ReviewApril 2, 2009

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Fantasy Basketball Cafe’s 2008-09 Fantasy Basketball Awards

By Aleksandar Jovanovic

The Writing Staff here at the Cafe was reinforced by some members of Cafe Response Team to determine this season’s Fantasy Basketball Awards. They voted on eight categories and I am presenting you with the results.

Before we proceed to handing out the hardware, there are several things that need to be noted. It seems like we say it every year, but this season really was one of the worst in recent history when it comes to injuries to relevant fantasy contributors. Brand, Amar’e, Iverson, A. Jefferson, Bynum, Redd, Biedrins, Bogut, Kaman, T. Chandler, Peja, Manu, Deng, Barbosa, McGrady, Nelson, Arenas, Ellis, Marvin Williams, Oden, J. Howard, Harris, J. Smith, Kev. Martin, Granger, Butler, J. O’Neal, Pietrus, Garnett and Dunleavy all missed and/or were slowed down by injuries for significant parts of the season. Of course in the absence of all of the stars, somebody had to get all those juicy stats so we had quite a few emerging players as well.

Determining which of those break-out players will continue to thrive and which will go back to mediocrity when all the stars come back will be the big question come next season’s fantasy drafts. Mike D’Antoni once again proved that he is the most fantasy friendly coach in the league by transforming the Knicks’ mediocre roster into a solid fantasy base. Don Nelson, on the other hand, in spite of his seemingly fantasy friendly system with weak defense and a lot of scoring, played mind games with his players and fantasy GMs all year (DeMarcus Nelson – remember him? – Harrington, Morrow, Belinelli, Randolph, Turiaf, Wright, C.J. Watson and now Crawford all randomly went from contributors to non-factors and back).

Finally, this year’s NBA rookie class proved to be one of the deepest in years so mangers in keeper leagues would do well to pay close attention to almost all of the guys who went in the first round, in addition to several second rounders as well.

Now we’re on to the Fantasy Basketball Cafe’s 2008-09 Fantasy Basketball Awards

Fantasy MVP
Usually the MVP award is the most glamorous award and is thus saved for last, but this year MVP race has been anything but exciting so I’m starting with that one. Every participant voted for 3 players (5 points for first, 3 points for second, and 1 point for third). Only 3 players received votes, which means that all the lists contained the same 3 names, most of them in this exact order:

Fantasy MVP:
1. Chris Paul (32 points)
2. LeBron James (24 points)
3. Dwyane Wade (16 points)

CP3 is having another magnificent season setting career highs across the board. He leads the league in assists and dominates the league in steals while shooting better than 50% from the field and 85% from the line. He helps in everything but blocks, which is hardly to be expected from a PG anyway. LBJ is also posting career best numbers in many categories, but his (improved) free throw shooting is the reason why he was a consensus runner up receiving all 8 second place votes as well, which is why he had no chance against CP3. If he can get his FT% above 80% he will be much closer to leapfrogging Paul. With Wade, it was never a question of ability, but rather of health. He made leaps in 3 very difficult cats this season, bringing TOs down by .9 while improving his 3-point shooting and most of all giving us unworldly 1.4 blocks per game from a PG. But most important of all, he missed just one game so far this season. His TOs still remain a little too high and his free throw shooting is on the wrong side of 80% as well so he’ll have to improve in those areas in order to challenge for MVP next year.

All-Rookie Team
This year’s class of rookies could prove to be one of the deepest in history. McGee, Jordan, Arthur, Thompson, Fernandez, Batum, Gallinari, Augustin, Bayless, Randolph, Speights, Mbah a Moute, Hibbert, Rush, Anderson, Lee, and Hill all showed enough promise to intrigue fantasy owners and I expect the majority of them to become solid fantasy contributors down the road, though none of them received votes this year. Also, there are lottery picks R. Lopez and Alexander who didn’t show much this year, but should not be dismissed after just one year in the league.

All-Rookie Team:
G O.J. Mayo (7/8)
G Eric Gordon (4/8)
C Marc Gasol (6/8)
F Brook Lopez (8/8)
F Kevin Love (7/8)

Other guys who received votes are a pair of rookie busts, at least when it comes to fantasy, Beasley, who was seen by many as only rookie ready to contribute big numbers straight away (some people even went so far as to call him better then Durant) who received 2 votes and Oden, who did nothing in his second season to shake injury-prone label earned after major knee surgery last year, with one vote. Westbrook and Chalmers received a vote each, while Rose missed out on sharing a spot with Gordon by one vote.

Rookie of the Year
Brook Lopez won this one in a landslide by getting 7 first place votes for a total of 35 points, 5 short of a maximum. In the distant second and third places were Mayo with 13 and Gordon with 12 points. Rose (8), Westbrook (3) and Gasol (1) also received votes for this award.

All-Bust Teams
This category is very hard to define. Different GMs treat injuries in different ways, some choose to disregard them completely and only focus on players who played and underperformed, while others tolerate certain amount of missed games from the injury-prone players. Also, not everyone agrees on who exactly is injury-prone. Arenas is a good example, some people in keeper leagues and those who drafted early see him as a huge bust, while others who drafted closer to the season didn’t even mention him in this category.

All-Bust First Team:
G Allen Iverson (22/24)
G Baron Davis (17/24)
C Chris Kaman (11/24)
F Elton Brand (24/24)
F Shawn Marion (13/24)

All-Bust Second Team:
G Josh Howard (6/24)
G Gilbert Arenas (6/24)
C Carlos Boozer (10/24)
F Rudy Gay (10/24)
F Josh Smith (9/24)

Other players receiving votes: Dunleavey, McGrady (5), C. Butler (4), T. Chandler, C. Anthony, M. Miller (3), Nash (2), Redd, Deng, Bogut, Kev. Martin, Artest, Oden, Amare (1).

Bust of the Year
Again, the winner was chosen almost unanimously, Brand received seven first place votes and one second place vote. The runner-up received more points then all players following him combined. Same goes for the player who placed third, which means that 3 biggest busts were very clear.

Bust of the Year:
1. Elton Brand (38/40)
2. Allen Iverson (17/40)
3. Gilbert Arenas (8/40)

Other players receiving votes B. Davis (4), Gay (2), Kaman, J. Smith, Marion (1).

All-Breakout Teams
This is another tricky category, similar to the NBA’s Most Improved award. Do you vote for guys whose numbers improved the most, or do you give it to those whose production increase has less to do with increased playing time and more with improved play? Who deserves it more, guys who weren’t even drafted but turned into solid starters or mid-round stars who made it into the superstardom?

All-Breakout First Team:
G Nate Robinson (18/24)
G Devin Harris (17/24)
C Troy Murphy (19/24)
F Kevin Durant (18/24)
F Nene Hilario (15/24)

All-Breakout Second Team:
G Jameer Nelson (13/24)
G Mo Williams (5/24)
C Andrea Bargnani (9/24)
F David Lee (8/24)
F Brook Lopez (8/24)

Charlie Villanueva and Paul Millsap received more votes than Mo Williams (7 and 6 respectively) but were left off of the second team due to positional requirements. Other players receiving votes: Rondo (4), J. Green, Roy (3), E. Gordon, Bibby, Shaq, Terry, Salmons, Delonte West, Al Harrington (1).

Most Improved Player
If you look at the results of the All-Breakout Teams voting you can see that the top 6 players were all within 6 points from each other and no one came too close to the maximum number of available points. This leads us to expect a close race for the title of Most Improved Player, but in reality 2 guys have blown away all competition and the player who finished 3rd in this race was only 7th in the all-breakout teams voting.

Most Improved Player:
1. Kevin Durant (27/40)
2. Troy Murphy (24/40)
3. Andrea Bargnani (6/40)

Other players receiving votes: Roy (4), Nelson, Nene, Robinson (3), Harris (2).

All-Fantasy Teams
Finally we come to the main event – recognizing the best of the best. Obviously CP3, LBJ and Wade all received the maximum of first team votes, but after that it becomes interesting. Some players who have good chance of being top 20 picks come next draft day such as D. Williams, David West, Calderon and Jose Johnson haven’t received a single vote. Al Jefferson would have received many more votes had he not been lost for the large number of games, including fantasy H2H playoffs.

All-Fantasy First Team
G Chris Paul (40/40)
G Dwyane Wade (40/40)
C Yao Ming (28/40)
F LeBron James (40/40)
F Kevin Durant/Dirk Nowitzki (30/40)

All-Fantasy Second Team
G Kobe Bryant (24/40)
G Jason Kidd (15/40)
C Troy Murphy (22/40)
F Pau Gasol (22/40)
F Denny Granger (23/40)

All-Fantasy Third Team
G Brandon Roy (13/40)
G Chauncey Billups (6/40)
C Chris Bosh (4/40)
F Kevin Garnett (5/40)
F Antawn Jamison (4/40)

Other players receiving votes: Al Jefferson, Gerald Wallace, Dwight Howard (3), Ray Allen (2), Amar’e Stoudemire, Devin Harris, Rashard Lewis (1).

I’ve decided to place both Durant and Dirk into first team because there was no way to break the tie, as they each received 3 first team votes and 5 second team votes, while 2 remaining first team votes went to Granger. The six members of the first team and Kobe and Gasol are the only 8 players who received points from all voters. Kobe received all 8 second team votes. Jason Kidd is aging like a fine wine. He will not be high on every GMs draft list next season, but nobody will dare underestimate you if you take him in the top 20 again this year.

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