J-Mo's NBA Fantasy Forecast
First let me start off by saying congratulations to the Indiana Pacers for making the playoffs! They will draw the Chicago Bulls in the first round, but the only way you get better is by playing the best.
As we head into the playoffs Roy Hibbert is playing better and looks to be on track to hit the ground running in his first playoff action. Hibbert finished with 19 points and 10 boards against the playoff bound Knicks on Sunday night, so let’s hope he keeps this momentum rolling as the Pacers play just once in the final week of the season.
The one weak link I can see the Pacers having is at SG, but maybe they make the switch from Paul George back to Mike Dunleavy come playoff time. Over the last five games, George is averaging 9.0 PPG to Dunleavy’s 10.6 PPG. The numbers are deceiving since George put up 23 points against the Wizards last week; had that not happened, we’d be looking at a number closer to 6-7 PPG. Three or four points may not seem like a lot, but the Pacers lost to the Knicks Sunday night by just one point.
Danny Granger had been shooting better as of late (21-of-40 from the field in his last three games), but he had a tough night against Carmelo Anthony as he shot just 7-of-21 from the field. If Granger can get better looks and consistent help from Hibbert, Dunleavy, Darren Collison and Tyler Hansbrough, he should be able to get the FG percentage back up and the team just might surprise some people.
Fantasy Basketball Awards
Week 25 of the NBA season marks the end of a fantasy basketball season that saw as many highs as it did lows. As with every season, not all the stars shined brightly and not all the black holes sucked the life out of fantasy teams as they have in the past. In this final article we are going to give awards to those who excelled for their fantasy owners, as well as see what players did more harm than good for the unlucky GM that drafted them.
Magic Johnson Award – Kyle Lowry: The Houston Rockets PG came out of nowhere to take fantasy basketball by surprise. He went undrafted in virtually all standard format leagues, but became a hot waiver wire pick-up in early November when he took over the starting role. Lowry never looked back and fantasy owners finished with a PG ranked in the top 45 for the season. He finished the fantasy season averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals a night, well worth a waiver wire call-up.
Troy Bell Award – Aaron Brooks: What are the chances that two PGs’ from the same team would make the list for winners and losers? That is exactly what happened when Brooks lost his starting gig to Lowry and caused owners to watch their 5th round pick rot away on their bench. Brooks would later land on the Suns roster and become a hot waiver wire addition once the Suns were eliminated from the playoffs and Steve Nash had nothing left to play for. It was simply too little, too late for me. Brooks managed to finish the season with a modest 11.0 points and 4.0 assists, while shooting 38.1 percent from the field. I wonder, do you think the name Aaron Brooks is just a magnet for sports busts?
Michael Jordan Award – Dorell Wright: Wright was selected in the middle of the 13th round in most fantasy drafts, but he pulled himself up by the boot-straps and was a vital part of the Warriors run-and-gun offense this season. He finished the fantasy season with an average of 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals a night. Not too shabby from a guy we all took as depth when the season started.
Harold Minor Award – Brandon Roy: Just like “Baby Jordan”, Roy did little for his owners outside of burning a draft pick on him. He played in just 46 games during the fantasy season and averaged 12.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists over them. Roy was plagued with knee problems, but that isn’t much comfort for owners who watched their second round pick sit out most of the NBA season, then come back and serve a reserve role in the second half.
Larry Bird Award – Wesley Matthews: When Roy went down, Matthews came up and smart fantasy owners snatched him off the wire. He was drafted by many at the end of the 11th round, but was cut when he made just four starts over the first 17 games of the NBA season. Matthews finished the fantasy season averaging 15.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals in 33.8 MPG.
Dennis Hopson Award – Trevor Ariza: You would have to score a lot of points for fantasy owners to overlook the 40.0 percent that Ariza shoots from the field. However, Ariza only scores 11.2 points a night, a number not even close to being high enough to keep him off this list. I was one of the people who had high hopes for Ariza as he moved to the Hornets to play alongside Chris Paul, but he burned me and proved that playing alongside Kobe Bryant does more for your value than we could even imagine. Good thing his owners only wasted a 7th round pick on him!
Tim Duncan Award – Serge Ibaka: Not only an amazing dunker, Ibaka put up 773 points (9.8 PPG), 603 rebounds (7.6 RPG) and 186 blocks (2.4 BPG) for fantasy owners smart enough to take him right around the 13th round. Ibaka finishes the fantasy season ranked in the top 40 for fantasy players, and for that I assure you that he will go within the first six rounds of next year’s fantasy draft.
Ed O’Bannon Award – Antawn Jamison: Jamison is in the twilight of his career, but playing for the Cavaliers post-Lebron James sure didn’t help any. Jamison played in just 56 games for those who took him in the middle of the 5th round. He was able to average 18.0 points and 6.7 rebounds when on the floor, but you can’t get fantasy stats while riding the pine and 56 games just doesn’t cut it for a guy you took to start for your fantasy squad.
Wilt Chamberlain Award – Marcin Gortat: Even as the fantasy season ends, Gortat is owned in just 74 percent of leagues despite averaging 9.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks a night. The numbers don’t wow you since they are sub double-digits, but they are good enough to rank him 25th for fantasy centers. Center is the hardest position to find depth at in the NBA, so when you can get one that averaged near a double-double and throws in a blocks each night, you need to grab him and ride him until the wheels fall off.
Kwame Brown Award – Marcus Camby: After all these years, owners are still foolish enough to put their faith in the hands of Cotton Camby. History repeats itself again this season as Camby managed to play in just 58 games for his fantasy owners and averaged 10.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while doing so. If you even seriously consider Camby at this point of his 17-year career, you must either be desperate for rebounds or waited far too long to draft a center!
There you have it fantasy fanatics, the best and worst of the 2010-11 NBA season. I was a long season and hopefully you lasted all the way to the end of the fantasy season, and into the playoffs. Second place is just the first loser, and nice guys truly do finish last. There is no loyalty in fantasy sports and hopefully you learned a thing or two from my articles this season. Give me a look over at RotoExperts.com and I will catch you next NBA season as I defend my title as World Champion of the World!
James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, N.M., anad has been playing fantasy sports since 1997. In addition to writing the Pacers Fantasy Forecast, Morris also writes fantasy articles for the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA as well as the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL. You can also find him on Rotoexperts.com where he does a weekly article and blog, or listen to the Rotoexperts XM Sirius radio show Monday nights at 8:15 to hear him talk some NBA. Or, you can always check him out on Twitter and Facebook for all your fantasy sports updates.