OpinionJanuary 21, 2008

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Junkyard Dogs

By Tim Pernini

I’d like to take this opportunity to pay some respect to the Junkyard Dogs of the fantasy basketball world. So what’s a Junkyard Dog, or “JD”, you ask? A JD cleans up the scraps after all the other big dogs have had their fill.

A JD is a guy who has fantasy relevance at least partially because he scores without trying; a player who puts the biscuit in the basket without much effort. He likely makes more significant fantasy contributions in other categories, but we’re talking scoring here. A JD might be a 3-point specialist, or a big man who crashes the offensive boards, or a heady player who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. On occasion a JD will be a major fantasy factor, but usually they are late round draft picks or midseason pick-ups. Such as a former star who’s game has declined or a future star who’s skills still need refinement.

A JD is not generally a player who can create his own shot, or at least is not asked to often. You don’t envision a JD with the ball in his hands and five seconds on the shot clock. A coach doesn’t run plays with the intent of his JD scoring, but the JD often reaps the benefits of the other guys on his team who create offense. Think of the defensive specialist who happens to be athletic enough to score on broken plays. Think of the rebounding bruiser who cleans the offensive glass. Think anybody who plays with Steve Nash. Think Steve Kerr.

I give you my 2007-2008 midseason JDs…

10. Ryan Gomes, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves, 11.0 ppg

At 14.9 ppg over the last month, they’ve finally realized in Minnesota that Gomes should be getting starter’s minutes on a regular basis. A very smart player, Gomes does all the things you’d expect out of a JD. He’s the kind of player who could spend his career on the JD list.

9. Michael Finley, SG, San Antonio Spurs, 10.2 ppg

There was a time when Finley would not be eligible for this list, but those days are gone. Finley has adjusted his game nicely: from high flying one-on-one scorer to a jump shooting role player.

8. David Lee, PF, New York Knicks, 9.5 ppg

The epitome of heart and hustle, this JD combines board crashing with heady play near the basket. His number doesn’t get called… ever. Yet he gets his numbers.

7. Linas Kleiza, SF, Denver Nuggets, 11.1 ppg

Young Linas is developing nicely for the Nuggets. Now if Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony passed out of double teams a few more times a game, Kleiza’s spot on this list would be locked in for the foreseeable future.

6. Travis Outlaw, PF, Portland Trail Blazers, 12.6 ppg

The young guns in Portland are making noise. With defenses’ attention on Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, Outlaw is using his size and athleticism to devour a variety of junk baskets. If his potential continues to blossom as fast as it has, he may skyrocket off of the JD list.

5. Daniel Gibson, PG/SG, Cleveland Cavaliers, 12.4 ppg

Gibson is the ultimate 3-point specialist. Send his defender to double Lebron James and pay the price: three in the hole.

4. Ronnie Brewer, SG, Utah Jazz, 12.2 ppg

While this youngster is still refining his game, his defensive prowess has earned him plenty of minutes to make use of his athleticism for lots of junk buckets.

3. Andrei Kirilenko, SF, Utah Jazz, 11.5 ppg

AK-47 looks like himself again. Like Brewer, he’s not on the floor in Utah for his scoring. But with limited shot attempts playing with Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams, and Mehmet “I never met a shot I didn’t like” Okur, he’s still able to score because of spot-up shooting and smart play. I wonder if Okur’s teammates actually call him “Mehmet”.

2. Tayshaun Prince, SF, Detroit Pistons, 12.9 ppg

Although Prince is capable of creating his own shot against most defenders, he is rarely asked to do this in the Pistons’ offense. Prince rates high as a JD because of his spot-up shooting and heady play that leads to baskets, much like Kirilenko.

1. Shawn Marion, SF, Phoenix Suns, 16.2 ppg

The top selection is controversial, no doubt. On most teams Marion would be the top scoring option, and therefore relied upon to create shots for himself and his team. He certainly is athletic and skilled enough to do this. But in his current role with the Suns, he is the ultimate JD. He combines all the attributes of a standout JD: spot-up shooting, points off of offensive boards, and timely cuts to the basket. Besides, it would be hard to argue against having any Suns player on this list besides Nash and Amare Stoudemire. What’s that? You want to send Marion’s defender to help guard a Nash/Amare pick and roll? Junk bucket for Marion, thank you very much.

Honorable Mention:

Shane Battier, SF, Houston Rockets, 8.3 ppg

It’s tough to beat Battier’s combination of JD skills. He’s a smart player who consistently positions himself on the floor for open shots, whether they’re layups off of cuts to the basket, offensive put backs, or spot-up jumpers. His game is the perfect compliment to Yao Ming’s skills. Battier is another lifelong JD list-type player, but his slow start this season has caused his scoring (career 10.3 ppg) to drop just enough to keep him off the list.

Kyle Korver, SG, Utah Jazz, 9.9 ppg

It was difficult keeping Kyle Kutcher off the list. He’s a spot-up extraordinaire. If his role grows with the Jazz, he’ll be in with the JD elite.

Juan Carlos Navarro, SG, Memphis Grizzlies, 10.9 ppg

Like Korver, a more consistent role in Memphis would solidify his JD status. But that could be tough playing with so many talented young players.

Luke Walton, SF, Los Angeles Lakers, 7.6 ppg

Walton is struggling to match last year’s scoring numbers due to inconsistent minutes.

Jason Kapono, SG, Toronto Raptors, 8.6 ppg

Again, limited playing time keeps this 3-point assassin off the list.

Mike Dunleavy, SF, Indiana Pacers, 17.4 ppg

Quick – name the Pacers’ leading scorer. If you said Jeff Foster, I’d like to play in a fantasy league with you and offer you lots of one-sided trades. Yes, the answer is Dunleavy. Simply put, his smart play leads to lots of easy scoring opportunities. But the fact that he’s developed into his team’s top scoring option essentially disallows him from being on the list.

The Junkyard Dog list is obviously highly subjective. So if you’ve got a favorite JD that I missed, make a case for him.


Tim is a long time fantasy sports enthusiast and Boston area sports fan. Tim enjoys Italian food and long walks on the beach, and he thinks Bird was better than Jordan. Tim welcomes reader feedback. Catch up with him in the Cafe forums where he posts as tbones2.
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