Fantasy Basketball: Let Us Marvel at the Fraud that was Troy Murphy

You know, I was planning to do a big write-up on the 10 or 20 biggest disappointments of the 2010-11 basketball season -- with shoutouts to Anthony Randolph and Terrence Williams and Darren Collison. But I couldn't. There'd be no reason to list a cast of lesser drop-outs and flunkies around the league's biggest bust, Troy Murphy, who was that much more of a failure than everyone else. Randolph and Collison actually had their moments, and people should've learned to jump off the Williams ship when he continually received DNP-CD's. But Murphy was pushed down our throats, hyped to no end and ultimately couldn't even get on the floor -- making him one of the biggest wastes of time in fantasy history. And now that his team is eliminated, it's time to marvel at just how wrong the "experts" were about him.

We start with ESPN, who before the season listed Murphy at No. 40 on their "Top 200" players list. Who was No. 41 you might ask? Derrick Rose.... Ouch.... Other less valuable players in the eyes of ESPN were John Wall, Rudy Gay, Kevin Love, Zach Randolph and Carlos Boozer -- and that's not even getting out of the 40's. Danilo Gallinari was 52. Manu Ginobili was 57, Blake Griffin was 59, Nene was 61, Paul Millsap, Luis Scola, Eric Gordon and LaMarcus Aldridge were 64, 65, 66 and 67. Etc, etc.

Yahoo! was drinking the Kool-Aid even harder, placing Murphy at No. 30 between Steve Nash and Joe Johnson, and ranking him ahead of Monta Ellis, Tyreke Evans, Paul Pierce and Andrea Bargnani, as well as Rose, Wall, Gay, Love, Randolph and Ginobili.

What makes Murphy's predictors look all the more insane is that Murphy wasn't exactly the new kid in town. If he just happened to be a bust -- if he was a bright-eyed rookie who had a lot of potential, but just couldn't put it together (ala Evan Turner), that'd at least be understandable. But Murphy wasn't young nor did he have much, if any, upside. Murphy started the 2010-11 season as a 30-year-old, nine-year veteran who had never made the playoffs, never been an All-Star and never averaged more than 15 points a game. For years he had been a quiet contributor on lousy teams, an above-average rebounder who was coming off a solid season in Indiana where he averaged 14.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.8 three's per game.

In the offseason, he had been traded to the New Jersey Nets in a four-team deal that sent Courtney Lee to Houston, Trevor Ariza to New Orleans and James Posey to Indiana. And at that moment, analysts threw out all common sense and bowed down to his empty statistics. They preached that his already impressive numbers could only go up on the Nets' roster, which was so devoid of talent that they had lost 70 games the previous year. What they forgot to notice was something that any Golden State Warriors fan would've screamed at them: that Murphy was an unathletic, unassuming, big white stiff. His numbers were 100% fraudulent, having never finished a season on a team that won more than 37 games. His hulky presence was such a burden to the Warriors that when he was traded to the Pacers in the 2007 season, the Warriors went 16-5 to close the year and made the postseason for the first time in a decade. Meanwhile the Pacers, who had been vying for the postseason themselves, went from a 29-24 playoff team to an utter disaster, losing 11 consecutive games and finishing the year with 23 losses in 29 games.

And of course, if you don't know how Murphy's 2010-11 season turned out, that's the punchline. He suffered injuries to his back and feet, fell out of the rotation and played in only 18 games before being dismissed from the team that he was supposedly going to do great for. He averaged 3.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in New Jersey, no doubt devastating fantasy owners who may have been hood-winked into drafting him over Derrick Rose, Kevin Love and Monta Ellis. That he couldn't even earn his place in the rotation of a 70-game loser epitomized Murphy nicely, though his benching shouldn't have come as a surprise. As a 30-year-old role player making $11.9 million, he didn't exactly fit into the rebuilding plan of the up-and-coming Nets.

For a second though, it looked like his owners would at least get something from him. In the spring, he was traded back to the Warriors in a salary dump, was immediately waived and then got picked up by the Boston Celtics, where his presence was allegedly going to help their title chances. Miami had apparently been interested in him too, and the news of his signing was big enough that it lead off Pardon the Interruption the day it happened. Once again, it was as if the country had forgotten that Murphy wasn't very good.

And again, Murphy owners were dealt a crushing blow. It's one thing for a hyped player to get benched on one team, but for it to happen twice is practically an accomplishment. Murphy appeared in only 17 games for the Celtics, one less than he did in New Jersey, before getting banished to the bench behind Kevin Garnett, Nenad Krstic, Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal, Glen Davis and Jeff Green. Murphy was even worse the second time around, averaging 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. He played in one postseason game for the C's: three minutes of garbage time against the Knicks in which he produced 0 points, 0 assists and 1 offensive rebound.

So what's the moral of the story? That Troy Murphy was a decenty player who didn't deserve to be rated above the league MVP and Kevin Love? That the experts got it really, really, really wrong? The moral is that when it comes to assessing players, trust with your eyes, not with statistics. You know how I can guarantee that Marcin Gortat will have a big year next season? I saw him play with my own eyes, and I know that the statistics he put up are legit. The dude's got skill. Troy Murphy never did anything in his career for him to have the benefit of the doubt. At no point when I watched him in Golden State did I think he was anything but a guy in the right place at the right time. Same thing with Jordan Crawford, Dorrell Wright and Marcus Thornton. Unless they make an impression on you, stay the hell away from them if they ever switch teams. Like Murphy, they are products of their situation and nothing more.

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