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Herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrres Johnny!

by Dave Fuller from Third League

Sorry to kill your nostalgia, but Johnny Carson never played fantasy basketball. He might have been good at it, though. As luck and the human condition would have it, Carson got screwed by three different wives before marrying a fourth. Man, they knocked his financial assets down a few pegs by doing so. I won't even delve into his intimate life.

But let's talk seriously. Carson invested in at least three separate entities unrelated to The Tonight Show in his lifetime; of those three, two failed. First was the De Lorean Motor Company, but he sort of closed his own book on that chapter after a DWI car accident where he was the driver. His car of choice? A De Lorean DMC-12. See, I'm going somewhere with this. DMC? Reminds you of Run-TMC, doesn't it? Talk about nostalgia. Wait, I'm not even old enough to be nostalgic about Run-TMC. Alright whatever. I'll continue on.

The other failed investment was in a restaurant franchise. I could only imagine why that crashed and burned, but I should really stop making puns and references. I will in a little while. Last, Just let me make mention of his successful clothing line business venture. His turtlenecks were all the rage, you know. But that's essentially irrelevant, so OK, here's the point.

What caused John William "Johnny" Carson's ultimate success? Well, really, it was a multitude of things. Specifically, though, Carson had patience. He made multiple investments, a majority of which failed. He braved that which a lot of grown men are afraid of (marriage, of course) four times and was taken for quite a bit of what he was worth in three of those. Hmm, successful definitely sounds like the right word. But why did he persevere when the odds were stacked against him? How did he ultimately become successful while failing so often? Patience.

Admittedly, that was either the worst metaphor I've ever come up with or one of the most brilliant. I'm leaning toward the former, but hey, to directly bring Johnny Carson into this article wasn't even my original focus. Aw man I'm becoming Chris Kaman. Well, just look at what he's doing. ADD doesn't stop him from putting up double-doubles. Maybe it'll suit me well.

The real point is patience is one of the most rudimentary qualities a potential fantasy champion will possess. With patience comes informed decision making. With it also comes perseverance. Not the kind where you're streaming in the playoffs just to win minutes, when all you're really doing is killing our percentages and turnover counts. No, I mean the kind where you have the time to think your moves through and make the correct choice. "Do I add Kelenna Azubuike after his dominant performance late Friday night?" Perhaps, but only if adding 3's and steals to your team is necessary. It wouldn't be the best move to drop Tyrus Thomas for Azubuike when you're in desperate need of rebounds and blocks, now would it?

The most important thing to consider is that playing the game at a quick pace will only increase the potential for mistakes. Ask the Phoenix Suns about that. They'll tell you better than anyone that a quick pace is ultimately defeated by calm, cool, patient basketball. The San Antonio Spurs are the epitome of patience, and it's hard to argue with 4 NBA championships in 9 seasons. No group of players in the NBA is more patient than Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen, and Tim Duncan. Not one.

Mistakes, such as dropping Andrew Bogut because of a sprained wrist, can be costly. The faster you're moving in the game of fantasy basketball, the faster you'll make those costly miscues. And it's not that dropping Bogut is season-threatening, but whatever player you added for him will likely deliver numbers that are a step down from his production. You're also likely to face Bogut (etc.) in the future anyway, so don't let the same player hurt you twice. Not to mention, if you dropped Bogut for a Martell Webster, there's a good chance that you just added to your strengths and subtracted from your weaknesses. Points and 3-pointers are flashy and everything, but the rebounds, FG%, and blocks that most bigs provide are just as essential (if not more because of their rarity compared to points/3's). There's just no need to make quick, rash decisions when the moves you make will hurt your chances of claiming that elusive fantasy championship.

To drop a player like Andrew Bogut (which I did actually witness in a private league recently) is a step toward giving up on your season. Only an impatient player that can't stand having an injured (yet talented) player on his team could pull that off. Don't be that guy. That brash decision-making will likely cause a number of un-warranted adds and drops throughout the season. A majority of those additions will be hitting the Waiver pool a day later anyway. You're much better off being the guy who drafted Ronnie Brewer in the last round. You know, the one who got 7 steals, 60+ FG%, 80+ FT%, and 31 points in the first two games out of a last-round draft pick. There's a comparative difference here. And while this may not be the difference between last place and first, a series of patient moves, or non-moves, can make all the difference in the world.

You might even want to be the guy who drafted Elton Brand in the second to last round so that your bigs can dominate the playoffs. Now that's a show of patience. But what do I know; I'm the one going around making Johnny Carson metaphors.

Waiver-Wire Wonders ::

John Salmons :: SG/SF, Sacramento Kings
Before I started my rant about patience in fantasy basketball, I noted that Carson wasn't the focus of this article. What is, then? Or should I say who? It's this guy right here. Salmons has taken the Kings by storm (or Hurricane, if you will) since starting point guard Mike Bibby went down with a thumb injury. The former first-rounder has been starving for an opportunity for years, and after two gems, he's finally showing what he's capable of. Good thing, because Bibby's going to be out for a while. Salmons will be a Waiver Wire stud for the next two months minimum. See how patience pays off?

Damien Wilkins :: SG/SF, Seattle SuperSonics
Well, Seattle needs someone other than Kevin Durant and Chris Wilcox to score. Wilkins has stepped up to the challenge having scored 33 points in his first two games, but it's the 2.5 3's and 8.0 rebounds per game that catch my eye. It really doesn't hurt that he's thieved 1.5 steals per game and turned the ball over only once per contest, either. Wilkins, like Salmons, has just been anxiously anticipating the starters' minutes he's finally receiving. The results of his patience and perseverance are convincingly clear. Plus, with Durant drawing double coverage on certain trips down the floor, Wilkins will get better open looks than a peeping Tom. Zing.

Reggie Evans :: PF, Philadelphia 76ers
This 6'8" forward has patience of a different, yet still very necessary kind. He does all the dirty work for the 76ers offense, crashing boards and getting knocked around by those intimidating Eastern Conference fowards (ha!). Well anyway, Evans is a good bet to average double-digit rebounds in the 2007-'08 season, and his 50+ FG% and (around) 1 steal per game aren't too shabby either. You can't ditch the players who do the dirty work when their labor produces game-changing totals. Well, in rebounds anyway. Only 1-1.5 TO per game isn't harmful either.

Rashad McCants :: PG/SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
There are four reasons to love McCants right now. First, the T'Wolves showed their confidence in the young guard by announcing they wouldn't pursue another guard following the Ricky Davis deal. Second, Minnesota already exercised their fourth-year option on him, with T'Wolves VP Kevin McHale explaining that he expects "... Rashad to be a big part of our future". Third, he's from North Carolina. That's always a plus. And finally, his line from Friday night. Nothing like a 23-point game to begin your magical third-year in the NBA. With Randy Foye out, there is nobody to threaten his position or playing-time opportunities.

Daniel Gibson :: PG/SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
The second-year Gibson had a decent start to the season in the opener, but his second game was spectacular for points and 3's. Gibson has also displayed the ability to block shots (1.5 per game thus far) and shoot well from inside the arc (61.1%). He battled Larry Hughes for the starting spot in the preseason, but the Cavs just decided to keep Hughes at the 2 and let Gibson run the point. Looks like his perseverance is paying off for his prospects as an NBA guard, but as a fantasy owner in need of his services, don't let his Leandro Barbosa-esque stats slip away.

As expected, players such as Paul Millsap, Kelenna Azubuike, Mickael Pietrus, Martell Webster, and Travis Outlaw are meeting or exceeding my expectations. Say that ten times fast. Actually, instead, just take note of how meticulous planning and research can bring huge positive impacts to a team. Even if you didn't draft any of these players, you could have played them over the course of the first two-to-three uneventful nights of the NBA season. Your opponent will never see it coming and it will only increase your chances of winning, so if you're serious about claiming that championship prize as your own, take the patient route and do the work. And above all, plan ahead for everything.