StrategyNovember 14, 2007

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The Throw-In

By abe chong

You’ve been there: You’re trading with a fellow GM and have been haggling for God knows how long, and it’s almost about to go down when he asks you to throw in one of your lesser named role players. Succumbing to frustration and exhaustion, you agree to throw in said player and the trigger is pulled. Said player goes on to blow up on other GM’s squad. You pull out your hair in frustration every time you look at your team because of what it could’ve looked like if you still had said player. Never underestimate the importance of the throw-in, also known as a sweetener. Last year I snagged Leandro Barbosa as a throw-in to a minor trade, and the owner has hated me ever since.

Throw-ins are usually waiver wire pickups, last round picks, or players that are severely underperforming, so they may be underappreciated by their owners. It’s simple, if you’ve got the following guys, don’t throw-em in. If you don’t, then try to pull a fast one on their owners.

Martell Webster – I’m a little biased towards Webster because I took him with the last pick in the majority of my leagues. While Travis Outlaw got most of the preseason hype, Webster was named starter and has filled a crucial need as a long range shooter. As long as his jumper falls, he’ll get starter’s minutes. Here’s why: Webster was the sixth overall pick by the Blazers in 2005, making him a 3rd year veteran of the NBA. He’s not yet 21, and has good size and athleticism while possessing a gorgeous jumper that’s got range out to the 3-point line. You can bet the Blazers are committed to giving their high draft pick a good look. He’s been getting 30+ minutes per game, good percentages from a guard, solid three numbers, and decent point totals, but little else. If you’ve seen him play it’s not too much to hope that as he keeps developing, his size and athleticism will translate into better overall numbers. He’ll have an extremely productive year (think MoPete 2005-06), and you’ll be glad to have him on your rosters.

Mike Dunleavy – As much as I hate this guy (hardcore Warriors fan here), I will grudgingly admit that he seems to fit Jim O’Brien’s system. He’s averaging 18 points, 7.3 rpg, 2.7 dimes, and most importantly, 33+ minutes in 6 games so far. Where was all this when we drafted you 3rd overall in 2002, Mikey? Huh? Huh? OVER Amare Stoudamire and Caron Butler. Care to answer, Mike-o? And then paid you more than 8 million a year to stink for five straight years. Where was all this then? Yeah. I don’t see much threat to his playing time so keep expecting heavy minutes and the opportunity to produce. He’s been known to have flashes in the pan before, but in this new system with his new coach’s blessing, things seem to be falling place for Dunleavy. Get him as a throw-in, and some poor sap will know he’s been robbed come season’s end.

Theo Ratliff – This is a “blocks only” throw-in in deeper leagues. But you will get A LOT of blocks. If there’s one thing that Ratliff can do, besides get injured and miss entire seasons, it’s block shots. With Mark Blount shipped off to South Beach, Ratliff is the only true center on the Wolves’ roster. While I know many expect a total youth movement in Minnesota, Ratliff should be given consistent minutes to make an impact as his veteran role and defensive presence still gives the Timberwolves the best chance to win on a daily bases. And I’m pretty sure that the Wolves at least kind of care about their record. Al Jefferson will hoard the rebounds and provide low post scoring, so he’s not needed for much else besides defense and blocks. Through 4 games, he’s averaging 30 minutes and 3.5 blocks. Pad your blocks and try to sneak him onto your squad.

PS. I read a mailbag once where a reader proposed that Theo Ratliff’s basketball card, fantasy profile, and even his jersey should be changed to “Theo Ratliff’s Expiring Contract”. Hilarious.

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