OpinionOctober 5, 2005

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Teasers of the Backcourt

By Mike Antoine

Every season, a fantasy basketball manager in most standard leagues can count on getting some level of support from the waiver wire and free agent pool if needed. Sometimes, these players are stashed away on the bench in a roto league, sometimes they’re plugged into the rotation in a Head-to-Head league and sometimes they’re even counted on as a starter and significant fantasy contributor.

These players come from all sorts of backgrounds and all sorts of circumstances in regard to why they are suddenly in the fantasy basketball limelight. The 2004-2005 season presented it’s own share of such players. Some had been role players, finally given the chance to start due to another player’s injury (i.e. Bobby Simmons for the injured Kerry Kittles). Some were freshly drafted players that the fantasy world didn’t think would have as quick of an impact (i.e. Josh Smith). Some were thrown into starter roles out of default (i.e Brevin Knight and Gerald Wallace). And still, others seemed to come absolutely and completely out of nowhere (i.e. Dan Dickau).

As we close-in on the beginning of another NBA season, and more importantly, another fantasy basketball season, it’s important to address some players that may have had a hand in contributing to your fantasy success last season, but should not be counted on again this season. I like to call these players “teasers.” They’re the ones that you were pleasantly surprised with last year and want to draft them again this year, but they could potentially burn you this year because the circumstances have changed all over again. So, with this edition of “Teasers,” let’s take a look at some guards that are probably best left being overvalued by other managers in your league.

Chucky Atkins: It saddens me to list Chucky as a teaser because I really love the name Chucky for an NBA player. I love the name even more so because the guy “chucked” up 5.6 three’s per game while making 2.2 of them last season. But alas, Chucky has been traded to the Washington Wizards. Right now, we know there will be at least three main contributors to the Wizards backcourt this coming season. They are Gilbert Arenas, Antonio Daniels and Chucky Atkins. With Gilbert Arenas likely to get his 41 minutes per game in again this year, that leaves the remaining 55 backcourt minutes to be split amongst the other guards. Last season, Chucky averaged 35.4 minutes per game. That was the most he has ever averaged in his career. Assuming Arenas and Daniels remain healthy, Chucky will not be getting those types of minutes this coming season. That’s not to say Chucky won’t get his share of minutes at potentially 25+, but he’s not going to produce like he did last year. Bottom line: Don’t overvalue Chucky this coming season. He’s not going to get the same type of minutes and subsequently will not produce like he did last season.

Maurice Williams: Maurice was a nice little pickup last season for fantasy managers. A starter for the Milwaukee Bucks in all 80 games that he played last season, Maurice averaged 10.2 ppg, 6.1 apg and shot 85% from the free throw line. Last season, Maurice ranked third in the league in assists per 48 minutes. In late February, the Bucks traded reserve guard Mike James and that’s when Maurice’s stats really took off. In March, Maurice averaged 31.5 mpg, 13.6 ppg, 6.7 apg, 1.2 spg while shooting over 46% from the field and over 86% from the line. A cooler April and a brief injury brought his April statistics down to be more in line with his season average. Maurice, unfortunately, will not retain 30+ minutes this coming season. The long awaited return from injury of starting point guard TJ Ford will begin this season. In addition, the Bucks retained guard Michael Redd in free agency and acquired other players (Bobby Simmons and Jiri Welsch) that could lead to interesting rotations for the Bucks and reduced opportunities on the court for Maurice. Bottom line: Much of last season was nice and March was truly awesome, but don’t overestimate Maurice’s value for this coming season. Barring trade or injury of others, he’s back to being a role player and will not help your fantasy team.

Tyronn Lue: What a great season it was for Tyronn with Atlanta last season. After being acquired by the Hawks in December, Tyronn achieved career highs (on average) in minutes per game, points per game, assists per game and field goal percentage. While re-signing with the Hawks in the offseason is great for Tyronn, the remainder of the Hawks offseason activity will leave the 6’ 0” guard short on minutes (as compared to last season) and likely short of fantasy relevance this season. In addition to resigning Lue, Atlanta acquired highly sought free agent, Joe Johnson, to play point guard. They also drafted touted point guard Salim Stoudamire and forward Marvin Williams. In addition, the Hawks still have guard Tony Delk, and swingmen Josh Childress and Josh Smith. From a fantasy perspective, this rotation of guards and forwards is either going to be sweet, or really ugly. Bottom line: Sweet or ugly, either way, Lue will not retain 30+ minutes and very likely could see less than 25 minutes per game. And, at less than 25 minutes per game, Lue should not be on your fantasy radar other than to fill a late bench spot.

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