Sleeper Pick

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Fund Your IRA Through Fantasy Basketball (2009-2010 Primer)

Dear Tim Tebow supporters, detractors, and other people who search “Tim Tebow” and end up on this blog for an article I wrote last year (all 5,378 of you),

So good to see you again! By now you may be wondering what the #*@* the WordPress programmers are smoking to connect you to this blog when you search for Tim Tebow, but let me promise you that the cheerleader comparison a couple articles down is worth a gander.

For the 15 faithful followers who actually listened to and read our fantasy basketball material last fall, welcome back for another go around.

Let’s get right to the heart of the matter: fantasy basketball is awesome. It is the pinnacle of fantasy sports. That’s right, even better than saber metrics god Baseball and just barely a notch above fantasy curling (damn it, Jean Louis Picard of Nova Scotia just got picked one pick in front of me!! I hate when the best broom sweeper goes one pick before when he’s all that’s left in your queue).

Not only do you have to evaluate how well an individual player will do statistically, you have to find a winning balance of succeeding in  diverse categories that each and every player make a positive or negative impact on. It’s like a giant puzzle. I spent 2 hours alone analyzing the potential impact of an Andrew Bogut-for-JR Smith trade. This is why I slept through my day in court to argue my traffic violation. In the immortal words of Chris Farley, “… I was checking the a … specs on the end line, for the rotary, girder, I’m retarded . . .

Now that I’ve made the case for my devotion to fantasy basketball and my rational priorities (1. Andrew Bogut’s impact on team FT% 2.Warrant issued for arrest for failure to appear in court), let’s get to the good stuff:

Position by position I’m going to give you the sleeper picks in basketball. Within these positions (PG, SG, PF, C, etc.) I have categories:

Apple Stock: Ready for Market Takeover

Health Care Reform: Needs to Stay Healthy

15 Minutes of Fame: Needs More Playing Time

Andrea Bargnani Bond Fund: Player with specialty potential or a “deep” sleeper.

Point Guards:

Point Guard is statistically a very difficult position to become good-to-great at. There are usually not many young PG who explode onto the scene. Players like Johnny Flynn or Brandon Jennings may have their moments this year, but they will likely have very damaging FG% and FT% and a horrible AST/TO ratio. The ramification is that you better grab at least one and possibly two top flight AST player in the first 6 rounds. Combos like Deron Williams and Tony Parker or Devin Harris and Joe Johnson work well. If you leave Assists until the end of the draft you will leave yourself open to failing in the category or being mediocre AND having lousy %, Turnovers, etc. But there are a few guys past the top 50 that stand out:

Apple Stock:

Jameer Nelson: (ADP: 56.6) Yes, he could go in the Health Care Reform category just as easily, but his injury last year (torn labrum) happened in a fluky way and is not a chronic injury. So let’s get back to talking about what he’s gonna do in 70-75 games this year. He is going to average 17 points a game, 6 assists a game, 2 three-pointers a game, 1.2 steals per game, 49% FG, 86% FT, and all while averaging only 2.1 turnovers a game!

That, folks, is Chauncey Billups with a much better FG%. And Chauncey Billups’ ADP (average draft position) is 16 while Nelson’s is 56. If Nelson had played all year in 2008 he would be a third round pick at worst and he should produce 2nd-3rd round quality numbers this year. Best of all, unlike Rajon Rondo or Tony Parker, Nelson excels at all standard PG categories so you don’t have to adjust your draft strategy and paint yourself into a corner to improve your FT% or 3PT

Split to know: In the first 42 games of the 2008, Nelson averaged 16.7 points per game, 2 three pointers per game, and shot 50.3% from the field and averaged just 2.0 turnovers per game.

Nate Robinson: (ADP: 109.6) I’ll keep this one short: Nate Robinson was the 46th highest rated player in Yahoo at season’s end. His final numbers are worth a look. He isn’t going to get any less time this year given how fragile & worn-out Chris Duhon is and how thin the Knicks’ backcourt is. It’s very reasonable to expect a repeat of his performance from last year, which deserves much higher than a middle of 9th round pick. In round 9 he represents a tremendous value.

Split to know: In 11 starts last year, Robinson averaged 21 PTS per game to go along with 5.6 REB and 5.0 AST per game.

15 Minutes of Fame:

Mike Conley: (ADP: 100.9) As mentioned before, PG is a position that can take some time for a young player to get a good grasp of. There is a lot of negative opinion about Conley, probably because he’s been

A) Playing for the Memphis Grizzlies

B) There are a legion of Allen Iverson fans who can’t seem to let go of a guy who used to shoot 40% on 24 shots a game and averaged 4.8 TO per game but is now so old that he can’t even muster those numbers.

C) Was the 4th pick overall but hasn’t amounted to much yet

Let’s not forget here that Conley was the 4th pick overall because he’s very talented. I don’t think he’s a superstar, but we’re talking about fantasy potential at a very thin position. In the second half last year he averaged 1.7 3PT per game, 1.7 STL per game, 14.5 PTS per game, and 5.6 AST per game, all while maintaining excellent shooting % and low TO.

The problem is that Grizzlies management is sort of like the guy who feels really happy with the girl he’s dating and stops going out on Saturday night with the fellas lest he be tempted (aka trading Kyle Lowry in the second half last year to give Conley 35+ MPG), but then breaks up with that girl because he decides she’s not marriage material and needs a wild hookup (aka signing Allen Iverson & Zach Randolph). But since the guy stopped keeping his options open the hookup is a haggard cougar with aggressiveness to spare (aka horrible shot selection) but nothing otherwise redeeming about her (aka Allen Iverson).

Did you follow that analogy? Of course you didn’t, it was terrible. I only did because if you copy Bill Simmons you make Emil happy.

But that’s why Conley ends up in this category; he needs more PT than he will get if Iverson gets serious floor time. If Iverson gets injured or forces a trade or stars in his own reality TV show, which is pretty likely, Conley will produce much as he did in the second half of last year. If he is available in rounds 10-13 he makes a good gamble.

DJ Augustin: (ADP: 140+) One of the best examples of how coaches in basketball looooovee mediocrity. Was Raymond Felton so bad that nobody offered him a free agent deal and Charlotte only offered a one year deal to come back? Yes and yes. Did he lead the statistically worst offense in the NBA last year while shooting 41% from the field? Yes and Yes.

And yet he starts ahead of DJ Augustin because he “understands what we’re trying to do” and has “been around the system” and “provides veteran leadership”. All of this is coach speak for “I’m scared of actually having to train a far more talented player”. DJ Augustin has his weaknesses, admittedly. He is very short, not a particularly strong on or off the ball defender, and is still improving on finishing around the basket.

But this guy can SHOOT. This is a very underrated talent in the NBA, one that many 50 inch vertical types don’t possess, despite it being the most basic element. Combine Augustine’s sharpshooting from 3PT with blitzkrieg quickness into the lane for layups and dishes and you have a budding fantasy star. Don’t believe that the Bobcats could possess an explosive offensive player and waste him on the bench? Take a look at his split stats as a starter in 12 games last year. How does 2.6 3PT per game on 46.7 FG% sound to you? Throw in 17.8 PTS per game and 5.6 AST per game and you see the kind of rare ceiling Augustin possesses.

With the recent Raja Bell wrist injury Augustin almost doesn’t qualify for this category and could fall into “Apple Stock”, but he still is unlikely to average 35 MPG unless something happens to Felton. So while Augustin is an unbelievable value in rounds 9-13, his potential is limited by Felton’s one-and-done purgatory.

Andrea Bargnani Bond Fund:

Mario Chalmers: (ADP: 113.1) This is where caveats reign. I love Chalmers because he gives you all the PG stats you want: 3PT, AST, and STL. He averaged 2 steals a game last year. He is the rare player who you can find past round 8 that is top-5 in a category. He can make a serious impact on a roto team (or head-to-head, which still uses roto categories). He doesn’t have much competition (as much as we root for White Chocolate to make a comeback), so everything looks good, right?

Well, obvious rhetorical question, you can eat it. But we get where you’re going. Yes, Chalmers is just not that good. He is also wildly inconsistent. He will have great games and he will have games like last night’s preseason game (1-9 FG and 1 AST in 21 minutes). You can see why  when Chalmers recently twittered “mister6clutch: I need suggestions to do with my free time right now folks. Wats up?” Dwayne Wade responded, “Go to the gym and get some shots up.” Good stuff.

In order to enjoy those big steals you will need to have patience and start him game in, game out. If you don’t, you’ll miss the 8 AST, 6 STL game that he puts up once in a while. His other 8 PTS, 1 STL, 3 AST games will have you pulling your hair out if it causes you to sag in other categories. Chalmers is just not talented enough to vastly improve his consistency or stats this year, so another up and down ride is to be expected. But in round 9, he provides excellent roto value.

Tyreke Evans: (ADP: 113.1) Evans is very talented and will have opportunity. Opportunity + talent is usually a successful combination. While his % may lag, he can provide tremendous REB and defensive numbers for a PG and can be had very late. Another player with a ceiling that you want given that he goes so late in the draft at a thin position.

Stay tuned for SG, SF, PF, & C previews! (letters to my boss asking for me to receive PTO to provide this fantasy sports service to the community can be sent to 333 Wish-this-was-my-full-time-gig Ave., Job-going-nowhere, OH 43022 )

October 27, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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