Living the Fantasy: The CWebb Effect

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By NBA TV's Rick Kamla

February 2, 2007

More from Living The Fantasy
Jan. 26: Back Off Brand
Jan. 12: Bad Rotations
Jan. 5: Trimester Awards

Head to Kamla's Korner
Congratulations to the fantasy owners of Chris Webber, who went from no man's land (can't play, can't trade, can't cut) to starting lineups with one simple buyout.

Speaking of buyouts…is this “The Year of the Buyout” or a developing trend in the NBA?

CWebb, Eddie Jones, Jalen Rose, and Maurice Taylor have already given back some cash to get out of their HUGE contracts with their former teams. To the best of my knowledge—and keep in mind, I'm a child of the 60s—those are the most buyouts in a season, and we just passed the halfway point.

In all four of those cases, the player still had gas left in the tank and the buyout was good for the team that saved money and got a veteran out of the way of a younger player, and good for the player who GOT PAID on his way to signing with the new team of his choice.

Not a bad deal when you think about it. I mean, why keep a veteran in basketball purgatory for half a season or a full season or even two seasons? If said player no longer fits in with your plans, then shave some money off his remaining tab and set him free.

Every offseason we see teams signing players to monster contracts and we all know that not every player lives up to the zeroes. As such, we are going to see these midseason buyouts more and more frequently in the coming years, and that's a fantasy-friendly development if ever I've seen one.

CWebb's presense has certainly changed things in Detroit.
(Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE/Getty Images)
And I'm sure the owners of CWebb would agree, as he has been a startable fantasy player since signing with his hometown Pistons in mid-January. He said he picked #84 because his nephew had a dream about him winning a game with the Pistons while wearing that number.

And since we're on the topic of numbers, CWebb's digits are on the upswing after negotiating the buyout with the Sixers, with whom he averaged 11.0 points on .387 from the field and 8.3 rebounds in 18 games. Through eight games with the Pistons, Webber is clocking in at 11.8 points on .580 from the field and 7.1 rebounds. His free throw shooting is down from .643 to .583, but his blocks are up from 0.8 to 1.1.

So we know Webber is back in the good graces with the fantasy masses, but how has his arrival in Motown affected the productiveness of his new teammates?

Let's start with Rasheed Wallace, the only member of the Pistons' Big Four who is posting better numbers alongside Webber.

In eight games with CWebb, Sheed is averaging 13.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.5 steals, .441 from the field, and 11.6 shot attempts. Contrast those digits with his season marks of 12.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 0.9 steals, .418 from the field, and 11.3 shot attempts, and you're okay with sacrificing 1.7 rebounds per game for the extra point, the huge boost in thefts, and the better accuracy.

Those changes are not difficult to fathom, as Wallace doesn't have to rebound as much with Webber around, but he isn't double teamed as much so he's become more efficient on the offensive end. And in watching Wallace, you can just see a little more effort and concentration now that Webber is on board. It's almost like Sheed and Pistons are saying, “Let's stop cruising and let's start bruising like 2004.”

Probably the most negative effect of CWebb's arrival in Detroit has been the drop in Chauncey Billups' assists, which have fallen from 7.6 on the season to 5.9 in eight games with Webber. That wasn't hard to predict, as Webber is averaging 3.4 assists this year (with both Philly and Detroit) and 4.3 for his soon-to-be Hall of Fame career. He's always been a point guard in a monster's body and that isn't helping Billups’ fantasy value.

Amazingly, however, most of Chauncey's other numbers haven't been impacted at all, as he's 18.1 ppg on the year and 18.1 WW (With Webber), 1.3 steals on the year and 1.3 WW, .433 from the field on the year and .430 WW, and he's taking 11.9 shots on the year and 11.3 WW.

Quite obviously, the drop in assists is far more trend than mirage, and it's on the owners of Billups to determine whether their teams can afford 1.7 fewer dimes per game. If you cannot, then the time to move Billups is now before EVERYONE knows he's no longer an elite assist man.

Like Billups, Tayshaun Prince has been asked to adjust his game, and in typical Tayshaun fashion, he's obliging his coach with more D at the expense of his O.

Prince is up to a career-best 15.1 ppg on the season, but he's down to 13.1 with WW (with Webber). His shot attempts are down from 12.8 overall to 10.5 WW, his three-point shooting is down from 1.3 makes on 43 percent overall to 0.9 makes on 39 percent WW, and his field goal percentage is down from 46 percent to 45. That's the bad news.

The good news is that Prince has been playing so much more defense that it's starting to make a significant impact in fantasy leagues, as he's up from 0.8 blocks and 0.5 steals overall to 1.5 and 0.8, respectively, WW. That said, when you take the bad and the good and mix it all together, it adds up to Tayshaun being little more than a fantasy reserve at this point.

Which brings us to Rip Hamilton, who has taken a hit following Webber's return, especially on the defensive end. As most of you know, Rip has never done much in the defensive categories, averaging 0.2 blocks and 0.8 steals in 570 career games, and he’s averaging 0.3 and 0.9, respectively, this season. But over the past six games WW, Rip has zero blocks and zero steals.

And it's not like Rip has taken his offensive game to another level, such that you would give him a pass for the utter lack of D. Quite the contrary, as it turns out, because his scoring is down from a career-high 22.7 on the season to 20.5 WW due in large part to a reduction in shots from 17.6 per game overall to 16.9 WW.

Rip is shooting a slightly better percentage WW, going from .462 to .467, but if Rip's scoring is on the decline, it's time to trade him straight up for Kevin Martin or Ben Gordon or a currently injured shooter like Michael Redd or Rashard Lewis.

Next to the Suns, the Pistons probably have the most fantasy-friendly starting five in the game, but adding that fifth piece has cut into the fantasy value of 60 percent of Detroit’s starting lineup. In other words, the shot in the arm the fantasy world got from CWebb's buyout has been mitigated, at least equally, by the statistical drops for Billups, Prince, and Hamilton.

If you own Pistons, look at the bright side. At least they aren't coached by Bob Hill.


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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