Friday, February 17, 2006

Head-to-Head's Up (2/20-2/26): Trade Deadline Edition

Well I’m glad the NBA (David Stern) came to its senses and invited Gilbert Arenas to play in Houston this weekend after all. Too bad Gil had to go and finish the first half of the season with a 4-for-22 effort and 6 turnovers at Dallas. Ouch.
So we have All-Star festivities to get through this weekend and then we’re back to the real games and hopefully an exciting week full of blockbuster trades. Here’s looking at you, week 2/20-2/26.

Four Games: Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana, LAL, Memphis, Milwaukee, New Jersey, New Orleans, Orlando, Portland, Seattle.
Three Games: Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Golden State, Houston, LAC, Minnesota, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Utah, Washington.
Two Games: Denver, Miami, Phoenix, Sacramento, Toronto.

Season-long trade rumors are finally coming to fruition this week. Darko is moving to Disney World, former Terrapin Chris Wilcox swapped area codes with Vlad Rad, and Stevie Franchise just may get another ‘change of scenery’ if Isaiah Thomas continues his quest to bury the Knicks six-feet-under. Keep a close eye on pending trades as several players are sure to find themselves in new situations that could really boost their second half value.

Plug ‘em in, Plug ‘em in:
Josh Smith/Childress, G/F – The reigning Slam-Dunk champ just put up career-highs of 21 points and 15 boards, while fellow swingman Josh Childress also scored a season-high 21 in a win over the Lakers Wednesday. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that Al Harrington will be asked to pack his bags before the Feb. 23rd deadline. Josh & Josh would immediately reap the benefits should Harrington (and his 37 mpg) depart. Smith averages an incredible 2.3 blks in only 27.5 mpg, and Childress contributes across the board but especially in steals with 1.2 spg in 28.4 minutes. Hopefully both will see 30-35 minutes a night the rest of the way and improve on their already respectable numbers. The youngsters have four games next week so get them in your lineups.

Delonte West, PG – LeBron (43/12/11) and Paul Pierce (50/7/8) may have stolen the show in an overtime thriller the other night, but Delonte also filled his stat line with 15/10/8 and 3 blocks. One of the best waiver wire pickups of the year, the versatile guard just keeps on truckin’. Jefferson, Perkins, and Wally are banged up, so West should have plenty of scoring chances in four contests next week.

Anthony Johnson, PG – Jamaal Tinsley is starting to make Marcus Camby and Fred Taylor look like iron men. He’s only appeared in 23 games this season and hasn’t been healthy for a full year since his rookie campaign. Veteran point guard Anthony Johnson has been handed the reins and asked to do what he can to help salvage Indiana’s season. A.J. has been a member of the Pacers’ starting five since the end of December and averages nearly 30 mpg as a starter. Usually just a borderline fantasy starter in deep leagues, Johnson’s hot hand (19/4/5 with 2 threes and 1.3spg in last 3 outings) makes a decent plug-and-play for four games next week.

Darko Milicic, F/C – If there ever was an ideal situation for the young 7-footer, Orlando is it. Darko’s playing time was so limited in Detroit that analyzing his stats does not really give you an indication of his potential. He’s shooting an impressive 51.5% from the floor, yet a miserable 37.5% from the charity stripe this season. But of course, his 17-of-33 FGs and 3-of-8 from the line are such small samples that they are essentially rendered meaningless. If one were to ascertain anything from his stats it would have to be his impressive 15 blocks in only 140 minutes of play this season. He’s sure to see plenty of playing time on his new team, and starting alongside league-leading rebounder Dwight Howard (12.6 rpg) seems to be a perfect fit for the Serbian big man. If you’re feelin’ Darko, get him in your lineups right away. Let's just hope for the best.

Chris Wilcox, F/C – Assuming Evans/Fortson get shipped out of town sometime before next Thursday, Wilcox will have a great opportunity to excel as the new starting PF in Seattle. Now that he lives in Starbucks capital, USA, maybe some grande caramel macchiatos can help Chris wake up and get his head in the game. The former Terp has immense talent and this appears to be a good situation for him. The Sonics frontcourt has lacked athleticism and been clogged up with the likes of Evans/Swift/Collison/Petro/Fortson for too long. Wilcox brings much needed explosiveness up front and could average 15 and 10 if he's focused and motivated. Think of him as a younger/healthier Kenyon Martin, with center eligibility to boot.

Stash ‘em or at least keep on your radar:
Antoine Walker – He was back in the SLU for a couple games before the break (scored 26 pts and hit six treys on Feb. 15). Employee #8 needs a starting gig to be a consistent fantasy contributor, and he may just land one if traded to the right team.
Shaun Livingston – Prep-to-pro point guard struggling in his second season, "the next Magic Johnson" has started three of the Clips last five games, averaging 6.7 assists in those contests. The potential is there for a monster second half if 36-year-old Cassell were to go down with an injury.
Earl Watson – Incessant trade rumors surrounding Denver’s reserve PG are making me nauseous. He could have some value if given a starting job somewhere (New York?)
Nazr Mohammed – The big man averaged 11 pts and 8 rebounds for the Knicks last season. He has been stuck on the Spurs’ bench all year, but exploded for 18 pts and 20 boards Wednesday night at Philly. He could make some noise if he were to take the starting spot from Rasho, or perhaps filling in for an injured Duncan.

Forget about ‘em and move on:
Larry Hughes
– just went under the knife again and will be lucky to return for the playoffs.
Emeka Okafor – they’ve been saying he’ll be back in 3-5 weeks for over a month now. Word out of Charlotte is that he’ll likely sit for the rest of the season.
Jameer Nelson – Specialists can’t figure out what is wrong with his foot, and he is out for at least another three weeks. Even if he returns, he’ll have to fight for playing time with a crowded Orlando backcourt.
Sebastian Telfair – Stephon Marbury’s little cousin was benched in favor of the Blake/Dixon combo. Bassy needs to learn the pro game and improve on his "Dick Cheney-esque" shooting (36.6%FG) before he can be a reliable fantasy force. Maybe next year.
Marko Jaric – Yes, he may be traded, but he is just stinkin’ it up this season.
Deron Williams – Did they really draft him ahead of Chris Paul? Williams is simply not a good fit for the Jazz and Jerry Sloan is not a good fit for fantasy owners.

Also… the Knicks/Magic exchanging Jamal Crawford and Steve Francis would help all parties involved (especially their fantasy owners).
Enjoy the All-Star festivities and be ready to pounce once those trades are announced.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Random question: Who would you rather be carrying on the pine right now, Brian Cook, Trenton Hassell, or Darko Milicic? I have a feeling Darko may start contributing nicely when given 25 mpg or more. Plus I can afford to let these guys sit on the bench for awhile. Thoughts on Cook and Hassell also?

12:08 PM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

Plug Darko into the starting lineup next week? PR, please tell me that you just posted your April Fools Day column by mistake.

Isn't that a wee bit premature? Yea, I can see someone picking up Detroit's former "Human Victory Cigar" speculatively, stashing him on the bench, then waiting to see how things play out. But at this point, one has to seriously consider the possibility that Darko might be nothing more than one of the biggest busts in the history of the NBA draft.

Think about it: Detroit's one Achilles heel this season has been its bench. Flip has been riding the starting five hard because - with the exception of McDyess - they really haven't had anyone who could step in and give them quality minutes off the pine. Now, it's also a safe bet to assume that when Saunders came on board, he was probably told by Dumars to give more playing time to the kid that he drafted ahead of Carmelo, Bosh and Wade. So it's probably reasonable to conclude that if Darko had any NBA-level skills whatsoever, he would have seen more than 140 total minutes he's logged this season.

On the flip side (no pun intended), it's possible that Darko could blossom in Orlando. As good a GM as he is, Dumars is not infallible. He gave up on Okur (who would have flourished in the current Piston offense) and, yes, he was the one who drafted Darko #2 overall in the first place. But my hunch is that when someone as canny as Dumars gives up on a player that he has made such a huge initial investment in, it does not bode well for that player's future prospects.

12:23 PM  
Blogger bv said...

Hassell, he's a nice player for sure but I'd say he's got the lowest upside of all three guys you've listed. Yes he's had a few nice games, but he's been getting nice minutes all year and not producing until the other day. I'd bet he won't keep it up.

Cook will be inconsistent at best. He's worth holding on to in the short run, but the trade deadline might shake things up in a negative way for Cook. He's still a nice complimentary piece for a team in the upper part of the standings.

Still, if you're near the bottom of the standings, i'd take a shot on Darko. He'll almost certainly excel in blocks. The question is if he'll be more Adonal Foyle, or a lesser Marcus Camby. The upside is there.

12:38 PM  
Blogger PR said...

Let me clear something up... Darko is by no means a sure thing in Orlando. But, he NEVER came close to having a chance in Detroit. You think Brown/Saunders were willing to give a European teenager big minutes when they had Big Ben and Rasheed manning the frontcourt??
Also, keep in mind that all the guys I recommend plugging in each week are typically borderline fantasy starters in competitive leagues. Assuming your 12-team league starts two centers, Darko is a legitimate option with the Magic playing 4 games next week. I'm not suggesting he's a no-brainer, but I would say if your second Center is shaky then Darko is a better play than the likes of Kendrick Perkins (may miss a couple more w/ injury), Foyle (3 games), Blount(3), Nesterovic(3), Mourning(2), and Kurt Thomas(2).
If you don't have much to lose, why not roll the dice and plug Darko in right away? Surely coach Brian Hill and Orlando's front office will want to give him every opportunity to succeed ASAP. They'd love nothing more than to prove that the Pistons were wrong to give up on him.
Bottom line is... you cannot label a 20-year-old who's only been given 5.8 minutes per game in three years a "bust." Not yet. The least you should do is pick him up and keep him on your bench until you see how he responds in his new environment. Remember you gotta take some chances in fantasy sports... isn't it just gambling anyway?

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly... just look at Jermaine Oneal as an example?!

First 3 years with Portland he averaged unspectacular numbers...

11 mins, 4 points, 3boards, 0.3 ast, 0.4 blks?!

Then once he moved to IND, and got playing time he blew up into the all-star that he is.

I'm hoping like so many that Darko will make the leap!! For crying out loud he's only 20 years old?!!!

12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you guys' strategy for the remaining games?

I am currently 4th /12. I am behind in rebounds and blks nut good in assists.

I just compared my "last month average" against my current "overall statistics" and my "last month average" is above "overall statistics. So, my roster is at least playing good right now. Seems no need to disturb the chemistry.

BTW, what should be the comparable trade target for my Ridnour. I want to trade Ridnour for rebounds and blks

6:18 AM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

Hey; I'm not saying that Darko could never become a good NBA player.

I was just questioning the wisdom of plugging him into next week's starting lineup.

It is, of course, entirely possible that he could someday develop into a good player a la Jermaine O'Neal, but I very much doubt that it will happen by next week. There certainly would seem to be better (less risky) options at the center spot.

In my own case, for example, I'm faced with having to choose two centers to start in my weekly H2H league. The centers currently on my roster are: Brad Miller (2 games), Magloire (4 games), and Perkins (maybe 4 games, maybe not). I'm definitely going to start Magloire, but the second center is problematic. I've ruled out Perkins because of the injury risk and Miller's two games make him a marginal play at best. Right now, the centers with four games on the waiver wire Milicic, Wilcox, and Robert Swift. Each option has its drawbacks, yes, but Darko seems to have the most of all. Personally, I'm leaning toward picking up Wilcox and using him as my second center. Yes, he's also a risky play, but at least he's shown he can produce when given the minutes. It's just a question of whether or not he'll get them.

PR is absolutely correct when he points out that we are all engaged in a form of gambling here. But there are calculated risks and there are desperation longshot flyers. Putting Darko in the lineup next week strikes me as one of the latter; the fantasy hoops equivalent of betting your last two bucks on a 100-1 shot in the ninth at Aqueduct with the hopes of breaking even for a day in which you've lost $200.

1:05 PM  
Blogger JM said...

This is my first time doing fantasy Basketball, so I've got a strategy question. I'm in a 12-team, 9-cat roto league. I'm currently in first place. If you factor in games played (sort our league by average stats/game instead of totals) I'm at 79 points. 2nd place is at 74 points, third place at 66.

My question: when making roster decisions should I focus on the categories that I'm already good at (but have a lot of folks close behind me) vs. trying to improve in the categories that I'm worst at (but have people within reach just above me).

My good cats:
FG% 1st place
Stl 2nd place
Blk 2nd place
Pts Tied 2nd
Reb Tied 2nd
Ast 4th place

Not as good cats:
TO 10th place
3's 7th place
FT 7th place

My first thought was to focus on improving by "bad" cats, but now I'm thinking it'd be smarter to focus on maintaining position in my good cats.

My new reasoning is that I've got more to lose in my good cats than I have to gain in my bad cats. Does that make sense?
For example,
FG% - 4 teams right behind me (within .003%)
Ast - 4 teams right behind me (within 0.07/game)
Stls - 3 teams right behind me (within 0.07/g)
Pts - 3 teams right behind me (within 0.7/g)
Rbs - 3 teams right behind me (within 0.12/g)

whereas for by bad cats:

TO - 2 teams right ahead of me (within 0.7/g)
3's - 2 teams right ahead of me (within 0.05/g)
FT%- 1 team right ahead of me (within .004%)

Am I on the right train of thought?
Would you call this strategy conservative? or would you call it a smart strategy for someone in first place?

My hope is that it will keep me in first the rest of the way (barring a major injury to one of my studs - Brand,Arenas,Pierce)

My roster:
PG Gilbert Arenas
SG Paul Pierce
G Luke Ridnour
SF Richard Jefferson
PF Elton Brand
F Josh Howard
C Sammy Dalembert
C Tyson Chandler
UTIL Mike James
UTIL Josh Childress
BN Brian Cook
BN Kendrick Perkins
BN Darius Miles

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Charlie said...

To JM,
If you want people to offer advice, remember to keep your questions neat, quick, and answerable. I saw all of the stats and analysis in your email and decided I could better use my time elsewhere. Maybe the guys running the website will be kinder.

To all, what are your thoughts on Brevin Knight right now? The most underrated fantasy player in basketball (in my opinion) may land on a new team. I think a new team can only hurt his stats. He runs the show in Charlotte, would he do the same at, say LA? I'm just looking for the same 8-12 assist/night performances I've been getting in Charlotte, with perhaps 10 pts/night.

Also, should I move Chauncey and Chris Paul?

12:44 PM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

With just three days left until the trade deadline, there are so many rumors buzzing about that it's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

One rumor that I actually think has a good chance of going down is a Hawks trade of Al Harrington. Baby Al will be a free agent after this season and he's all but said that he's not interested in re-signing with Atlanta next year. So it would certainly seem to behoove the Hawks to get whatever they can for him while he's still under contract.

My question: Which of the two Joshes do you think would have the most value in the event of a Harrington trade? I currently have J. Smith on my roster, while J. Childress is sitting on the waiver wire. Because of the way my roster is currently structured, I can keep one or the other but not both. Any thoughts?

To charlie:

Dude, you must be the king o'dimes if you've got Knight, Paul and Chauncey all on your roster. Of those three, I'd definitley hang on to Chauncey as I don't really see him tailing off much. The recent trade of Arroyo only solidifies his position and all but assures that he'll receive decent minutes going forward. I'd try and sell high on Paul, though. Even if you don't subscribe to the "rookie wall" theory, I'm not sure how well he'll bounce back from his recent spate of nagging injuries. As I've said in earlier posts, I actually think that he could easily be out-produced by his fellow ACC rookie Ray Felton from here on out (especially if Knight does get dealt).

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Charlie said...

Bublitchki,

I also have Wade to go along with those other studs! Plus dimes are worth the most in my league, which is the biggest reason I'm in 2nd out of 12 right now. I actually scooped up Felton before everyone else, and I'm thinking about playing both of them. Thoughts? Will Brevin be worthy of starting on another team? I think Felton's a potential stud for the 2nd half.

1:51 PM  
Blogger JM said...

Charlie,
Point taken regarding the long post. My conciseness/editing ability must've suffered since I had so much extra time on my hands (no NBA games for 4 straight days). My question was - how to decide whether to focus on improving at cats you're bad at vs, maintaing position in cats you're good at.

Bublitchiki,
Good question regarding the main beneficiary of an Al Harrington trade - J.Childress vs J.Smith.

They both should benefit. Just note that they have somewhat different skill sets. They both get similar amounts of Pts,Rebs,Asts.

Childress is MUCH better for FG%, TO, 3's, and a little better for FT%.

While Smith is MUCH better for blocks.

So, i'd say go with Childress, unless blocks are a major need for your team.

ps As a Childress owner, I can tell you that he's been much more consistent throughout the year, whereas Smith has been very up & down.

2:34 PM  
Blogger PR said...

JM,

Thanks for the concise question. In a roto league your focus should be on BOTH maintaining your leads and working on your weaker categories. That said, the short answer to your question is focus on STRIKING DISTANCE. What categories are you at risk of losing significant ground in if multiple owners catch up and pass you? What categories could you potentially leap frog more than one or two owners? Keep an eye on all 9 cats and good luck!

5:49 PM  

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