Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Ball Street Journal

OJ Mayo: Mayo has been very impressive thus far in the preseason. He hit six triples in one game which indicates he will be given plenty of opportunities to make shots from distance. This goes without saying, but Mayo chucking triples will hurt his field goal percentage so if you‘re going to draft guys like Bibby, Kidd, Crawford, Alston, or Carter you might want to steer clear (unless you‘re punting). Mayo got to the rack at will as a Trojan, so he should be able to keep his percentage in the neighborhood of 45-percent.
Mayo continued his torrid preseason Tuesday night with a 28-5-5 line with two steals and two triples. He also shot the ball eight times from distance and was still able to manage a 12-for-22 shooting night. Mayo is among one of the best young one-two-three combos in the league with Rudy Gay and Mike Conley Jr, so he would be an excellent keeper selection. He will have to compete with Marko Jaric and Kyle Lowry in the backcourt this season, but once he grasps the offense he should be able to get 15 PPG in about 30 minutes. Please note that I didn’t make a Mayo joke, but I’m sure you’ll hear them all by season’s end.

Kevin Martin: It is kind of difficult for a number one scoring option to gain value in the preseason, but Kid Mart has looked fantastic in October. Martin was involved enough last season with Ron Artest and Mike Bibby on the team and their departure could lead to Martin having the ball in his hands comparable to Kobe Bryant. Martin scored 27 points in the first half of last Wednesday night’s affair.
While the Kings were missing Artest and Bibby in the beginning of the last season, Martin was a top-20 option for eight category leagues for a long stretch. Brad Miller and John Salmons are pretty much the only other offensive options in Sacramento and Kid Mart should be among league leaders for scoring. Don’t let the low-top sneakers fool you, Kevin brings a big fantasy game.

Kenyon Martin: The Blue Light Special is apparently powder blue this year. Kenyon Martin has looked solid for the Nuggets this month. Martin has exhibited plenty of hustle this preseason, and with the Camby giveaway he has ample opportunity to get on the court and fill several categories for your fantasy team. Unfortunately, Martin hasn’t been the healthiest of Bearcats lately, but neither has Nene and chances are whichever player goes down the other’s stock should increase exponentially.

Brook Lopez: Lopez slipped in the draft to 10th, and probably couldn’t have gone to a worse team for fantasy purposes. The Nets are loaded in the frontcourt and Lopez will need to fight with Yi Jianlian, Sean Williams, and Josh Boone for significant minutes. Fortunately, he is the best rebounding big of the bunch, but he will need to work on his offensive game to contribute on a regular basis. If you need boards and blocks dipping into the well (or Brook) late in the draft might not be too crazy.

Thaddeus Young: The Sixers made one of the biggest splashes this year in adding Elton Brand. You’d think that Brand would hurt Young’s value, but the opposite might be true. Young will be playing the three and having AI2 and Andre Miller at the guard positions should create some spacing for him to get easy shots. The Sixers have Brand and Dalembert down low which will help Young on both ends. He will be able to take more chances on D, and he will have more open looks from deep due to the doubles that Brand will be attracting from the opposition.

Andrea Bargnani: I know you’ve heard this song and dance before, but once again he looks like a bargain-ani late in drafts. He scored 19 points, grabbed seven boards, and even blocked three shots in the Nugget game on Tuesday. The blocks are likely an aberration since he blocked three shots in only three games last year. He is going to need a lot of minutes in that offense to be productive. His minutes went down from 25.1 in his rookie campaign to 23.9 last year. He has been scoring throughout the preseason and expecting 15 points with some triples and boards wouldn’t be too lofty. Some players have taken three years to emerge though. He drew comparisons to Dirk when he was drafted, and Dirk took three years to hit the 20 PPG mark. Toronto is very deep, but there’s a good chance that Bargnani, a former number one overall pick, will get more PT than Jamario Moon or Anthony Parker. Furthermore, If Jermaine O’Neal can’t stay healthy Bargnani could get 30-plus minutes at the four.

Udonis Haslem: Jamaal Magloire’s injury has really given Haslem a chance to contribute for the Heat once again. Haslem scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 38 minutes in Tuesday's game. Haslem also added a 16-11 line in 34 minutes on Saturday, too. He won’t get a chance to start from his natural position at the four, but he has been playing the five alongside of Marion and Beasley. Marion might also get traded and Haslem will have more opportunities to get more fantasy stats. You could certainly do worse after pick 100.


Steve Nash: Nash sprained his ankle in his last Wednesday night's contest. The sprain is not considered to be serious, but that’s just one of the concerns for Nash this year. There has been talk that the Canadian’s minutes might fly south for the winter to make sure he‘s ready for the playoffs. Head Coach Terry Porter would like to limit him since there was some concern that he wore down towards the end of the season. Nash had 19.6 PPG in November and only 11.9 in April with every other month‘s total falling in between.
The Seven Second Offense is longer under the hot Phoenix sun. However, don’t be overly concerned since Nash was productive in other offenses with a 15-point, nine-dime line in his last year with Dallas. Phoenix added another player that can keep up with Nash’s pace in Matt Barnes, too. Nash has plenty of talent around him, and shallow depth at his position in the league, therefore he’s still worth a pick in the 15-20 range for most formats.

Lamar Odom: Odom is currently struggling for the starting nod with Trevor Ariza and Vladimir Radmanovic at the three. It seems fairly certain that he will be the sixth man for Los Angeles, but starting isn’t as important these days (consider Manu). There is cause for concern with all the talent in the frontcourt for the Lakers since Pau Gasol and Bynum weren‘t on the court at the same time. Recently, Odom’s pathetic 3-1-3 line in 20 minutes on Tuesday night won‘t help his case. Scoring isn’t everything, but Ariza has also outscored Odom in every preseason game this season. Odom will need to be traded to be the fantasy stud we've all known and loved, but drafting a player in hopes that he gets traded doesn’t make sense.

Trying to figure out the Knicks’ backcourt: Mike D’Antoni seems to like the Duhon-Marbury combo in the backcourt and that doesn’t bode well for Jamal Crawford. Crawford is the most talented guard on the team, and he will be a solid option regardless of his role. It wouldn’t be totally crazy if Marbury started though. One major indication is the +/- stat. Marbury’s this preseason is +39, and Crawford’s is -52. Yikes! It's not time to totally disregard Jamal, but he's certainly not someone to target in a draft this weekend.
Nate Robinson also seems to be on the cusp of emerging this year. Nate scored more than 25 in back-to-back games, and there’s a chance that Nate could be used similar to Barbosa off the bench. Nate isn’t a great three-point shooter, but he has been much better this preseason (12-for-26 from deep in his last four preseason games). The only thing certain about the Knicks’ backcourt is that nothing is certain, so draft with caution.

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