Golden State Warriors 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:

For a while, the Warriors' offense will rely on the craziest motherfucker in the NBA. My apologies to Ron Artest.

For a while, the Warriors' offense will rely on the craziest motherfucker in the NBA. My apologies to Ron Artest.

 Stephen Jackson (SG)

Helps: Points, 3-pointers, FT%, Assists, Steals

Hurts: FG%, TOs, Team Sanity

The Warriors’ most valuable fantasy asset following Monta Ellis’ injury (more on that below), Jackson emerged from a solid player into something of an offensive juggernaut last season. He averaged a career-best 20.1 points and made a ridiculous 2.5 3-pointers per game (on 6.9 attempts!).

Jackson also maintained solid numbers is assists (4.1), steals (1.3) and a career-high .832 free-throw percentage. He flourished playing alongside Baron Davis and was likely a steal in every draft last season.

But entering this season there are questions to be answered. Davis is gone, Ellis is sidelined for a while and new arrival Corey Maggette is also a capable scorer who is most effective with the ball in his hands.

As long as Ellis is out, Jackson is the focal point of the offense. He can shoot, drive and pass and the offense will be best when he is in the middle of things. Expect him to be an absolute beast to start the season and maintain solid numbers even after Ellis returns.

The big problem with Jackson is that he is, to put it lightly, a chucker. He shoots and shoots and shoots whether he is making shots or not. He barely shot above 40% from the floor last season and that’s not likely to improve – his 40-point nights tend to be offset by his 4-for-22 nights.

Another worry is that Jackson is prone to turnovers and since he will have the ball in his hands more than ever, expect that number to go up.

Where to take him: The fifth round, although in most leagues he will mistakenly go higher.

Corey Maggette (SF)

Helps: Points, FT%, 3-pointers, Steals

Hurts:  FG%, TOs

Maggette comes to the Warriors after eight seasons with the Clippers and the transition to Don Nelson’s style will likely help his numbers. He averaged 22.1 points per game last season and buried a career-high 78 3-pointers in 70 games.

Although he doesn’t contribute in many categories, Maggette always does two things: score and get to the free-throw line. He has averaged at least eight free-throw attempts per game in each of the last four seasons and is an .819 career shooter from the line.

In the Warriors’ run-and-gun style, Maggette is likely to shoot more 3-pointers than ever and possibly see a rise in his assists and steals.

Alas, it will also likely negatively affect his FG%, which is already subpar (.458 last season/.450 career) and his turnovers, which were already at 2.8 per game last season, may go even higher.

When to take him: In the late fifth or early sixth round.

Andris Biedrins (C)

Helps: Rebounds, Blocks, FG%

Hurts: FT%

As frustrating a fantasy center as there is, Biedrins averaged 13.8 points, 12.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes last season while shooting .626 from the floor. Unfortunately, his minutes actually decreased from the previous season and he played only 27.3 per game.

However, the tide may be turning. Biedrins signed a huge six-year contract in the offseason and has been named a team captain by head coach Don Nelson, who obviously is in charge of who is on the floor. Seems like a good sign.

Biedrins has steadily improved his free-throw shooting, nailing 62 percent from the line last season – up from just .521 the year before.

Biedrins automatically has value as a rebounder, shot blocker and No. 2 fantasy center. But if Nelson begins to bestow him the role – and minutes – of a multi-year team captain, he could finally emerge into a legitimate number one big man.

When to take him: In the late fifth or early sixth round.

Monta Ellis (PG)

Helps: Points, FG%, Assists, Steals

Hurts: FT%

An offseason accident on a recreational vehicle resulted in a severely injured left ankle, crushing the prospects of one of the NBA’s (and fantasy basketball’s) emerging super stars. Ellis was on the verge of becoming the next Dwyane Wade-type, a high-scoring perimeter player who also provide a FG% because of ability to get to the basket.

But now he is out for an extended stretch and the timetable for his return is not looking pretty. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Under projections given at the time of surgery, Ellis will remain off his feet for about another week before beginning rehabilitation. Another six weeks of strengthening exercises will follow before he resumes any basketball-related activity, leaving December or January as an optimistic reference.

If Ellis returns by January 1, you will be getting about 48 games out of him. He will likely take a dozen games or so to round into shape and for a player who relies so much on quickness, it’s hard to tell how the injury will affect his future play.

Every season there are players in this situation and the owner who is willing to take the gamble earliest will walk away the spoils or have his season spoiled, depending on the outcome.

When to take him: Anywhere from the seventh to ninth rounds, depending on your comfort level with your previous picks.

Al Harrington (PF/C)

Helps: 3-pointers, Steals

Hurts: FG%, FT%

After a strong showing in half a season with the Warriors in 2006-07, Harrington was a highly-coveted mid-round pick entering last season. But he failed to live up to the billing, posting his lowest scoring average in four seasons to go with his typically disappointing percentages.

The main culprit in his demise was dwindling minutes as he played only 27 minutes per game – his lowest total since the 2000-01 season. His per minute numbers were still pretty much what they have always been.

Two pieces of good news have emerged regarding Harrington in the offseason: he has worked on his conditioning this summer and Nelson plans to use him in an expanded role, plating both forward positions and less time at center.

Harrington’s value will obviously increase if he gets enough minutes to regress to his scoring and rebounding norms (think 17 points and seven rebounds per game) and still hits 3-pointers as a center-eligible player – a fantasy-worthy skill in itself.

When to take him: In the eighth or ninth rounds. Don’t believe in the resurgence until you see it.

THE REST:

The departure of Davis and Ellis’ injury have led many to speculate on the increased values of Marcus Williams and Marco Belinelli. Williams could provide some 3-pointers, assists and steals as a late-round pick until Ellis returns, but be prepared for a terrible FG% and a ton of turnovers. Plus he has never played in a fast-break style like the Warriors’ and he plays no defense, meaning his time in the rotation may be short. Belinelli can shoot from 3-point range, but has displayed little other skill his short amount of NBA game time.

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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