All right, I admit it. I drank the Kool Aid late last season and thought the Mavericks had a chance to go a few rounds in the playoffs. I mean they did win 23 of their final 29 regular season games to secure the #2 seed in the West, and by acquiring Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler from the Wizards, it seemed as if they filled the defense and rebounding voids that would have had them bowing out early. So what did they do? They bowed out to the Spurs in the first round. This is a team of big names and fantasy legends and as there are just so many minutes to go around, we’ll see if this creates problems.
The cornerstones of Mark Cuban’s squad – Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd – are both a year older, Nowitzki now 32 and Kidd 37, and who knows when they will stop aiming to please. Despite his mileage, Lubinski, as my wife called him last night, remains fantasy gold and a first-round lock. True, his rebounds (7.7) and 3-pointers (0.6) were down last year, but his point total (25.0), assists (2.7), percentages (48% fg, 42% 3-pt, 92% ft), steals (0.9), blocks (1.0) and lack of turnovers (1.8) render him one of the most unique and valuable multi-category assets in the game.
Kidd, who looked like a grizzled veteran as a sophomore at Cal, is a freak of nature and somehow continues to produce third-round value year-after-year. In ’09-10, not only did he grab 5.6 rebounds, swipe 1.8 Spaldings, and hand out his customary 9.1 assists, he shot threes at a mind-bending 43 percent clip, knocking down a career-best 2.2 per game. When Kidd decides to ride off into the sunset, this will be Rodrigue Beaubois‘ team. I say this because I just want to continue spewing the name Rodrigue Beaubois. But this 22-year old frenchman is no flash in the Au Bon Pain. He is an absolute jet and capable of big scoring, assists, steals and 3-point totals. He may not be ready for the start of the regular season as recovers from a busted left foot, but draft him around the 12th round and stash him as he could conceivably supplant Butler at shooting guard.
No matter how much Shawn Marion regresses, he still won't represent the lamest final act of a Matrix.
Just a few seasons ago in Washington, people were pulling the trigger on Butler in the early second round of drafts. His salad days are clearly over, though he is still capable of 15-17 points, a bunch of steals and a handful of threes. I’m not touching him until the middle rounds as last season he appeared to lose a step or three. Another former fantasy hall-of-famer, Shawn Marion, could start at small forward, but Butler could take over this position if Beaubois earns the nod at shooting guard. Things haven’t worked out for the offensively limited Matrix in Dallas, but if you need a few blocks and steals at the end of your draft, he should be available.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jason Terry miss an open three, but last year we may have seen the first signs of decline for the 33-year old sharpshooter. Even though Terry may have taken a step back and is part of a congested backcourt, this is not a bad guy to target late. He’ll still get you 15-17 points, around 2.0 threes per game, more than a steal, and he’ll shoot a high percentage from the line. Oh, and he sill makes over $9 million a year, so that paycheck will not be rotting on the bench anytime soon. In the middle, Haywood, who at 30 years of age is coming off of his best statistical season, can’t be thrilled with the addition of Tyson Chandler as the two will eat into each other’s value. Haywood will still provide decent boards and blocks and could serve as a solid third center if taken in the mid-to-late rounds.
PG: Jason Kidd, Jose Juan Barea
SG: Rodrigue Beaubois, Jason Terry
SF: Caron Butler, Shawn Marion
PF: Dirk Nowitzki, Ian Mahinmi
C: Brendan Haywood, Tyson Chandler
Up Next: Indiana Pacers