ReviewJune 1, 2008

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Best and Worst of the Cafe Reshuffle

By Nick Adams

This year thirty Cafe members participated in the inaugural Fantasy Basketball Cafe Reshuffle. Full draft results can be found here. As expected, the rosters that resulted were as diverse as the opinions here at the Cafe; one drafter assembled a team comprised of 11 players under the age of 26, while several other teams sport a trio of thirty-something starters. Although strategies differed significantly, most managers agreed that a balance between youth and veterans, depth at the scarcest positions and team chemistry were all tantamount to success. The majority of managers chose young stars in the first round, realizing that the intersection of youth and talent in the NBA is rare, and wanting to give themselves a chance to win both now and in the future. As center is viewed by many to be the shallowest position in the NBA, five centers went in the first dozen picks, and ten in the first round. Finally, in addressing chemistry, most drafters simply stayed away from psychologically risky picks in the early rounds, and talented but troubled players like Ron Artest and Rasheed Wallace slipped out of the top fifty.

The following is a round-by-round rundown of the draft’s best and worst selections, as selected by a panel of participants. The spot in which the player was taken in that round is in parentheses.

Round 1:

Best: Tim Duncan (12)
Honorable Mention: Lebron James (3), Steve Nash (21)
Duncan, a two-time MVP and ten-time All-Star, was the shining selection in this round. At 32, he appears to have several more elite seasons left in him, and no current NBA player can match his playoff accomplishments. Several managers considered taking him in the top five; Duncan was an incredible steal at number twelve.

Worst: Yao Ming (6)
Dishonorable Mention: Josh Smith (22), Kevin Durant (13)
Ming was an example of the high premium paid for top centers. Yao has been tremendously effective when healthy the past several seasons, and at 7′6″, he is truly a unique weapon. Sixth, however, was too early for a man who has missed 25 or more games each of the past three seasons. Yao’s immense frame has caused several leg and foot problems, and taking on such a risk as the cornerstone of a franchise is inadvisable.

Round 2:

Best: Shawn Marion (17)
Honorable Mention: Manu Ginobili (23), David West (10)
Marion, often lauded more for his fantasy game than his value in real life, was an excellent pick this late. Having slipped to the mid-2nd round largely due to a relatively disappointing 07-08 season, and his age (30), Marion made an excellent value pick for a team already stocked with veteran talent. 47th was a great spot to grab a guy who probably has several more years of All-Star caliber play left in him.

Worst: T.J. Ford (25)
Dishonorable Mention: Jason Kidd (15), Andris Biedrins (1)
Although point guards were flying off the board in Round 2, 55th overall was still too early to nab Ford. Ford has struggled with a troublesome back condition that caused him to miss all of the 04-05 season, and his career has been in jeopardy several times due to injuries. While a talented distributor when healthy, too high a premium was paid for a guy who is potentially one fall away from a career ending injury.

Round 3:

Best: Hedo Turkoglu (19)
Honorable Mention: Marcus Camby (5), Andrei Kirilenko (1)
Turkoglu, the 07-08 NBA Most Improved Player, enjoyed a remarkable resurgence this past season. After a disappointing 06-07 campaign, during which he battled a chronic viral illness, Turkoglu emerged as a legitimate offensive threat, and was paramount to the success of the Magic this season. The mid-3rd round was an excellent spot to snag this skilled all-around offensive threat.

Worst: Mike Conley (4)
Dishonorable Mention: Josh Childress (11), Sean Williams (28)
Although youth was at a premium throughout the draft, Conley’s selection at 64th overall was a head scratcher. Although he possesses great potential, and is just 20 years old, he has yet to prove his worth in the NBA over an extended period of time. Passing up more proven point guards like Raymond Felton and Mike Bibby in favor of Conley was, by most accounts, unwise.

Round 4:

Best: Mehmet Okur (21)
Honorable Mention: Shane Battier (19), Stephen Jackson (24)
Given the inordinately high price that was paid for many centers in this draft, the fact that Mehmet Okur slipped out of the top 100 was a surprise. Although not as skilled on the block as many of his peers, Okur does possess a truly rare combination of size and shooting range. His somewhat lackluster 07-08 season likely contributed to his fall in this draft, but Okur, still just 29, has many good seasons left in him.

Worst: Ronnie Brewer (1)
Dishonorable Mention: Corey Brewer (16), Nazr Mohammed (25)
Brewer assumed a greater role for the Jazz this past season, and endeared himself to many fantasy owners with his unusual blend of high FG% and steals. That being said, he has yet to distinguish himself in any one area at the NBA level, and there were far better options at pick number 91.

Round 5:

Best: Al Thornton (12)
Honorable Mention: Luis Scola (27), Drew Gooden (26)
Thornton was one of the few young talents who slipped out of the first few rounds. Although he struggled at times during his rookie season, he came on strong in the second half, averaging an impressive 16.0 points and 5.7 rebounds after the All-Star break. Still just 24 years old, Thornton has a bright future in the NBA, and should also be able to contribute immediately.

Worst: Shaquille O’Neal (8)
Dishonorable Mention: Jamario Moon (25), Ronny Turiaf (29)
The Diesel was one player that was particularly difficult to gauge the value of. He has a body of work unsurpassed by any other player in the draft with the possible exception of Duncan, and still, at times, can truly be a force to be reckoned with. On the other hand, he is 36 years old, has been bothered in recent years by a variety of ailments and his desire to continue to play is questionable. Given the great degree of uncertainty surrounding Shaq, this was too early to take him given the much surer bets still left on the board.

Round 6:

Best: Troy Murphy (29)
Honorable Mention: Trevor Ariza (10), Dorell Wright (13)
Murphy, a poor man’s Mehmet Okur, was great value at the end of the sixth round. Although he can be very streaky, his package of size, rebounding and outside shooting was too good to turn down this late in the draft. Enjoying a resurgence at age 28, Murphy should be playing at a high level for the better part of the next decade.

Worst: Eddy Curry (3)
Dishonorable Mention: Kenyon Martin (27), Sergio Rodriguez (17)
This is a painful writeup to do, as Curry, the third pick in Round 6, was my selection. In hindsight, I have little defense for the pick, and I chalk it up to temporary insanity. For those not well-versed in the failings of Curry (a quick search here at the Cafe can remedy that), the knock on Curry is that he does absolutely nothing well apart from score in the post. Given his size, his rebounding and block numbers are embarrassing, and the Cafe’s own Matt Buser, noting that Curry’s turnovers outnumbered his steals, blocks and assists combined, created the “Curry Line” to publicly shame him.

Round 7:

Best: Beno Udrih (6)
Honorable Mention: Matt Barnes (2), Leon Powe (7)
Udrih was a pleasant surprise for the Kings this year, stepping into a far greater role than he played with the Spurs, and performing admirably. He is not fabulous as a starting option, but he makes an excellent backup, and given T.J. Ford’s health, Udrih is an great option to add alongside him.

Worst: D.J. Strawberry (30)
Dishonorable Mention: Brevin Knight (16), Kwame Brown (18)
Strawberry, a second round pick of the Suns in 2007, was an accomplished player at Maryland, but his yet to show anything in the NBA that would merit this high a selection. Far more proven, and talented, players were left on the board at this point.

Round 8:

Best: Earl Watson (3)
Honorable Mention: J.R. Smith (9), Antonio Daniels (2)
As teams began to draft backups in the middle rounds, many accomplished veterans who can play significant minutes off the bench while mentoring young starters were taken. Watson, Luke Ridnour’s backup for several seasons in Seattle, is used to the reserve role, and should make the most of his somewhat limited minutes as Jose Calderon’s backup.

Worst: J.J. Redick (1)
Dishonorable Mention: Shannon Brown (8), Sebastian Telfair (28)
Redick, whose hype from his strong career at Duke translated into a lottery selection in 2006, has yet to pan out in the NBA. Somewhat undersized for the shooting guard possession, and lacking much of an offensive arsenal besides the jump shot that made him famous in college, Redick has struggled to find playing time. While Round 8 is an ideal time to take a shooter who can be instant offense off the bench, Redick has yet to prove that he can even fulfill this role.

Round 9:

Best: Jerry Stackhouse (27)
Honorable Mention: Chuck Hayes (16), Shaun Livingston (15)
Stackhouse has been around the block, but his recent tenure in Dallas has shown that he still has a lot left to offer. He is the prototypical shooter to have off the bench, and should provide solid veteran leadership as well. Although once a starter, and a star, he has gladly accepted a more limited role in recent years in order to help the Mavericks win.

Worst: Rod Benson (23)
Dishonorable Mention: Ronnie Price (11), Travis Diener (24)
Benson was a bit of an odd selection here. Although it was late in the draft, and both height and youth were at a premium throughout, Benson has given little indication that he’s ready to stick and be productive in the NBA. He is nearing 24 years old, is somewhat undersized for the center position, and failed to make the New Jersey Nets out of training camp last season.

Round 10:

Best: Quentin Richardson (28)
Honorable Mention: Matt Harpring (2), Willie Green (29)
Richardson was one of the few truly proven commodities that remained at this point in the draft. He is just 28 years old, and although maligned on terrible New York Knicks teams the past several seasons, he has the ability to be a strong scorer and rebounder from the small forward position. He is a good selection here.

Worst: Oleksiy Pecherov (22)
Dishonorable Mention: Steve Novak (1), Elton Brown (12)
Pecherov is one of the recent European selections who has not turned out so well. He seems to lack toughness, relying instead on the perimeter game that many Euro big men are proficient in. He has yet to have much success in any area, and although it is true that at just 22 years old he still has time to turn it around, I think there were better options here.

Round 11:

Best: Ramon Sessions (13)
Honorable Mention: Nick Young (8), Smush Parker (17)
Sessions largely slipped this far because he did not have his fabulous late season run with the Bucks until we were almost through with this draft. Had he broken out earlier, I think he would have been a solid mid-round selection as a high-upside backup point guard. His game is not flawless, as he has yet to develop a consistent jump shot, but given the ability he showed to run an offensive and distribute the basketball, he is an excellent pick this late in the draft.

Worst: James Augustine (20)
Dishonorable Mention: Mario West (23), Fran Vazquez (11)
Augustine, a former star at Illinois, has yet to have success at the NBA level. He was never valued particularly highly by NBA scouts (he was selected in the mid-2nd round of the 2006 NBA draft), and his play in the NBA has done nothing to change that assessment. Undersized for the center position, and already 24 years old, I do not think the future is particularly promising for Augustine.

Round 12:

Best: Mike James (26)
Honorable Mention: Adonal Foyle (24), Gerald Green (29)
Had this draft been conducted two years prior, James surely would have gone much, much higher. Although 32 years old, James is very capable performing in a backup role, and is a great value pick here.

Worst: Michael Ruffin (8)
Dishonorable Mention: Yakhouba Diawara (3), Brian Cook (10)
Most late round picks were young players with some shred of upside or veterans who have at one time played at a high level, but Ruffin was a conspicuous exception. 31 years old, he has done just enough to hang on in the NBA throughout his career, and has never been a distinguished player in any area. It is true, however, that when the talent pool is this thin, there really are not any terrible picks, and a selection like Ruffin is not going to make too much of a difference.

Nick Adams is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Nick in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of nebgib5.
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