I’ll Be Damned: Fantasy’s Walking Dead

Jermaine O'Neal explains to reporters that he is not technically dead.

On Sunday I settled in to watch the season finale of the new hit series The Walking Dead, about the zombie apocalypse and a small group of survivors. While I initially tuned in several weeks ago thinking it was a Jermaine O’Neal documentary, I was quickly taken by the cool zombie killing and overacting cast. I won’t spoil the show for anyone who hasn’t watched, but I will say it’s gotten me thinking about the NBA season and several zombies who we thought were dead but have reanimated to help fantasy owners. We’re in December and still fleeing down the street screaming as these guys are chasing us. They’re alive, and not even a bullet to the head will stop them.

This week we honor those left for dead in the preseason by the writers of this web site and elsewhere. We’ll see if they are still going strong, say, 28 days later, but for now they make excellent fantasy plays and, potentially, AMC extras for Season 2. Let’s take a look at an all-NBA zombie cast.

This week, I’ll be damned that…

…the first zombie I’m casting is Kevin Garnett.
With all due respect to all other undead, KG’s resurgance this year is the surprise of the young season. He looks spry and nearly Timberwolvian. The key is the rebounding. While there aren’t enough shots on Boston for KG to regain his previous scoring numbers, his 9.9 boards per game in 32.6 minutes are both his best average and rate as a Celtic. He’s hit double-digit boards 11 times this season in 20 games; he did that 12 times in 69 games a year ago. The percentages remain outstanding. He’s even contributing 1.6 steals a game. For a player that none of the Damn Lies Editorial Board would go near in any preseason draft, he’s making us regret leaving him for dead. He is ranked 13th in Yahoo! among all players.

…the 2010-11 O.Z. (Original Zombie) was Elton Brand, who got off to an amazing start then appeared to die again in mid-November.
Brand seems to be awakening again, riding two straight double-doubles and six straight double-figure scoring outings, just when fantasy owners were starting to write him off and chuckle at his early success. His seasonal numbers are a healthy 15.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.2 BPG and 1.5 SPG. There’s also the 51.7 field goal shooting and 80.8 free throw shooting (which would be the best mark of his career if the season ended today). Brand’s the 30th-ranked player by Yahoo!

…Andre Miller, who I wouldn’t have drafted in a million rounds, is a Top 50 player so far.
The 34-year-old Miller has stepped up his fantasy game in a few key categories, resulting in a surprising ranking of 41 by Yahoo!. He has improved his assists from 5.4 last year to 7.2, upped his free throw percentage to a sparkling 90.1, and snagged 1.0 more steal per game than a year ago. His 2.1 steals average is what is driving his value up. I’d be surprised if he kept that up. Miller’s value going forward is undoubtedly tied to how healthy Brandon Roy is going to be.

…Mike Bibby is getting it done for fantasy owners.
I’ve actually targeted Bibby in a few leagues as he is hitting 2.1 threes per game and shooting a cool 48.8 percent from the field. His assists are erratic (just 3.8 per game) and his steals are non-existent (0.5). Yet the key is he is holding off Jeff Teague, and with Joe Johnson out for at least a month, Bibby will be called upon for more. There will be games where he disappears, but he refuses to be buried and left for dead.

…Grant Hill is going all zombie on us.
Every year we write off Grant Hill, yet he is still a fantasy factor. Maybe not in shallow leagues, but if you have him in a deep league he is definitely helping you with his 14.0 points, 4.6 boards, 2.3 assists, 53.2 FG% and 79.5 FT%. I don’t even think I ever actively write Hill off every preseason; I don’t even put him on my cheatsheets. No respect. Since I have him in zero of my 67 leagues this year, he’s making me pay.

…these zombies keep reanimating (and might be available in your league):
Tyson Chandler (75% Yahoo! ownership); Richard Hamilton (45%); Shane Battier (45%); Shaquille O’Neal (41%); Brad Miller (30%); Ben Wallace (22%).

Finally, Jermaine would fit right in here:

I’ll Be Damned appears every Tuesday on Damn Lies & Statistics from the tasty brains of Jeff Andriesse. Contact Jeff with things you are damned about or anything related to fantasy hoops (use the Contact Us page at the top of the site or tweet at him here).


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