Tag Archives: Al Jefferson

RotoExperts Draft Kit: Top 25 Centers

If only free throws were this easy for Dwight...

From the RotoExperts 2011-12 NBA Draft Kit

These rankings were written on Dec. 17 and published Dec. 20. I’ve done several drafts in the last few days and have noticed that you are going to have to reach for Greg Monroe, JaVale McGee and DeAndre Jordan if you want them. Joakim Noah is falling and offering great value.  

For years, the center position has been the most important one in Fantasy Basketball. These days, with so many power fowards manning the middle often enough to earn eligibility at the position, it isn’t as crucial to burn early picks on true centers. Pau GasolAmar’e StoudemireKevin Love and David Lee are just a few examples of players who are power forwards most of the time but pick up center eligibility in most leagues.

For the purposes of these rankings, we have including only the players who are expected to play the majority of their minutes at the true center position this year. As always, it is important to examine your own league’s positional eligibility rules prior to drafting. The following rankings are based on a nine-category, head-to-head league format (PTS, REB, AST, STL, BLK, 3FG, FG%, FT%, TO). We break down players into tiers as well to help you organize them within your overall cheat sheets. These rankings take into account not just stat projections, but injury risk, competition for minutes and other intangibles.

ROTOEXPERTS.COM CENTER RANKINGS

TIER 1

1. Dwight Howard, ORL

Projected Stats: 22.7 PPG, 13.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.0 3FG, 1.3 SPG, 2.5 BPG, 3.5 TO, 59.1 FG%, 59.8 FT%

To the casual player, Howard is the No. 1 center in the league by a mile. In Fantasy, it certainly depends on the format. He’s more of a second or third-round value in rotisserie leagues. In a head-to-head or points-based format, he challenges Chris Paul for the No. 3 overall selection. Howard’s dominance in rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage sets your team up perfectly in H2H leagues, as you can punt free throws and surround him with complementary pieces in the other categories. Howard also averaged 1.4 steals last year, an underrated part of his game and an amazing number for a center.

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2011-12 Damn Mock I: Second Round

The Damn Lies & Statistics 2011-12 Mock Draft continues with round two. You know you love it.

The rules: Jeff, Tom and Greg are taking four teams each in this 12-team league, which is a nine-category rotisserie league (FG%, FT%, PTS, REB, AST, STL, BLK, 3FG, TO) that will draft the following: 1 PG, 1 SG, 1 SF, 1 PF, 2 C, 1 F, 1 G, 2 U. We’ll be building each team ourselves based on this format. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to mock us in the Comments.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FIRST ROUND

DAMN MOCK I: SECOND ROUND

13. Team 12 (Tom) – Josh Smith – After taking Dirk in the first round, I have a little FT% wiggle room and a need for some defense, assists and more rebounds. I’ll opt to kill two birds with one stone here and pick up one of the league’s best all-around defenders and someone who can pull in 8-plus boards per game. As a plus, Smith did shoot a career-best 72.5% from the free-throw line and actually made 0.7 threes per game last season, so it’s not as if he’s completely deficient in those categories. I now have my Franklin and Bash. Continue reading


Moving And Shaking: Melo’s Yellow

Believe it or not, I’m pretty tired of hearing about the trade deadline and the pending Carmelo Anthony deals out there. True, I expect him to be traded by the deadline (Feb. 24). Yes, he is the biggest name in the rumor-mill, which naturally intrigues NBA fans. But I swear to god if I have to hear about Melo going to (insert team here) one more time, I am turning this blog around and NONE OF YOU, that’s right, NONE OF YOU are getting dessert.

With that, let’s talk about what happens if Melo gets traded. I’m kidding! Let’s talk about some of the other deals I’ve seen go down in my many leagues. I may not have made many moves this past week, but that doesn’t mean my league-mates haven’t gotten in the game. Here are the best and most notable moves I’ve seen over the past week.

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Damn Lies Midseason Report: Northwest Division

Just change the name of this division already, Stern, you cruel bastard. There aren't too many states Oklahoma is northwest of.

We now move our midseason reports into the Western Conference, specifically the Northwest Division, home to some of the top fantasy talent in the game. Durant. Love. Carmelo. Williams. Aldridge. Milicic. These names ring out on every corner of the fantasy world, and while this strangely-named division may be a bit geographically “all over the map” as they say, it will be fun to grade.

It’s the Northwest Division Midseason Report. Pencils down! Continue reading


Moving And Shaking: General-Lee Happy.

"David, I would like to insert a camera into your elbow to document the surgery. Big ups?"

Maybe it’s because the RotoExperts In-House league is the only one of my 175 leagues in which I am completely bombing in, but I made a big trade this week in which I am already having some buyer’s remorse. I know, I know, it’s still early and I am freaking out over a team which on paper is one of the three or four best in the league, despite my last place standing. I have Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, Al Jefferson, Elton Brand, John Wall, Serge Ibaka, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Love, Trevor Ariza, AK-47, Eric Gordon, Antawn Jamison, and Drew Gooden. It’s a H2H league, so don’t come at me with “where’s the balance, Lorenzo?” Winning at least five categories is the key — for now.

Now, though, I have to update my roster to exclude two players. Two players who I like and who are liked amongst most fantasy ballers out there.

I’ll be the first to admit that less than a month into the season I may have jumped the shark. But, then again, the real implications of my deal won’t be known for some time. Right now I do have a bit of remorse, but I believe that I will generally be happy with the deal 2-3 weeks from now. Assuming that my target returns to the court within that time-frame.

 

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Damn Lies Fantasy Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

So long, Al Jefferson. Welcome back, Darko Milicic. This is the year that Darko breaks out and joins the ranks of his fellow draft-mates: LeBron-Wade-Melo-Bosh. He’s been nothing short of a bust during his first seven seasons in the league. He’s been crabby, angry, and downright “stupid” since leaving Detroit. On the plus, Darko is a quality defender in the paint and a sufficient rebounder. Last season he averaged 1.4 blocks and 5.5 rebounds in 25 minutes with the T-Wolves. He also took a career-best 7.8 shots per game, but made just 49.2% of his attempts. This season with the departure of Jefferson, Darko is going to step in and get some serious minutes in the middle. Can he break out? Not likely. But as a category filler (boards and blocks) he’s a  deep option. Just don’t expect anyone to pat themselves on the back for drafting Darko. Chad Ford, Darko is still moving in. Sorry.

KAHHHHHN!!!!!

LIES
I have Kevin Love targeted in the 4th round in any and all formats. Why? Because he’s capable of leading the league in rebounds. Seriously. He averaged 11 per game last season in just 28 minutes of action. His per-36 boards average sat at 13.8 per game. His scoring average (14.0 ppg) jumped up to 17.8 points per 36 (look it up!). Without Jefferson in the middle, Love is going to get plenty of opportunities to do his best David Lee impression. He can steal a ball per game, hit over 80% of his free throws, and even nail the occasional 3-pointer. Love to love you, Love.

DAMN LIES
With Jonny Flynn not scheduled to return to the basketball court until sometime in mid- to late-November, newly acquired Luke Ridnour will be running the point for the Wolves. The thing about Ridnour is that he is always underrated as a fantasy performer. In the last two seasons he’s only missed 10 games, while averaging about 25 minutes per. He can hit a 3-pointer, steal over one ball, shoot near 90% from the line, and dish about 5.0 assists per game. He’s a low turnover guy, which helps those 9-cat players out there, and even improved on his FG% to a respectable 47% last year. He’s a fantastic late-round option, and if you’re worried about what impact Flynn will have on Ridnour once he returns, draft them both! (Editor’s disclosure: Tom and Jeff did that very thing in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League, a genius move if you ask Tom and Jeff.)

STATISTICS
Rookie Wesley Johnson has looked good off the bench this preseason. In their game against the Nuggets, Johnson shot 5-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. The dude can shoot. Problem is, he hasn’t shown much else in his game. Still, I think he’s a great late-round scoring option, even if he is coming off the bench behind Corey Brewer or Michael Beasley. Speaking of Brewer, he has a few flaws in his game, namely his percentages, but remains a nice option for steals and threes. Beasley joined the Wolves this offseason and hopes to turn himself into a productive small forward. Best of luck to you, Mr. Beasley. For him it all comes down to motivation. He has it in him to score 20 points per game, believe it or not, but he’s yet to realize his potential. He also can add a steal, hit about 0.5 threes, pull in over 6 rebounds, and provide solid percentages from the floor and the line. I just have a hard time reaching on him and waiting to find out if this is the year that he plays up to his potential. Martell Webster will be vying for minutes at the small forward and shooting guard position. The category he provides the most help at is with 3-pointers. His poor FG% can be a drain and his defense is simply so-so. The deep sleepers on this team are Wayne Ellington, who is a scoring deep threat, and Nikola Pekovic, who has good size but is still raw.

DEPTH CHART
PG: Luke Ridnour, Jonny Flynn (injured), Sebastian Telfair
SG: Corey Brewer, Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington
SF: Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson
PF: Kevin Love, Kosta Koufos
C: Dako Milicic, Nikola Pekovic

UP NEXT: New Jersey Nets

Full Schedule


Damn Lies Fantasy Preview: Utah Jazz

Let’s talk Deron Williams for a second. Best point guard in the NBA? There are plenty nipping at his heels, but for my money, yes. I’d start a team with him in reality. But fantasy? Williams settles in clearly behind Chris Paul in our little game here, and it could be argued Deron’s value is a little overrated. There won’t be many players with more assists, but do you really want to burn a first-round pick on someone who isn’t outstanding in any other category? Wouldn’t you rather wait until the third or fourth to take Russell Westbrook or Darren Collison? It’s a tough call when you are staring down a pick anywhere from seven to 11, so here’s some tough advice: do it. Williams has essentially treaded water statistically for three years, but with a tweaked roster (Al Jefferson in, Carlos Boozer out; Mehmet Okur hurt) I think you’ll see a more aggressive Williams, at least offensively. He’ll score 20+ points this season, increase his threes slightly and take that next step. He still won’t catch Paul, but you can build your geek squad around him.

 

Magnet Hands. Coming October 2010. Rated PG-13.

 

LIES
Williams welcomes Jefferson this season to his arsenal of weapons, an intriguing move that should keep Utah at least competing for a spot in the top half of the West. Jefferson is one of the few pure back-to-the-basket big men in the game and he’ll command shots in the paint. Hopefully statisticians continue to award Williams with dimes even if Al holds onto the ball a little longer than Boozer did before shooting. Since this is Utah, we shouldn’t be too worried, right John Stockton? Jefferson should man the center position with the injury to Okur, who could miss a few months after rupturing an achilles. This means Paul Millsap is going to get starters minutes, and fantasy owners should be ecstatic. Millsap is a nightly double-double threat who could render Okur a bench option when he finally returns. He’s that good.

DAMN LIES
The rest of Utah’s lineup gives us some pause. Andrei Kirilenko is entering a contract year, but I’m not sure you should use an early pick on him. He’ll start at small forward, most likely, but the guy who averaged three blocks and two steals is not walking through that door. Kirilenko also hasn’t played more than 72 games in a season since 2004. The Jazz lost Kyle Korver and Wes Matthews in free agency, and in their place signed Raja Bell and will have to play rookie Gordon Hayward. I don’t see how this is a positive. I’ve also never been a huge fan of swingman C.J. Miles, likely the sixth man at this point. Ronnie Price is Williams’ backup and not a fantasy factor. The team is hoping to re-sign Kyrylo Fesenko before camp and recently added Francisco Elson, perhaps via reanimation. There’s not a lot of quality depth here, especially offensively; another reason I see Williams trying to make more happen.

STATISTICS
D-Will should be secretly licking his chops that Okur is sidelined. This team needs a shot in the arm and a full-time Millsap could be the difference. From a fantasy standpoint, dorks like us can’t wait to watch Millsap and Jefferson team with Williams to form a three-headed statistical monster every night. This is going to be fun. I’m targeting Jefferson at the end of the second round; he should be over his knee injury and thrilled to be on a contender. He could easily average 20-23 points but Millsap and his magnet hands will make sure his rebounding average hovers around nine. Somebody get me Marvel on the line, I just thought of something cool.

DEPTH CHART
PG – Deron Williams, Ronnie Price
SG – Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward
SF – Andrei Kirilenko, C.J. Miles
PF – Paul Millsap, Jeremy Evans
C – Al Jefferson, Mehmet Okur (injured), Francisco Elson

Up Next: Washington Wizards

Full Schedule


Damn Lies Roundtable: Offseason Fantasy Winners

What an offseason. I mean seriously. If drama’s your thing, we had it. If comedy’s your thing, we had that too. If overthinking fantasy rankings is your thing, we have that in spades. The Damn Lies & Statistics bloggers have been a little incognito lately, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t assuming The Thinker position and contemplating the new landscape before us. Finally, I cornered Greg Fox and Tom Lorenzo and demanded answers to some burning questions. They recommended I see a doctor. So you can see why we haven’t posted much.

Ahem.

Instead of rambling, why not get on with it? The first of many roundtables coming your way this preseason will be the query: Who were the biggest offseason winners in fantasy? We each picked three, and blurbed from there. The envelopes please…

Darren Collison must handle the pressure of being picked by Tom, Greg AND Jeff as an offseason winner. Many others have failed before him.

TOM LORENZO:
Darren Collison, PG, NO – This one is a no-brainer. Collison goes from being the back-up point guard behind Chris Paul — the best in the game — to the starting point guard for a team who was in desperate need of his services. We know what Collison can do when he’s gets starter’s minutes (37 starts, 18.8 points, 9.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.0 treys, 48.5 FG%, 85.2 FT%). Running alongside Danny Granger should help him stay near the top of the leader board in assists. His trade to Indiana moves him from a late-round pick to a possible 5th rounder. Not bad.

Raymond Felton, PG, NYK – It’s hard not to love the starting point guard in Mike D’Antoni’s system. We know what Steve Nash did under D’Antoni, but there’s also something to be said about Chris Duhon dishing 7.1 assists in their first season together. He also, at times, had Nate Robinson looking like anything but selfish. I think Felton will fit perfectly into this up-tempo system. Having played in Charlotte over the first five years of his career, where Coach Larry Brown slowed the tempo, the change of scenery should benefit Felton in a major way.

Al Jefferson, PF/C, UTA – How about going from playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves to being the starting center for the Utah Jazz where Deron Williams will be looking to distribute the ball some 10-11 times per game. Not a bad deal for Jefferson. There’s something to be said about playing inspired ball. The Jazz are going to contend and that should make for a happier Jefferson, which should translate into a more effective Jefferson. This may be the season we actually see Jefferson provide his owners with a nice return on their investment.

GREG FOX:
Darren Collison, PG, Pacers – The trade to Indiana should undoubtedly thrust Collison into a starting role at point guard in an up-tempo offense. As a long-suffering T.J. Ford owner last year, it became painfully clear that Jim O’Brien wanted nothing to do with him as he was sat in favor of the highly inconsistent Earl of Watson. O’Brien should display a higher tolerance for the hard-working Collison, who put on a show in Chris Paul’s absence for much of the final two-and-a-half months of the 2009-10 season. I wouldn’t say that Collison would be buried if he remained in New Orleans, but this new situation appears pretty tasty. If you’re looking for sublime assists (8.8 apg over final 36) and steals numbers with a chock full ‘o threes to boot, look no further.

Luke Ridnour signed with Minnesota after responding to David Kahn's ad on Craigslist looking for a point guard.

Luke Ridnour, PG, T’Wolves – Go figure that a team that drafted two point guards in the lottery in 2009 and then signed Ramon Sessions would be desperate for a floor leader. Such is life for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The underrated Ridnour went from being a backup on an up-and-coming playoff threat in Milwaukee to a starter on perhaps the worst franchise in all organized professional sports. But from a fantasy perspective, how can we not love lil’ Luke this year? His main competition for minutes, Jonny Flynn, is out for at least the first three months of the season following hip surgery, and even when Flynn does return, those three or four T’Wolf backers will recognize that Ridnour right now is the more solid player. In just over 21 minutes per game last season, he averaged 10.4 points, 4.0 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.8 threes, while knocking down 48 percent from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point range. If we prorate those to starter’s minutes, we’re looking at some pretty fancy totals. And did I mention who his main competition is until Flynn returns? You guessed it, none other than Bassy Telfair. Nuff said.

Travis Outlaw, SF, Nets – Since Devin Harris evacuated on my frontal lobe as my second-round pick last year, I liken drafting Nets to an evening at the Bates Motel. However, Outlaw is worthy of mid-round consideration. He is a talented and athletic player who has exhibited glimpses of his ability as a reserve the last six years in Portland. Still only 25 years old, this is his chance to play big minutes and shine. He can do it all – from stealing the ball, to blocking shots, to knocking down the three – a poor man’s Danny Granger, if you will. Avery Johnson will do plenty of experimenting with his lineups and for him to commit to Outlaw for 30+ minutes a night, he’ll have to do it on both ends of the floor. Mikhail Prokhorov is not paying his new small forward $35 million over five years to sit on the bench, so the leash on him could be a little longer.

JEFF ANDRIESSE:
Amir Johnson, PF, TOR – When searching for winners, my eyes naturally took their retinal talents to South Beach, where the gathering of divas sent ripples throughout the NBA. If you follow the bloody trail of destruction, it takes you to Toronto, where Chris Bosh is out and Amir Johnson is in. Seems fair. Okay, forget that the Raptors are going to challenge for the designation of worst team in the NBA. Somebody’s gotta do something here, and by signing Johnson to an unseemly $34 million contract, the Raps are saying: here, person with barely any significant NBA experience, you play a lot. Johnson is a very athletic player who can rebound, block shots and shoot a high percentage. Unless rookie Ed Davis is the steal of the draft, Johnson will see a lot of minutes. He’s on this list because his numbers are going to skyrocket from what we’re accustomed to.

Four of the new New York Knicks, or alternately, The Bachelor: Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony Randolph, PF, NY – Randolph. Name sounds familiar. Oh yeah, he’s the cat who every fantasy analyst blubbered about in glowing terms last year ’round this time, and with good reason. Randolph is capable of being a multi-category beast, and now that he’s free from Don Nelson’s shackles, and presumably healthy, we have our eye on him again. Call it Blubberfest ’10, but we’re back on board with Randolph now that he’s in New York and playing for Mike D’Antoni. There isn’t much competition in the frontcourt for him and his fantasy forecast is off the charts as a result. Playing with Amar’e Stoudemire, he’ll have ample opportunity to grab rebounds and play defense, and no, that’s not a compliment, Amar’e. Sorry. Back to Randolph: in a lost year, he averaged 11.6 points, 6.5 boards and 1.6 blocks in under 23 minutes a game for the Warriors. If he can just stay healthy, he’ll clean up for the Knicks.

Darren Collison, PG, IND – No self-respecting Offseason Winners List would be complete without Collison. I can’t say much that my esteemed colleagues haven’t said above. Here’s a player who proved without a doubt that he belongs in the NBA, and Indiana is the perfect place for him to put up monster meaningless fantasy numbers for geeks like me who have suffered under the T.J. Ford/Earl Watson/Jamaal Tinsley/Travis Diener reign of error. Is it crazy to consider Collison as high as the fourth round? One thing’s for sure: he’s back on the fantasy map, and with his monster numbers in Chris Paul’s absence fresh on fantasy owners’ minds, you are going to have to pay to get him.

Coming soon: The Offseason Losers


Daily Lies & Statistics: It’s April, fools

It’s Thursday, April 1st, 2010, otherwise known as April Fool’s Day. As a fantasy basketball junkie, this is usually the time of year where I’m in no mood for jokes or surprises. It’s bad enough just looking at box scores and yelping “You gotta be kidding me!” with each click. So we’re handling today’s post with the utmost seriousness. Among last night’s stat lines, I’m not kidding about any of them.They really happened. And during the fantasy playoff season, no less.

The following are not, I repeat NOT April Fool’s jokes:

Do NOT anger the fantasy gods.

*After Brandon Jennings dropped a 29-8-7 Sunday followed by a 17-6-5 Tuesday, the fantasy gods (yes, Scott Skiles is one of them) decided that the fun was fin. Jennings played just 19 minutes last night at Cleveland and finished with five points on 2-of-9 shooting, one rebound, one assist and 2,396 ruined fantasy playoff matchups.

*Drew Gooden has five straight double-doubles after his 17-points, 10-board performance last night. He averaged a 15 and 10 in March in 30 minutes per game. On second thought, maybe this is a joke. Let me double-check and get back to you.

*The Celtics had the worst record in the NBA three years ago yet ended up with the fifth pick in the draft. Had Boston gotten the first or second pick their lineup right now would be Rajon Rondo, Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce, Al Jefferson, and Kendrick Perkins. And they wouldn’t be overpaying Rasheed Wallace to hoist awful threes. Yes, I was at the game last night and saw Durant pour in 37 without breaking much of a sweat, and yes, I’m a little bitter right now. But we did win a title, no? (I’m telling myself ‘yes’ over and over and over).

*The Lakers lost at Atlanta, 109-92, which is nothing to be ashamed of, but L.A. has now dropped three of four. Chinks in the armor? They are still the best team on paper but looking a little vulnerable right now. Andrew Bynum returning would solve some things, perhaps, but I get the feeling the one guy the Lakers would love to have is Trevor Ariza.

*Dwyane Wade had 10 points, 3 rebounds and one assist – and Miami won by 17 at Detroit. Huh? Well, for one: Detroit is an abomination and was missing Richard Hamilton (hamstring) and Charlie Villanueva (DNP CD LOL). But Miami played minus Jermaine O’Neal (knee), who was at the courthouse having his name legally changed to Jermaine O’Neal (knee). Luckily Michael Beasley went off for 28 and nine, and Dorell Wright added 17 in 22 minutes off the bench. A weird game, for sure.

*Now that the Nets won’t be the worst team ever in the record books, they can get back to tanking for John Wall. Jersey actually led Phoenix at halftime, but the Suns pulled away for their ninth-straight win. Steve Nash was magical, finishing with a 24-7-14 on 9-16 shooting (3-4 threes). Despite scoring 116 points, Amare’ Stoudemire finished with a sorry 15 and 4, and his owners have to be swearing under their breath this morning at him.

*If I had told you at the beginning of the season that the Wizards would be led by Mike Miller, Andray Blatche and Shaun Livingston in late March/April, you would have looked at me funny before thinking that Gilbert Arenas must have gotten hurt or done something crazy. So this isn’t that weird at all. The Livingston part is kind of a curveball, as the guy has lived the last few years without working knees. He’s the starting point guard now in Washington with Randy Foye out for the year, and he had 18 points and eight dimes as the Wiz snapped a 16-game losing streak with a 96-91 win at New Orleans. Miller had 27 and seven and Blatche had 23 and three steals (but just one rebound? Really?).

*Al Jefferson and Darko Milicic combined for 10 blocks last night in a 108-99 Minny (mini?) win over Sacramento. Both guys also double-doubled, as did Kevin Love (12 & 11). Sacramento was led by Tyreke Evans (20-7-13, 3 steals), who is playing really well despite coming off a concussion last week and subsequently claiming to have owned a penguin.

*George Hill offered up a candidate for Stat Line of the Year last night against Houston. Hill, who has been a fantasy savior this second half, finished with 30 points, seven assists, five steals and two threes and shot 11-15 from the floor and 6-6 from the line. Does anyone want to play San Antonio in the West this postseason? I didn’t think so.

*Speaking of teams in the West playing well, Dallas nipped Memphis in overtime last night, 106-102, improving to 50-25. That’s good for the No. 2 seed right now if the season ended today. Dallas has weapons, and when Jason Terry (29 points, six assists, four steals) is doing his thing they are formidable.

*Al Harrington took Greg’s post hinting that Al is selfish to heart, taking just six shots last night as the Knicks lost big at Portland, 118-90. Did anyone out there start Tracy McGrady (2-0-1) last night? You can type with a straightjacket on? Cool.

*The West’s current #3 seed, Utah, is performing at a really high level these days. Who knows if winning big over the Warriors of the National Rec League will help or hurt them, but they rolled last night, 128-104. Carlos Boozer was beastly with 25 & 13 on 12-14 shooting. Deron Williams had 19 assists. I wouldn’t want to play them, either.

Luckily I’m not on an NBA team, so I don’t have to. Although the Warriors have been calling.


Injury Risks: Side effects include loss of fantasy titles

If I had been living in a cave in Kabul the past few years and just returned to the states, a couple of things would blow me away: first, that Seether, for some inexplicable reason did a re-make of “Careless Whisper”, and also that Gilbert Arenas is nowhere to be found in anyone’s top three rounds in preseason rankings.

While the George Michael track should rank with “Kung Fu Fighting” in combating Darwinian Theory, it never made any sense to me to undervalue players coming off of injuries if they were deemed 100 percent healthy.

One could easily point to Arenas, who I don’t think has seen daylight since the Carter administration, as a shining example of why owners shouldn’t gamble on guys coming off of major surgery. But with that said, you’re much more likely to find an absolute steal (see: Ming, Yao 2008-09; ed. note: or Yao, Ming 2008-09) by taking this kind of risk.

While Arenas is the obvious impact guy who could be had after round three or four, there are several players whom the nailbiters in your league will be too panic-stricken to corral. Let’s see if any of the others will be worth the while.

Elton BrandElton Brand, PHI
Age: 30
Injury: Shoulder and Achilles

Brand has appeared in a lowly 37 games over the past two seasons as he has been beset by shoulder and achilles issues. The Sixers were actually better without him last season, but that is probably an aberration. This grizzly bear masquerading as a man is a team-first kind of guy. He may no longer be a 20 and 10 threat with 2.0 blocks, but he could still flirt with some pretty machismo numbers. He’s only 30 and apparently healthy, and will do whatever it takes to fit in with Andre Iguodala and the rest of the crew. Find him in the late fourth or early fifth round and don’t look back. If he qualifies at center in your league, move him up 10-15 spots.

Al Jefferson, MIN
Age: 24
Injury: knee surgery

Big Al provided first-round value for his giddy owners last year before he was shelved in February with a knee injury. As of this writing, he claims he is 90 percent healthy following surgery and will be 100 percent come November. This is one of very few low-post threats the league has to offer, and despite myriad perimeter options on the T’Wolves, he is still their go-to man. He may have trouble duplicating his gargantuan ’08-09 totals (23.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.7 bpg), but he could come close. If he qualifies at center and falls to the second round, jump on him like white on rice.

Michael Redd, MIL
Age: 30
Injury: knee surgery

Though only 30, Redd’s days as a 25-point scorer are most likely over. A knee injury derailed his ’08-09 campaign, but he looks to be back in form following surgery. The Bucks will not be a good team and Redd will again be anointed their top perimeter option, but 20 ppg and decent peripherals is about all we can ask from the southpaw sharpshooter. If he’s available after the sixth round that wouldn’t be a bad spot to pounce.

Tracy McGrady, HOU
Age: 30
Injury: microfracture knee surgery

McGrady should invest in a pair of oven mitts because he has injured just about every part of his body the past few years except for his hands. He is coming off of the dreaded microfracture surgery on his left knee, not good for Twister participants or for a player who relies on quickness and leaping ability. But the one thing you can always say about McGrady from a fantasy perpspective is that as long as he is on the court, he will figure out a way to get his. There have even been some rumblings that he’ll be back in uniform as early as December. Tough to say what round he belongs, but if he’s available in the ninth, or after you already take a starting lineup, it could pay serious dividends.

Manu Ginobili, SAS
Age: 32
Injury: ankles

Ginobili was a shell of his former phenomenal self last season, while appearing in only 44 games with two balky ankles. Whether he is starting or coming off the bench the shifty Argentinean is a terrific all-around player who provides relief in most categories. Look for his minutes to be in the 25-30 per game range, so don’t be overly bullish. He is supposedly healthy. If he is moving well in the preseason, he should be drafted no lower than the eighth round, but remember: the Spurs have Richard Jefferson now, and combined with a serviceable Roger Mason, might not be so inclined to rush Ginobili into heavy rotation.

Kevin Garnett, BOS
Age: 33
Injury: surgery for bone spurs

With his transition to Boston two years ago, Garnett re-invented himself as the selfless teammate, the one who will do whatever it takes for the betterment of the team; and except for the fact that he missed most of the final two months of the regular season and all of the playoffs with bone spurs in both knees, his philosophy has worked to perfection. While his numbers and minutes have been way down since he left Minnesota, he still supplies plenty of points (15.8), rebounds (8.5), steals (1.1) and blocks (1.2) to make him a solid third or fourth rounder… but certainly no higher than that.


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