Charlotte Bobcats 2008-09 Fantasy Preview

All previews follow the same format, I’ll be going in depth only on the players worth owning in a standard 12-team league, followed by players who you might consider as injury handcuffs/deep sleepers. As always, it starts with the most valuable player on the team:

A former Slam Dunk Contest champion, Jason Richardson seems much more comfortable at the 3-point line these days.

A former Slam Dunk Contest champion, Jason Richardson seems much more comfortable at the 3-point line these days.

Jason Richardson (SG):

Helps: Points, 3-pointers, Steals

Hurts: FG%, FT%

After an awful and injury-shortened 2005-06 season, Richardson returned with a vengeance as the main offensive weapon on the Bobcats. He returned to his Golden State numbers, averaging 21.8 points, a career-high three 3-pointers and 1.4 steals per game.

Richardson even posted a respectable .752 free-throw percentage from the line and shot .441 from the floor – both numbers well above his career averages. He was likely a steal in most fantasy drafts last season. However, the cat is out of the bag and everyone will be drafting on his previous season, which could be a mistake.

Richardson’s scoring and ability to hit a ton of 3-pointers will get him drafted higher than he should be. It’s probable that both percentages regress to their norms (.434 FG%, .702%), resulting in a slight decline in points and 3-pointers.

His shaky FT% doesn’t hurt that much because he hardly gets to the line (only four attempts per game last season), but he will take around 18 shots per game, making his sure-to-decline FG% a cause for concern.

Richardson shot .406 from 3-point range – shattering his previous career-high of .384.  From a percentage standpoint, his season was a career anomoly, not a breakthrough. He should still be drafted in the Top 40 because he will average 20 points and not many players offer that, but temper your expectations.

When to take him: In the mid-to-late third round. However, if you’re first couple picks provide 3-pointers, I would totally avoid him unless he falls to the fourth or fifth round.

Emeka Okafor (C):

Helps: Rebounds, Blocks, FG%

Hurts: FT%

I know I will be in the minority endorsing Okafor over Gerald Wallace, but I have my reasons. Actually, I think these players should picked around the same time. But if I had to choose, I would go with Okafor.

Okafor finally stayed healthy last season, playing in all 82 games, but a career-low 33.1 minutes per game. If that shook your faith in the team’s commitment to the big guy, no need to worry, as they gave him a huge contract in the offseason.

Although his overall numbers were slightly down, his per minute numbers were nearly identical from the previous season. Lesson to learn: big contract = more minutes = more production.

With increased minutes, Okafor is a daily double-double waiting to happen as well as an elite defender that will give you around two blocks per game. His FG% in each of the last two seasons has eclipsed 53% and should stay there.

Okafor’s FT% is predictably bad and to make matters worse, he goes to the line quite a bit. But Larry Brown has reportedly been working with Okafor from the stripe and getting his percentage up into the 60s would be a big improvement.

When to take him: In the fourth round, when all the true 20/10 guys are long gone.

Gerald Wallace (SF):

Helps: Steals, Points, Blocks, Rebounds, 3-pointers

Hurts: FT%, TOs

Two seasons ago, it appeared Wallace’s combination of a high FG%, tons of steals and blocks and solid rebounding would make him an elite fantasy player. But as he has become more of a perimeter player, the FG% and blocks have dropped and he only borderline contributes in rebounds

Wallace has become helpful in 3-pointers, making more than one per game for the first time in his career last season, but it comes at a cost. He averaged less than one block – a far cry from 2.1 two seasons ago – and his FG% plummeted to just .450.

Wallace’s biggest value still resides in steals, where he has averaged at least two per game for three consecutive seasons.

The 800-pound gorilla in the room with Wallace, as always, is his inability to stay healthy. Only once in his career has he managed to play more than 70 games and he missed 20 or more in two of the last three seasons.

When to take him: Not until the fifth round. His upside is not as high as it once was and his chances of playing a full season are slim.

Raymond Felton (PG):

Helps: Assists, Steals, FT%

Hurts: FG%

Felton did not make any huge strides in 2007-08 and has posted roughly the same per minute numbers in each of his first three seasons. His seemingly improved stats were a result of playing more than 37 minutes per night.

While his heavy minutes may continue, Felton may eventually be competing with first-round draft pick D.J. Augustin. The biggest improvement in Felton’s game was lifting his pathetic .384 FG% from two seasons ago to an slightly-better-but-still-horrid .414 last season.

Felton is a solid source of assists and does not commit an egregious numbers of turnovers. He has developed into a strong free-throw shooter and will contribute steals, but he made just 56 3-pointers last season – nearly half of the previous season – after the arrival of Richardson.

When to take him: In the fifth or sixth round as a solid No. 2 point guard.

Nazr Mohammed (PF):

Helps: FG%, Rebounds

Hurts: FT%

One of the most perplexing players ever, Mohammed has little fantasy value. He has always posted solid per minute numbers (13.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes in a 10-year career), but every team he plays for relegates him to a limited role.

Mohammed doesn’t get into an inordinate amount of foul trouble or commit an ungodly number of turnovers. He was briefly the heir to Ben Wallace at the center position in Detroit but fell out of favor quickly and found inconsistent minutes after being traded to Charlotte last season. Why, God, why?!?!

The good news is that Mohammed received the most playing time in his career under Larry Brown in New York (28.1 minutes in 54 games in 2004-05). The bad news is he may not start and his role is a big question mark.

If he winds up as the starter or a key bench players, he could provide a solid amount of rebounds and blocks off the bench.

When to take him: If he’s even going to be picked at all, it should be in one of the very last rounds.

THE REST:

As noted above, Augustin may challenge Felton for some minutes at some point, but he’s not worth drafting. Sean May has proven to be extremely effective in the 58 NBA games he has been healthy enough to attend in his first two season, but poor conditioning and a history of injuries make him risky. Matt Carroll can provide 3-pointers and not much else. It’s worth keeping track of the return of Adam Morrison as the season moves along, but he shouldn’t be drafted either.

Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility rules.

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Filed under Draft Strategy, Season Preview, Team Preview

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