When Stephen Curry is averaging 14 points a game come January, we're all going to wish we had Nellie back.
I don’t know where to begin with the revamped Warriors other than to say that the last few years Don Nelson has caused antacid sales to skyrocket among fantasy basketball owners. God bless him, Nellie was one of a kind. He’d reel you in by starting Kelenna Azubuike for a week straight with Azubuike going off, and then inexplicably bench him after owners trampled each other like Wal-Mart shoppers en route to the waiver wire to pick him up. With team management and Warriors fans on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown, Nellie stepped aside so his apprentice, Keith Smart, could take the reins.
I’m not sure about this choice as head coach. Smart is credited with being Golden State’s defensive mastermind the past few years, which is the equivalent of calling Mel Gibson open-minded. To be fair, the Warriors create chaos on both ends of the floor and there are many more possessions during their games, but I suspect that four mannequins and a lanky ventriloquist would have done a better job defending their basket.
It will be interesting to see if it will be more of the same under Smart or more of a controlled system. Either way, second-year point guard Stephen Curry is flying off draft boards in the first round, in some drafts as high as the #4 pick. Curry was just ridiculous from the middle of January on last season, averaging 20.8 points, 7.0 assists, 1.9 steals and an absurd 3.3 3-pointers with terrific shooting percentages over his final 35 appearances. Was it a mirage? A product of Nellie’s free-for-all? We’ll soon find out.
New addition David Lee has been providing second or third-round value as a member of the Knicks the past two years, and unless Smart pulls a Nellie, his production should continue. Last year’s 20.2 points, 11.7 rebounds, a whopping 3.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 55 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the line had him challenging for the title of best fantasy center in many formats. While the Knicks had absolutely no one to take minutes or rebounds away from Lee, the Warriors have Andris Biedrins, fellow newcomer Louis Amundson and a healthy Brandan Wright. Biedrins is coming off of a lousy ’09-10, and even in the best of times, remains one of the worst free-throw shooters in league history. I’d take a shot with him around the 11th round, but no sooner. Amundson will provide relief up front and should see 20 minutes or so per game. This was a great pickup by the Warriors as they certainly need his rebounding and toughness, but it will take an injury for him to be considered for your fantasy team. The disappointing Wright is still the disappointing Wright, and it will take good health and a monumental start for him to garner any kind of serious consideration.
There’s an old joke that two wrongs don’t make a right, but two Wrights make an airplane. Under the cloak of secrecy, Warriors GM Larry Riley got Dorell Wright out of Miami and will have first crack to build airplanes in the Golden State starting five. This guy can do a little bit of everything, including knocking down threes and I will take a serious look at him in the middle rounds. If Wright doesn’t pan out, look for Rodney Carney or possibly Brandan Wright to use his versatility and grab some minutes at small forward.
I’m not sure people realize the kind of monster statistical season Monta Ellis delivered in ’09-10. He is a hall-of-fame ball hog, but as his owner, would you really care? I’ll take the 25.5 points, 5.3 assists and 2.2 steals gleefully. And, he added 3-point shooting to his arsenal, knocking down 1.2 per game last season, quadrupling his career norm in the category. His numbers will likely come down a bit this year, but I’m pouncing on him in the third round if he’s available. Reggie Williams, who was working a hot dog stand in Oracle Arena last season when Nellie summoned him to the floor, is likely his backup. Though he is probably not draftable, keep a watchful eye for any Golden State player who is an injury away from some serious run. Unless of course Smart slows them down.
PG: Stephen Curry, Charlie Bell
SG: Monta Ellis, Reggie Williams
SF: Dorell Wright, Rodney Carney
PF: David Lee, Brandan Wright
C: Andris Biedrins, Louis Amundson
Up Next: Denver Nuggets