StrategyNovember 23, 2006

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Market Strategy
Buying low and snickering at the opposition.

By Jamaal Gilbert

In fantasy sports, the terms “buy low” and “sell high” are frequently used when dealing with player value. It’s no different here, and I’m in every two weeks to give you the lowdown on six players to trade for before their value skyrockets.

In this edition, I am highlighting a few players returning from injury as well as a couple guys in the midst of a breakout attempt. Enjoy!

Josh Howard, Forward, Dallas Mavericks: An excellent rebounder, the fourth year small forward from Wake Forest has been injured for most of the year, prompting some to forget how valuable he is.

He’ll have to fight a rejuvenated Erick Dampier and ever-present Dirk Nowitzki for some of his boards, but it hasn’t been a problem in the past.

Howard – when healthy – is quietly one of the best small forwards around, as he averages over six boards and 15 points a night. He’ll also pick up a healthy portion of thefts (1.15 per game a year ago, 1.53 in 2004) as an underrated defender. His stats should continue to improve as he develops his game, and he should do so on your team.

Steve Francis, Shooting Guard, New York Knicks: “The Franchise” has been nothing short of disappointing the past year or so. Averaging less than 10 points, nearly four rebounds, and four assists so far in 2006 is not where we envisioned him when he was bulldozing the league a few short seasons ago.

My advice: Take heart, this too shall pass.

Francis is still one of the most dynamic talents in the NBA today, and his stats show it. In limited playing time (25 minutes a game so far), however uninspired and depressing it looks, he is still producing. The thing to remember is that he’s only been in the league for six years, and is 29 years old. There is plenty of time for him to regain his form and be a fantasy beast yet again. It could come by way of a trade in February, but I see a resurgence in Steve’s future.

Francis’ value is at an all-time low, which should tell you to get him on the cheap and reap the benefits because it can’t get any worse than this.

Chris Kaman, Center, Los Angeles Clippers: By the time the article comes out, I might be too late on Kaman, but get him now. My friends and I call him “The Orc” due to his resemblance to “Uruk-Hai” in Lord of the Rings, but his game is anything but repulsive.

Last year, the fourth-year Clipper put up 12 points and over nine rebounds per contest, and blocked 1.38 shots as well. To think the team would quit on him is ludicrous, and I’m hoping those who frequent the Cafe are smart enough to realize his potential. While writing this piece, I’m looking at Kaman’s line against the Lakers on 11/21: 12 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks in 33 minutes. This is what we in the literary world call “foreshadowing.”

Joel Przybilla, center, Portland Trail Blazers: Another injury cost Przybilla valuable playing time that could have increased coach Nate MacMillen’s confidence in him. Upon his imminent return, the seven-foot shot-changing menace will have to break back into the rotation, but should have excellent value.

You may recall Przybilla’s uncanny ability to swat away jumpers and layups, but when given proper PT, he becomes a rebound machine in the same vein as Marcus Camby or Ben Wallace.

Stop laughing, I’m not joking.

Don’t believe me? Look no further than his stats last season when he received 30 minutes or more a night: 11.91 rebounds and 3.66 blocks. Amazing. Go get Przybilla as every indication points to him being the starter when he gets back.

Jamaal Tinsley, Point Guard, Indiana Pacers: After a 2005-06 campaign mired in injury and unfulfilled expectation, Tinsley has journeyed back to respectability this season. Through 11 games, the Iowa State product has amassed nearly ten points, four rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.18 steals an outing. What’s more, in his last three contests, his scoring is on the rise as he has poured in 16 a night.

If that doesn’t do it for you, turn back the clock and remember that this guy has handed out as many as 23 assists in a game (2002-03 season). The talent is there.

Current Tinsley owners are sure to be wary of his early season success, and should be ripe for the picking. Get him before fantasy GM’s realize he’s for real again.

Freddie Jones, Guard/Forward, Toronto Raptors: I know I wrote about this guy in my last column (for the eight of you who read it), but I cannot stress how important of a player he is becoming in fantasy basketball.

Think Gerald Wallace last year, people, but to a lesser degree. Wallace has never dropped more than a couple dimes a game, but Jones is up near three on the year. As a starter, Freddie is at a 12-point, four-rebound, 3.2-assist pace. In addition to blocking nearly one shot a game, he seems to be getting more comfortable and has grabbed 1.6 steals a game over the past five as well.

Jones’ well-publicized athleticism only adds to the argument that insertion into a starting lineup can make him fantasy gold. His most recent effort – a 15 point, two rebound, two assist, three steal, and two block performance on 11/20 – should set off sirens, bells, and bullhorns in your little fantasy sports-enveloped mind.

If he is still available on your free agent list, grab him. If he’s on somebody else’s team, try and pry him away before he swats five shots in a game and you’re getting teary-eyed because you didn’t act quickly enough.

I’ll be back next week with “Last Man Off the Bench.”

Jamaal Gilbert is an aspiring sportswriter who contributes regularly and is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Jamaal in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of jamastaballa. You can email him at with feedback on any article he writes. Except for the bad ones.
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