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The Antonio Daniels Sweepstakes

11/27/2007 0 comments
Never has a 7.9 point, 3.4 assist guy felt so wanted.

Around 5 pm last Wednesday, if you listened closely you may have heard the pitter-patter of fantasy owners on their computers scrambling to pick up Daniels after news broke that Gilbert Arenas was going to be out for three months. The sound may have been drowned out by the collective groan of Arenas owners who saw their fantasy hopes go down the drain with one balky knee.

The timing of the news was unique, as it came out late in the afternoon right before the Thanksgiving holiday. Many owners probably left for the weekend and/or started their travel plans and probably missed out on Daniels completely. I found out about the injury right as I was shutting down my computer at work. I had a train to catch and dinner plans with my family. A giant sausage and pepperoni calzone waited with my name on it. I couldn't stick around at work and make the necessary roster moves (not that I'd ever consider making fantasy basketball transactions at work anyways).

Good thing I bought this iPhone. I'd have to make my moves on the train, so I ran to the train station got situated and started rifling through my fantasy teams. Managing 52 teams on an EDGE connection is not something I'd want to to everyday, but I managed to get through each roster in about 30 minutes, finishing seconds before entering Glen Ellyn where the EDGE always seems to go dead (why is that?). The slow connection probably cost me Daniels on a few squads, but I landed him on 12 of my 52 teams. If I had waited another hour, I wouldve missed out completely. In a span of one hour, Daniels went from being owned in 10 of my leagues to all 52.

As far as Arenas goes, I owned him on five teams, not tremendously overexposed to him. I wasn't very bullish on him coming into the season, but if I had the 5th-7th pick and he was around, he was the pick. On at lease three of those teams, I probably still have a chance at winning despite losing my first round choice for three months.

One of those teams, I actually had agreed to trade him for Amare Stoudemire the day before the news broke. The Amare owner chastised the other owners for initially voting against the deal. He was singing a different tune the next day. Eventually the deal went to CBS Ron and was shot down as they have an unwritten rule that they kill any deal that comes to them with injured players, even if those player's weren't hurt when the trade was made.

The moral of the story is that injuries always create opportunities. The Wizards still have to put five guys out on the court. They are still going to score around 100 points a game. There may be only one Gilbert Arenas, but most of his fantasy value will be replaced somewhere else on his team, especially because Arenas is not really known as one of those guys who makes everyone on the floor better. Daniels stands to benefit most, but Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Andray Blatche will reap some of the benefit as well.

The Anti-Contract Year

One well-known fantasy strategy is to target guys who are in their last year of their contracts (see Vince Carter last year) while avoiding guys who just signed mega-contracts in the offseason (see Vince Carter this year). The phenomenon seems to have held up well in the past.

Well, there's a new twist to the old theory this season. Third-year players who failed to sign a cibtract extension, making them restricted free agents at the end of the year. Call it the 'Man, I just passed on 50 million. What was I thinking?' contract year. Unlike the traditional positive impact, this type of contract year seems to be a detriment.

Exhibits A-D: Andre Iguodala, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Emeka Okafor. Each passed on deals of $45 million or more at the 11th hour and now have the pressure of trying to prove that they are worth all that and more on the free market. So far, it looks like each guy is crumbling under the pressure. Iguodala seems to be taking this 'AI2' thing seriously, taking on some Iverson-inspired grumbling to the media. How long until 'we're talking about practice'? Gordon and Deng look lost out there, and its killing the Bulls (just how bad are the Bulls? Deny is their top fantasy player this year and he ranks 91st overall. The SUns and Mavs have five guys each that rank ahead of Chicago'a best fantasy player). At least Deng has a back injury as an excuse. Gordon wanted max money! I guess we shouldn't be surprised at his level of delusionment considering he's holding off on committing to play for England in the 2012 because he wants to be considered for the US team. I'm sure he even brought it up in his contract negotiations. 'of course I deserve 15 mill a year...you're looking at a future Dream Teamer!'

Contrast these guys with Jameer Nelson and Al Jefferson, two guys who probably left money on the table for the safety and security of signing an extension now. Both guys are playing pretty well so far. Neither guy wanted that giant monkey on their back.

Can these anti-contract year guys turn it around? For the most part, I think so. They may not get to the level of where they were drafted, but could be good buy low candidates right now. The only guy I'd feel uncomfortable targeting is Gordon.

Spencers Update

Collectively, my 52 teams had a rough week in Week 4. Usually I run about 10-15 percent above the average team in terms of overall fantasy production. For week 4, I churned out a paltry 3.5% above the average team. I have Gerald Wallace, Lamar Odom and Ray Allen to thank for that. Overall I think I'm in good shape, but late-round staples Shane Battier, David Lee and Boris Diaw are barely roster-worthy, and the Tyrus Thomas experiment was a complete disaster.

Thankfully, I've managed to improve my teams incrementally through a flurry of trading activity. I've made 40+ trades so far this season, when I get a chance I'll find a place to post and track all my deals on the blog. On one team, I traded Kevin Durant for Richard Jefferson and then flipped Jefferson for Josh Smith. KD for Josh Smith...not too shabby.

The trade voting process at CBS is being abused, and the leagues are already getting ugly. Four weeks in and nearly every deal is getting 4+ votes to go to the commish (where anything can happen). When perfectly deals like Marion for Yao, David West for Brandon Roy are getting 4+ votes, you know you have a problem. CBS is helping matters by failing to dig a little deeper to understand the motives behind the deal, thus killing a large number of fair trades.

In one league, I had Iguodala/Rudy Gay for Kevin Garnett lined up. Killed by CBS. Second try: Ron Artest/Gay for Garnett. Killed by CBS. Of course, these deals let everyone know that the guy was willing to deal KG. I made a separate deal to turn Okafor into Pau Gasol, then had an agreement to deal Gasol/Gay for Garnett. No way that deal doesn't get approved. Well, the Okafor/Gasol deal got the 4+ votes and still sitting out there in limbo. In the meantime, someone else swoops in with Butler/Josh Howard for KG and it goes through. I identify the other guy's needs, make the deal and come up empty handed. Gotta love CBS.

The Worst Three Weeks of My Life

11/19/2007 1 comments
The NBA season is already one-eighth in the books. Three weeks down, 21 to go. Early surprises (Richard Jefferson, Manu Ginobili) and busts (Mehmet Okur, Kirk Hinrich) have gone from 'beginning of the season flukes' to 'sustainable trend'. The numbers are quickly becoming more and more real.

My fantasy squads are actually off to a very good start. Guys that I have weighted heavily like Kevin Garnett, Chris Paul, Ginobili and Andrei Kirilenko are performing well. I'm ahead of the pace compared to last season after three weeks. Right now, I'm projecting 35-42 wins out of 52 teams.

So why the gloomy title to this blog post? Well, the last three weeks have been marred by one of my squads and one player in particular. Dwight Howard. Owning Howard has been a nightmare.

Howard had been going very, very early in nearly all of my CBS drafts. You could bank on him going anywhere from 5th-8th, which was great news for me if I had a late pick because someone like Shawn Marion would usually slip through the cracks. But after a while I began to wonder if I was missing the boat on this guy. I had him about 17th-18th on my draft board, but there was zero chance he'd ever last that long. He looked good in the preseason, and there was some rumored video of his improved free-throw shooting on youtube. Indeed, if he could shoot 80% from the line, he'd be one of the top three fantasy players in the NBA. I'm sure most owners would be thrilled with just 72%.

Generally when I'm drafting I look at both my projected stars and the players average draft position. I usually try to avoid picking guys before their ADP. On one particular team, I had the 12th pick and took Dwyane Wade first. Usually when I had the last pick ( and I did in 15 out if 52 teams...I blame the astronomical odds on CBS Ron), I'd go with the Wade plus the best center of the three-headed Yao/Amare/Gasol monster. But all three of those guys were taken in the first 11 and there were no major surprises in the first round. So it came down to picking Paul or Howard. Yes, I'm still kicking myself.

I figured I'd either surround him with strong free throw shooters or just pick him purely for trade value. Ray Allen and Caron Butler usually made it to the 36th pick. But it didn't happen. I got Joe Johnson 36, Josh Howard 37.

So I'd have to try the trade route. Strangely, there were no logical trade partners. I tried offering him up every which way but Kevin Bacon, but to no avail. The guy with Amare was asking way too much, even with Amare's knee issues. The guy with Yao actually has a strong enough FT team to take on Howard and still be first in FTP, but he's my main competition for the team and I'd be helping him to a point where I probably couldn't catch him.

By all accounts, Howard is having a very good season. He's averaging 24.1 pts, 14.5 rebounds, shooting 58.6% from the field. That's great stuff. But then there's the free-throws...12.5 attempts per game at 63.0%. That's a team killer.

So after three weeks, I stand in fourth place in this league with zero chance of winning as long as Howard is on my squad. Dead Team Walking! It's killing me having a team that's already out of it.

I'm convinced that unless you have the perfect complementary squad, you just can't win in roto with Howard. Surveying my 52-team landscape, there are actually 4 teams that own him and are actually leading after 3 weeks, but I'm not projecting any of them to finish the season at the top. Most of these teams are winning in spite of him, generally flooded with 2-3 draft day steals in the pool of Ginobili, Jefferson, Chris Kaman, Josh Smith, Kevin Martin, Hedo Turkoglu. One team is dead last in FT and at or near the top in every other category. One team is actually 3rd in FTP. I don't expect that to last.

Contrast that with Yao Ming owners, who got Yao on average about 3-4 slots after Howard in the draft. 10 out of 52 teams with Yao are winning their respective leagues. The average Yao team is 8 points higher in the standings than the average Howard team.

I'm happy to report that after a lot of work, I was able to finally deal Dwight Howard, ending this three-week misery. I traded Howard along with Durant and Joe Johnson for Kobe Bryant, Marcus Camby and Brendan Haywood (who I will likely dump). I actually had Camby ranked ahead of Howard so essentially it's a decision of Joe Johnson and Kevin Durant for Kobe, which is a no brainer. The deal isn't a major steal, but I feel liberated. I'm projecting to gain 8 pts in the standings with this deal. Not quite in first yet, but relevant again.

Of course, now I have to deal with owning Marcus Camby now, but I'll take that headache over owning Dwight Howard and literally having no chance of winning.

PROJECTION UPDATE

It's probably way too early to look at how well those preseason projections are doing, but I have the numbers and it's relatively easy to do, so let's the take a look for the heck of it. It's a marathon, but let's take a look at how the competitors are doing after the first 3 miles.

I measure the projections based on their 'sum of squared errors' across the eight-categories and rank order them in two different ways. First I measure the average improvement versus the baseline of the previous year's per game averages (rookies excluded). Then I assign points for each projection across a pool of 232 players (216 initially as I set a minimum number of games cut-off at 4), the projection with the closest SSE gets 14 pts, the one with the worst projections gets 1 point.

Here are the early results.

IMPROVEMENT VERSUS BASELINE
1 COLTON INDEX 19.69%
2 CONSENSUS PROJECTIONS 18.15%
3 ROTOFREAK 15.56%
4 FANTASY SPORTS CENTRAL 13.68%
5 ESPN/TMR 13.46%
6 HOOPSKLYCE 12.58%
7 FANTASY HOOPS REALM 12.47%
8 BASKETBALL MONSTER 12.35%
9 NBA.COM 12.08%
10 ROTOWIRE/YAHOO 10.05%
11 ROTOWORLD 7.19%
12 CBS SPORTS 6.54%
13 2006 BASELINE 0.00%
14 FANTASY LOUNGE -17.80%

POINTS-BASED
1T COLTON INDEX 1892
1T CONSENSUS PROJECTIONS 1892
3 ESPN/TMR 1703
4 ROTOFREAK 1630
5 NBA.COM 1606
6 FANTASY SPORTS CENTRAL 1599
7 HOOPSKLYCE 1597
8 BASKETBALL MONSTER 1578
9 ROTOWIRE 1515
10 FANTASY HOOPS REALM 1490
11 ROTOWORLD 1459
12 2006 BASELINE 1444
13 CBS SPORTS 1421
14 FANTASY LOUNGE 1321

As expected, the combined consensus projections look like they will be a formidable (and perhaps the only formidable) projection opponent. And CBS is taking up its customary spot at the bottom of the food chain. At least it has some company down there with newcomer Fantasy Lounge (btw, don't mistakenly type in fantasylounge.com at work).

The boobie prize for worst single projection has to go to Fantasy Lounge for its projection of Chris Bosh. They projected 24.8 pts, 11.2 rebounds with an astonishing 57.7% FGP and 64.6% FTP. I had to go back and double check it to make sure that was in fact what they were projecting. Those projected shooting percentages are way off the reservation. You don't need to be a stats major to know that the SSE is going to be high when your actual totals are 16.2/6.9/40.2%/89.3%. I know Bosh has had a very strange start to his season, but I don't think we'll see anything approaching the numbers that Fantasy Lounge projected in this instance.

Fantasy Odds and Ends

11/04/2007 0 comments
The NBA 2007-08 season is underway! All the projections, pouring over preseason boxscores, trying to figure out who's starting for each team has made way to actual games, actual boxscores and actual minutes.

The first few days of the season are interesting because you have to play 'trend or mirage'. I've had a few live drafts since the season started and you see the immediate impact a player's first game has on his draft status. Guys like Tyrus Thomas, Channing Frye and Charlie Villanueva were routinely going in the 10th-11th round before the season started now aren't getting drafted. Mehmet Okur lays an egg on opening night and people start to wonder if he's going to be a bust. And how many of you were scrambling to your league's homepage to pick up Martell Webster or John Salmons only to find out somebody had already beaten you to the punch?

Of course, all of this creates trade opportunities. Yesterday I was looking to pick up Kevin Durant on the cheap after a poor shooting night (although his 27 Pts against the Suns the next night closed that window of opportunity to quickly. After Andrei Kirilenko had a near triple double in Utah's first game, I flipped him for Kevin Martin, swapping a 7th rounder for a bonafide 4th round player. Today, I have my sights set on Leandro Barbosa owners who might be sitting with their finger on the panic button.

Preseason Numbers, Final Projections

As I mentioned in a prior post, it looks like shooting is going to be down and scoring up this season if you use the preseason numbers as a leading indicator. Below are the final per 48 minute aggregate preseason stats and the predicted levels for the upcoming regular season. Look at the big expected jump in 3PM and 3PA.

GM_03PRE _05PRE_06PRE_07PRE _03REG_05REG_06REG REG/PRE_07REG?_07 vs O6
MIN 48 48 48 48 48 48 48 - 48 -
FGM 6.58 6.73 6.88 7.17 7.04 7.12 7.33 6.5% 7.67 4.6%
FGA 15.24 15.23 15.23 16.20 16.01 15.70 15.99 4.4% 16.96 6.1%
3PM 0.84 1.00 1.03 1.19 1.06 1.14 1.22 19.5% 1.42 16.6%
3PA 2.50 2.89 3.11 3.34 3.03 3.18 3.40 13.5% 3.79 11.4%
FTM 4.08 4.43 4.64 4.49 3.68 3.90 3.93 -12.3% 3.94 0.2%
FTA 5.59 6.06 6.32 6.10 4.90 5.23 5.23 -14.4% 5.22 -0.1%
REB 8.23 8.08 8.08 8.62 8.47 8.14 8.24 1.9% 8.78 6.5%
AST 3.91 4.02 4.05 4.19 4.23 4.10 4.26 5.1% 4.40 3.4%
STL 1.85 1.78 1.71 1.77 1.58 1.42 1.45 -16.5% 1.48 2.0%
BLK 0.98 0.94 0.86 0.98 1.02 0.93 0.93 3.8% 1.02 10.2%
TO 3.56 3.48 3.74 3.64 2.84 2.74 2.91 -21.3% 2.87 -1.5%
PTS 18.07 18.89 19.43 20.03 18.82 19.28 19.81 2.7% 20.58 3.9%
2PM 5.74 5.73 5.85 5.98 5.99 5.99 6.11 4.4% 6.25 2.2%
2PA 12.74 12.35 12.11 12.86 12.98 12.52 12.59 2.4% 13.17 4.6%
FG% 43.2% 44.2% 45.2% 44.3% 44.0% 45.4% 45.8% 2.0% 45.2% -1.3%
FT% 72.9% 73.1% 73.5% 73.6% 75.2% 74.5% 75.2% 2.5% 75.4% 0.3%
3P% 33.5% 34.6% 33.0% 35.7% 34.8% 35.8% 35.8% 5.3% 37.6% 4.8%
2P% 45.0% 46.4% 48.3% 46.5% 46.1% 47.8% 48.5% 1.9% 47.4% -2.3%




If you were on my projection distribution list, you know that I sent out multiple iterations systematically incorporating each player's preseason numbers. Now that nearly all of my drafts are complete, here are my final projections.

http://www.coltonindex.com/colton0708_final.xls

52 TEAM PICK-UP

Interest is definitely up for the NBA this season. People ate excited about the prospects of KG, Ray and Paul Pierce in Boston, or seeing Kevin Durant play for the Sonics. Certainly, Kobe's petulance is bringing a lot of attention to the NBA, although I'm not sure it's a good or bad thing. From David Stern's perspective, he'll take all the free publicity he can get, as that whole Tim Donaghy scandal seems like it happened eons ago. The guy was reffing Game 3 of the Spurs-Suns series!

One good barometer of the level of interest in the NBA is to track how many roto leagues people have signed up for CBS. I can tell you exactly how many because I'm in each and every one of them. Last year, there were 44 platinum ($600 for the winner) and diamond ($1,600 for the winner) roto leagues, and that number is a little inflated because CBS had some draft applet issues and had to give out some free teams as a result. The true number of paid roto leagues was probably around 37-38. This year, the number is up to 52, astonishing considering CBS alienated many customers with its draft day nightmares and by essentially sapping all of the fun out of the leagues with its overbearing, power-tripping commissioners.

Yes, I have 52 fantasy basketball teams this year. At first it looked like the number was going to be significantly less than last year, probably in the 35-40 range. But as the start of the season got closer, more and more people started signing up, and I just went with the flow. For me, I couldn't find any reason not to keep signing up for teams. I found out last year that you spread yourself a little thin with a lot of teams, making it difficult to respond quickly to trends during the course of the season relative to a guy who is committed to one and only team, but this negative impact doesn't skew the economics enough to a point where less is more. In fact, I think I'll probably be able to work less this year, as I had a number of lame duck teams (thanks to the draft issues) last year that I tried to bring back from the dead. This year, I fully expect to coast through the second half on at least half the teams, focusing more on the teams that need the most help.

One of the most painful aspects of fantasy hoops is coming up with a league name. My very understanding wife pretty much tunes out when the topic is fantasy hoops, but she enjoys reading all of the different league names, commenting that most have either 'playas' or 'ballas' in them. Her suggestion: a league called 'playas ballas'. Did you she what she did there? She just combined the two, thus taking it to another level. My personal favorite: 'Enter the Dodecahedron'.

Five live drafts at one time was tough, but it was good practice. The past week I wax reeling off 3-4 live drafts at a time on a nightly basis, so effortlessly by the end it was like brushing my teeth. The 32-inch LCD that doubled as a computer monitor in my command center? That might just become a permanent fixture in my den.

WHERE MY DOGGS AT?

One nice benefit of having so many teams is that when I'm drafting, I never had to reach for anybody. Armed with my projections and data from previous live drafts, I was able to pick guys on my terms. Even if there was a guy I liked, I waited to get him. If he didn't make it to my spot, no big deal, I had 51 other opportunities to land him. Contrast that with someone who has one team, likes specific players and feels the need to reach for his guys so he doesn't miss out. My approach also provided a nice diversification benefit, keeping the number of times the same guy was on one of my teams to a comfortable level. If a guy that I didn't necessarily like slipped really far, I'd pick him for trade value purposes only.

I calculated where I picked each guy on average relative to where that player went in leagues where I didn't pick him. On average, im getting guys 4-5 slots after where they're being picked by others. This may not seem like much but equates to getting one of every three picks a round later than normal. That's how you create fantasy value. It also gives me a larger margin of error compared to other guys. Randy Foye goes down and its going to hurt his owners regardless. But it hurts more if you've picked him in the sixth round instead of guys like Corey Magette or Barbosa versus if you've picked him in the ninth round instead of Jameer Nelson.

The only guys that I picked that were close to be considered reaches were Andre Iguodala and Gerald Wallace, who were my most compelling targets in the late second and late third round, respectively. In their cases, they were simply the best player available when it was my turn to pick.

The following players are guys that I have overweighted in my 'portfolio' of teams. With 52 teams, you'd expect that the typical guy would be on at least 4 of my teams somewhere along the line. I show the avg. spot where I picked him, the range in which I was selecting, and the average pick when it wasn't me who was picking him. The numbers below are for the first 50 teams, as the last two drafts haven't happened yet.

Josh Childress, 18 teams, 124.8 ADP Jim (range 111-138), 114.7 ADP others
Shane Battier, 18 teams, 111.3 ADP Jim (99-132), 107.5 ADP others
Gerald Wallace 18 teams, 34.1 ADP Jim (25-41), 35.6 ADP others
Leandro Barbosa 17 teams, 67.8 ADP Jim (60-76), 64.7 ADP others
Rudy Gay 17 teams, 83.1 ADP Jim (73-96), 83.4 ADP others
David Lee 16 teams, 109.3 ADP Jim (94-121), 95.9 ADP others
Boris Diaw 15 teams, 105.5 ADP Jim (96-120), 98.1 ADP others
Tyrus Thomas 15 teams, 125.9 ADP Jim (109-148), 123.5 ADP others
Kevin Garnett 15 teams, 1.5 ADP Jim (1-3), 2.3 ADP others
Samuel Dalembert 14 teams, 91.7 ADP Jim (85-108), 82.0 ADP others
Ray Allen 14 teams, 37.1 ADP Jim (31-48), 33.7 ADP others
Dwyane Wade 14 teams, 13.6 ADP Jim (12-20), 13.1 ADP others
Kevin Martin 12 teams, 44.8 ADP Jim (39-49), 41.8 ADP others
Josh Howard 12 teams, 46.6 ADP Jim (37-56), 44.0 ADP others
Elton Brand 11 teams, 133.9 ADP Jim (109-144), 118.1 ADP others
Stephen Jackson 11 teams, 102.5 ADP Jim (87-118), 95.5 ADP others
Jameer Nelson 11 teams, 90.8 ADP Jim (84-103), 86.5 ADP others
Yao Ming 11 teams, 13.6 ADP Jim (12-17), 11.9 ADP others
Andre Iguodala 11 teams, 20.9 ADP Jim (18-24), 19.7 ADP others
LaMarcus Aldridge 11 teams, 57.1 ADP Jim (50-72), 55.9 ADP others
Marcus Camby 11 teams, 36.1 ADP Jim (25-48), 35.2 ADP others
Randy Foye 11 teams, 86.4 ADP Jim (76-96), 95.6 ADP others
Devin Harris 10 teams, 119.0 ADP Jim (101-138), 104.2 ADP others
Josh Smith 10 teams, 23.8 ADP Jim (18-27), 20.1 ADP others
Nene Hilario 10 teams, 129.5 ADP Jim (109-156), 134.6 ADP others
AndreI Kirilenko 9 teams, 69.6 ADP Jim (61-79), 61.7 ADP others
Manu Ginobili 9 teams, 67.7 ADP Jim (60-75), 65.6 ADP others
Chris Paul 9 teams, 14.8 ADP Jim (13-18), 15.7 ADP others
Walter Herrmann 9 teams, 137.8 ADP Jim (121-151), 140.4 ADP others
Andris Biedrins 8 teams, 90.3 ADP Jim (73-108), 84.9 ADP others
Lamar Odom 8 teams, 59.8 ADP Jim (49-66), 56.4 ADP others
Monta Ellis 8 teams, 74.4 ADP Jim (72-80), 71.1 ADP others
Brandon Roy 8 teams, 56.1 ADP Jim (48-65), 53.8 ADP others
Cuttino Mobley 8 teams, 135.5 ADP Jim (123-144), 140.6 ADP others
Honorable Mention (7 teams): Andrea Bargnani, Kevin Durant, Mike Miller, Chris Kaman, Paul Pierce

Childress, Battier and David Lee are undervalued late-round picks that generally don't hurt you much but help you a small amount in a number of different categories. They are perfect for rounding out your team (although none of them has showed much so far this season). As far as big names, I'm counting heavily on Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Yao Ming. Somehow I managed to get the last pick in 15 out of 52 drafts, and Wade was usually the most compelling pick there. In fact, anytime I had a pick after #12 and Wade was available, I was picking him). This turned out to be a nice move as Wade looks like he will know come back sooner rather than later. Garnett was my man whenever I had the first pick, but I also managed to land him a few times with the third. Speaking of Garnett and the first pick, let's move into the first edition of the Wegoblogger Mailbag:

Hey jim,

So for the first time in my life I get the number one pick. Please tell me why garnett over kobe. Garnett will have to share the ball lots more, no? Kobe will be on a mission, no? I didn't see any debate on this on your site. Can you give some insight? I respect your opinion amd just want to hear the logic. Thanks much. - Dan G.

Dan,

I've had the first pick in about 7 drafts and have picked KG every time. I think he's going to have a huge year even if he scores a little less. He's just so intense and now that he's on a contender I have this feeling he's going to take it to another level.

I actually have Kobe ranked higher on a per game basis, but am not as bullish on him. There's a chance he may have sit out awhile while they try to deal him, a la what happened to Iverson last year. You've got some risk depending on where he ends up. If he stays with the Lakers, you gotta wonder about his motivation staying there and the constant drama. Plus they want him to distribute the ball more, which hasn't gone well in the preseason. If I own Kobe, I want the guy scoring 40 pts a game and getting to the line 10-12 times a game, not the one who's dishing to Kwame Brown. Of course, if he does get dealt, you could see a ticked-off Kobe just going off this season, averaging 35+ if he ends up in the right situation.

I don't know how competitive your league is, but most leagues where I don't have the first pick, guys are picking Lebron first, Kobe second and KG third. Perhaps you could work out a deal to pick Lebron for trading value only, get KG with the third pick and possibly get a better deal in the 2nd.

Jim

(Note: Got any fantasy questions that need answering? Send me a question by clicking on the e-mail link above)

MAKING VOODOO DOLLS FOR...

On the flip side, here are the guys that I haven't drafted in any league. Some are guys that I wouldn't mind owning, just not at the spot where they were going. Others are players that I refuse to own even if they were still around in the 13th round.

Carmelo Anthony (12.2 ADP, 6-20 range). Would consider Melo at the tail end of the range he was going at, but it just never happened. He was picked in the first round in many leagues by owners overvaluing PTS. I had Melo targeted in the third round last year and was looking like a genious until he got that 15-game suspension for beatch-slapping. I had him ranked 19th overall on my big board.

Deron Williams (17.1, 8-24). As a fellow Illini, Deron is probably my favorite player in the NBA. But you can't play favorites if you want to do well in fantasy hoops. It pained me to pass up on Deron at the tail end of the second round a couple of times, but guys like Andre Iguodala seemed like a better fit. As much as I love Deron's silky smooth game, I would never, ever consider picking him the first round like some others did.

Tim Duncan (17.7, 8-27). Duncan is generally overrated in fantasy hoops although he did have an excellent season last year. Two things work against him, his free-throw shooting amd the Spurs lack of desire to put too much emphasis on the regular season. Every postseason, Duncan shows what he can do with more minutes, but don't expect that to carryover into the following season, especially now as the team gets older and older. I had Duncan ranked 25th overall.

Tracy McGrady (19.7, 10-32). T-Mac amazingly went in the first round in a few drafts. I just don't see it, although his 47-pt game this week could mean that I'm wrong. His value hinges on his balky back and his shooting percentages, which were a paltry 43.1%/70.7% last year. I had him 48th overall on my draft board.

Michael Redd (28.1, 14-38). I projected lower numbers for Redd this year, as I had a hard time seeing him put up the same points with a relatively healthy Bucks squad this year. I had him 45th overall and he never made it close to that.

Chauncey Billups (30.6, 20-41). I like Billups as a fantasy player. You usually find him on good fantasy teams. I had him ranked 28th, ahead of where he went on average, but when my spot came up there were usually guys I had ahead of him still available.

Jermaine O'Neal (39.9, 27-51). I usually just avoid O'Neal. How does a big man shoot that poorly from the field? I had him 44th overall, but he usually never made it that far. With the seemingly constant knee issues, let someone else deal with him.

Tony Parker (41.0, 2-58). Extremely overrated fantasy player. The '2' isn't a misprint. He was picked 2nd overall in one of my drafts. This was after the guy was trash talking right before the draft, saying 'Hope you guys are ready to get OWNED'. In the last three weeks, I've seen over 7,800 guys picked in live drafts, and Tony Parker at #2 was by far the worst of the worst (and there were a lot of contenders). I usually stay away from the draft room chatter, but couldn't help on this one, saying 'I didn't know Finals MVP was a category'. Coincidentally, the draft were he went 58th happened at the same time as this draft, so I had to couldn't resist reporting that 'Parker just went 58th in my other draft.' Ouch.

T.J. Ford (58.2, 39-73). Ford surpassed my expectations last year, but I'm still not buying. There were usually more compelling picks in the 5th-6th round.

Andre Miller (49.9, 35-64). See T.J. Ford above

Tyson Chandler (58.9, 38-75). I'm still baffled why most are bullish on Tyson Chandler. Maybe I've seen too many of his stone-handed games during his years with Chicago to really be a believer. He had a breakthrough season last year, but I have a hard time seeing him staying or improving on that with a healthier Hornets team. He has started strong, so I could easily be wrong on this one.

Richard Hamilton (61.6, 48-82). Rip is a fine basketball player, but overrated every year in fantasy hoops. I can't say that I've ever owned him, or ever regretted the fact that I didn't own him.

Richard Jefferson (63.3, 42-84). Jefferson is making me eat some crow with his performance early this season. Guys that picked him up in the 7th round will be thrilled if he can keep up his production. Could be a good sell high situation if you own him.

Ben Wallace (71.6, 43-96). I won't draft Ben Wallace.

Tayshaun Prince (77.2, 57-95). Another good Piston, another overrated fantasy player.

Jamaal Tinsley (77.5, 59-97). I am actually pretty bullish on Tinsley under Jim O'Brien, but just couldn't pull the trigger on drafting him. As a guy who plays 45 games on a good year, let someone else deal with the hassle.

Al Harrington (79.1, 49-108). Harrington is another guy that I have a tough time owning. You just never know what Nellie is up to. Harrington was their player in training camp and that lands him on a spot on the bench? Al was a perfect buy low situation two days ago, as it now looks like he's back in the starting line-up and celebrated by dropping 37 on the Jazz.

Jamal Crawford (79.9, 61-104). The Knicks situation is too messy to have a lot of confidence in Crawford.

Shaquille O'Neal (87.8, 60-125). Amazingly, there are still guys out there drafting Shaq. I wouldn't draft Shaq in his prime, I wouldn't draft Shaq if the draft had 45 rounds now.

SOME RON'S NEVER CHANGE

It didn't take long for good ol' CBS Ron to rear his ugly head this season. In fact, the season hadn't even started before one of my deals got shot down.

Josh Smith / Brandon Roy for Kobe Bryant / Mike Conley

I actually showed that this deal helps the other guy 4 pts in the standings (he needed blocks and rebounds) and the combined fantasy contribution of the two players on each side is less than 1%. But all logic and reason is out the window when it comes to Ronnie...check out the back-and-forth.

JIM: Kobe for Josh Smith/Brandon Roy shot down. Don't worry, not going to argue, just want to know if it's because of Kobe's wrist injury or because it's grossly unfair to one side (and which side)?

RON: Kobe is the best player and top 2 in fantasy. Smith and Roy are a lot of potential. If you want to trade for Kobe a marquee first round pick must be given this early in the year. I agree that smith and roy are very talented but kobe will score more then either of those players. In roto kobe is much better then people think and is still top 2.

Roy also has a heel injury and he has been very fragile so far in his young career.

JIM: Ron,

Thanks for the feedback. By the way, I LOVE the feature that shows the trades that were made for a particular player. Really makes the 'market' for a certain player known. I can't help but notice that Kobe is the most dealt person by far. I think it's because people draft him 2nd but don't like to own him. Too much risk this year. Personally, I think Roy/Smith is on par or better than any of the deals below. I particularly like the one that includes Roy, Durant, Conley for Kobe. Clearly Josh Smith is more valuable than Durant/Conley. Clearly there's a market for Kobe that starts with 2nd round players. Again, not complaining, not arguing. Just making an observation. I appreciate your insights as they are helpful in managing my teams.

Bryant, Kobe SG LAL Bosh, Chris PF TOR,Brand, Elton PF LAC

Bryant, Kobe SG LAL Boozer, Carlos PF UTA
Martin, Kenyon PF DEN Miller, Andre PG PHI

Bryant, Kobe SG LAL Ford, T.J. PG TOR,Gasol, Pau C MEM

Bryant, Kobe SG LAL Barbosa, Leandro PG PHO
Prince, Tayshaun SF DET Iguodala, Andre SF PHI

Bryant, Kobe SG LAL Iverson, Allen SG DEN

Bryant, Kobe SG LAL Anthony, Carmelo SF DEN

Bryant, Kobe SG LAL Duncan, Tim PF SA
Jefferson, Al PF MIN Stoudemire, Amare C PHO

Bryant, Kobe SG LAL Allen, Ray SG BOS
Cassell, Sam PG LAC Camby, Marcus C DEN

Bryant, Kobe SG LAL Bibby, Mike PG SAC, Gasol, Pau C MEM

Bryant, Kobe SG LAL Conley, Mike PG MEM, Durant, Kevin SF SEA, Roy, Brandon SG POR

Barnes, Matt SF GS Miller, Mike SF MEM
Bryant, Kobe SG LAL Paul, Chris PG NO

RON: If last night was any indication, Roy is good but not good enough.

JIM: would you approve the deal if it was jason richardson instead of roy?

RON: The problem with Jason is new team. if he were on golden state yes. But on charlotte, his stats are unknown at this time and if you want a top player it can not be on potential, not at this level of a league.

JIM: Ron,

There's no way that J-Rich doesn't outperform his stats from last year. He only played 32 min a game last year after being in the 37-38 min range the previous three years before Nellie. Last year is the absolute bottom range of his expectations for this season. I have every projection available on the web and the consensus is a 11% rise compared to last year at a pretty conservative 36.5 mpg and something closer to 2004 & 2005 where he was a much better roto player. Even your esteemed projections have him going from 16.0 to close to 18.0 ppg.

Richardson and Roy are going literally right next to each other on average in drafts, Roy 53.3 and Richardson 55.2 in the 40+ live drafts that I've been in, telling you that some prefer Roy, some prefer Richardson even with Roy's heel issues known. I offered the choice between Richardson and Roy and he chose Roy. Trading Kobe actually helps his team +4 pts in the standings, meaning by vetoing you are preventing him from improving his team and chances for winning when you think you are protecting him or something.

The numbers show that the players involved in the deal are collectively within 1% of each other. I don't know how to construct a deal any closer than that. It's well within the range of others deals for Kobe, probably even more generous. And it helps his team. Seems to meet all of the criteria for a fair deal.

Ron, you need to know that the biggest issue with fantasy hoops and the user experience is the veto system. Folks aren't voting against the deal not because it's lopsided, but only because both teams are improving thus weakening other team's chances as a result. It's a spineless, defensive move that you are supporting by shooting a large percentage of deals down. It creates bad blood and turns into a vicious cycle where every deal gets voted against that takes most of the fun out of the league. People like to trade. People like to try to improve their team. Everybody has different views, expectations and needs which is the whole reason trades exist in the first place.

RON: He has to play 2 players to get the production of one. Kobe played like crap on opening night and still had 45 pts, 5 rebs and 5 assists.

Both of those players are being drafted in the 50's and kobe is top 3 in all leagues in any format. I have been nice, but you are NEVER going to explain to me that this trade is fair. You are ripping this guy off. If you want kobe, give up one of your top 2 picks in the deal. roy is young, injured and will be inconsistent as all young players are. J rich is now going into a new offence, more halfcourt sets, and wont get as many easy baskets as he did in nellie system. Nellies system makes you a better fantasy player, not a worse one.

JIM: The thing is...if I was on the other side of the deal I'd be ticked off too. A shrewd manager will make ANY deal that will help his team improve his place in the standings, thus his chances of winning. How many +5 deals are out there? I was doing this guy a favor and reaping some benefit as well.

A Kobe deal just came through in another league, essentially it's Kobe for Bosh and Mo Williams. Smith and Roy/Richardson is pretty equal to that, don't you think.

We'll see about Richardson, I agree about Nelson but I don't think that's enough to offset the fact that he's going to be getting 5-6 more minutes per game. Certainly where he's being drafted people are expecting an improvement. He wasn't ranked nearly that high last year even in Nellie's high powered offense.

Thanks for your insights. I think we've beat this dead horse long enough.

Well, it looks like we could be in for a long season. Ron seems to hold on to these fantasy truisms like 'you trade for Kobe, you need to include a first rounder', assuming that everyone should manage their teams his way. Maybe it's just me, but I'm more concerned about numbers than the star-power of the players involved. Numbers are what move you up in the standings. Numbers are the difference between winning and losing.
 
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