Are You For Real? 2/2/07
By Guy Lake and Tom Lorenzo, TalentedMrRoto.com
TOM: As we briefly touched upon in the outro of last week’s article, there was a small group of Toronto Raptors fans who were outraged by the “garbage” nickname that I proposed for Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. For those of you who don’t recall, I referred to the duo as “The Righteous Brothers.” I know what you’re thinking, where did that come from? Well, I’m not here to defend the nickname, but Guy and I are here to propose more! That’s right. Guy and I intend on going Berman on all of the NBA by adding “Star” to your favorite NBA role player, a la Utah center Rafael Staraujo and Spurs big man Fabricio Starberto. These are the kind of nicknames I like! I’m not a big fan of ironic nicknames. For example, “Big Baby” is a name I have never been a fan of. I get it, he somewhat looks like a baby and if he were indeed a baby, he’d be big for his age. But does any grown man really ever look like a baby? I guess I’ll find out as I’m sure some reader will send me a photo of a man in a diaper once they finish the column. The word “Big” is very popular in sports nicknames, though. For instance, you have “Big Ben,” “Big Shot Bob,” “The Big Fundamental,” and my personal favorite, “Big Snacks” (Jerome James). Some nicknames I like, but some just don’t sit well with me. Like when some television personality reaches into his bag of tricks and combines Dirk Nowitzki’s name with famed faux-film star Dirk Diggler and gets, well, Dirk Diggler. Brilliant! My “Righteous Brothers” nickname came from a good place, I promise. Ever since I missed the boat on giving the most adorable duo in all of sports, Manute Bol and Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, a nickname in their Washington Bullets days, I’ve always felt empty. Looking back, if I had just had enough spunk in me to call them Manute MontalBol and Tattoo, of Fantasy Island fame, then my nickname quota would have been complete. So, as to make up for this snafu, you can be sure to see a nickname or two dropped in future articles.
GUY: The current line of sports nicknames? Hate 'em. Maybe it comes from a childhood of being called Girl Pond, Gay Puddle, and other variations on the themes my name inspires. But my antipathy to the current style of nicknaming has little to do with my childhood neuroses. I am just so over the first initial plus first syllable of the last name as a nickname: C-Webb, J-Rich, A-Rod, D-Wade, Dee Brown. Wait, scratch that last one. It requires no imagination and less spelling. Though I admit I liked the play on Jason Williams' J-Will when it was turned into J-Won't (as in, won't pass up a three-pointer in transition). To me, all these hip-hop inspired names just seem tired. Whatever nominal coolness they had when they first arrived on the scene like a diamond-crusted grill on your incisors seems dated already. Much like "bling." Can we all agree to stop saying bling? Bling isn't the thing; it's bunk. You know it's played out when you hear your 64-year old mother describe someone as "blinged out" in a thick Hungarian accent, as I did this weekend. It was horrifying. However, if we can no longer summon the creativity to move beyond initial-based sobriquets, I now dub the Lorenzo and Lake Team: "L.L. Cool Jams." See what you get when you uncritically accept a formula?
TOM: It’s about time this former Bruin gets his due. Guy and I have been discussing the Jason Kapono phenomenon for a few weeks now. Why? Well, because Jason Kapono is quietly having his best season to date. Halfway through the regular season, Jason is averaging career highs in points (10.4), rebounds (2.4), assists (1.1), field goal percentage (.483), and three-pointers made per game (1.6). I know those numbers don’t necessarily stand out, but his play as of late surely has. In the month of January, Kapono has averaged 32 minutes per game, 14.5 points, and shot 55 percent from the floor and 58 percent from beyond the arc. Kapono has been quite deadly from three point land making two threes per game in the month of January. Many might even say he has been “Kaponot of this world!” Well, at least not of the world that most career 6.9-points-per-game small forwards come from. Injuries, weight issues, and a lack of identity in Miami have also helped contribute to Kapono getting more run on the court. However, the Heat just signed forward, and former all-star, Eddie Jones to a veteran’s contract to play out the remainder of the year. This will certainly dig into Kapono’s minutes. That is, however, unless Jason Kapono can give coach Riley, er, coach Ron Rothstein a reason to keep him on the court. Can you, Jason? You don’t need to answer that, Guy and I will do that for you.
Jason Kapono … Are You For Real?
TOM: Not Real. There isn’t much you can say about Kapono. I mean he’s definitely having his best season to date, but is it good enough to consider taking a flier on him? You have to like the way that Kapono is shooting the ball. He has been deadly from beyond the arc shooting at 58.3 percent for the month of January. He’s also shooting an impressive 51 percent from the floor for the season and playing a career-high 24.5 minutes per game. But other than a few threes and about 12 points per game, you’re getting nothing else from J-Kap. He has no defensive awareness and can’t quite figure out this whole boxing out thing. Kapono is a sharpshooter and as noted in previous AYFR’s, spot-up sharpshooters, like Matt Carroll and J.J. Redick, are not really fantasy-worthy players in my eyes. Sure Kapono is having a great month offensively, but the news coming out of Miami that Eddie Jones is on his way should not sit well with Kapono. Eddie Jones is light years ahead of Kapono on the defensive end and will likely steal many of Jason’s minutes. Unless you’re looking for a long range specialist, I would not advise picking up Jason Kapono. He really has nothing else to offer you, and you have nothing to offer him. Except maybe birthday wishes, since today is his birthday. Happy birthday, big guy! You’re still not real, though.
GUY: Not Real. J-Kap? Are you trying to piss me off, Tom? I have a confession to make. Tom has wanted to do Kapono for weeks. Every week Tom and I exchange ideas about what three players to cover. Often times we have players penciled in (or even written up) but then some news breaks and we have to adjust. Kapono has been a victim of such circumstances this month. And, honestly, I thought he would fade at some point during this time. Well, he hasn't. For the month of January, he has averaged 32 minutes, 14.5 points, 2.3 threes, 3.3 boards, and 0.6 steals on 55.4 percent shooting from the field and 88.9 percent from the line. The threes in particular make him hard to ignore. Kapono has often felt overlooked. After he fell to the second round of the 2003 draft, Kapono openly wondered if he would've been drafted earlier if he had just changed his name to Jason Kaponovich. He felt the recent allure of European players was an obstacle to his being drafted where he should be. Not one to complain and do nothing about it, Kapono has responded. In true European fashion, he plays defense like Method Man plays guitar—not at all—and seems focused only on hitting shots from deep. To be fair, that is his role: to spot up behind the line and catch and shoot when Dwyane Wade drives and dishes. Still, with the impending addition of Eddie Jones, Kaponovich will almost certainly see his minutes decline, especially when the Heat need defense at small forward. For now, enjoy his threes, his field goal percentage, and points. He won't help you anywhere else. I'm sorry to cite a nickname you hate, Tom, but unlike the "Diggler," Kaponovich just doesn't bring enough to the table.
GUY: I am rarely bullish on rookies in fantasy basketball. They typically struggle with the longer games (48 minutes vs. 40 in college,) the longer season, the increased size and speed of their fellow players, and the reality that, yes, that was Kobe Bryant who just dunked on you. This year has been worse than usual for rookie production in the fantasy realm. One of the best rookies is one selected in the second round out of Louisiana Tech, Paul Millsap. This is surprising as Coach Jerry Sloan typically takes to rookies like a banker takes to confederate dollars. Millsap has gotten some hype because of his style of play—hyperkinetic—and because of the good numbers he put up when Andrei Kirilenko was injured earlier this season. In his last three games, with Carlos Boozer out and Kirilenko limited, he has averaged 32 minutes, 15.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and a .67 steals per game on 57.1 percent shooting from the field and 73.6 percent from the line. Those are numbers that make even the most jaded fantasy observers stand up and take notice. The news on Carlos Boozer isn't good. The word out of Salt Lake is that Boozer will miss four-to-six weeks with a hairline fracture of his left fibula (shin bone). Now that we know Boozer is damaged goods, will Millsap be a worthy add? What we are asking Jerry "I Heart Rookies" Sloan and his talented rookie is…
Paul Millsap … Are You For Real?
GUY: For Real. Paul Millsap is now officially for real, and if for some reason, he is available and hasn't been added to your team's roster, stop reading this and add him now. I can wait. Back? Good. Now, here's why you can feel good about this (or bad because someone else in your league has a faster connection): Millsap's per-48-minutes numbers are amazing. This stat is a very good indication of a player's ability. There are a lot of cats out there who, if they just got the minutes, would look pretty good on their real teams and our fantasy ones. See Jason Kapono above or Al Jefferson for that matter. In 48 minutes, Millsap averages 18.7 points, 13.8 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, and 1.9 steals. Need more convincing of what Millsap is capable of? His numbers compare very favorably to David Lee's per 48 stats: 17.1 points, 17.0 rebounds, 0.6 blocks, 1.3 steals. Lee is better only on the glass. For my money, I take the guy who gets me the harder-to-fill categories like steals and blocks. And if you are still unsure about how Jerry Sloan feels about the rookie, read the following Sloan quote The Salt Lake Tribune ran this week: "You want to hear a stat? Paul Millsap scored 15 points and had 17 rebounds [on Saturday], and we never ran a play for him." That's good stuff coming from a notorious rookie hater.
TOM: For Real. Hey look, another All-Star caliber player went down. It’s bad news for the Utah Jazz, but good news for Paul Millsap. With Carlos Boozer out four-to-six weeks, Millsap is ready to step in and play big minutes for the Jazz. In a year where rookies outside of Portland and Toronto are having way too many growing pains, it looks like Millsap may be ready to step up and put his name into the Rookie of the Year discussion. As Guy noted above, Millsap has played exceptionally well in his last three games. As is the case with most rookies, you’ll see Millsap have his ups and downs, but this is one case where you’re talking about an NBA ready type of player who was clearly overlooked in the 2006 draft. He was a beast at Louisiana Tech, leading the nation in rebounding for three consecutive seasons. I suspect that Millsap will continue to find the ball coming off the rim, since he’s been known to be a stellar rebounder. He’s actually so good working the window, the glass if you will, that I’m almost inclined to call him “Millgates.” Get it? Windows? Bill Gates? No? Okay, moving on. If you can get 12 points, 10 rebounds and a block-and-a-half from Millsap the rest of the way, then you have to love that. Injuries are part of the game and if you are a Boozer owner, or in a league where the Boozer owner is asleep at the wheel, then grab Millsap now and watch this guy clean up on the glass.
GUY: Except in the deepest of leagues, Jose Calderon went undrafted this fall. He is the backup point guard in Toronto and that doesn't usually sing to fantasy owners. After all, it's all about the PT in fantasy hoops. Despite his second string status, savvy owners had him on their radar. It was no shock when the slightly-built T.J. Ford went down with injury last week. Calderon has stepped in admirably for Ford, putting up excellent numbers. In his last five games as a starter, Calderon has averaged 16.2 points, 9.6 assists, 2.3 turnovers, 0.8 steals, and 0.6 threes on 59.6 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from the line. The assists aren't that surprising. Last year, during his rookie season, Calderon showed his deft passing touch, averaging 7.7 dimes in ten starts. What is surprising is the scoring. In those same ten starts last season, Calderon scored just 8.9 points per game. His shooting percentage is much improved from last year. For the season, Calderon is hitting 52.3 percent of his shots compared with 42.3 percent last season. With T.J. Ford back in the lineup, will we continue to see production from the second-year Spaniard? With respect to his motherland, we ask…
Jose Calderon … ¿Está usted para verdadero?
GUY: Not Quite Real. In deeper leagues (14 teams or more), however, hold onto Calderon. The rest of you can take a pass for now. Calderon is a real talent, but in all likelihood, he will not be getting enough real minutes with Ford back. Calderon doesn't need to start to be useful to fantasy teams but he does need to get around 25 minutes per game. When he does, good things happen. Check his game log; you'll see that once Calderon approaches this threshold, his numbers increase markedly. Calderon has made a strong case for more minutes and as the season winds down, Coach Sam Mitchell may opt to rest Ford in readiness for the playoffs. Calderon is shooting better from the field than Ford (52.3 percent vs. 44.4 percent for Ford) and has a far better assist to turnover ratio (3.3 to Ford's 2.4). Still, the playoffs are a long way off, and there should be no doubt that Ford is the man. He isn't the biggest kid on the block, however, and Calderon has proven that he is ready and able to produce when called on. So, for those of you in leagues where Calderon is available, keep your trigger finger itchy and be ready to add the "Spanish Fly" if T.J. "Edsel" breaks down once again or if Sam Mitchell wisely decides to split time between his two talented point guards. Who said this nickname thing was played? Oh, I did. Damn these self-contradictions! Tom, what's your take?
TOM: Not Real. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Calderon. Plus, he’s the only player in the league that I can think of whose name can actually fit into the chorus of Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone.” He’s had a great month with a little help from our old friend Johnny Injury, since T.J. Ford has been sidelined. However, Sam Mitchell couldn’t have asked for anymore out of the 25-year-old Spaniard. Jose put in 12 points and 7.5 assists in 15 games in January and has shot better than 54 percent from the floor. The only knock on Calderon has been his defense. He’s averaging only .77 steals per game and has even been known to have an ankle or two “broken” off the dribble. Calderon has a lot of potential to be a good player in the league, however, the one thing, or shall I say person, in his way is T.J. Ford. The Raptors traded away Charlie Villanueva for Ford and when they did so, they made an investment in T.J. as their point guard of the future. Will Calderon get enough minutes to be effective? With T.J. Ford back from injury I don’t think so. He’s shown enough to make a push for 20-plus minutes per game, but the floor general is going to be T.J. Ford. However, we do know that Ford has a history of getting injured, so keep an eye on his recovery because if Calderon finds his way back into the starting lineup then you may want to take a flier on him.
GUY: Tom, I think we showed admirable restraint on the nickname front. You never referred to me as G-Lay (as you had threatened) and I never called you, well, anything other than Tom. If there are player nicknames you, our readers, are particularly fond of, drop us a line. We will share them in the coming weeks.
TOM: Hopefully this article won’t call for the same outcry of two weeks past. I think we went light on the nicknames. Next week, however, there’s no telling what we’ll do. We may even break out a little “You, Me, and Ronald Dupree” or a little Keyon Dooling “Banjos.” But, until next week I leave you with this – Go Bears!
Guy Lake and Tom Lorenzo are fantasy experts for TalentedMrRoto.com , which features free advice, news, stats and analysis for all fantasy sports. It was nominated for four FSTA awards, including best site. Contact them at guylake@TalentedMrRoto.com and tomlorenzo@TalentedMrRoto.com.
The views expressed by TalentedMrRoto.com represent only the views of the writers; they do not represent the views of the NBA or any NBA team.
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