How to build the perfect fantasy team

If you were picking in a head-to-head league and had a late first round pick, how could you build a perfect fantasy team? It’s pretty simple actually. You need to win 5 categories strongly in fantasy to be successful. So pick Dwight Howard first and then steve nash and rajon rondo with the next picks. Pair them with Blake Griffin or Josh Smith and guys you can take later such as Mike Conley and Jose Calderon and you will dominate some form of FG%, 3s, rebounds, assists and steals while totally punting FT%, points and TOs. Remember it never matters how much you lose a category by but only how many you win in the playoffs when it counts.

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Don’t Pick up Luke Walton!

Please don’t tell me you picked up Luke Walton last night after he had a pretty good game against the Clippers. Luke went for 18-5-4 (pt, reb, ast) with a steal and a block, which is a damn good line, but consider the following 3 points:

  1. The Clippers are terrible, he won’t replicate this performance against the likes of New Orleans, San Antonio or Sacramento (the Lakers final 3 opponents).
  2. Luke Walton has been injured recently (just missed two games because of a strained right hamstring)
  3. There are much better free agents out there. Think about players on these teams.

So don’t pick up Luke. But do watch this amazing Nike commercial: did Kobe Bryant really jump over a car (Aston Martin)?

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To hoops,
Farid

Three Team Trade Brings Ben Wallace to Cavs

Cleveland GM Danny Ferry finally pulled off a deal to try to appease star Lebron James before the 3 PM deadline, brokering a 3-way deal with Central Division foe Chicago and the Seattle SuperSonics.

Cleveland gets: Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Joe Smith, and Delonte West

Chicago gets: Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons, and Shannon Brown

Seattle gets: Donyell Marshall, Ira Newble, and Adrian Griffin

This surprise has come as a shock to many people. Everyone knew Ferry was looking to deal and try to light a fire under an underachieving Cavs team, but it seems that this was the best deal available. Still, I really do not like the deal for any of the teams. But this deal hinges upon many things. Can Ben Wallace find the motivation to be a standout defender again? Can the new pieces in Cleveland and Chicago gain chemistry to make a playoff push?

The fantasy impact seems mostly beneficial for a lot of the players involved. My guess is that Wallace will gain the passion he played with in Detroit now that he is with Lebron James, and will become a rebounding a blocks machine while getting easy baskets due to King James. I think that Szczerbiak is the main winner in the deal. He will get the majority of the open 3-point looks that Lebron causes, especially since Daniel Gibson has had a few injury problems. Pick him up off waivers in your league if he is available! Joe Smith and Drew Gooden should see similar roles and minutes seeing how they really just switched roles. A lot of the Cleveland players may see a bump in fantasy stats, but they lose some perimeter defense in Hughes and Newble and it may actually make them a worse defensive team.

The Bulls had to take in a contract after shipping off the mistake known as Ben Wallace. It turns out to be chronic overachiever Larry Hughes, who will probably see less fantasy value because he becomes congested in the backcourt filled with Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich, and Thabo Sefolosha. Each of these players may lose some value due to shared roles. The rest of the players in the deal, except possibly Drew Gooden, who can hopefully become the post presence the Bulls have never had, really have no fantasy value. On Seattle’s end, it really is another white flag, with the shipping off of a few more veterans.

Thus, this might be a big splash that does not really have much real impact, fantasy and actual, for any of the teams involved. It might be the case where the grass looks greener on the other side.

Mike
Senior Writer

Lakers Eyeing Ben Wallace?

Apparently they were, before yesterday’s blockbuster trade sent Pau Gasol to the Lakers.

Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times stated that the Lakers could have landed the 6-9 Chicago Bulls center in a deal that would have looked like this:

  • Chicago Bulls
    Ben Wallace (4.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg)
  • Los Angeles Lakers
    Kwame Brown (5.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
    Vladimir Radmanovic (7.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg)

In his article, Heisler talks about how the Lakers could have improved their team with the addition of Wallace and paid less than they currently are for paying for Pau Gasol, but also states Lakers management realized Ben is “old and diminished” compared to what he has done in the past.

As a Lakers fan, I have to say I’m glad the Big Ben trade didn’t happen. The Lakers are all too familiar with their experimentation with older players (Karl Malone, Gary Payton) and it has never been pretty. Gasol is what Kupchak calls a 27-year old “veteran”, and as Mike pointed out yesterday will lighten the load of Kobe and Lamar Odom (who will be a 3rd scoring for 6 weeks and a 4th scoring option after Andrew Bynum returns).

Hypothetical Fantasy Impact of Wallace to the Lakers
The Lakers defense would have improved immensely. Lakers management liked to think that if Kwame did anything, it was play solid defense, but that was not apparent to me. Wallace (“The Beast from the East”) would have contributed to an overall sounder defense for the Lakers and alongside Bynum would have been dangerously scary in the middle. Wallace would have accumulated a couple more boards a game in LA as he would’ve played more minutes on a depleted Lakers interior. Kwame would have wilted away in Chicago, showing in LA that he cannot play in a large market and please fans. Radmanovic is a pure shooter and would’ve been a good complement to the Bulls offense, or any team’s for that matter.

Mitch Kupchak discusses the Pau Gasol trade on Lakers.com here.

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To hoops,
Farid

Happy Now Kobe? Lakers Trade for Pau Gasol

Story
As reported earlier this afternoon, the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers have worked out a blockbuster to send center Pau Gasol and a second round draft pick in 2010 to the Lakers for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, the rights to Marc Gasol, and first round draft picks in 2008 and 2010. Gasol has been rumored to be traded out of Memphis for years now, but it seems odd that he would end up in Hollywood. Nonetheless, it gives the Lakers a very potent frontcourt of Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum when he returns from injury. Also, this may be a precursor to another blockbuster that would send Jason Kidd to the Lakers (and would thus increase the fantasy value of his current backup, Marcus Williams).

Fantasy Impact
The fantasy impact for all of the players involved should generally be positive. Gasol will be paired with one of the best superstars in the game, which will help him avoid double-teams and give him open shots in the paint. Although his total shot totals may drop, Kobe Bryant has demonstrated that he is focused on victories and has dropped his shot total in each of the past two years. Therefore, Gasol should continue to provide solid percentages, scoring, and rebounding, while possibly increasing his assist total due to a better surrounding cast. Furthermore, Bryant should be able to garner more assists and better defensive and shooting numbers, since the addition of a prized big-man will only help to deflect some attention from him. Finally, Lamar Odom remains a large beneficiary to the deal. Eventually, he will move to his more natural small forward position, and although his rebounding numbers may decrease in that instance, he will be helped with better looks at the basket.

On the other side, Kwame Brown has gained tremendous value simply by leaving Los Angeles for small-town Memphis. Lakers’ fans turned on Brown awhile ago and have been relentless in booing the oftentimes sensitive center. In a smaller market, Brown may actually be able to see more minutes and much less pressure, which will help in his growth (yes he is still developing even though this is his seventh year in the league). Crittenton, who struggled to find playing time in the Lakers’ rotation, will now back up Mike Conley, who has been a huge injury risk in his rookie season. Keep an eye on Crittenton and pick him up if Conley gets injured and Crittenton is promoted to starting point guard. In general, players such as Rudy Gay, Mike Miller, Darko Milicic, and Mike Conley will all likely take more shots without Gasol in the middle. But the reality is that without a dominating post presence, open looks will decrease and percentages, as well as scoring offense, will suffer for all four of these fantasy players. It is possible that Rudy Gay steps up to become the #1 option for the offense. However, what is more likely is that the Grizzlies falter and pick in the top 5 of next year’s draft.

Bottom Line
I would classify this trade as a big win for Los Angeles, as they did not give up any of their current young core of Bynum, Jordan Farmar, Ronny Turiaf, or Lamar Odom for Gasol. However, Memphis does gain an expiring contract, a rookie with upside, two draft picks, and payroll flexibility. In fantasy terms, it seems that Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom have found a partner to play with on the inside and all three (along with Gasol) will be better off in producing stats. Memphis players may get more opportunity, but without such a dominating force in the middle, players such as Mike Miller, Rudy Gay, and Mike Conley will struggle to keep up their current numbers.

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Mike Yu
Senior Writer

NBA Injury Report (Brand, Arenas, Deng)

With the All-Star break just two weeks away, some key players are set to return to action. What will be the fantasy impact of their returns?

Elton Brand (left Achilles tendon)
OK, so he’s not coming back just yet. But there is some promising news for Clippers fans. EB42 was recently cleared to “begin extensive running and jumping exercises on the court”. The next step would be rejoining the team in drills, followed by his eventual return to full practice. CBS Sports have him returning to action in late-February. If you can withstand a few weeks (or more) of a non-active roster position, I’d say pick up Elton if he’s available in your league. Otherwise, a conservative owner might look to see if he’s available in about a fortnight.

The Trading Block’s fantasy outlook for Brand upon return
16 points, 7 rebounds a game on +50% shooting, 32 minutes a game

Gilbert Arenas (left knee)
Expect Arenas to be back at some point shortly after the all-star break (Feb.14-18). He’s been rehabing for some time now and expects to log a “significant” amount of practice time before he’s finally slotted into the starting lineup, saying Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan. Apparently both Jordan and Arenas himself are taking Gilbert’s return slowly, cognizant of the fact that coming back “too fast” last time caused the current injury. Arenas is owned in nearly all leagues at this point, but if by some chance your league is in the minority, pick him up immediately. Another reason Washington isn’t rushing Arenas’ return is the fact that Butler and Jamison (both All-Stars) have led the Wizards to a 19-12 record in his absence. Random: Check out Gilbert stoked he made the NBA Live 08 Cover.

The Trading Block’s fantasy outlook for Arenas upon return
18 points, 5 assists, 3.5 rebounds a game on 40% shooting, 33 minutes a game

Luol Deng (Achilles Tendinitis)
Deng’s timetable for return could be anything from 3-4 days to up to 2 weeks. The Chicago Bulls Forward has stated on his blog that a premature return would reaggravate the injury, thus he has not set a specific date for return. He may log minutes on Chicago’s upcoming West Coast road trip, so be ready to reinsert him into your lineup if he does.

The Trading Block’s fantasy outlook for Deng upon return
17 points, 6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 32 minutes a game

Others
Chris Mihm may bring some fantasy value to deeper leagues as he looks to return to a depleted Lakers frontcourt in the next couple of weeks. Don’t expect Anderson Varejao back until the end of the month at the earliest. Carmelo Anthony is still day-to-day. Shaq’s out till mid-February.

To hoops,
Farid