Lesson #2: Point Guard doesn’t look nearly as strong
The news on the point guard front has not been positive. In addition to the known ACL injuries for Derrick Rose and Ricky Rubio, John Wall also succumbed to a patella stress fracture and will miss the first month. Stephen Curry has already rolled an ankle. George Hill has yet to play a minute. Jeremy Lin has gone from draft day bargain to lottery ticket. Steve Nash‘s downside looks worse. Potential sleepers Darren Collison, Brandon Knight and D.J. Augustin look like the exact same players they were last year. Greivis Vasquez has become a turnover machine. And, Kemba Walker and Isaiah Thomas are locked into unresolved position battles that look to continue for the foreseeable future.
The only positive I have taken is that Damian Lillard‘s floor is much higher. He might not produce the assists but he is going to play and score. Unfortunately, the other first round draftees have struggled either with their play (Austin Rivers) or getting on the court (Kendall Marshall, Tony Wroten and Marquis Teague).
Lesson #3: The Next Ryan Anderson is here
I wrote Byron Mullens off as too soft to play forward/center in my Southeast Division preview. He has already made me look foolish. If he continues to attempt eight 3′s per game and make 43.8% of those, he will be a top-50 player in fantasy. Given that success rate, his unblockable height and the Bobcats desperation for outside shooting, Mullens is gonna be given a long rope to bomb and is a must add in fantasy.
If you have already drafted, stop reading and check your wire and add wherever available. If you haven’t and want to know how long you can wait, I drafted him in 20 team keeper league last night (along with a big slice of humble pie) at 139.
Lesson #4: It’s 2012, but injuries are still happening
At this time of year, everyone is an optimist in regards to injuries. While I agree that you can’t let non-existing injuries influence your draft picks, your roster construction must allow for them. We have already seen John Wall, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love and Amar’e Stoudemire go down for the first couple of weeks. Fortunately, none of their injuries are significant and they are all likely to return by December but injuries are still happening and we must be prepared.
Opportunistically, these injuries create potential adds. Dallas, Minnesota and New York are all looking to use a committee approach, which usually creates little fantasy value but that doesn’t mean that someone hasn’t seized an opportunity. In Dallas, Jae Crowder has taken advantage of the small opening and has likely squeezed into the rotation. He isn’t dominant in any one category but his all round game can definitely help deep leaguers.
In New York, Chris Copeland has exploded onto the scene, with 34 pts performance in the Knicks first sans Stoudemire and has kept rolling. Note that his scoring has come on better than 50% FG and 5+ FTA a game. The Knicks have a habit of annually creating bits of fantasy of gold. It is worth rostering Copeland especially in deep leagues to see if he is their next ingot. Washington has handed the keys to A.J. Price, who becomes a nice late round target in H2H and an interesting option in FanDuel.com daily leagues.
Lesson #5: Pre-Season stats are meaningless
This is just a friendly reminder of something we already know. Sometimes we get so tied up analyzing the pre-season, trying to unearth that next gem, that we see things that just aren’t there.
Nonetheless, here are my top 5 better than I expected (excluding injuries and previous mentions): Serge Ibaka (improved range on jumper should add 2+PTS per game), Klay Thompson (he is for real), Jason Terry/Ray Allen (doing more than just shooting), Rodney Stuckey (improved 3P shot to go along with all those free throws) and Martell Webster (seized starting SF by attacking the basket); and for the worse: Paul George (overhyped and too error prone), Taj Gibson (didn’t seize the opportunity and clearly remains behind Carlos Boozer), Gerald Henderson (seemingly slipping into oblivion), Mirza Teletovic (has to shoot better than 26% on 3P to have any value) and every Sacramento King aside from DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson.