At least until there are games to discuss, Sunday is when we reflect on the previous week in fantasy hoops. It’s a blend of news, opinion and self-promotion called Seven Topics or Less.
John Wall’s Injury
How far do you drop John Wall on cheat sheets for what looks like a month of missed games? (If he returns by December 4 there will be 68 games remaining.) I had him as a Tier 3 PG but have moved him down into the next group. Oddly enough, I’m now more likely to own him; his turnovers made me prefer other similarly-ranked options at that deep position. If everyone else in your league ignores Wall, there is a point where he becomes a bargain.
What will Shelvin Mack and A.J. Price do with this opportunity? Price has started a total of thee NBA games in three years; he’s been more scorer than playmaker and was a clear third-stringer for the Pacers. Mack was on a short leash in his rookie year, playing less than 20 minutes in 57 of his 64 appearances.
It’s hard enough to pick a winner between them; highly unlikely that an understudy is about to become a star. I’m not altering my draft strategy for either one, except to bump them up slightly in very deep H2H leagues where 14 early GP might help.
Other Injury News
Darrell Arthur was already questionable while his Achilles heals. Now he’s fractured a leg. It means he won’t be a major part of the rotation until January at the earliest, and Marreese Speights becomes a better play for the first month or two.
Chauncey Billups admits that his recovery from Achilles surgery will take time and cautions that it may take “a couple of months” to be the player he used to be. If he misses several weeks and isn’t up to speed until the all-star break, you don’t want to be the one who overpays.
In the taking-it-slow category, not expected to do much in training camp but on schedule for opening night, we have Andrew Bogut and Danny Granger, among others.
This is the time of year when everyone but me is in the best shape of his life. Nobody comes to camp tired from partying all summer or overweight from enjoying a few good meals.
Players tend to be more optimistic than Billups about injury rehab. Ronnie Brewer and Dwight Howard say they will be ready for the first game. Ricky Rubio could return by Christmas, or a month later. The “latest updates” are often contradictory and usually vague.
Teams tend to be more cautious in their public statements. Managing the expectations of fans, Eric Spoelstra said there is “no guarantee” Dwyane Wade will play opening night. We all know how effective Wade can be at 90%, and he will be difficult to keep off the court.
Ray Allen told Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel his ankle issues will be “ongoing throughout the season,” which is another preseason staple — the cryptic statement. Does it mean Ray will miss a lot of games? Will he be limited when he does play? We shouldn’t overreact.
Reading Between the Lines
Coaches will praise their rookies and role players, reminding us constantly about positions that are supposedly up for grabs. Sometimes it’s motivational, sometimes there’s a hint of truth. Mark Jackson calls Draymond Green “a guy that can play the 3, can play the 4, can handle the ball, can shoot the ball, can defend, can rebound.” This sounds promising, until you try to figure where, how often and at whose expense he will get to display that versatility. Also, consider the source — Jackson is a great talker.
I swear, some coaches make a hobby of misleading us. George Karl hints that Timofey Mozgov will start and JaVale McGee come off the bench. The coach likes the big Russian to start alongside Kenneth Faried, and how McGee’s athleticism combines with Andre Miller’s creativity. What matters to fantasy GMs is total minutes, and production. JVMG remains a far better pick than Mozgov.
Doc Rivers said Avery Bradley was “nowhere near ready” but the player (recovering from surgery to both shoulders) disagrees, saying he’s “months ahead” of schedule. The truth may be somewhere in the middle. Fantasy owners should downgrade Bradley because of the uncertain return date and the additions of both Jason Terry and Courtney Lee.
Free Agents & Longshots
Staying with the theme of misleading information at this time of year, Rasheed Wallace may be joining the Knicks. He’ll fit right in with the team’s other geezers in their very late 30′s, but even if he makes the final cut, will have a limited role.
Lots of other players (and their agents) are trying to generate some buzz and land a job. Josh Howard is still available and is one of the few with potential fantasy value, depending on where he signs and how he’s used. Raja Bell is in a strange limbo, waiting for a buyout from the Jazz before he can shop his declining talents elsewhere. Gilbert Arenas may play in China, Kenyon Martin remains hopeful of an NBA offer.
Then there are signings that are almost certain to be cut. Players who get invited to camp, officially to “compete for a spot” but mostly as extra bodies. Kyrylo Fesenko got a non-guaranteed deal from the Bulls and could theoretically beat out Nazr Mohammed for the backup C role. Does it really matter?
Division Preview Series
I’m proud of our effort the last six days. Over 20,000 words, many of them useful and all of them free. Bruce Wrigley looked at the Pacific and Central, I wrote the Atlantic and Southwest, Jeff Nichols took the Northwest and Southeast.
In all, we mentioned over 380 players, with personal impressions of the best (and worst) ones to own on all 30 teams. We also examined each team from the fantasy perspective. How good any team is on the court does not automatically make their players worth owning; the Spurs are a prime example. There are also some excellent fantasy sleepers on teams that are out of contention already.
You may disagree with some of our opinions. We have spirited debates among ourselves, so we understand. The whole point is to raise questions and suggest possible answers. It’s the wrapup to our pre-preseason: lists and advice to get your own research jump-started.
Over the last three weeks, we have provided earlybirds with an accurate Depth Chart, tiered rankings by position and the division previews. Thanks for the positive feedback; we hope you’re better prepared in the draft room.
Next week, our focus shifts to the first big draft of the year and finally, there will be exhibition games. That’s when I’ll return to a familiar daily routine and my colleagues will become weekly columnists.
All season long, the Spin takes a quick look at the results of each NBA game, asking “what did we learn?” about players and rotations that we might use to our advantage in fantasy leagues. (In blowouts, the answer is often, “Nothing.”) Then we preview that night’s games, asking “what might happen next?” and highlighting some players to watch.
Tomorrow, I’ll introduce you to a format that’s more fun than standard Roto and relies less on luck than Head-to-Head. It’s a redraft league, as the format isn’t compatible with keepers.
On Tuesday evening, all three members of the Sheridan Hoops fantasy team will be in that draft room with 17 experienced and highly competitive rivals. Not only is it a 20-team league, we start 12 players per day and have four bench spots — a total of 320 players will be drafted. I’ll share those results with you on Wednesday.
Jeff’s series on fantasy strategy got bumped from its Saturday spot for his tremendous piece on the Southeast Division. Part 3 will run instead on Tuesday, Part 4 next Saturday and the final parts the following two Saturdays. Not just a Primer for those new to fantasy basketball, it will make anyone harder to beat.
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