Anticipating 2009

If you took my advice in my previous post about reflecting on your fantasy teams as the new year approaches, you likely came up with some areas in which your team needs improvement.

Obviously there are countless guys on your league’s waiver wire that are borderline ownable. That’s the case in any league. Each player probably contributes a little in one or two areas and hurts you or contributes very little in others. After all, that’s why they are available.

Trades are always on option dependingon who you’re willing to let go of and who your opponents are willing to trade. Of course, the rule is to get something you have give something, unless of course you are playing in a league morons. In which case, can I join next season?

The third option to to try and anticipate the fluctuations in player value that are a constant part of the NBA season, especially in the final three months. The All-Star break is about six weeks away and the trade deadline shortly thereafter. Then you have a stretch where the playoff teams start resting guys, the bad teams start playing the younger guys and unexpected state sources seem to emerge out of the woodwork.

Generally, it’s hard to predict anything in any sport, but here are couple of developments you could get the jump on if you have the cajones.

Brad Miller Gets Traded

It’s no secret that the Kings wants to trade Miller and that Miller wants out of Sacramento, which is in full rebuilding mode. Miller has been good this year, averaging 11.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while chipping in some 3-pointers, steals and blocks. His percentages are also still pretty good.

Miller comes in at about an eighth round value right now. The Kings are not getting rid of him because he’s done, but because they want young big men Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson to learn on the job as long as the team is terrible.

Early season rumours indicated Miller was headed to Charlotte, but the Bobcats’ subesquent acquisition of Boris Diaw now makes it unlikely. There are no clear cut favorites for now but it’s hard to believe some team wouldn’t like a hard-nosed veteran big man down the stretch.

In anticipation of a potential trade, it might be a good idea to try and trade for Miller at a low cost. After all, he’s still solid and if he gets traded would like post better numbers playing more inspired minutes for a potential playoff team.

The gamble is that he gets traded to a real powerhouse that actually turns him to a super-effective role player. Still, it seems more likely that he would land with a team like the Bulls: a borderline playoff team in desperate need of a frontcout talent.

If a wise owner will not let go of Miller and you can afford the bench space, the second – and maybe better – option is to grab Hawes or Thompson if they are available.  Currently combining to average 52 minutes per game, their playing time would significantly increase should Miller get moved.

Both players have posted excellent per minute stats this season:

Hawes: 13.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.2 blocks per 36 minutes (.436 FG%, .754 FT%)

Thompson: 13.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals, .7 blocks per 36 minutes (.478 FG%, .636 FT%)

Hawesis eligible at PF/C and Thompson at SF/PF/C and both make solid number 2 centers or utility options in Miller’s absence.

Hawes is owned in 72 percent of Yahoo! leagues but may be getting dropped due to some recent struggles and an abdominal injury. Thompson is owned in only 24 percent of leagues and, as seen above, posts better per minute stats in every category except blocks.

Odds: 2-to-1

Stephon Marbury Gets Released, Signs Elsewhere

Are you honestly telling me you don't want this guy on your team?

Are you honestly telling me you don't want this guy on your team?

The standoff between Marbury and Knicks management has been well documented here in New York. They are basically paying him to stay away from the team. He wants to be released so he can sign with another team but wants the full value of the remaining contract while the Knicks want to reduce the payment a little.

Despite the impasse, rumous keep surfacing that the Knicks are on the verge of buying out the contract. In fact, the current whispers (click the link) are that he’ll be bought out by January 5.

Last season in just 24 games, Marbury averaged 14.9 points, 5.1 assists, 1.3 3’s and nearly one steal per 36 minutes last season. There are very few owners that wouldn’t want that kind of production off the waiver wire.

If he is released, Marbury will definitely land somewhere and may exceed those numbers depending on the team around him. Numerous playoff teams could see him as a tremendous piece to their championship puzzle. He can still play.

Although no official word from the Knicks have verified the impending buyout, cutting the worst player on your bench to grab Marbury just in case can’t be too bad of an idea.

Odds: 2-to-1

Eddy Curry Returns to Relevance

You can soon have intense interest on when Curry ambles to the buffet.

You can soon have intense interest on when Curry ambles to the buffet.

News reports in New York are claiming that Curry will be returning to the Knicks in a minimum of two weeks. Before you laugh at me even including this in this post, take note:

  • Just two seasons ago, he averaged 19.5 points on 58 percent shooting and seven rebounds per game.
  • Last season he put up 18.5 points on 55 percent shooting and 6.5 rebounds per 36 minutes.
  • The Knicksare a shallow team with no inside presence. Although he is soft, Curry will fill a hole for a team that is currently struggling badly.

Curry will come back. He will be rusty and probably (more) out of shape (than usual). But he could very well be the best big man available in more than 95 of leagues, especially if you need scoring or FG% at the C position.

Odds: 4-to-1

The “Inevitable” Injury to Yao Ming

If you own Yao, a photo like this may resonate in your nightmares.

If you own Yao, a photo like this may resonate in your nightmares.

We all know the numbers: 25, 34, 24. Those are the number of games Yao has missed due to injury in each of the last three seasons.

In 2005-06, he missed 21 games from December 18 to January 29 following toe surgery and then sat out the final four games of the season with a broken left foot.

In 2006-07, he missed 34 games from December 26-March 3 due to a fractured bone in his left knee.

Last season, he did not play after February 24 with a fractured left foot.

Clearly everyone that owns him is waiting for the other giant shoe to drop. If you need a center, you can gamble that a nervous owner will sell him for 50 cents on the dollar and come out with a huge steal.

Quick story from a few years back. My friend Martin (best man at my wedding) drafted Marcus Camby, Emeka Okafor, Zach Randolph and T.J. Ford at a time when all were considered in injury prone/loose cannons.

After the draft I thought it was solid, but there was far too much risk. Well Camby played 70 games for just the second time in six seasons, Okafor and Ford had career years and Randolph – as the only option on the Blazers – made more noise on the court than off it for once. He won the league handily.

The point is that big risks offer big rewards and Yao – at 7-6 – is as big a reward as you can get. He’s averaging 20.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks with percentages of .524 and .882.

It’s worth a shot.

On a side note: much like last year, the value of Luis Scola and Carl Landry would increase.

Odds: 5-to-1

The Return of Mike Dunleavy

You know a player’s situation is dubious when it’s “good news” that he was able to practice for 20 minutes. That puts him slightly above the physical abilities of Rick Majerus.

But still, it’s hard to ignore that he might come back. He averaged 19.1 points, 3.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 3-pointers and 1.1 steals last season while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 83 percent from the line.

It has to be noted that if he comes back, it’ll likely be in February and he’ll take a while to get to full speed. At that point, maybe there is a month left in the season for him to really help you. It depends on how your team is constructed if you are willing to save a spot for him.

If I owned him, I’d wait for some positively optimistic news and then try and deal him. After all, he couldn’t practice for months without the knee hurting, what makes you think it’s going to hold up now?

If he does return, the value of Marquis Daniels will take the biggest hit and Danny Granger may regress slightly, but that’s the only impact it will have other than the Pacers generally being a better team.

Odds: 7-to-1

Vince Carter Tanks

Oh no, he's starting to pout. Quick, I'll give you carter for Rafer Alston, straight up.

Oh no, he's starting to pout. Quick, I'll give you Carter for Rafer Alston, straight up.

Anyone who owns  Carter is wondering the same thing: if the Nets really fall apart, will he try to take the team onto his shoulders or will he just give up? It’s a question I posed in my Nets season preview at it still lingers.

As of now, New Jersey is sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but that hardly tells the whole story. The Nets have lost eight of 12 games, stink at home and play very little defense; not a good combination to make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee is improving, Charlotte had gotten better via trades, Chicago still has talent and the 76ers are getting Elton Brand back in a couple weeks. Things aren’t too rosy for the remainder of the season, especially if the team suffers any injuries.

On the flip side, Carter is having an outstanding season in the shadow of Devin Harris’ explosion. His .461 FG% would be his best in four seasons, he’s shooting better than 80 percent from the line and averaging 23.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and one steal per game.

Can you trade a guy whose playing like that just because he “may” lose his edge “if” his team goes to shit?

The Eastern Conference is so balanced (ie, crappy) that even though they are not a good team, the Nets will likely have a shot at the playoffs until the end. That makes Carter worth owning.

However, if you own Carter, you’re basically a de facto Nets fan for the next few months (congratulations, you’re fan number 115!). Monitor the team closely and if they start to slip, it’s time to ship him out.

Odds: 10-to-1

The Return of Gilbert Arenas

Please come back ... the league is less fun without you. Oh yea, and the Wizards suck, too.

Please come back ... the league is less fun without you. Oh yea, and the Wizards suck, too.

My co-worker Paul, who sits directly to my left, leans over every couple days and asks me “What have you heard about Arenas?”  He owns Arenas in a money league and is constantly debating whether to drop him.

Little does he know that I only write a basketball blog and do not work for the Wizards medical staff.

The question of whether Arenas will return from another knee surgery is a tricky one. It appears that he would be healthy enough to return if the Wizards were looking for some more firepower.

However, with a disastrous record of 6-24 and playoff hopes already dashed, what’s the motivation for Washington? Might as well stay as bad as you can, grab a good draft pick and have a healthy and extremely well-rested Arenas going into next season.

Recent reports have stated that he will – no matter what – be back this season.

However, there is still no timetable and Washington is sure to sink further into the abyss as the season progresses. If you’re stashing Arenas on a solid team, it may be worthwhile to wait.

I wouldn’t, under any circumstances, recommend trading FOR him.

Odds: 12-to-1

Shawn Marion Gets Traded

It’s so painfully obvious that Marion is not playing to his potential with the Heat that I actually have “Shawn Marion Trade” set as one of my Google alerts. I’m just praying for it to happen. No surprise, I have him in two leagues.

But the problem is that every trade rumour that has come to light has been shot down pretty quickly and Marion sees himself finishing the season with Miami. The Heat are in the Eastern Conference playoff race, why should they trade their second-best player?

I don’t expect Marion to get traded and even though he can be seen as underperforming due to a lack of scoring, he is still providing a second-round value. If you can find an owner who is despondent that he isn’t putting up 20/12 every night, maybe you can get him for cheaper that he is worth.

Odds: 30-to-1

The Return of Monta Ellis

Ellis is on the verge of returning to the Golden State Warriors in late January and Basketball Monster projects him to provide  a fifth/sixth round value. He is owned in 62 percent of Yahoo! leagues and I would grab him off the waiver wire and stash him away ASAP, unless you have a crazy good bench.

Considering the lingering questions about his return date and how good he’ll be when he gets back, I’d resist trading any major pieces for him, but as with Miller there will be a ripple effect to his return.

Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette, Jamal Crawford, Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Morrow, Marco Belinelli, Anthony Randolph, C.J. Watson and Brandan Wright will all be affected. All of those guys have had some sliver of fantasy value at some point this season and one or more will be rendered useless.

The problem is figuring out who. Don Nelson’s sole missions in life are to drink beer, piss off Mark Cuban and torture fantasy owners. His rotation is like the Da Vinci Code, only more difficult to figure out.

Jackson and Crawford are worth sticking with as is Maggette (except for the injury problems), but any other Warrior you own who is currently streaking (Bellinelli comes to mind) should be trade bait in the next few weeks just in case they become irrelevant.

And if you can snag Ellis from an unsuspecting owner for someone who is currently playing above his value, there could be a huge payoff.

Odds (of being able to figure out what’s going to happen): .0000000001 percent. Only a drunk Nelson knows for sure.

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One response to “Anticipating 2009

  1. Pingback: Monta Practises « Fantasy Basketball Jedi

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