Living the Fantasy: Early Trends
By NBA TV's Rick Kamla
Nov. 17, 2006 — Are you feeling a sense of urgency with your fantasy hoops team?
If NOT, you aren't engaging properly (and you clearly have not been watching the fantasy show). If you ARE attacking the first month of the NBA grind with vigilance and aggression, you are already a contender even if your team is 0-2. (After all, hard work is good karma and The Karma Gods are always watching.)
If you ARE feeling that sense of urgency, then you are doubtlessly scanning the rosters in your league(s) for possible two-for-one trades—with you on the one side.
Deron Williams, Jazz: The only guy not named Chris Paul to get a Rookie of the Year vote last season (1-of-125) may garner the most votes for Most Improved Player as a sophomore. Right now it's a tight race between Williams and Kevin Martin. As I peck away, Williams is the 31st ranked eight-cat player with averages of 16.9 points, 8.5 assists, 1.6 steals, 51 percent from the field, and 86 percent from the stripe. Wow! The only problem has been threes, as he has a bagel in that cat in seven of eight games. However, he dialed up long distance 1.7 times per game in the second half last year, so the best is yet to come from Williams.
Kevin Martin, Kings: Get ready to be blown away by statistics. Through seven games, Martin is No. 7 in eight-cat leagues thanks to 23.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 threes, 1.7 steals, 54 percent from the field, and 92 percent from the line. Now scrape yourself off the floor, sit back down, and kindly continue reading...
Joe Johnson, Hawks: Joe Cool is this year's Carmelo Anthony. Last year, Melo hiked his scoring from 20.8 to 26.5 and this year Joe has spiked from 20.2 to 28.9 thanks to 49 percent field-goal shooting. But therein lies the rub, as Joe is a career 44 percent shooter. I doubt he hovers around 50 for the season. Look for him to settle in around 46 percent and 26 ppg for the season.
Emeka Okafor, Bobcats: This is the Mek we thought we were getting last year when he added 20 pounds of muscle. Instead, dropping the superfluous 20 has enabled Mek to lead the league with 4.1 blocks per game. His other averages of 19.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 54 percent from the field make him the 19th-ranked eight-cat player.
Stephon Marbury, Knicks: New coach, new season, same old disappointing Steph. He can't blame THIS slow start on Larry Brown, can he? Freaks, we are already hearing the same things from Steph about struggling with the new system and not being able to do what he does and blah, blah, blah. I had Marbury tabbed as a sleeper, but I was wrong and I'm sorry. It's time to cut your losses with Marbury. If you thought last year's 16 & 6 was underwhelming, wait till you smell this year's 14 & 5. Instead of Starbury, it should be Ordibury.
Steve Francis, Knicks: I am so over Stevie Franchise. The day he stopped hitting threes and coming up with steals is the day I moved on with my fantasy life. Seriously, the dude has been good for 8-4-5 in 26 minutes and with Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson playing well off the bench, I don't see that three-cat line changing much. Drop Francis and snatch Crawford off waivers, if available.
Manu Ginobili, Spurs: Whereas there used to be some doubt about San Antonio's best guard, there's no doubt in my mind that Tony Parker has emerged as The Man. Manu took a backseat to Parker last year in scoring (18.9 to 15.1) and the gap is growing this year (22.3 to 13.6). I still like Manu because he gives you a little bit of everything, but don’t look for more than 14-15 ppg.
Andris Biedrins, Warriors: With the talk of buying out Adonal Foyle's contract, the heel injury and two zero-rebound games from Troy Murphy, and Biedrins' averages of 10.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, and 84 percent from the field in five starts, Don Nelson has his five of the future—and the future looks bright.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cavaliers: I'm still a fan of Big Z, but because Mike Brown needs to find 20+ minutes per game for Z, Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall, and Anderson Varejao, all four of them will be weird in fantasy leagues unless one of them tweaks something.
Chris Kaman, Clippers: Like Big Z, Shaggy is off to a miserable start, but it's not necessary his fault either. In addition to the Clippers' strict eight-man rotation, in which all eight guys are playing at least 25 minutes, Kaman (like Z) has been the victim of teams going small. Hate to say it, but the true center is on the endangered species list.
Leandro Barbosa, Suns: I would put Barbosa third in the Most Improved Player race because he's No. 16 in eight-cat leagues with averages of 19.7 points, 5.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 2.7 threes, and 1.4 steals. I realize Boris Diaw can't be THIS bad all season and Amare Stoudemire will continue to get better, but I just see The Brazilian Breeze getting his regardless.
Monta Ellis, Warriors: Think of Ellis as a poor man's Barbosa. If Ellis is somehow still on waivers, it's time to drop everything and make room for him.
Eddie Jones, Grizzlies: Dude is so done. Remember the preseason quote from Isiah Thomas where he wondered how much run Jalen Rose had left in his body. Well, I'm wondering the same thing about E Jones, who seems to have slammed headfirst into the same wall that befell Glenn Robinson and Glen Rice.
Chris Webber, 76ers: The 20-10 days are over. You know the end is near when your coach no longer thinks twice about sitting you down in the fourth quarter because you can't jump over a paper clip.
Zach Randolph, Trail Blazers: I've always been a Z-Bo guy, so I'm happy for the big fella this year. I can't promise 27 & 10 all season long, and I don't see too many blocks anytime soon, but the 20-10 Zach is back to stay.
Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz: Not only is the officially injury-prone AK47 down again, with another severe ankle injury, but he's currently the 72nd ranked eight-cat player with averages of 8.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.6 blocks, and 0.7 steals. I'm sorry, but AK47 is the most overrated player in fantasy hoops. He's unique in one category: blocks. Face it, freaks, he's a one-cat guy in an eight-cat world.