced okay, mostly in threes and scoring. But I still can't get myself to give him a shot on my roster. Would you guys recommend dropping Eddie griffin for Radman? I mean at least he's getting minutes, unlike Griffin, who played less than Kandiman last night even though he got the start.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

I have about as much chance as picking the winning Powerball numbers as I do of predicting the right times to pick up and drop Eddie Griffin!

If I recommended dropping Eddie for VladRad, dude would no doubt erupt for one of his 15 rebound, 4 block, 3 threes games. If I suggest keeping him, he plays six minutes grabs two boards along with a turnover.

Although I'm no fan of VladRad, at least you know he'll be getting 30-35 mpg under the new coach. That alone probably gives him more long term value than Eddie.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Griffin...I still have hope for another year or two from now. He still needs to be refined and at least somewhat consistent. Sure, having minutes varied so much doesn't help, but he needs to show the fight whenever he has the chance.

The fact that the Wolves are undefeated when Griffin plays 30+ minutes this year argues that he makes a positive influence and should be the undisputed start in my opinion.

I picked him up after his monster game and dropped him two days later after he threw up a couple of horrible ones. I used his spot up for Rafer Alston, who will hopefully pick up the slack I lost with Damon going out (whom I picked up Bobby Jax to replace).

My advice is to hit the waivers hard when trades are made or players are dropped due to injury. Players like Earl Watson, Michael Pietrus (if he goes to Indiana), etc could be solid pickups for the latter half of the campaigns. I happily picked up Dalembert earlier this year after his owner dropped him due to his long injury...of course he kills me in the technical fouls category.

My biggest problem is Nocioni. I used up a waiver spot on league is deep...but since then he's been absolutely horrible. Deng has been getting started over him...which is not undeserved, but still....ahah..I need to find another guy who'll give me modest threes, points, rebounds, and defense....which hopefully I'll find come trade day.

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Well, Jeremy, it looks like Rafer has gotten his mojo back so that was a nice pickup. Another nice line from him tonight. I was skeptical after he played horribly to start off the season, but he looks pretty good.

1:07 AM  

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