It's not too late. Play Drive to the Finals Now!
By Brad Friedman
Previous Expert Picks
May 4 -- With three series resuming tonight (Nets-Pacers, Heat-Bulls, Suns-Lakers) all locked at 3-2, my purpose was clear. Find the best points-rebound-and-assist producer on any of the three teams down in their series.
For those of you who had trouble sitting still in class, here's my article in a nutshell courtesy an instant messanger exchange I had with NBA.com fantasy guru Jon Loomer:
NBAguy4503: i am thinking captain kirk for Thursday's pick
NBAguy4503: it's him, Noc, Diaw who are really the only candidates
milwaukean4life74: yup, they are the main ones. I was leaning towards Diaw, and yesterday's game made me lean closer to Diaw.
NBAguy4503: my thing is, u know boris, or Noc can have an off night
milwaukean4life74: but Diaw or Hinrich make sense.
NBAguy4503: Kirk is just steady
milwaukean4life74: yup. Probably fine either way. You would've gotten 40 points out of Diaw yesterday.
NBAguy4503: meh, who could have predicted that?
Today's Expert Pick
|Regular Season Averages|
Now for those who want a more detailed justification for my selection, let's begin by looking at who the top candidates based on their playoff averages, excluding previous NBA.com Expert selections Ben Gordon, Jermaine O'Neal, Steve Nash and Shawn Marion:
Pacers: Stephen Jackson (14.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.2 apg), Anthony Johnson (16.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 5.2 apg)
Suns: Boris Diaw (17.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.2 apg), Tim Thomas (15.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.0 apg)
Bulls: Andres Nocioni (22.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.6 apg), Kirk Hinrich (20.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 8.0 apg).
The highest PRAs are represented by Nocioni (34.0), Hinrich (31.2) and Diaw (29.4). I couldn't blame you for picking any of these three players. My rationale for selecting Hinrich is that he has a track record of producing night-in, night-out over a long period of time. With all due respect to Nocioni, who's playing the best basketball of his life, the sample size is only five postseason games and his regular season averages were just 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists. That's a PRA of 19.8 compared to Hinrich's 25.8 mark on the same team, over the same season.
Hinrich has played terrific basketball in the postseason his entire career -- it's when he truly elevates his game. It's why he led Kansas to consecutive Final Four appearances, including an appearance in the NCAA Championship Game his senior season, and why his NBA playoff scoring averages are always better than those of the regular season.
Captain Kirk is the heart and soul of the Bulls.
Doug Benc/Getty Images/NBAE
Admittedly, Diaw, too, has stepped up his game in the playoffs this season. But I can't get over the fact that he was a low-productivity guy in Atlanta. Plus, he's not the scorer that Hinrich is, so he's less dependable for the purposes of this fantasy game. That's because the value of each category is not weighted, meaning one basket is worth double what a rebound collected or an assist dished counts for.
Consider this: the league's leading scorer, Kobe Bryant, averaged 35.4 points per game, while the league's leading rebounder, Kevin Garnett, averaged only 12.7 rebounds per game. They might be equally good at their skill relative to the rest of the league, but Drive to the Finals favors the work of scorers more than it does rebounders because Bryant receives 35 fantasy points for his efforts compared to Garnett's 13.
Accordingly, if Hinrich has an off game in the area of the game he's least dependable (rebounding), it won't hurt you as much as if Diaw has an off showing in his weakest category (points). Diaw may be averaging 17.6 points per game on the series, but it wouldn't be a surprise if he went for eight. Should Hinrich fail to replicate his 3.2 rebounds per game mark, it won't translate into nearly as big of a drop off in his combined PRA.
If you don't, then just re-read my IM conversation. It explains all you need to know.