Another day, another player testing positive for PED’s and claiming that he had no idea what he was taking. Seriously? Baseball really needs to clean up it’s…. I’m sorry? Rashard Lewis of the NBA’s Orlando Magic tested positive for use of a PED? Of course he did.
The consequences of his actions have resulted in a ten game suspension, without pay, which Lewis will ultimately appeal.
Here at Damn Lies and Statistics we care about one thing and one thing only: the fantasy implications.
In the world we live in (a world of fantasy), ten NBA games is considered a lot. This is especially true for a cornerstone player like Rashard Lewis who would likely have been projected anywhere from late-second to early-fourth round, depending on who you ask. Sometimes you have to pay that high of a price to get the leagues top-rated three-point shooter: he’s averaged 2.8 treys per game since he joined the Magic and led the league in 3PTM (220) last season.
What might be lost in the discussion of his ten game suspension, however, is the fact that the 2009-10 Orlando Magic are heading in a direction that may be taking the ball out of Lewis’ hands much more than the 2008-09 Magic did. Last season Rashard Lewis averaged just 13.7 FGA, his lowest total since 2001-02. Gone from the Orlando roster is Hedo Turkoglu and his 13.3 FGA (career 10.0 FGA) and in his place is former Net Vince Carter, who is more comfortable taking upwards of 18-20 shots per game (career 19.7 FGA; though just 16.8 FGA over the past two seasons). The offense is likely to run through Jameer Nelson (a scoring point guard who loves having the ball in his hands), Vinsanity, and the Big Fella.
Dwight Howard, the heart of this franchise, will continue to take a more active role in the offense this season. Since he entered the league in 2004-05 his shot attempts per game have risen from 8.4 to 12.4 FGA. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take 14-15 shots per game this season. Conversely, Lewis have declined each year since he’s joined the Magic.
The additions of Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes and Ryan Anderson in the offseason could also play into a suspected decrease in fantasy value of Rashard Lewis. Brandon Bass will play a more traditional role at the four (though one questions whether you need a traditional power forward with DH in the middle), taking minutes away from Lewis who seems better suited to play the three anyway. Ryan Anderson, a guy who fits perfectly into Orlando’s offensive scheme, should also see some time at the ‘four.’
On the wings the Magic will find a way to get Barnes involved in the offense. He too can be a terrific three-point shooter and pose a threat in the open court. However, I suspect that Barnes might see some limited time at the ‘three.’ He’ll more likely spell VC when he’s doggin’ it on the court.
Another player lost in this equation is Mikael Pietrus who can play both wing positions. Pietrus is often seen as the “defensive specialist,” though in his case that essentially translates into: he’s long, athletic, raw, and full of emotion.
This really is the first time in Rashard Lewis’ career that he’s had capable and able backups ready to take on some minutes. Brian Cook? Pat Garrity? Bo Outlaw?
It might be too early to speculate on how each of these guys are going to be used exactly and to what extent Van G will use them. It is, however, likely that we will continue to see Lewis take fewer shots, score fewer points, and contribute less across the board in ten fewer games.
I would jump on him maybe in the late-fourth round, but not sooner. As they say in fantasy baseball basketball: don’t buy saves treys.