OpinionOctober 23, 2009

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Pick n’ Roll – Preseason Redux - 3 comments

By Adam Laforet

Anyone for seconds? Every week, Pick n’ Roll will be hitting you up with a list of what’s new, puzzling, or downright exciting in the wide world of fantasy hoops. Our second installment features continuing coverage of preseason action and what it may mean for your drafts and early waiver wire targets.

The end is nigh! Preseason is almost over and the start of the regular season is right around the corner. That means that a lot of coaches are getting closer to using rotations that might, at least in a dim light, be mistaken for regular season rotations. Not all coaches of course, and the late preseason still needs to be taken with a big ol’ grain of salt. I’m going flash a few new faces here, and roll out some updates on players covered last week. Moving right along …

The sky is falling in Minnesota. There might even be brimstone involved. Kevin Love is out with a broken hand and now Big Al has some sort of mysterious Achilles ailment. The Wolves did not need these complications. With Love out I’d give Gomes a gentle nudge up your draft boards, and in deeper leagues you can gamble on one of Pecherov or Hollins if you’re desperate for help in the middle. Don’t expect any miracles though, neither guys is all that likely to do much beyond take up a perfectly good roster spot. If I had to pick I’d try Pecherov on for size (especially after last nights 20-10 outing). The Wolves have also just traded for Nathan Jawai, but that’s like trying save the Titanic with band-aid, and I don’t expect this band-aid to help patch up any fantasy teams.

Speaking of Minnesota, there is some good news in for fantasy buffs. Corey Brewer is getting a ton of burn with the starting unit there, and at this point I expect him to be the opening night starter at SG. In 23 minutes of preseason action he’s averaging a hum-drum 14 and 4, but with a very perky 1.8 steals. He also blocks a few more shots than your average SG, so I’d peg him as a solid late round pick up for the defensive cats. He’s also hitting a surprising number of threes, and if he can keep that and his minutes up he may end up as a very solid late draft steal.

Joey Graham has been suggested as the starter at SG for Denver in place of the suspended J.R. Smith. This hasn’t been fantasy headlines because Joey’s probably not good enough to matter, and it’s only for seven games. Keep and eye on him though, since Denver is casting around for a primary reserve at SF as well, because if he can stick that role he may retain some minor value in deeper leagues.

The small forward spot in Portland is a Mike Vick style dogfight. Nick Batum, Travis Outlaw, and Martell Webster are all in the mix for minutes, and none of them really stand out as obvious winners. I’m going to call this an ugly timeshare for now. Draft one of them as a gamble if you must, but mostly I’d wait and see. With Webster it’s probably it’s more wait than see to start. He’s shooting more accurately than the Iraqi Republican Guard so far, but that’s not saying much — so does Stevie Wonder.

In breaking news DJ Mbenga blocked 7 shots in last night’s game against the Nuggets. In other news it will probably take him until the All-Star break to match that total in the regular season.

Tyreke Evans looks like the real deal in Sacramento. He’s averaging 16 and 6.5 with 6 dimes over his last 4 games (prior to Thursday’s game). Even for preseason those are huge numbers for a rookie. The coaching staff has suggested that he may see time at all three wing slots, so he’s going to get the chance to shine. I’d bump him up your draft board a little bit at least, and maybe a bit more if your league doesn’t count turnovers. Tyreke’s averaged 3.8 TOs a game over that same four-game stretch, so you’ll have to take the good with the bad. *Update* His game last evening was underwhelming, but it was the Omri Casspi and Sergio Rodriguez show, so no worries – I think the coaching staff has seen what they need to from Tyreke.

All hail Elton Brand. Over the last four games Elton has averaged a monster line of 4.6 points, 5 boards and zero blocks. I can see that the experiment with Jordan’s offense is going swimmingly well. I’d imagine that Brand will bounce back for the regular season, but these kinds of performances don’t inspire confidence. If I’m a Brand owner I’m not jumping out of any windows yet, but I am on the phone with the glass company asking some probing questions about pounds per square inch.

Chuck Hayes seems to have cemented himself in as the starter at C for the Rockets. I’ll admit that 6′6″ starting centers don’t really turn my crank, but he could be a solid Reb-Stl guy in deep leagues. David Andersen has looked like euro-trash for the most part, and while he’s had a couple of alright games I think I’ll leave this Aussie import on the shelf for the time being.

Anthony Morrow isn’t really a sleeper at this point, but if you don’t have him on your list of guards to draft to your bench then you should. He’s averaging 20 points a game in preseason action, and we all know how much Nellie loves to ride a hot shooter. He’s scored more than 30 points three times in the preseason, and broken 20 in three more games, with huge three ball production and decent peripherals.

Updates on last week’s Pn’R

The Blake Griffin watch continues, with the alert upgraded to a sort of orangey-red. Griffin has been very good for the Clips in subsequent games. Draft with confidence, but mind the FT%.

Brandon Jennings has gotten a scope for that rifle I was ridiculing. His minutes have been up and he’s shot the ball a lot better in the last couple of games. Averaging 13 and 9 there over the past three isn’t going to hurt his draft stock any either. Coach Scott Skiles has also changed his tune on the starting role to “not knowing who’s going to start” (which is good news for Jennings).

DeJuan Blair still looks beastly for the Spurs. It may take him time to work his way into the rotation, but he’ll get there.

That’s all for now folks. I’ll be back in a week for the regular season.

Adam Laforet is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Adam in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Fenris-77.
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Pick n’ Roll – Preseason Palaver by Adam Laforet (posted on 10/16/2009 in Articles)
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3 Responses to “Pick n’ Roll – Preseason Redux”

  1. User avatar LMack says:

    Good read. Couple of questions about DeJuan Blair though. I’m excited about him as a basketball player, but a little skeptical about him as a fantasy basketball player.
    Will Blair’s playing time be legitimate? How deep does a league have to be to make owning him worthwhile? Also, the points and boards are nice, but doesn’t an abysmal FT% and lack of blocks take some of the shine off the apple?

  2. User avatar Fenris-77 says:

    Keep in mind we’re talking about a last round flier here. If he gets minutes he’ll be good for the traditional FG%/Reb/Pts troika, plus it seems his steals are more than good enough to prop up his lack of blocks. He’s in the Boozer-Scola non-shotblocking big mold, which is fine.

    Right now I think you need to be in a bigger league or be in a games limit situation in order to roster him though. Otherwise stick him at the top of the watch list, since I don’t expect him to have legit minutes out of the gate but I expect them to climb as the season progresses.

  3. plonden says:

    Another nice column, Fenris.

    The DeJuan Blair argument is an interesting one but one thing is clear to me. He has shown himself to have a big impact in limited minutes, which is promising enough for me to keep a watchful eye on him. Also, in deep formats he could make for a decent handcuff with Tim Duncan, as he should be huge when Duncan rests or gets injured.


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