Living the Fantasy: It's A Small ... Ball ... World

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By NBA TV's Rick Kamla

December 8, 2006

Whether you're a basketball purist or a fantasy freak, you have to agree that Small-Ball rules.

Freaks, count it: one, two ... 318!
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
class="LinkOrange" Without Small-Ball, we would not have received Thursday's epic 161-157 double overtime thriller between the Suns and Nets at the Meadowlands, which ranks as the fourth-highest scoring game in NBA history.

Without Small-Ball, Nash and Kidd would not have combined for 80 points, 27 assists, and 20 rebounds in the early favorite for Game of the Year.

Without Small-Ball, we wouldn't have gotten the 05-06 answer to Thursday's pinball wizardry: the 152-149 double overtime thriller between the Sonics and Suns.

Without Small-Ball, Nash wouldn't have back-to-back MVP awards.

Without Small-Ball, we wouldn't have guards and small forwards dominating the leader board for scoring. Through Thursday's work, the top nine scorers were 1s, 2s, or 3s, with Zach Randolph leading the way for the bigs at No. 10. Ten years ago, two of the top 10 scorers were smalls.

Without Small-Ball, we wouldn't have nine teams averaging 100+ points per game after five lived in triple figures a year ago.

Without Small-Ball, playoff games would degenerate into an amalgam of basketball, football, and wrestling.

Without Small-Ball, fantasy hoops wouldn't be as entertaining.

Without Don Nelson, who invented Small-Ball, and Mike D'Antoni, who perfected the art of Small-Ball, we wouldn't be talking about any of these exciting developments for our sport.

Let's hear it for these pioneers of the coolest way to play the coolest game.

So, as we continue celebrating the Golden Age of Small-Ball, and to honor Nash and Kidd on their Game For the Ages, let's take a look at how the point guards stack up according to the 8-cat rankings.

1. Steve Nash, Suns: Not only is Nash the No. 1 point guard by a mile, he has vaulted all the way to No. 2 overall on the 8-cat rankings -- right on the heels of Kevin Garnett and just ahead of teammate Shawn Marion.

Do I hear three straight MVP awards?

Hey, you can't tell me there's an NBA player who's better individually or more important to his team than Nash. There are players at his level (LeBron, Wade, Melo, Duncan, Howard), but I wouldn't put any of those guys ahead of Nash.

Through 15 games, Nash is averaging 21.3 points (team-high), 11.5 assists (league-high), 2.7 threes per game (third-most), .525 from the field (best among guards), and .893 from the line (12th overall).

Any questions?

Allen Iverson, 76ers: AI is a machine in three categories, as once again he's near the top in points (31.2), assists (7.3), and steals (2.2). Plus, Ivy has added a new category to his arsenal this year by shooting .885 from the free throw line, propelling him all the way to eighth overall in 8-cat leagues.

However, and sadly, Iverson has reportedly played his last game as a 76er, and there are no guarantees he will get carte blanche with his new team, so those numbers are likely to droop post-trade. Ah, but their is a silver lining for us Timberwolves' fans.

I'm hearing that Iverson is open to playing with Kevin Garnett in Minnesota, to which KG said after Friday's win over Utah, "Bring it on, I love The Answer." Bring it on, indeed.

Freaks, if my Wolves add AI to KG (giving up Philly's own Randy Foye, among others, in the process) and giving my Wolves the greatest one-two punch in the game, I will go streaking Farrell-style around the neighborhood. No, I'm not serious. (I have a pretty significant issue with male nudity, even my own.) But there would be champagne flowing and much rejoicing in the Wolves Nation.

Bring on The Answer!

Please, Glen Taylor and Kevin McHale, bring on The Answer!!!

3. Gilbert Arenas, Wizards: Arenas is right behind Iverson at point guard (third) and 8-cat rankings (ninth) thanks to 26.8 points, 6.4 assists, 2.7 threes, 2.0 steals, 3.9 rebounds, and .830 from the line.

Get ready to be happy, Arenas owners, because the best is yet to come.

Agent Zero averaged 29.3 ppg last season and I fully expect his scoring average to at least hover around 30 again this year.

4. Jason Kidd, Nets: Thanks to his unforgettable triple-double on Thursday, Kidd is fourth among PGs and 17th overall with 13.8 points, 9.6 assists, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 0.9 threes, and .848 from the FT line.

Some people say Kidd has lost a step over the years. Just for the record: I am not one of those people. But even if he has lost a step (or...half step, Mississippi uptown, toodeloo), he's more than compensated for any slippage with his genius mind for the game.

5. Chris Paul, Hornets: Like Ivy and Arenas, Kidd and Paul are neck-and-neck, with Paul ranking fifth among PGs and 18th overall thanks to averages of 18.8 points, 9.3 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 2.2 steals, .464 from the field, and .804 from the line.

I don't know if it happens this year, but Paul will eventually blossom into a 20-10 point guard and he'll probably maintain that Hall of Fame level of play for a decade.

6. Chauncey Billups, Pistons: We haven't seen vintage Chauncey yet, but he's holding firm as the sixth-best point guard and 20th ranked player across eight categories.

I thought CB had a realistic chance of going 20-10 this year, but he's currently averaging 17.5 points and 8.6 assists, to go along with 1.8 threes, 1.3 steals, and .887 from the line.

The good news is that CB gets better by the game, ranking 15th over the past month, and 12th over the last week.

7. Baron Davis, Warriors: BD's ranking of 26th overall means there are seven PGs in the top 26 players (27 percent). Conversely, there are two centers in the top 26 (eight percent), with Yao Ming at No. 12 and Marcus Camby at No. 23.

Like I said, Small-Ball rules.

BD gave us a scare by missing a couple games with a rib injury, but he's back and giving fantasy owners 19.8 points, 7.7 assists, 2.1 steals, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.1 threes. Plus, his percentages are up in Nellie's system. He's shooting .432 from the field and .736 from the line.

8. Andre Miller, Nuggets: It amazes me that the puffy Andre Miller starts the second-tier of point guards with an 8-cat ranking of 37th. Seriously, freaks, the dude is seemingly allergic to weight training and obviously down with fast food, because he has the muscle tone of a weekend warrior.

All that said, the dude is a straight baller who's averaging 13.3 points, 9.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals, .476 from the line, and .767 from the stripe.

9. Deron Williams, Jazz: If they gave an offseason MVP award, it would probably go to Williams, who reshaped his body to get stronger and quicker and retooled his game in order to give Jerry Sloan what he wants on a nightly basis. Of course, I'm talking about defending your position and making good decisions.

Give John Stockton an assist for all of the above, as he spent a few days with the second-year stud during the offseason.

As we speak, Deron is the ninth-best point guard in the league and 39th-best player based on the 8-cat rankings because he's averaging 16.5 points, 8.9 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 0.9 threes, .463 from the field, and .754 from the stripe.

Freaks, the dude is at least helping out in seven of eight categories.

With Kevin Martin coming back to earth, Williams is starting to look like a lock for Most Improved Player.

10. Brevin Knight, Bobcats: That's right, baby, B Knight is 10th among PGs and 41st overall thanks to 12.5 points, 6.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 3.6 rebounds, .467 from the field, and .894 from the stripe.

My only problem with Knight, who is both Small-Ball and Odd-Ball king in five-cat, head-to-head leagues, is that he drops the outta-nowhere DNP on you. And it usually occurs late in the week, putting his status for the upcoming week in jeopardy.

But if you have the stomach for the ebb and flow of it all, then BK is your PG.

The best of the rest: Mike Bibby (47th), Jarrett Jack (50th), Luke Ridnour (52nd), Tony Parker (55th), Kirk Hinrich (58th), Monta Ellis (61st), Rafer Alston (70th), Jamaal Tinsley (71st), T.J. Ford (72nd), and Jameer Nelson (79th).


Rick Kamla is NBA.com's resident fantasy expert. Rick Kamla will be here all season long to give you his insider analysis on the fantasy basketball world. Kamla is the heady host for "NBA Fantasy Hoops Presented By Toyota," a seven-nights-a-week, one-hour studio show that has become the ultimate guide for NBA fantasy basketball players.

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