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2011-12 Fantasy Basketball: Love-Hate

December 20, 2011

“Everybody’s doing it!”

No, that’s not what your stoner buddy from high school said. It’s what I’m saying about fantasy love-hate lists. Matthew Berry puts out one for football and baseball, and ESPN’s Brian McKitish just released his fantasy basketball love-hate list today. So I figured it was time for me to do my own.

If you’re not familiar with the love-hate premise, a quick primer: I’m going to list guys who I targeted or think are good values in fantasy basketball drafts in the “Love” part of the column. Then, I’m going to list guys who I didn’t target and/or feel represent bad value in fantasy drafts this season. Just because I “love,” say, Marcin Gortat doesn’t mean I’d take him before, say, Joakim Noah. It means I think you’ll get more bang for your buck from Gortat in the sixth round over Noah in the fourth.

A few guys I love this year:

Stephen Curry (Currently going 13th in ESPN drafts): Curry really didn’t improve upon his rookie year performance last year due to an ankle injury, but the results were outstanding nonetheless. He finished 10th on ESPN’s player rater, with sparkling percentages, and basically 19 points, six assists, four boards and 1.5 steals a game. His upside’s not that high, due to his sharing the backcourt with Monta Ellis, but he’s a virtual lock for at least percentages of 47/43/90 and a repeat of his counting stats from last year. He shouldn’t disappoint this year.

Pau Gasol (15): Gasol finished fifth on the player rater last year, and he’s very similar to Curry, in that both have very high floors, are consistent and shouldn’t disappoint this year. Especially in roto leagues, Gasol is a very valuable commodity with great percentages (80% FT) and elite assists totals from a big guy, with low turnovers.

Al Jefferson (19): Big Al had a quietly spectacular first year in Utah, posting Gasol-like percentages and 18.6/9.7 with 1.9 blocks. In the second half last year Jefferson went off for 21.5/11 with only 1.4 TO. In a roto league pairing Curry with Gasol/Jefferson in the first two rounds is a very smart and safe move.

David Lee (35): I like to target power forwards in my drafts, as you can tell with these last three guys being PFs. Lee got off to a rough start last year, his first with the Warriors, but rebounded – pun intended – nicely in the second half, after battling through a nagging elbow injury the first half. Lee posted his normal 17/10 with, again, great percentages and good steal/assist numbers from a PF. He’ll contribute across the board, just pair him with a shot-blocker.

Kyle Lowry (46): With Aaron Brooks now in Phoenix – check that, China – Lowry has the reigns of the Rockets’ offense. Lowry put up solid numbers all season last year but really took off in the second half: 16.8/4.6/7.3/1.1 steals with a better than 3:1 AST:TO. In 14 March games last year he averaged almost a 20/8/5, something that only Russell Westbrook and LeBron James came close to doing in 2010-11. Lowry’s surrounded by great shooters and his assists totals could be elite this year.

Ty Lawson (53): Lawson puts up great percentages, and took off in the second half last year, also: 50%/42/83 with 14 points, seven assists, 1.1 3s, 1.4 steals and only 2.1 TOs. I think those numbers are his floor this year, but add about two more points onto his per game totals. You’ve got a solid PG2 in the sixth round right there.

DeMarcus Cousins (54): The mercurial, young big man has his odds (43% FG, 3.3 TO) and his ends (14 and 9 post-ASB, with 3.8 assists, 1.3 steals and .9 blocks). But he’s got so much untapped potential he’s worth drafting. Surround him with reliable playmakers, like the guys listed above, and you can take a risk with Boogy. His counting stats from January-March last year were just outstanding, and I could see him going 17/10/3/1/1 this year.

Guys I Hate:

Kobe Bryant (13): Kobe’s going to be hit hard this year with the shortened schedule. He already took a bad bump in last night’s preseason game, and there are only more to come. Plus, he’s reportedly going through a divorce, which will only distract him. Also, his team is in turmoil, and his third-best teammate is Josh McRoberts. ‘Nuff. Said. He’ll miss Lamardashian more than he knows it; he’s already displayed disdain for the trade. His numbers fell off in last year’s second half, and he’s always getting bumps and bruises, which, again, will be magnified this year with the shortened schedule. I’d take any of the eight guys immediately following him in ADP before I took Bryant.

Eric Gordon (24): Gordon finished 16th on the player rater last year, posting 22. – wait, what? Sixteenth among shooting guards, you say? No way. Wait, you’re right. Wow. OK, that was too much like Matthew Berry, but whatever. Gordon’s a rich man’s Demar DeRozan. He scores a lot of points, but doesn’t do much else. His percentages are good, but not great, and in New Orleans he’ll be surrounded by teammates who aren’t very good offensively. Like a guy at a bar at 2 a.m. looking for someone to take home, it won’t be pretty. He’s going way ahead of where he should be just because he was the big name in the Chris Paul trade. Just take James Harden later in the draft.

Steve Nash (28): My feelings on point guard this year are this: Take one in the first and/or take one in the fifth and sixth. The top tier is great, but that second tier, including Nash and Rondo, is fairly overvalued. Nash’s numbers dropped off significantly in the second half last year, especially in points and the percentages. The only way Nash is a good pick is if you’re in a head-to-head league and are trying to dominate the percentages, threes, and assists, as he should at least provide passable numbers in those categories. Other than that, pass on Nash.

Andrew Bynum (41): How am I supposed to count on Bynum in a shortened season with back-to-back-to-backs, when he can’t stay healthy in a regular regular season, on normal rest? He’s only played more than 65 games once in a season, and he’s suspended the first five games of this season. He only positively contributed to blocks, FG% and rebounds, also. Take Javale McGee at least a round later and you can get the same numbers.

Tim Duncan (67): Duncan will probably put up his normal good numbers again, but in a H2H league you need consistent production and chances are that Duncan will sit several games this year to keep him fresh for the playoffs. He experienced across-the-board drops in his stats last year, including minutes per game (28), the lowest of his career. He’ll be efficient, but his name has more attached value than actual value.

DeMar DeRozan (74): It’s possible DeRozan takes that leap between his second and third seasons, but I didn’t see any progression in the second half last year. People will get excited to draft him because of his points, but you can get points off the waiver wire easily during the season. What you need in the later rounds is to fill your other categories, and DD really doesn’t help in any other counting stats.

David Stern (undrafted, because nobody wants him): Just retire, please.

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