StrategyDecember 8, 2006

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Market Strategy
Buying low, selling high and snickering at the opposition

By Jamaal Gilbert

Man, I can’t believe it’s been two weeks already, but I’m back with a second dose of Market Strategy. Once again, we’ll break down the ballers you need to move and the ones you need to pursue.

This time around I’m splitting the column into “Buy Low” and “Sell High” players at the behest of a reader. I think it was a grand idea.

Buy low

Ben Wallace, Center, Chicago Bulls: The words “headband,” “insubordination” and “unhappiness” continue to be synonymous with Big Ben of late, but few may have noticed he’s enjoying an upswing.

After brutal inconsistency riddled his statistics early on, Wallace seems to be getting back to himself of late, at least on the block/steal front. The big man has turned in 2.2 blocks and 1.4 steals a night over the last five, and the rebounds will likely work themselves out. I mean, he does have a career 10.66 rebound average.

You may shy away from the ‘fro’d “Beast from the East,” but I say there’s no time better than now to make a low-ball offer for him.

Luke Ridnour, Point Guard, Seattle Supersonics: The third-year guard from the University of Oregon has battled his way to fantasy respectability, finally putting it together this year. The Ray Allen’s “Out indefinitely” status could realistically catapult him to an even higher level.

Ridnour already has good value, but a 2-3 point per game increase may be in store. As an underrated commodity, he won’t command nearly as much as similar contributors like Kirk Hinrich or Tony Parker.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Center, Cleveland Cavaliers: It is inevitable and a necessity that Cleveland get “Big Z” into a consistent groove. For the Cavs to be a playoff team, they’ll need the inside scoring and rebounding presence Ilgauskas boasts.

That said, he’s not been good this year. Blocks and points are down in a big way, but history shows they are not likely to remain at this dismal level.

In 2005, Ilgauskas recorded just six blocks through the first ten games before taking off. He’s doing it again this year, though the last couple haven’t been pretty, two straight double-doubles against Philadelphia and New York tell us he’s not washed up by any means.

Make a play for Z if you can, he’s coming around.

Mike James, Point Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves: The epitome of “early season bust,” James disappointed Wolves fans (me) and fantasy owners everywhere who thought he might take a small hit statistically, but not sink this low.

If this piece of writing would have come out a couple days ago, things might have been easier for you, but owners are probably still down on him enough to ship him off for cheap.

Consider his 18.66 points and 4.66 assists a night (with a steal, no less!) over the last three and know we’re watching Mike James round into form before our eyes.

Brad Miller, Center, Sacramento Kings: Miller is a rare breed – he passes, shoots, rebounds, and blocks shots at a high level. His 4.73 assists a game last year were tops among centers and 35th overall.

That said, his injury problems this year have caused his value to plummet, but the lack of minutes he’s getting is what is most alarming. He played over 30 mpg in all but seven of his 79 games last year, and has yet to crack that mark in 2006.

My call is that going forward, Miller will return form as a double-double threat and passing maniac in late December. Jump on him now, you won’t be sorry.

Sell High

Disclaimer: These players aren’t worthless, rather their value is higher now than it will be in the future and I’m urging you to act accordingly.

Tyson Chandler, Center, New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets: Chandler, along with forward Marc Jackson will see a drop in value with the return of Xavier product David West, who is coming back from an obscure elbow injury.

Chandler, who is among the NBA’s rebounding leaders, cannot be trusted to keep up the same pace with the carom-inclined West (7.41 rpg last year) on the prowl.

With most of his value tied up in boards, you’d do well to either brace for the “West Effect” or deal Chandler for something more reliable…like Ilgauskas.

Emeka Okafor, Center, Charlotte Bobcats: So, looks like Okafor isn’t going to destroy the Association this year. After a torrid pace to begin the year, the shot-blocking, rebounding specialist seems lost.

On top of his inadequacy, second-year forward Sean May has stepped up and stolen minutes from Okafor, logging 28 mpg over his last five outings. Oak has played just 30.33 over the last three, down from his 34.9 mpg clip this year.

While Okafor is certainly an excellent talent, May is applying a statistical ceiling to his game, which may leave a bad taste in your mouth. If you can, try and swing a deal for two stars while you can still demand them.

Andrei Kirilenko, Forward, Utah Jazz: Still a strong play in all leagues, AK-47 lost a good deal of luster when Boozer broke out.

No longer the rebounding threat of a year ago when he pulled down eight boards a game, Kirilenko has been relegated to role-playing duties. His numbers are down across the board and has been a disappointment all year.

The hook with this player, though, is hype. The blocked shots are still there, and he’s still contributing on a nightly basis, so move him to a team holding out hope that he’ll become what he was in 2005.

Richard Jefferson, Small Forward, New Jersey Nets: I’ve never been a huge Jefferson fan, but now I can use his stats as an excuse.

Another player whose numbers are down in every category, Jefferson leaves us no reason to believe he’ll have a greater effect later in the year. He’s not terrible, but if you can get Josh Howard – a player that contributes in every category – go for it.

Erick Dampier, Center, Dallas Mavericks: Dampier, who looked to be defrosting after an apparent cryogenic freezing after his trade from Golden State, has mediocre value yet again.

Nine points and nine rebounds with a block are nothing to sneeze at, but the mirage of monster numbers (22 pts, 15 reb. and two blocks on 11/17) is far from reality.

The truth is, Josh Howard (speak of the devil) has cut into his rebounding/scoring totals and therefore his draw in the eyes of fantasy owners. If you have him, get as far away as you can before he drops a five-point, four rebound stinker and you’re stuck.

Wow, that escalated quickly. Hope you enjoyed a longer, more detailed version of the Market. 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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