Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Closer Look: Chris Wilcox

Sorry for the lateness of today’s post, but, y’know, work. Stupid work. Anyway, one claim that I’ve made a bunch on here is that there are about 50-75 players in the league – roughly two or three per team – that are truly special players. The guys with real talent who rise above the rest. After that, everyone’s pretty much the same, and given enough playing time, the numbers will bear that out. The key for these guys is simply getting that playing time to show what they can do. We’ll be focusing on a former Terp today, so I’ll use two other former Terps as examples real quick – Juan Dixon and Steve Blake. Both guys were kind of buried in Washington, but given a chance in Portland they’ve proven they are perfectly competent players capable of putting up respectable numbers for fantasy purposes when given a certain amount of playing time. It’s all about the playing time.

In some ways, Chris Wilcox is a good data point in favor of staying in school an extra year. Maybe. He came out after his sophomore year and was able to cash in on that lottery pick rookie contract, so it’s hard to tell a guy he made a bad decision after getting a guaranteed $11 million or so. But at the same time, he was still somewhat of a project and was treated as such and has never really had the chance to prove himself on an extended basis. But no matter, he’s an “athletic” big man, so you know that once he hits free agency he’ll get some team to give him at least something close to the complete mid-level exception. But that doesn’t concern us right now. Well, it does a little since he’s going to be a restricted free agent in a few months and, as luck would have it, he looks to be the starting power forward on one of the league’s highest scoring teams for a few weeks. This could be a recipe for success.

Wilcox has had his chances as a starter before and he’s been reasonably successful, but never successful enough to turn it into anything lasting. I’ve lumped him into the same group as Stromile Swift and Melvin Ely, as big men who “just need a chance” but for whatever reason never get that chance. Because of an injury to Chris Kaman, Wilcox began last year as a starter, starting the first 19 games in the middle for the Clippers. He started off extremely strong, going for 16.2/7.7/1.7 on 55% shooting, but faltered after that, dropping off to 7.3/4.2/0.4 in his next nine starts. A couple years back, when Elton Brand got hurt after his monster 21/15 with 8 blocks opener in Japan (you think I had him on my team that year?), Wilcox was pressed into starting action and again responded quite well out of the gate. He put up 14.5/7.0/1.3 on 63% shooting, but again faltered, going for 5.8/4.2/1.4 before Brand returned. So if Wilcox is going to have some value, chances are he’ll have it sooner rather than later.

Seattle doesn’t have too much of a choice but to give him some serious PT. Nick Collison is on the shelf, Reggie Evans is in Denver, Danny Fortson is done (but obviously giving Wilcox some hair style advice). That leaves Robert Swift, Mikki Moore and Johan Petro as the only bigs on Seattle in addition to Wilcox. In other words, Wilcox has every opportunity that he needs. But keep his history in mind. Wilcox still hasn’t mastered the art of playing defense (perhaps not a problem now that he’s on Seattle) or making his coaches like him. But hey, that’s why we play fantasy basketball. Translating Wilcox’s Seattle numbers (in an admittedly small 8 game sample) out to 34-35 minutes per game, we come up with 16.1/7.3/1.2 with 0.4 steals and 0.5 blocks. Solid, unspectacular, and strangley similar to those numbers he put up when he was a starter the past two years with the Clippers (at least during his “good” runs).

But might he be capable of putting up better numbers than that? Another thing I talk about a lot is what # scoring option you are on your team. Each team has a hierarchy and the more guys you have that are at the top of the totem pole on their respective teams, the better off you’ll be. Rashard Lewis is underrated for a ton of reasons, but one reason I’ve been especially high on him the past couple of years is that there’s simply nobody else on Seattle besides Ray Allen that can be counted on as a consistent scorer. With Luke Ridnour clearly more of a distributor than a scorer, Wilcox has a real chance to be the third man.

So what’s the bottom line? Wilcox should be good to go to plug into your lineups, as long as you see that he’s starting the next time Seattle takes the court. His numbers as a starter in L.A. and his pro-rated numbers so far with Seattle show that he might actually be pretty consistent, at least for a bit. He’s not going to block many shots, but he’s also not going to miss many shots. He’s a career 53% shooter and has never been below 50% for a season. I’ve paid added – and perhaps exaggerated – attention to percentages this season, just because I think it’s so easy to overlook them compared to the counting stats. But Wilcox should shoot enough to actually make a difference there. His game-to-game consistency is where the risk lies, especially for those of you in daily lineup change formats. That’s always the risk with waiver wire pickups. Here’s an example that I recently had to endure. I pick up Ruben Patterson after he takes over as Denver’s starting SG. After he logs 36 minutes in an impressive win against Detroit, I plug him in for the next game against Houston. He ends up shooting 2-for-12 with 6 points, 5 boards and nothing else. So I take him out of the lineup for his next game. He responds with 21/5/8, 3 steals and a block on 9-of-12 shooting. I bang my head on something. This is the inherent risk with free agent pickups. So just beware.


Blogger brent said...

chris wilcox or darko? going into the title stretch, who has more upside? wilcox and swift seem to be competing for the main big man role, while darko has shown breakout potential but hasn't quite made it over the hump yet. perhaps it's a points (wilcox) vs. blocks (darko) need, as both will help in fg% and rebs?

5:08 PM  
Anonymous LL said...

Maybe this is wishful thinking, since I've had Wilcox stashed on my bench for a while to backup (and now start) in my C spot, but I think Wilcox (this year) may be more helpful. I've been hearing over and over that he's a player that needs to be in the right situation, and to me, Seattle is the perfect place. NJ was the hot rumor before, and that would have been a great spot, but there he would have been the #4 option at best. In Seattle, he has a chance to run the break and show off his athleticism.

I'm going to cross my fingers and bank on Wilcox, but I think Darko would be a more interesting option in keeper leagues.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Charlie said...

did you really jusy say "run the break" and "Chris Wilcox" in the same sentence?

6:28 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

In keeper leagues go Darko. Figure that Orlando is doing some rebuilding. Howard/Darko in the middle with Nelson will form the core of their team that they are building.

Apparently Orlando thinks Darko is more offensively refined than Howard, which isn't hard to believe, and Darko is throwin up crazy blocks numbers.

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just offered Lamar Odom and Caron Butler for Boris Diaw and Chris Duhon (who I plan to drop if the trade is accepted). I'm fairly weak at center and there are a couple of forwards on the wire I'm interested in... do you think this is a good trade? Do you think I'm offering too little? Too much?

If I make the trade, that means I can drop both Chris Duhon and Nazr Mohammed for forwards to replace Odom and Butler (Kenny Thomas is on my radar, I don't know why he's available but I can't get him without limiting myself to 2 centers) or even another upcoming center, since I'll have plenty of F/C's.


6:46 PM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

Silly me...

I was one of those guys who picked up Wilcox within minutes of his being traded from the Clips. I was fortunate enough to have him plugged into my lineup during the week that Collison unexpectedly missed some games for the birth of his child. In four games that week, he averaged 14.5/6.5/.5 on .684 FG% along with .5 steals and .75 blocks. That's pretty damn close to the starter's numbers that DM projected for him in his post.

Well... once Collsion returned, Wilcox seemed to be caught in the Seattle frontcourt logjam so I decided to drop him - just hours before Collison went down with his foot injury. So, I wound up putting int in a waiver claim for one of my own drops. Pretty embarrassing...

Of course, this could wind up moot if Yahoo finally breaks down and gives Boris Diaw his C eligibility (One wonders why it hasn't already happened. Do you think the powers that be at Yahoo might somehow be reluctant to see a player eligible for four of the five positions just cause it seems so utterly fucking preposterous?) Anyway, given the way he's been playing lately, Diaw would be a much more attractive option for a second center than would Wilcox, IMHO.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about dropping Nazr Mohammed for Wilcox since the Collison news broke out. Should I make this move?

12:46 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Here's my question that I hope you can provide insight to.

Right now Darius Miles and Josh Howard were just dropped onto waivers. I'm in a 12-Cat H2H league and I'm wondering which one will have more value for the rest of the year...and if I should grab one.

At the end of my bench I have Nedad Krstic, Kendrick Perkins, and Marcus Banks (whom I just picked up for Mikael Pietrus). Anyways, I also have B. Miller and Dalembert (and Diaw???) at center, so position of the player I drop isn't important.

I guess I'm considering dropping Perkins for Howard (if I can get him, my waiver is high) or maybe Miles. Will either of these guys get decent PT? I'm afraid that Perkins won't get good PT once he comes back due to the play of Gomes, not to mention Raef, Jefferson and Scalbrine in the Boston front court mix. But, if Perkins will get around 30 minutes per game and give 8/8/2 or better, then I think I need to hang onto him, as I need strong rebounding going into the playoffs.

Then again, it seems that Howard will certainly get snatched up...perhaps I should drop Banks for him then?

Any suggestions about this situation...I'd really appreciate it.

3:55 AM  
Blogger bv said...

lots of good questions ...

I like Wilcox better that Mohammed. I'm actually pretty surprised that Mohammed is on any rosters, but hey, that's up to you guys. Wilcox is definitely a much better play.

At this point i think it's safe to drop perkins, as the combo of Gomes and a bad shoulder make his odds of success pretty long. I'd go with Miles over howard, but only 'cuz he's healthy.

and agreed on diaw. in fact, i talk about it a little in my column that i'm about to post.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you guys always have interesting posts...

so do you think that wilcox will be the main beneficiary of collison's injury and not robert swift?

i currently have swift on my team as my second center... weak i know, should i drop him for wilcox?

12:52 PM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

Wilcox will start at the 4 for the Sonics and get the bulk of the minutes there. But he's C eligible so you can play him at he 5 for fantasy purposes.

Meanwhile in the real hoops universe, Swift will continue to split minutes w/ Petro at Seattle's center spot, thereby lessening both of their values.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Conundrums: I'm rounding out my team for the playoffs and need to know who will be healthy and help me the most. I have three spots and would like to solidfy three-pointers and rebounds if possible, but good percentages would be a great bonus too.

Three players...two spots, and a 12CAT 12 Team league:

PG's: Anthony Johnson, Marcus Banks, Marko Jaric, Leandro Barbosa

G/F: Reuben Patterson, Josh Howard*, Darius Miles*, Michael Finley, Jumaine Jones

PF/C: Kendrick Perkins, Joel Pryzbilla

* = coming off waivers tonight.

I currently have Perkins and Banks, but Perkins has been hurt and I'm afraid Gomes outstanding player and Jefferson will not leave much PT. Also, it seems like Banks is always quick to get yanked with Hudson and Jaric ready to come and fight for time.

Johnson now has Tinsley back to compete for PT, and Barbosa kind of depends on how everyone else plays and if other players (Amare) come back soon.

My biggest questions/concern comes with the Center spot. I'm looking for someone who can really help me in FG%, rebounds and blocks. Joel dominated the end of last season, but has been hurt and hasn't gotten the PT he should this year. And Perkins...well I already mentioned my concerns. Which Center would provide the most value going forward in these categories, or should I just forget it since I have three centers and Boris Diaw already?

Or...is there an up and coming player on the waiver I might have missed...guys like Darko are already gone unfortunately.

Oh yeah, and I tend to prefer starters to reserves, as they get more PT.

Right now Howard, Miles and Patterson all do look attractive, although they aren't particularly helpful in threes, rebounds, or blocks. Argh...choices...I'm in 3rd in this H2H league and anyone can win at this point I think.

3:16 AM  

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