Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Late-Season Surges

We’re already starting to get a couple of questions about next year’s fantasy basketball draft. And that’s awesome. If there’s one thing we love talking about here at FBB, it’s fantasy basketball drafts. Just look at the 2 months worth of posts we had getting ready for this year’s draft. And don’t you worry, we’ll be just as obsessive (if not more so) for next year. Still, it’s never too early to talk about next year’s draft. One thing that I’m always wary of is late-season surgers. Guys who blow up over the last month or two of the season, come out of nowhere and increase their draft stock by a couple of rounds. This year, we’ve had a trio of big men who have really turned on the jets over the last month or two. Let’s try to determine who’s for real, and who’s a mirage.

Chris Wilcox
Unless you’ve been on Mars for the past decade, in a cave with your eyes shut, and your fingers in your ears, you should know that all of us here at FBB are University of Maryland alums. And while we’re not busy celebrating our ladies’ victory in the NCAA Tourney last night (sort of), we’re following our favorite Terps in the NBA. Chris Wilcox has always had tons of talent, but has never been able to put it together to be a great player. He was raw coming out of school, and by the time he was ready to be a full-time NBA player, he was stuck behind Elton Brand on the Clippers, and no matter how good he was, he wasn’t going to displace Elton Brand.

So he was stuck on the depth chart and had nothing to do but sit back and learn how to play the game. He showed flashes here and there, but couldn’t find the minutes to be a viable fantasy option. Then he got sent to the Sonics, and all that changed, and what has emerged is a fairly polished, effective big man. He’s shooting a career-high 60% from the floor since arriving in the northwest. The 80% from the stripe is great, but has to be an anomaly. Still, you can’t ignore 14.8 points and 8 boards while qualifying at center.

So where does Wilcox end up next year in your fantasy draft? You’d have to expect the Sonics to keep him around, as he’s a restricted FA. But here’s my problem. He’s a three-category player – points, boards, and FG%. Sort of a poor man’s Zach Randolph, who I wouldn’t draft before the 6th or 7th round. He doesn’t do anything for you in either defensive category, and while he’s performing great right now, he’s also probably maxing out his value. I’d say he’s a fringe player at best for next year – a nice bench player and third or fourth center.

Yao Ming
Boy, talk about a surge. Since the All-Star break, and returning from his toe surgery, Ming has put up 27.4/12.2 with 1.9 blocks with spectacular percentages. He’s been a top-5 fantasy player any way you look at it, and the top center in the game, both in fantasy and real life. With Tracy McGrady out for the year, Ming has taken over the Rockets and while they won’t be making the playoffs, his breakout alone has made this a positive season.

But will it keep up? Ming has always been a terribly difficult player to value. The potential is there for him to be a top pick, but when he didn’t live up to that, there was some backlash, and as of early this year a lot of folks – us included – were writing him off as a top-20 pick. But now that all ten toes are working properly, and T-Mac is showing up to games in a suit and not a uniform, there’s talk of him being a first-round pick.

I’m still skeptical. I think he’s a terrific second round selection, but as a first rounder? Once McGrady returns, Yao will have to take a step back. He’s still not as dominant in blocks as I’d like him to be as a first-rounder. But early in the second round, somewhere around 15 or so, I could see taking him there.

Carlos Boozer
Boozer certainly has his advocates here at the FBB comment section, but I’m not one of them. Yes, he’s on a hot streak right now for sure, racking up the points and boards. But, just like Chris Wilcox, he’s really just a three-category player. Sure he’s better than Wilcox in those categories, but he’s not dominant anywhere, he’s a liability in blocks, where you have to have help from centers, and I’m still not convinced he’ll be healthy for a full year. DM says he’ll be a fourth round pick, but you won’t see me picking him there. Boozer is no more than a complementary player, for a team that need points from the center position, and complementary players generally don’t get picked until the 6th round at the earliest. That’s where I’d put him.


Blogger TKI said...

one player i think you missed in the "late season surge" category is my boy Josh Smith.

He's doing everything right now. Even hitting some threes and dishing out dimes.. not to mention his blocks from the sg

With al harrington most likely not resigning with the hawks next year.. i think josh smith could avg. at least 18/7/4 with 2.5 blocks and 1 3ptm.

4:03 PM  
Blogger DM said...

You have to remember that Josh Smith did the same exact end of year surge last year and people were saying the same thing about him at the beginning of this year. Just sayin'...

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think he'll keep it up, but I just want to point out that Carlos Boozer hasn't exactly been playing like a three-cat player the last few weeks.

He's got 4.3 assists over the last 10 games, which obviously isn't going to lead a fantasy team but with 4 games a week that's a solid contribution. You've got a guy like Chauncey Billups playing just 2 games in a week and Boozer could easily out-assist him. He's no assist leader, but he's been dishing well enough for a center that it should be noticed.

He's also shooting 72% from the line, which again won't help but he's definitely not going to hurt your team like other centers do.

I do agree, however, that his blocks are nowhere near where they need to be. Still, I don't think I'd let him slip all the way to the 6th round. 6th round picks in my league this year included Damon Stoudemire, Jamal Crawford, and TJ Ford. Carlos Boozer has at least proven that as long as he's healthy, he'll put up numbers. I think fifth round at the very latest.

6:45 PM  
Blogger "rem" said...

lost bosh picked up nocioni
crossing fingers and hoping his late season surge gets even better

11:39 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Well, if he gets center eligibility (which I don't think he's gotten yet) then maybe he'll go that high. In reality, he's a lot like Zach Randolph, though I would rank Boozer a bit lower.

Anyways, anyone looking at Utah can see that Okur is the Center on the team. I think Boozer shouldn't go any higher than the fifth round, behind Zach Randolph, as a double-double machine.

2:27 AM  

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