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:
Tim Duncan (C/PF)
Helps: Points, Rebounds, Blocks, FG%
Hurts: FT%, TOs
Conventional wisdom says that Duncan’s minutes should be declining as he reaches his early 30s, but it has not happened yet. He has played between 34 and 35 minutes per game in each of the last three seasons and with Manu Ginobili missing the first couple months, he’ll need to be on the floor quite a bit early in the season.
Also, with the Western Conference as brutal as it is, the Spurs can’t exactly rest their only strong big man down the stretch.
Duncan has remarkably consistent per minute numbers, averaging between 19-23 points, 10.5-12.2 rebounds and 2.1-2.8 blocks per 36 minutes in each of his 11 pro seasons. So, you certainly know what you’re getting when you draft him.
Duncan is a career .508 shooter, shooting between .484 and .549 every season of his career. The only erratic part of his game is his free-throw shooting, where he has been as good as 80 percent from the line and as poor as 62 percent. He has only shot better than 73 percent twice, though, so chances are he’ll hurt you.
When to take him: In the late third or early fourth round.
Manu Ginobili (SG/SF)
Helps: Points, 3-pointers, Steals, Assists, FT%
Ginobili could miss the first two months of the season following ankle surgery, but he still has value. His per minute numbers have always been sick (22.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.4 3-pointers per 36 minutes last season) and last season was his first playing more than 30 minutes per game.
Although the timetable for his return is uncertain based on how his rehab progresses, it’s fair to assume the Ginobili will be back at full strength in January, giving him somewhere bwteen 45 and 50 games. He may play more games overall, but expect some time to shake off the rust and get back in game shape.
San Antonio needs Ginobili if it expects to secure a playoff spot, so if healthy he’ll be getting plenty of burn. He’ll average near 20 points per game and adds an excellent numbers of 3-pointers and steals to go with strong assist numbers.
A career .815 free-throw shooter, Ginobili has shot better than 46 percent from the floor in four consecutive seasons, so he is no liability in that category. His only drawback is a high number of turnovers; a trait shared by most Spurs.
In the long run, you would much rather gamble on Ginobili than Gilbert Arenas among injured All-Stars.
When to take him: In the seventh round.
Tony Parker (PG)
Helps: Points, Assists, FG%
If only Parker would develop a 3-point shot and consistency from the line, he would be an elite point guard. Oh, well. As it is, Parker is a solid source of points and assists and shoots a high percentage from the floor, mainly because his range is limited and he stick to layups and mid-range jumpers.
Parker will also benefit from Ginobili’s absence statistically. Expect about 20 points and seven assists early in the season with those numbers declining to the norms of the last few years (18.5 points, 5.5 assists). He’s a pretty good candidate to draft and trade a peak value a couple months into the season.
Parker is also a shaky free-throw shooter, making 78 percent of his attempts two seasons ago but had just a .715 last season and .716 for his career.
When to take him: In the eighth round.
It is hard to find a consistent contender with less fantasy-relevant players than the Spurs in the last few seasons.
Kurt Thomas‘ minutes and production sharply dropped after getting traded to the Spurs last season, so don’t be fooled by his overall 2007-08 numbers. Fabricio Oberto is expected to get more minutes but won’t contribute much more than rebounds. Michael Finley and Bruce Bowen are last-resort types if you need 3-pointers but should not be drafted.
Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility.