Thursday, July 13, 2006

Transaction Review: Mike James to Minnesota

Even before switching teams, Mike James was one of the most difficult players to get a read on for this year’s fantasy draft. Let’s run down the facts, in exciting outline form!

- He had by far the greatest season of his career last year at age 30.

- He absolutely blew up after the All-Star Break, putting up first-round pick numbers (24.6/6.5, with 2.9 3’s and 1.2 steals), seeing 40.9 mpg.

- The only other time in his career that he saw even 30 mpg was 2003, when he played in 55 games for Boston (he also spent some time that year with Detroit). In those 30.6 mpg, he put up a paltry 10.47/4.4 with 1.6 3’s and 1.3 steals.

- He wasn’t the only Raptor to have a career year simply by being on the court all the time. After Jalen Rose got dealt:

-- Morris Peterson also saw career-high numbers. Peterson played 43 mpg after the All-Star Break, scored 20.7 ppg and hit 2.5 threes. Easily the best numbers of his career.

-- Charlie Villanueva got 10 more mpg after the break as well, up from 25 to 35, and saw a nice uptick in stats as a result.

-- Even Matt Bonner had a nice second half for the Raptors, seeing 26.3 mpg, and hitting 1.8 3’s.

Here at FBB, we preach one stat over all others – minutes. And the post-Rose deal Raptors are a perfect example of how court time dictates fantasy value. All of the guys above saw a huge increase in value simply by having minutes open up for them. So even with all the concerns about age and one-hit-wonder possibilities, let try and figure out how many mpg Mike James will see in his new digs.

(Quick aside: this was a moronic choice by James. His other two options? Play in his home town with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, or play for a perennial championship contender in Dallas. The 4th year of the deal was so important that he had to go to Minnesota, the perennial underachievers? Whatever.)

Remember, his big minutes last year were just as much a result of no competition as they were a result of his strong play. Jose Calderon was injured for much of March and April, leaving James and Derrick “Who?” Martin to run the point. At the two, Peterson saw a lot of time, but MoPete also played the 3 some, giving James time to play at shooting guard as well. But the minutes will not be as available in Minnesota.

First, there are two established veterans in the back court, Marko Jaric and Troy Hudson. Then, there’s rookie Randy Foye, who’s been playing very well in the summer league, but is more of a two than a one. Finally, guys like Ricky Davis and Trenton Hassell can play the two on occasion. So it’s pretty likely that James will rarely, if ever, play much at shooting guard, and he’ll be fighting for time at the point.

That said, Marcus Banks walked into a similar situation last year (insert Rashad McCants, now injured, in place of Foye), and saw 30 mpg, and played pretty well while doing so. But 30 mpg isn’t 40 mpg. And James won’t be the floor leader like he was in Toronto, that job is unquestionably KG’s.

So after all that, what do I think?

I think James sees somewhere between 25 and 33 mpg. I think he’ll put up something like 16/4 with 2 threes and 1 or 1.5 steals. He’ll be a nice second PG, and worth taking in the 5th to 7th rounds in your draft. But, I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone take him in the 4th or even the 3rd after his huge second half last year. That person just won’t be me.


Blogger JM said...

Excellent topic.

Mike James was picked in the 12th round (out of 13) in my draft last year. He was dropped in the first couple weeks. I picked him up, and he ended up helping me win the league. (He actually finished in the top 25 on the player rater for standard 9-cat league)

Definitely one of our league's top waiver adds, along with Delonte West, David West, Boris Diaw)

Despite the fond memories, I wouldn't pick James higher than 7th round. As you pointed out, Minnesota's backcourt is way too crowded.

On a related note, James' addition hurts Randy Foye's chances of winning Rookie of the Year (and from having as much impact in Fantasy leagues). I think the frontrunner for ROY (and solid fantasy contributor) has swung back to Brandon Roy...with Adam Morrison close behind.


9:40 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Certainly, Randy Foye was somewhere in Vegas, crying in a corner, when he heard that James had been signed to Minnesotta.

However, it will be important to see how things play out. There have been rumors that Marko Jaric will end up being traded for Darius Miles (which is a trade, as a Blazer fan, hope does not occur). It probably won't make things much better since Ricky Davis would slide to the starting 2-spot, but it would thin out the 'PG' players on the roster.

It will be interesting to see how the different teams play out, as there is rumor of a 8-team trade that will (unlikely) go down, but would shake up the fantasy world.

I'm definately excited to figuring out potential steals for next year so that I can defend my title...I don't expect to be able to pick Boris Diaw off of waivers (and will have to overpay for him on draft day).

4:31 AM  
Blogger bv said...

until further notice, i think the front runner for ROY is Adam Morrison. Remember, in the "regular" NBA, scoring is such a premium for awards like this. He might not be the fantasy roy, but on the award level, i think it's morrison's to lose.

10:18 AM  
Blogger JM said...

Morrison does have certain things going for him for winning the official "ROY", i.e.

1) geographically he's playing closer to the east coast DC-NYC-BOS megalopolis, whereas B.Roy is out in the Northwest far removed from national media spotlight.

2)Voters may be subconsciuosly rooting for him, since he's easier for a typical sportswriter to "relate to", similar to Nash winning back-to-back MVPs

My skepticism of Morrrison's game, stems from watching how we got his shots off in college. He tended to push off with his off-hand while dribbling to clear space to pull up for jumpers. (to compensate for not being terribly quick/athletic) They let him get away with it in College since he was considered the best player in the NCAA. I don't think he'll get the same respect from the refs as an NBA rookie (on a crappy team).

I think he'll still find a way to score (especially come off screens) since he's a great shooter, and has a tenacious will, but I don't think he's getting 20 pts/game in the immediate future. more like 14/game. If he can't score more than that I like B.Roy's ROY chances - as he could easily get 14+ pts along with better non-scoring #'s - assists, rebounds,stls,blks,etc.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Probably time to do another column with all of the free-agent signings...or we'll just have to wait until the Steve Blake for Magloire deal goes down since you have a hard on for the former term....just kidding.

6:18 AM  

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