A Split-Personality Fantasy Draft Analysis, Part I

Many of you Knick fans might not care about fantasy, so feel free to ignore this posting.  But my fantasy clan asked me several times to do my yearly analysis and I kept putting it off.  I was just gonna post it on our site, but the message board sucked.  And, yes, we’re already past the season’s halfway point, so it may be pretty freakin’ odd to analyze a fantasy draft several months later since, well, everyone’s got at least two buttloads of extra hindsight now. Thus, in an attempt to rectify that, much like a plastic surgery reality tv show, this will feature before and after views.  First I’ll have my initial thoughts (assuming I remember ‘em), followed by me then critiquing my own brilliance/stupidity.

For those who follow fantasy, we play with three keepers who you get to keep in the same round you snagged ‘em the year before.  Thus our first overall pick was Dirk Nowitzki because CP3, Durant & LeBron had all been kept.  And as with past years, I’m mostly not gonna analyze keepers since they should almost always be great picks.  Keepers are noted by a (K) before their name.

Lastly, picks won’t be penalized if the player got injured because no one can predict that.  Well, unless they’re an injury prone player, like say Yao, in which case, then you will be mercilessly heckled.  Rich.

Round 1

1.     Dirk Nowitzki           Brad

2.(K) Danny Granger          Mike K

3.     Dwight Howard           Nick

4.     Dwyane Wade           Michael C

5.     Brook Lopez           Bo

6.(K)LeBron James            Eyal

7.     Rajon Rondo          Mike M

8.     Carmelo Anthony      Greg

9.(K)Deron Williams          Frankie

10.(K)Kevin Durant          Rich

11.(K)Kobe Bryant          Shai

12.(K)Chris Paul            Alex

Biggest surprise: Mike M’s pick of Rondo.  Due to his poor free throw shooting, lack of threes and unspectacular point totals, I had him ranked after Melo, Bosh, Monta and Gerald Wallace.

Now: After Rondo started out on his insane tear I instantly felt certain I was a moron.  His injuries then derailed his season a bit, and while he may soon return to his crazy assist numbers, my initial draft-day concerns still exist.  That said, Melo, Bosh and Wallace have all been worse than I thought and (on a per-game basis) worse than Rondo.  Really the best pick would’ve been Monta, but only a truly brilliant and bold man would’ve used his first pick on a player that Yahoo had ranked in the pre-season down at 28.

Littlest bit of a surprise: Nick choosing Dwight over Wade.  Yes, with Wade there’s the health concern (and by the way, isn’t it ironic that via trade Nick just recently ended up with Wade?  Don’t ya think?).  However, Dwight has the free-throw concern and then radically alters the way you have to draft your whole team.

Now: Howard’s points have reached a high, but his blocks have dipped a bit and his free throw attempts have increased, meaning he hurts even more in that stat.  Then again, if you decide to punt free throw percentage, since our league also uniquely count free-throws-made, the increase in attempts ends up being a plus.  However to “then again” once again, Nick didn’t decide to punt FT%, so yeah, he should’ve gone for Wade.

Hmm, also now that I think about it, I’m not gonna do a Now for every analysis unless it’s radically different than my initial thoughts.

Round 2

1.     Monta Ellis           Alex

2.     Al Jefferson           Shai

3.     Chris Bosh           Rich

4.     Gerald Wallace      Frankie

5.     Steve Nash          Greg

6.     Derrick Rose          Mike M

7.     Joe Johnson          Eyal

8.     Andre Iguodala          Bo

9.     Brandon Roy          Michael C

10.     Chauncey Billups     Nick

11.(K) Amar’e Stoudemire     Mike K

12.(K) Pau Gasol            Brad

The Doesn’t-Shoot-Threes-So-I-Think-He’s-Overvalued Award: Went to the winner of that from the first round, Mike M for his choice of Rose.  I also was concerned that with a big volume scorer like Boozer onboard that Rose’s point totals would go down (but of course his assists would go up).  People talked about how he’d worked on his three point shooting, but I watched all of the World Games and he was awful from the even-closer international three-point line.  Plus the kid had always averaged under a steal/gm.  And now he had a new coach who was a defense guru, so I figured Thibs would emphasize staying in front of your man/playing honest D rather than gambling for steals.

Now: No doubts about me being a moron now.  Rose upped his steals from .7 to a respectable 1.1, and skyrocketed from .2 threes to 1.6.  While scoring almost four extra points.  Although I’m still thinking that number could slide down a bit once both Joakim and Boozer are at full speed (but again, then his assists will only rise, so he won’t lose any value).

Being Paid/Drafted For What He Did Three Years Ago: The Atlanta Hawks and Eyal for both signing Joe Johnson.  The first year the Hawks made it to the post-season, where they took the eventual champs, the Celts, to seven games, double J was phenomenal in the playoffs.  Bodies were all over him and he was hitting big shots like the next Kobe.  But only in Atlanta.  In Boston they were getting shellacked.  Last year, not only did Joe do a no-show against the Magic, but his fantasy stats declined a bit, leaving him by my calculations to be ranked #39.  Plus last year’s coach, Mike Woodson, ran a ton of Iso-Joe plays that would get scrapped this year.  Not only could that hurt JJs point totals, but also his assists.

Now: Hard to say since he got injured.  For the season Yahoo has his average rank at 68, but over the last days he’s a far more respectable 38.  However, to once again give a “then again,” he’s at 55 over the last two weeks, so who knows?  Considering Iguodala, Roy, Crash and Bosh have all underperformed, JJ could still end up being the next most valuable actual pick in this round after Monta, Rose, Nash, Big Al and Billups.  Then again, Eyal could’ve had Billups, and if Melo gets traded, Chauncey could become even more valuable.  That said, have I mentioned yet that whoever picked Monta is clearly a man of superior intellect?

General Now: Interestingly, except for Rose and again the brilliant pick of Monta, these second round picks ended up taking a step backwards while most of the third rounders took a big step forward and ended up being more valuable.  The moral?  You don’t always have to pay more to get the good things in life.  Well, except for when purchasing gold cars.

Round 3

1.     David West           Brad

2.     Andrea Bargnani      Mike K

3.     Nene Hilario           Nick

4.     Tim Duncan           Michael C

5.     John Wall               Bo

6.     Russell Westbrook     Eyal

7.(K) Josh Smith          Mike M

8.     Chris Kaman           Greg

9.     Blake Griffin           Frankie

10.     Paul Pierce           Rich

11.(K) Jason Kidd            Shai

12.     Mo Williams          Alex

The Oops-I-Picked-The-Wrong-Clipper-Center Award: Gregory and his choice of Kaman over Griffin.  This gets the “Now” italics treatment because at the time it wasn’t clear that Griffin would produce such outlandish stats or that Kaman would miss most of the season.  Heck, at the time Griffin wasn’t even center eligible.  But looking back now… sheesh.

The Stupidly Falling For Rookie Hype Award: A tie between Bo with John Wall and Frankie with Blake Griffin.  Even top rookies with surefire potential, like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, tend to get picked so early that at best they’ve ended up being only barely worth the round they’re chosen.  Sure, sometimes then the next year they might get even better and then their keeper value will have made it a good choice, but it’s a big two-year risk for such an early round.  Particularly I felt like Bo should’ve taken Westbrook over Wall.  And my other concern was that with both Hinrich and Arenas also in Washington as point guards, Wall wouldn’t be given 100% freedom of the team.  With Blake I was concerned about not only his godawful ft%, but that with Chris Kaman working in the low post, Griffin wouldn’t get plays run for him (which had been the case early on) plus he’d be battling Kaman for rebounds and sometimes rookies who are bigs get into dumb foul trouble which limits their minutes.  Plus, he plays with such reckless abandon that there was a fear he could be a Gerald Wallace clone who always gets injured.

Now: Yes, Wall’s been injured, but when he’s played he’s put up astonishing assist numbers.  It’s pretty rare for a rook to put up games of 10+ assists and he’s nearly averaging that.   Obviously, Westbrook’s been better, and Wall’s 40% fg can kill a team, but while he likely may not produce third round value this season, he’s a baller and could end up being a good keeper.

The Sneaky Good Stats On A Bad Team: Me picking Mo Williams.  When it was announced that Antawn Jamison would come off the bench, it left a starting lineup of Mo, Anthony Parker, maybe Jamario Moon, JJ Hickson and Varejao.  Someone would need to score, so I figured Mo would be that guy.  His fg% might hit a career low, but his points and assists should easily crush previous career highs.

Now: Has a male player, in fact a whole team of men, ever so completely fallen off a cliff due to post-partum depression?  The Cavs actually started out the season going 7-8, but on that 16th game LeBron came home and ripped out their nuts.  Since then they’ve only won once in 29 games (let’s not mention that the one team they beat was the Knicks.   Damn, I mentioned it again, didn’t I?).  Sure, sure, Mo’s been injured and he has actually by far had a career high in assists, however he’s been shooting the ball like Brandon Jennings wearing a pirate’s eye patch.  Somehow Mo’s also taking fewer shots than his first year in Cleveland and he’s attempting 1.5 less threes per game.  In my partial defense, I really had Manu as my definite pick here (since I had two picks in a row I used the second pick on him for better keeper potential) and was grasping for who else to pick.  In hindsight, even Ian Mahini would’ve been a better choice.

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