Case for Amare(DVauthrin):
No Shaq. The Seven-Seconds-or-Less brand of basketball is back. Yet, people still are hesitant when it comes to taking Amare over Al Jefferson. Yes, I know Amare’s retina could sideline him at any time, but it’s not like Jefferson is going to be a bionic man after knee surgery either. Plus, Amare has Steve Nash feeding him the rock and Jefferson doesn’t. That means easier scoring opportunities for Amare. Therefore, I like Amare to outperform Jefferson in points and field goal percentage. Then, after realizing Amare is a rare center eligible player that makes over 80% of his free throws, it’s an easy call if you ask me. Go with STAT and don’t look back.
Case Against Amare(RedHopeful):
Simple – the Suns don’t have confidence in him so neither should you. First, there were a lot of whispers the Suns were trying to move him prior to the draft. Second, they have specifically said they want to evaluate him this season before giving him any extension. Now why would a team be looking to move a young stud like him when he is such a perfect fit for their offensive strategy?
Easy – his repaired eye scares the bejesus out of management. If you do some research regarding detached retina’s, you’ll quickly notice how many people never regain vision like before (Amare has to wear contact lenses for 20/20 vision). Moreover, quite a few suffer a relapse. Doctors have stated that constant jarring head movements should be avoided. Playing in the paint for 82 games + playoffs + practices sure sound contrary to the aforementioned professional advice. Even though his upside is crazy good (think 2 years ago), with just a single elbow, slap or head butt his season (maybe career?) could be over. Consequently, so would many fantasy teams who decided to make him their first pick in their drafts.
Case for Jefferson(RedHopeful):
Unlike Amare’s dubious injury, Al Jefferson suffered an ACL tear, of which 98% are able to return to sports. For instance, Baron Davis, Nene Hilario and Al Harrington have all torn their ACL’s but still have come back to have very productive careers. Jefferson has recently stated his knee is 95% and he expects to be ready to start the season. Witnesses have been pleasantly surprised to see he’s already playing 5 on 5 displaying a number of spins and other quick movements. Remember, his game doesn’t rely on amazing athleticism, but rather, positioning, footwork and strength.
Another element in his favor is his weight. Jefferson has lost a whopping 31 pounds this off season. By eliminating that additional pressure, he should be able to ensure he won’t suffer a relapse. In addition, this new found svelteness should help him get some easier looks in Rambis’ new uptempo offense.
Case against Jefferson(DVauthrin):
Both players are high risk, high reward picks in the first round. With that in mind, give me the player with the greater upside. Unless Jefferson, a career 70% free throw shooter, magically starts making more than 80% of his free throws, he doesn’t have the ability to crack the top three in fantasy value. Conversely, Stoudemire was being taken in the top three prior to last season. Considering you are taking either of these players at the back end of the first round, I advocate swinging for the fences in an attempt to give yourself a better chance to win your league. Jefferson doesn’t have “homerun” upside; Amare does.
Furthermore, just ask Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas how easy it is to come back from any type of knee surgery. Jefferson could just as easily start losing cartilage in his surgically repaired knee as Amare(wearing goggles or a mask) could take another shot to his retina. Finally, Jefferson doesn’t get to be the primary beneficiary of Steve Nash’s brilliance. Ramon Sessions isn’t a bad playmaker in his own right, but he’s no Steve Nash.
David Vauthrin is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. A native of Houston, Texas, David Vauthrin is a diehard Rockets fan. Having graduated with a degree in journalism from UT-Austin, it is believed his blood is not red, but rather burnt orange. Oleh Kosel is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. He is a native Australian who left the Outback long ago simply because the NBA was half way around the world. You can catch up with Oleh in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of RedHopeful.
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