Dallas Mavericks 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:

Dirk Nowitzki became a more efficent scorer after Jason Kidd arrived, and the Hoff thinks that's just super!

Dirk Nowitzki became a more efficent scorer after Jason Kidd arrived, and the Hoff thinks that's swell.

Dirk Nowitzki (PF)

Helps: Points, Rebounds, FT%, FG%, 3-pointers

There are few more reliable fantasy options than Nowitzki, whose stat line has varied very little over the past seven seasons. You are going to get roughly 23 points, nine rebounds, a solid shooting percentage, an excellent free-throw percentage and about one 3-pointer per game.

The only noticeable decline in Nowitzki’s game has been a decreasing number of blocks and steals in the past three seasons. He plays like more of perimeter player now but still rebounds well.

It’s worth noting how Nowitzki’s numbers were altered after Dallas acquired Jason Kidd:

  • His scoring jumped from 22.8 points per game in 53 games before Kidd arrived to 25.5 in 24 games after (as well as 26.8 points per game in the playoffs).
  • His FG% went from .469 to .501.
  • His assists dropped from 4.0 per game to 2.3 per game.
  • His rebounds fell slightly from 8.8 per game to 8.1 per game.

So it seems that Kidd made Nowitzki a more potent and efficient scorer, which is great to see. Although Nowitzki is not the all-around threat he was a few years back, he is still an elite fantasy option.

When to take him: In the mid-to-late first round.

 Jason Kidd (PG)

Helps: Assists, Rebounds, Steals, 3-pointers

Hurts: FG%

Now that Kidd’s influence on Nowitzki has been examined, what about Kidd’s play after the trade? I’m glad you asked.

Kidd’s points, assists and rebounds all dropped slightly with Dallas, mostly because he playing nearly 2 1/2 minutes less per game. His per minute numbers in points and assists held steady, while his rebounds were down from 7.8 per 36 minutes to 6.7.

Since his workload will likely stay the same, so will his numbers; expect around 10 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists. Although age is clearly catching up with him and he is gradually slowing down, I don’t expect him to fall apart this season. After all, he is a free agent after the season and is playing for his last big contract.

Two huge improvements in Kidd’s game after the trade were his FG% and steals. His FG% rose from an abysmal .366 to a simply awful .426. Kidd is taking half as many 3-pointers as he did with the Nets, but is still burying more than one per game and the improved shot selection is helping his percentage.

Kidd also seemed renewed on the defensive end, collecting 2.1 steals in 29 games with the Mavs. He also remains an excellent free-throw shooter but got less than two attempts per game with Dallas.

When to take him: In the third round because his combination of his assists and rebounds at the PG position is tough to find.

Josh Howard (SF)

Helps: Points, Rounds, FT%

Hurts: FG%, American Patriotism

Lets count the categories in which Josh Howard’s numbers declined last season.

1. Steals: down from 1.2 to 0.8 per game

2. 3-pointers: down from 1.3 to 0.9 per game 

3. FG%: down from .459 to .455

4. 3P%: down from .385 to .319 (not a fantasy category, but it’s worth realizing)

Howard’s scoring, assists and rebounds were up slightly, but the point is that he did not take the massive step forward expected last season, which is what made the Kidd trade seem like a necessity.

But ignoring the unrealistic expectations and the off-the-court issues, there are not too many swingmen who can give you 20 points and seven rebounds while marginally contributing in steals and 3-pointers. Howard is also a fantastic free-throw shooter who gets about five attempts per game.

But if you refuse to take him on patriotic principles, someone will. After all, what’s more patriotic than taking money from competitors.

When to take him: In the fifth round.

Jason Terry (SG)

After back-to-back strong seasons, Terry struggled last season and it makes one wonder if the 31-year-old guard is slowing down. His scoring average has dropped nearly a point per game in each of the last two seasons and averaged just 15.5 in 2007-08.

Terry’s 3.2 assists per game last season were the lowest output of his career and his .467 shooting percentage and .375 3-point percentage were his worst since he was with the Hawks. The trend is not reflecting kindly on Terry, who was once a solid scorer/passer combo but now does neither well enough on a regular basis.

Many owners will be lured by the idea that Terry will return to form and he can be a solid source of 3-pointers and steals, but the fact that his numbers stayed mediocre after the Kidd trade are cause for serious trepidation.

When to take him: In the eighth round to fill out your G/U position.

THE REST:

Erick Dampier is always a threat for major rebounds and blocks, but his offensive shortcomings and remarkable ability to get into foul trouble make him a fringe draft pick. Brandon Bass is an emerging player, posting 15.1 points, eight rebounds and 1.1 blocks per 36 minutes last season, but will have trouble getting major minutes.

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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