StrategyOctober 20, 2007

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Rounding ‘Em Up: Blast From the Past

By jphanned

The 2006-2007 season was highlighted by a long list of early round draft picks turning in disappointing performances, sending fantasy managers back to the drawing board and to the waiver wire in search of alternative options. As much as some of us would like to forget these players who burned us last year, we simply cannot overlook them. As we prepare for our drafts this upcoming season, I will examine several of these notable ‘busts’ by evaluating their current status and outlook for next season.

Note that in this article I will be focusing more on cumulative value instead of per game value; cumulative value ranks players based on their total end of season statistics while per game value ranks players based on their average statistics. The reason for this is because many of these players have injury concerns and you will not be getting the bang for your buck if they are injured for a significant portion of the season. Keep in mind that the magic number was 72 games last season – if a player played exactly 72 games, then his cumulative value was nearly equivalent to his per game value. If he played more than 72 games, then his cumulative value was greater than his per game value, and vice versa. More emphasis on per game value should be placed in rotisserie scoring leagues, while more emphasis on cumulative value should be placed in head-to-head scoring leagues.
Morris Peterson (GF – New Orleans Hornets):
‘05-’06 Cumulative Ranking – 32
‘06-’07 Cumulative Ranking – 173
Reason for decline in value – 17 less minutes per game and moved to the bench; addition of Anthony Parker, Andrea Bargnani, and Jorge Garbajosa.
Latest News – Morris Peterson was 0-of-4 and failed to score a point in Friday’s preseason win.
Peterson was averaging just 6.3 points per game coming in and the rest of his numbers weren’t much better. He’s been outclassed by Bobby Jackson and it’s possible that Peterson could end up being the sixth man on opening night. We still think Peterson is going to have some nice value this season, but he’s not worth spending a high draft pick on. (Rotoworld – 10/20)
Outlook – With the loss of Desmond Mason and Devin Brown to free agency, Mo Pete will not have much competition for playing time as he did last year. If he plays up to his potential and is not outdueled by Bobby Jackson, he should definitely be able to average at least 30 minutes per game with the possibility for 35+. Playing alongside high volume 3-point shooters in Peja Stojakovic and Rasual Butler will make it difficult for him to surpass the 2 3PTM mark he eclipsed two seasons ago, but I see no reason why he can’t hover above 1.5. His FT% took an abnormal dip to 68% last season and should normalize back to his career average of 78%. The probability of an uptick in production is there as well since we can expect Peja Stojakovic to miss a fair amount of games next season due to injury.
Average Draft Position – 106
Projected Per Game Value – 8th round
Projected Cumulative Value – 7th round
Richard Jefferson (SF – New Jersey Nets):
‘05-’06 Cumulative Ranking – 33
‘06-’07 Cumulative Ranking – 207
Reason for decline in value – Severe left ankle sprain and midseason right ankle surgery.
Latest News – Richard Jefferson is said to have completely recovered from the ankle surgery he underwent during the middle of last season. Jefferson played pretty well down the stretch and in the playoffs last season, but also said he wouldn’t be fully healed until he was able to rest over the summer. If he can avoid injury this season, he could return to his stellar form of two seasons ago, making him a solid sleeper pick in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts this year. (New York Daily News – 9/24)
Outlook – Looking at the log of Jefferson’s injury updates over the course of last season made me cringe. He seemingly could not go more than a week without having an issue with one of his ankles. This ongoing injury problem definitely slowed him down in the games that he played, and his performance this season will depend on it. The opportunity will be there for him to bounce back on a per game basis but I’m not willing to rely on those ankles of his. I could easily see him missing more than 15 games.
Average Draft Position – 93
Projected Per Game Value Range – 7th round
Projected Cumulative Value Range – 8th round
Andrei Kirilenko (F – Utah Jazz):
‘05-’06 Cumulative Ranking – 21
‘06-’07 Cumulative Ranking – 82
Reason for decline in value – Shift over to small forward and emergence of Paul Millsap; unhappy with being the team’s fourth scoring option; questionable work ethic and lack of confidence.
Latest News – Andrei Kirilenko’s preseason stats are looking up, as are his attitude and role with the Jazz. He’s even earning praise from coach Jerry Sloan. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him as comfortable as he is right now,” he said of Kirilenko. “He’s trying to pass the ball, rebound the ball, defend, block shots – That’s pretty much his whole picture.” AK has been filling the stat sheet this month and it’s looking like the pieces are falling into place for him to make a strong comeback. He’ll likely fall to the middle rounds in your draft, but don’t be afraid to gamble on him a little early if you like what you see. (Deseret News – 10/15)
Outlook – You could go on and on about the possible reasons why AK47 flopped, but the major issues were the health of Carlos Boozer and the emergence of rookie Paul Millsap. With Boozer healthy and locked in at power forward, Kirilenko is forced to slide over to the small forward position. Playing small forward is a terrible fit for AK47 because it limits the best part of his game – his rebounding and blocking abilities. He is relegated to the perimeter and forced to rely on his subpar jumper instead of creating assists or scoring opportunities for himself off the dribble. And even if Boozer goes down with an injury, Millsap will just step in and fill in the void at PF. As long as Kirilenko is playing small forward you can kiss those top-25 days goodbye.
Average Draft Position – 63
Projected Per Game Value Range – 5th round
Projected Cumulative Value Range – 6th round
Peja Stojakovic (GF – New Orleans Hornets):
‘05-’06 Cumulative Ranking – 49
‘06-’07 Cumulative Ranking – 319
Reason for decline in value – Only played 13 games because of back surgery.
Latest News – Peja Stojakovic did not play in Friday night’s preseason game against the Miami Heat due to a back injury. Stojakovic played only four minutes in Monday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers after complaining of muscle stiffness in his lower back. “I’m going to rest him one more day, then we’ll resume plans,” coach Byron Scott said. “You know, it’s not unusual, although people are going to think it is. I’ve given Bobby Jackson a game, Tyson Chandler.” He hasn’t really played in a year and left his last game with a stiff back. That is a huge red flag in our eyes. He could end up being an excellent value pick, or he could end up sitting out most of the season (again) with his ongoing back problem. (New Orleans Times-Picayune – 10/20)
Outlook – I’m expecting more of the same from Peja for this season – a ton of DNP’s. Back injuries tend to linger, and he has not shown any sort of significant progress this off-season to convince us otherwise. At this point don’t consider him much more than a late round flier.
Average Draft Position – 88
Projected Per Game Value Range – 7th round
Projected Cumulative Value Range – 12th round
Boris Diaw (FC – Phoenix Suns):
‘05-’06 Cumulative Ranking – 30
‘06-’07 Cumulative Ranking – 145
Reason for decline in value – Reported to training camp fat and out of shape; nagging back injury during the second half of the season.
Latest News – Boris Diaw went on a rigorous training program over the summer and is in much better shape than he was last season. “All summer, I thought about how the season didn’t go as I wanted,” Diaw said. “Wherever I was, basketball always stayed in my head, and I would think about what I could do to improve and get the team better. I took about a month off (after the season). After that, it was time to get going.” Expect Diaw to make a nice comeback this year, and consider taking him as a late-round sleeper. (East Valley Tribune – 10/3)
Outlook – Diaw has really committed himself this off-season and a bounce back season looks to be in store. With the departure of Kurt Thomas, his versatility should only add to his value. Expect him to fly under the radar come draft day and turn a few heads this season.
Average Draft Position – 96
Projected Per Game Value Range – 9th round
Projected Cumulative Value Range – 9th round
Brad Miller (C – Sacramento Kings):
‘05-’06 Cumulative Ranking – 23
‘06-’07 Cumulative Ranking – 162
Reason for decline in value – Lingering plantar fasciitis and partially torn fascia in left foot.
Latest News – Kings’ center Brad Miller displayed his versatility tonight, finishing 26 minutes of play with 13 points, 1 three, 8-of-8 free-throws, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, and 1 turnover. Miller dropped some weight over the summer and has looked like a new man this preseason, we’ve even had a cornrow sighting. When Miller gets cooking he is a multi-category monster who won’t hurt you in FT% and can chip in some threes. Needless to say, he is a rare center and should be a sneaky value draft choice. If you see him in the middle rounds and need a center, snag him while you can. (Rotoworld – 10/19)
Outlook – After spending two seasons as an assistant to Rick Pitino at Louisville and as the head coach at New Mexico State, Reggie Theus will take over as the head coach in Sacramento. Theus will employ an up-tempo style of offense that will emphasize the fast break and three-point shooting. This is bad news for Brad Miller, as he will be asked to run more than he is used to and may lose playing time to more athletic frontcourt options in Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Mikki Moore. You can’t think that all that running will be good for his foot problems either. Be cautiously optimistic and temper your expectations for him this season.
Average Draft Position – 98
Projected Per Game Value Range – 9th round
Projected Cumulative Value Range – 10th round

Justin Phan is an aspiring sportswriter and one of the Cafe's recognized fantasy experts. Catch up with Justin, who posts as Rounders Block, and many other great minds at the Cafe's forums.
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