Fox Unbalanced: Auld Sang Lines

With one eye on the prize, Amar'e looks to lead Greg into the New Year.

It’s about this time each year when I reflect on my own stupidity of not trusting my instincts. I lament the same thing over and over as I continue to not re-draft my guys from the previous season. It’s a simple formula: Previous team underachieves, previous team is undervalued, previous team overachieves in new season, simple. My 2009-10 squad consisted of the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire, Devin Harris, Derrick Rose, Rudy Gay and Ray Felton. Round out my team with the Professor and Mary Ann and I’m vacationing in Buenos Aires by early January with my winnings.

Speaking of Stoudemire, despite a much better supporting cast, all of the panties are getting flung in his direction for the Knicks’ turnaround. This is a guy who stood like a statue for 82 games in Phoenix’s schoolyard offense last year and averaged 23.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. No bad by anyone’s standards, but not what I was expecting from my first-round pick. This year, to his credit, he is playing with purpose and producing 26.2 points, 9.3 boards, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steals and an eye-popping 2.3 blocks per contest in the Knicks schoolyard offense, which currently has him a top 3 fantasy player in eight categories leagues. But oh that ninth category! It’s almost like the fifth dentist.

Amare’s 4.1 turnovers per game are second to only Rajon Rondo’s 4.2 and will drag you down a la Dwight Howard’s FT percentage. Also keep in mind that Stoudemire is taking more shots, including many from the perimeter, and his field goal percentage could begin to suffer (36-for-81 over his last four). Maybe I wouldn’t be as bitter if proper kudos were given to Knick management for vanquishing Chris Duhon and Al Harrington, the two worst 30-minute men in the league last year, and adding the scintillating Felton and Landry Fields. Ok, I’d still be bitter.

Now that I spent 300 words bemoaning Stoudemire, let me briefly touch upon Gay, currently the sixth-ranked player in nine-cat leagues. Does this dude have less than five steals at the half in any game? I swear that in every halftime boxscore he’s got something like 13-3-2 with two threes, five steals and a block and finishes with 22-6-5 with two threes, five steals and a block. I still can’t believe I took Zach Randolph over him in the fifth round after taking Gay over Randolph with the same decision in the same round last year.

Ok, enough drivel. Let’s really get this Whinefest percolating. I know it’s only December 28, but below are five underachievers you must go after in your 2011-12 drafts. Trust me, this formula never fails.

Stephen Curry – I drafted Curry No. 6 overall and he has tortured me by missing eight games and playing limited minutes in two others. He has rolled, re-rolled and re-re-rolled his ankle, the last time on a play in which he tripped over the 3-point line, and missed six contests. He has understandably taken a backseat to Monta Ellis in scoring, but how is he only averaging 6.0 assists a game? What happened to the 32, 7 and 13s he was putting up last March and April? Well my friends, he was Foxed, which I found out this past weekend from my romance-writing sister-in-law also meant drunk in Medieval times. Better times are ahead this season and definitely next, but look for him in the second round.

Tyreke Evans – I can’t even write his name without myriad nervous manifestations coming to the surface. My third round pick (#26 overall), Evans did complain of some minor plantar fasciitis in preseason, but after Ellis and Rose went off the board a few picks before, sometimes you just have to say what the heck. If 38 percent from the floor and 27 percent from deep are any indication, Evans’ equilibrium is in serious need of checking. Maybe it’s an inner ear infection. He is still capable of being that 20-5-5 guy he was a year ago, but pay a fifth-round price to find out for sure.

Mo Williams – I don’t know why I continue to draft head cases, but Williams has become the poster child. Apparently depressed over the loss of LeBron James, Williams was in a funk throughout the preseason and then missed time with injuries. He has turned it on of late, averaging 19.2 points and 11.4 assists over his last five, but his field goal shooting (.405), free throw shooting (.841) 3-pointers per game (1.1) and steals (0.8) are all well below career norms.  I “stole” him in the sixth round this year. Look to do the same in ’11-12.

Nene – Jeff and I couldn’t believe that the large Brazilian was left for me in the seventh round. Three big men – DeMarcus Cousins, Luis Scola and Emeka Okafor – all went in this round just ahead of Nene and I was in shock. Of course the only one of the three Nene has clearly been better than thus far has been Cousins and it isn’t by the wide margin I thought it would be. He could very well change addresses next season, which could be all the motivation he needs to get his defensive numbers (0.8 spg, 0.9 bpg) back up.

J.J. Hickson – Every handicapper’s favorite sleeper in the preseason, I grabbed Hickson in the 10th round, nearly assured that he would be the Cavs’ starting power forward. Byron Scott immediately kept his minutes down, complained of his lack of rebounding and overall work ethic, and subsequently benched him for Antawn Jamison. He is too talented of a low-post scorer and too young (22) to not get another chance at a more prominent role. Jamison is not long for Cleveland and now could be the time to pick him up. For next year, the change of scenery from my team to another will turn him to gold.

Fox Unbalanced will typically appear in these pages every Thursday. If you or someone you know views a Grizzlies/Raptors game as a religious experience, this could be the perfect destination for you. Feel free to chime in with some feedback.


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