The Fantasy Answer?

Iverson is smiling now. But what will he look like when Lou Williams comes back?

Can Allen Iverson’s season be anymore confusing? First, he had an undefined role as a member of the young but talented Memphis Grizzlies. An preseason injury was followed by brief stints in three games before he decided he was unhappy and leaving the team for “personal reasons”.

After being let out of his contract with Memphis and with no further offers, Iverson briefly retired. Now, he’s back with the Philadelphia 76ers following a tear-filled press conference on Thursday.

It all suits kind of drama that has followed Iverson throughout his career.

But what does it mean to fantasy owners now that the four-time scoring champion will be a full-fledged starter once again?

Despite an overall disastrous 2008-09 season in Detroit, Iverson still averaged 17.1 points, 4.9 assists and 1.5 steals per 36 minutes. He’ll essentially be taking the role of Lou Williams, who was playing superbly in 33 minutes per game but will miss the next eight weeks or so with a broken jaw.

Iverson should assimilate quickly and as long as Williams is out should exceed his preseason projections of 15.8 points, 4.6 assists and 1.3 steals. But that production will have an expiration date.

The interesting question will be what happens when Williams returns. Williams should return to a major role when healthy. But will Iverson lose minutes or be made into a sixth man? If that happens, will he revolt and leave the team? Even if he doesn’t lose minutes, will his statistical output be hampered by Williams’ return?

76ers coach Eddie Jordan is going to have to finesse that situation and it leaves Iverson’s fantasy value for the remainder of the season in flux.

The best play here is to hold on to Iverson for the next six weeks or so. As soon as his value peaks (when he’s averaging about 18 points per game or so), deal him away in a trade for a legit Top 75 player that fits your needs.

Williams’s value is likely not going to return to its pre-injury level, unfortunately. He’s got a ton of upside and was ranked 80th prior to the season. But his further development can’t help but be negatively affected by Iverson’s arrival.

Unless, of course, Iverson sulks his way out of yet another city.

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