Basketball Analysis & Commentary... By Drew Wolin

Monday, March 03, 2008

Fantasy Fix

Drew highlights a few hoops players and fantasy trends based on this past week’s games.

Devin Harris – Not a shabby start to Harris’s career as a New Jersey Net. He has notched 42 pts, seven threes, seven assists, six rebounds in only 57 minutes in his first two games. The only red flag is the quantity of three pointers – he only averaged .6 threes per game in Dallas, and now all of the sudden he’s knocking down 3.5 per game. For the sake of my team (I was fortunate enough to pick him up a few days after he was traded from Dallas!) and yours, if you have him, I hope he continues to hit threes at this rate, though there is no reason to believe that he will. He is not starting yet, though it does not appear that that will affect his production. Also, that is not to say he will shortly take over starting PG duties from Marcus Williams.

Kobe Bryant – C’mon Kobe, only 52? How about 82? As Mark Jackson would say, “You’re better than that.” Raptors @ Lakers in four games, so get ready! Speaking of alotta points, I hope you all celebrated the 46th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game on Sunday, the 2nd.

Wally Szczerbiak –Props to Wally and his wife for naming his newborn son Maximus Jack Szczerbiak. That is all I will say about Wally Szczerbiak this week.

Erick Dampier – If there is one thing that Jason Kidd does well (not to say that there really is only one thing that the superstar does well), it is get wide open looks for his teammates. Seven-footers especially benefit from Kidd’s passes, often finding themselves with the ball in the paint and only having to jump with their arms up to flush it through for two. With Kidd manning the point for the Mavericks, expect Dampier's points and confidence to improve. Also, without Diop to steal away his minutes, he will be on the court more and inevitably get more rebounds and blocked shots.

Mike Dunleavy – The coach’s son tied his career high of 36 two straight nights (3/2 v. MIL, 2/29 @ TOR). Dunleavy, one of the guys I claimed would be a steal on draft night in my season preview issue, is enjoying the best season of his seven year career, with averages of 18 points, five rebs, 1.7 threes, 47.5% FG, 3.5 ast (see, I do get it right on occasion! Forgive me for the next entry).

Larry Hughes – So far I have been completely wrong about him. What the guys at (yes, that is a real website) and I would like to know is, Why was it so difficult for you to put up these digits in Cleveland? Hughes is averaging about 19 points, four rebounds, four assists, and almost two threes per game through five games in Chicago. The Bulls’ backcourt is still very much in question; Ben Gordon has not started a single game since Hughes’s acquisition, and Kirk Hinrich has basically been downright bad… I can’t imagine that both will last.

Luis Scola – Who needs Yao Ming? The Rockets pushed their win streak to 15, the last three games of which they were without a large Chinese dude whom we like to refer to as Yao Ming. The logical progression of the Rockets’ frontcourt without Mr. Ming is that Luis Scola steps in and does the kind of magic he does for the Argentinean national team in the Olympics. He had not been playing poorly since his role-promotion, though his last game was somewhat of a coming out party: 18 pts, 14 rebs, 50% FG. Scola should continue to play at a level that makes him worth owning in most leagues.

Beno Udrih – It took the former Spur a little while, but he is finally back on track. Perhaps his feelings were hurt when he was essentially displaced from the starting lineup. After scoring a total of 6 points in two games, Udrih has strung together two 25 point efforts, and followed it up with a 23 point, nine assist, three steal masterpiece against the surging Miami Heat (winners of the last two of four!).

Manu Ginobili – Manu has been generally awesome over the past month. His February included games in which he scored 46 and 44 points, had 12 and 10, grabbed 15 rebounds, hit eight and six threes, and finally, stole the ball five times (no, not all in the same game, obviously). And this is what he had to say about the possibility of starting for the rest of the season, therefore making him ineligible to win the 6th man award. "I don't care about that little trophy. All I care about is a championship ring."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Pitt vs. Duke Recap (as Seen on

By Drew Wolin

The Pittsburgh Panthers tied a school record by overcoming a twelve point halftime deficit and defeated the previously unbeaten Duke Blue Devils 65-64 at Madison Square Garden. Pittsburgh's Brooklyn-bred guard Levance Fields came up big in his homecoming, hitting the game winning three pointer with 4.7 seconds left in overtime to put his squad up by one point. The victory, however, was bittersweet in both Levance's and Pitt coach Jamie Dixon's eyes.

Senior forward Mike Cook went down with what appears to be "a serious knee injury," according to Dixon, who was doing his best to hold back his tears as he empathized with his senior's situation. Dixon was genuinely let down, to say the least, that his forward's college basketball career may be over. There is still no official word on the extent of the injury. Levance, Cook's best friend on the team, said that his big game-winning shot was for Mike.

The first half of the game was all about the D. Pitt's guards were not able to make it past half court without having to deal with multiple Duke defenders pestering them. Even once over half court, the Panthers' backcourt of Levance Fields and Ronald Ramon was not able to get the offense flowing. Pitt is seventh in the nation in assist to turnover ratio, though one would never know from watching this game, where the team committed 22 turnovers with only ten assists. The aforementioned guards were rushing shots and turning the ball over at an extraordinary rate in the first half; the Panthers had 13 turnovers by halftime.

Duke's halfcourt offense looked decently sharp the few times that it needed to utilize its set plays in the first half. There were times where the Devils relied quite heavily on Kyle Singler to make something happen (in most cases he came through with a bucket). Otherwise, Taylor King was an integral part in keeping the floor spaced because he is a constant threat anywhere inside of 26 feet.

The tables quickly turned in the second half. The Panthers slowed the game down and took advantage of the Bluedevils' youth and inexperience. Accompanied by an extremely hearty performance by Levance Fields, DeJuan Blair helped his team take over in the second half. Blair finished the game with 15 points and a whopping twenty rebounds.

Singler was a non-factor for much of the second half, and the Devils turned to Gerald Henderson to put points on the board. The son of a former NBA player came up big in the second half and finished the game with 17 points, including the game-tying bucket at the end of regulation.

The neutral crowd, which acted more as a home crowd for both teams, had a night to remember in this battle between two of the nation's best.

Top Prospects:

Kyle Singler (Duke, 6'8" 220 lbs.): Singler was phenomenal in the first half; while he has the ability to shoot it from deep, he does not give in to the temptation of long range bombing. Much like the modern-day Dirk Nowitzki, he mixes in inside/midrange and outside shots. Singler has excellent rebounding and interior passing ability and it was on full display in the first half of this game.

In the second half when the pace slowed he was not nearly as affective as he was in the first half. Depending on which way Singler decides to go, a few extra pounds wouldn't hurt. He was not able to bang with Pitt's big bodies. In terms of NBA success, Singler may be best suited to model his game after Duke alum Mike Dunleavy, who is having a career year in Indy. Like Dunleavy, Singler is long and smooth with a nice shooting touch. Though he does have the ability to rebound, he does not have the bulk to rely on his rebounding ability in the NBA. Overall it would certainly be detrimental to his game (speed, agility) to put on too much bulk.

Gerald Henderson (Duke, 6'5" 210 lbs.): Henderson had somewhat of an inverted version of Singler's game. He was not nearly as aggressive as he should have been in the first half, though in the second half he demanded the ball a bit more and was more willing to take shots. He took Duke's biggest shot of the game – a very tough runner in the lane to tie the game and send it into overtime. Henderson is a bit of an anomaly in that he usually lets the game come to him, hence him not being too aggressive in the first half, though in the second half he did appear to be forcing things. If a player spends the first half not playing aggressively, he should not need the second half to make too many mistakes. Henderson often tried to bull his way past defenders. Henderson's game would benefit from a little more assertiveness at the beginning of games and then a sustained intensity throughout. He already has many of the physical tools for an NBA wing.

DeJuan Blair (Pitt, 6'7" 265 lbs.): Beast. The freshman had twenty rebounds in the game. What more needs to be said? Blair, in part thanks to his 7'3" wingspan, swatted away three shots in the game as well. Making matters more disconcerting for opponents is the fact that Blair seems to always have a smile on his face. The big body possesses very soft hands for such a bruiser. He was an anchor in the middle for Pitt the way Shelden Williams and Carlos Boozer used to be for Duke. Coach K can only dream about having a beast like Blair lacing it up for Duke this year.

Taylor King (Duke, 6'6" 230 lbs.): Taylor King does one thing very well and one thing with adequate proficiency: shoot threes and rebound, respectively. Though limited in his skill set, he may be in luck because these two tools will get a player far in the basketball world. King believes in his sweet lefty stroke and there is really nothing anyone can do to wane his confidence.

Dejuan Blair Scouting Report (as Seen on

NBA Comparison: Craig Smith
Strengths: Blair is a man with great girth … He does what he looks like he should do – bang on the inside, grab rebounds, and with his 7'3" wingspan, anchor his team's interior defense ... Very soft hands … Generally stays out of foul trouble, something especially impressive for someone of his size and propensity for contact … Very competitive and eager to improve, there are no motivation question marks with him ... A winner. Seems to have a great rapport with his teammates and has already taken on somewhat of a leadership role as a freshman on the upperclassmen-led Pitt Panthers squad. Has a gregarious personality, a natural leader and strong clubhouse guy ... Shows soft touch on his shot both with contact and from the line ...

Weaknesses: Blair should continue to polish his one-on-one low post moves … A deadly-mid range jumper would greatly benefit his game, a la Carlos Boozer or Kurt Thomas. Blair should watch his weight, he's got good body strength and quickness but could probably improve upon it by trimming 10 lbs ... His bulk is one of his strengths, though if he can find a way to balance his bulk and its affect on his quickness he would benefit.

Drew Wolin - 12/21/2007

Fantasy Catch-Up Week 5

  • Ÿ Jose Calderon -- A not so sturdy Ford broke down in Toronto, which made way for this import to crack the starting lineup and become the driving force behind the Raptors. Calderon has led the Raptors to a 4-2 record in his six games as a starter, the last two of which Ford has been active for. Calderon has dished out 10+ assists in all but one of his six of his starts. With Ford back, the two will likely start splitting minutes again. I would imagine that Ford will eventually reclaim his starting spot, though there is a slight chance that it will be later rather than sooner. Give Calderon a look especially if you are in need of assists.
  • Ÿ Dwight Howard -- Dwight is absolutely dominating this season to the tune of 24 points, 15 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game, while converting on 61.8% of his field goals (his free throw shooting percentage of 60.7 can be a real killer if that’s a category in your league, though… not to mention his turnover woes). Last game he grabbed 23 rebounds; the game before, he scored 39 and blocked five shots.
  • Ÿ Andrei Kirilenko -- Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer, Thank you! Due in large part to the both of you missing Friday night’s game, Andrei Kirilenko posted the nicest fantasy line of the season: 20 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds, six steals, and four blocks. He had an infinite assist to turnover ratio (yes, that means zero turnovers) and hit a three to boot! Andrei probably won’t do this again with Okur and Booz back on the floor, though it was beautiful to check how my players did that night and see this gem. More on my team later…
  • Ÿ Beno Udrih - There have been rumors circulating that as soon as Mike Bibby gets healthy, he will be dealt to Miami. This means that the Kings have a lot of faith in the former San Antonio Spur and he should have value for the entire season. At this point, Bibby is still two months away from returning from his finger injury, so at the very least Beno will give you 15 points, five assists, and four rebounds for another six to eight fantasy weeks.
  • Ÿ Monta Ellis - After winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player award last season, Ellis appeared to have backtracked this year, as if Space Jam’s Monstars had sucked away all of his talent. The return of Stephen Jackson has coincided with a gigantic boost in production for Monta. Little as he is, it was just too tough for him to score when defenses were focused on him. Jackson, a player that demands the respect of his oppositions’ defense, helps take pressure off Ellis.

Reader Question:

“After weeks and weeks of agonizing over coming up with potential deals to propose to league mates (all of which eventually got rejected), I had two straight trades that finally went through! Both were blockbuster deals. The first had me ship Corey Maggette, Mike Dunleavy, Ron Artest, and Antonio Daniels out in exchange for T.J. Ford, Josh Smith, and Manu Ginobili. In the second deal I traded away Rudy Gay, Marvin Williams, Udonis Haslem, and Richard Jefferson for Emeka Okafor, Chris Paul, and Kirk Hinrich. What do I think?” ~ Drew Wolin

Hey, I read my own article; aren‘t I entitled to ask the reader question every once in a while? First and foremost, in both deals I got rid of one more player than I got in return. This gave me room to pick up Jamario Moon and Beno Udrih, both of whom I am very on high on. Also, in trades, I like to look at the rare categories such as blocks, steals, threes, and assist:turnover ratio. With these categories, all you need is one guy to have a great week and they can win them for you singlehandedly. In the first deal, I traded all four players when they were playing very well and got back Ford, who is a decent buy low candidate, especially if you can explain to your trading partner that Calderon may eat into his minutes for the rest of the season. Manu gets a good assist:turnover ratio (a category by itself in my league in place of turnovers) and he is a solid source of threes. I have always been a huge fan of Josh Smith because his blocks and steals. Thanks to the second deal, I can eat Smith’s terrible FG% and A:TO ratio. Hinrich should eventually turn around his dismal season, Chris Paul is a top 5 player when healthy, and Okafor is a solid role player whose only big downfall is his A:TO ratio. Between Paul and Steve Nash (and Kirilenko on some nights), I still am in a position to win the ratio most weeks. Overall I still like both deals.

Fantasy Catch-Up Week 4

Goodbye, Gilbert

Gilbert Arenas owners, take a seat before proceeding with the reading. Your franchise fantasy player may be done for the season, according to one NBA news source (other sources have yet to confirm). Arenas is going to be extra cautious with his problematic knee and only come back once he is 111% sure that he is ready to lace ‘em up and go to work. Essentially, what this means is that you should have already picked up Antonio Daniels by the time you read this. Add Daniels to your lineup and enjoy his 12 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and two steals per night. (Report has since been said to be erroneous).

Watch out Big O, Here Comes the King

Or is it Tiny that should be watching his tail? After following up his third triple double of the season with yet another triple double, Lebron is looking like he could challenge two NBA records, both of which were thought to be untouchable. In the 1972-1973 season, Nate “Tiny” Archibald led the NBA in both points and assists with averages of 34 points and 11.4 assists for the Kansas City - Omaha Kings. In the 1961-62 season, Oscar Roberstson did the unthinkable and averaged a triple double with averages of 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists. ‘Bron is currently leading the league in scoring with an average of just over 31 points per game, and is just over an average of two assists per game short of beating out Steve Nash (currently dishing 10.9 apg) for the league‘s assist leader. He is also less than two rebounds and two assists short of averaging a triple double. Realistically, these records should be safe for now, but if you want to say that you were a part of history, make sure you draft Lebron next season. And the season after that. And the season after that…

Under the Rader:

  • Ÿ Richard Jefferson - RJ is quietly the NBA’s 6th leading scorer at 25 points per game. He has not shown any signs of slowing up, having scored 27+ in his past three games. He shoots efficiently, though does not necessarily stand out in other categories.
  • Ÿ Jamal Tinsley - The NY-bred PG is never shown any love in fantasy circles. Outside of his horrific FG%, Tinsley is more than solid in multiple categories, including rare ones such as threes, steals, and assists.
  • Ÿ Jamario Moon - I’ll be honest, if not for his name, he probably wouldn’t have made the cut for this article. He blew up on Sunday, though otherwise he had a pretty mediocre week. Toronto’s moon man is a fringe fantasy player, but if you want erratic blocks, steals, or threes, or just a guy with a funky name, Jamario Moon is your man.
  • Ÿ Lou Williams - The Sixers are actively shopping Andre Miller in order to open up the starting point guard gig to the youngster. Lou is an explosive scorer with a style that can be compared to somewhat of a mix between that of Monta Ellis and Nate Robinson.
  • Ÿ Hedo Turkoglu - He(do) has been playing absolutely out of his mind, boasting averages of 18.5 ppg, almost six rpg, almost four apg, and two threes per game. Who would have thought that the addition of Rashard Lewis, who can be described as a rich man‘s Turkoglu, would actually help Hedo’s fantasy game?
  • Ÿ Antawn Jamison/Caron Butler - The loss of Gilbert means that if the Wizards want to contend, these two players must handle more of the offensive load. Unlike Gilbert, Washington’s new point guard is more of a prototypical distributing point guard who would rather let Butler and Jamison handle putting points on the board.
  • Ÿ Jose Calderon - Speaking of distributing point guards, this Spaniard has done a spectacular job leading the Raptors while TJ Ford has been sidelined with what is being called an “arm stinger.” Ford is listed as day-to-day, but Calderon is still worth owning in most leagues because of his great passing ability.
  • Ÿ Shaquille O’neal - Quite simply, Shaq is back (for now). Check the numbers. His production will likely eventually drop, so try to sell high if he’s on your squad.

Reader Question:

What do you think of this trade: I trade Manu Ginobili and Andres Nocioni for Ron Artest and Kelenna Azubuike. ~Justin

That’s a very fair deal, but I feel that you got the slight edge. Between Kelenna and Nocioni, it is essentially a stalemate. Both can explode and get 30 points or five three pointers in one night, and both will be erradic. Between Artest and Manu, Artest should have a great year because he is in a contract year. He gets similar stats to Manu, though he is more durable. The only real concern with Artest missing games is that he might get suspended. Manu misses games every season due to ankle sprains or other similar injuries. Artest is also shooting an astounding 54% from the field this season, compared to Manu‘s 47%. Nice going with this deal Justin!

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