by Dave Fuller
First things first; happy holidays to you and your family from the team at Fake Teams and myself. We ask you to enjoy the New Year and drive safely, something that is all too often overlooked. We also thank you for spending your time with us throughout this holiday season.
Our very own Eric Hinz has proven his research and evaluation expertise once again in his recent comment on New Jersey Nets' sophomore center Josh Boone. Hinz notes that Boone's current average of 5.3 offensive boards a game (a total of 32 in just seven games) means he leads the Nets in offensive rebounding (average and total). He also notes that performing at that level will keep Boone a viable fantasy option for the remainder of the year. And he's right.
I, of course, give praise for this type of research. I even encourage it from our readers. I also have a rebuttal for Mr. Hinz and all of you seeking Boone's services. First the positive: in a game where big free agent pick-ups can be the difference between making the playoffs and being on the outside looking in, finding consistent fantasy options who emerge from seemingly out of nowhere is one of the most beneficial moves you can make. Often enough, you'll find those players who come in and make a contribution only to see them disappear a few games later. In Boone's case (much like Jamario Moon's with his defensive presence), as Mr. Hinz points out, you don't have to worry about this nearly as much because Boone contributes something as valuable as offensive rebounding to the Nets on a nightly basis.
It's important to look for things such as this when evaluating consistency and talent in fantasy basketball. And yes, I do agree, Boone will continue to get consistent minutes and put up solid fantasy numbers. However, I did say I have a rebuttal, and here it is: Josh Boone cannot shoot free throws for the life of him. I'm willing to ignore a mediocre FT% from a player who only shoots 1-2 a game, but Boone just kills you in standard 9-category leagues. Not only has he shot a horrendous 28.6 (yes, 28.6) percent from the charity stripe this season, but he's shot a higher volume (7 of 20 in his three starts) of free throws at nearly as bad a percentage (35.0%). I love the work done on Boone, Hinz, and I'm sure you weren't acting as an advocate for Boone. Just had to point out such a weakness as not to allow our readers to hurt themselves so badly in a major category.
At any rate; here are fantasy basketball's current ups: ...
Yi Jianlian :: PF, Milwaukee Bucks
In what has been a roller coaster season for the Chinese import, the 1st round pick is really starting to put it together. Over the past six starts, Yi has accumulated averages worthy of his draft position (6th overall): 35.6 minutes, 62.1% from the field, 100% (17 of 17) from the stripe, 7.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 16.7 points. It's not safe to assume he'll continue this streak, specifically because he's a rookie and faces the threat of the rookie wall or rookie inconsistencies. He is, however, receiving consistently high minutes totals that are conducive to solid fantasy play.
Derek Fisher :: PG, Los Angeles Lakers
Fish is a veteran who knows how to play in Phil Jackson's system and be part of the reason the Lakers have become so good once again. Fisher knows how to play in the triangle offense, and while such a system doesn't quite allow for massive assist totals like the average free-running motion offense, Fisher knows perhaps better than anyone in the league how to be productive in this system. That alone makes him a consistent starter for LA, but looking at his incredible assist-to-turnover ratio (4.2:1) in December tells the story of efficiency for Derek. 1.5 steals, 46.0% from the field, and 86.4% from the line never hurt, either.
Rajon Rondo :: PG/SG, Boston Celtics
Before the season started, no one had any idea what to expect out of Rondo other than a load of steals. Well, Rondo's been doing that and a whole bunch more recently. Since early December when the C's beat up on the Bucks, Rondo has been on a tear (well, as big a tear as a player could be when your team features Pierce, Garnett, and Allen): 15.0 ppg, 56.4 FG%, 78.6 FT%, 4.0 rpg, 5.8 apg, and 2.2 steals against 1.8 TO per contest. The reason being? Well, when you have to plan ahead for KG, Pierce, and Ray Allen, you tend to pay very little attention to the other two starters. Rondo is learning to take advantage of that.
Noteable Mentions: Daniel Gibson :: PG/SG, Cleveland Cavaliers; Andrew Bynum :: C, Los Angeles Lakers; Anderson Varejao :: PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers
... and downs:
T.J. Ford :: PG, Toronto Raptors
Ford has been out for a little while now, so he isn't listed here for the fact that his play has been off lately. I listed him here because he may even be done for his career. The Texas product hasn't played since December 11th when Al Horford accidentally knocked him down and caused him to take a very hard fall. This may look like a malicious play, but Horford was sincere in his concern and apologies and isn't the type of guy to do this intentionally. As for Ford, he has had multiple falls like this in his basketball career and has a condition called spinal stenosis that could threaten him with the possibility of retirement. His life could be put in jeopardy if he continues risking it on the court.
Eddy Curry :: C, New York Knicks
Well it's not like Curry's ever been considered that great of a player, but his past three games have coincided with rumors that he's headed to the bench in favor of David Lee. Curry and Zach Randolph were already a subpar combination in the post, but Curry's play is showing he more than deserves to be benched for the hard-working Lee. Curry's past three games: 47.6 FG%, 56.3 FT%, 3.7 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.3 TOs, 0.0 steals/blocks, 9.7 points. Abysmal, specifically from a center. Drop him now for Lee if you're still able to.
Drew Gooden :: PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Perhaps the return of Anderson Varejao wasn't the best thing for Drew Gooden's fantasy prospects. I'm not suggesting AV is going to steal the starting job from Gooden, but it's no coincidence Gooden's numbers have fallen with Varejao back on the team. Since then (December 11th), Gooden has posted 10.4 points, 45.1 FG%, 7.3 rebounds, 0.4 steals, and 0.4 blocks. Gooden showed signs of life last night, putting up a nice 18 point/9 rebound game with pretty percentages, but the only thing that may have been was the perfect selling point for Gooden owners before his game declines further. Expect more of what Gooden did in the 2006-'07 season.
Noteable Mentions: Jamario Moon :: SF, Toronto Raptors, Jameer Nelson :: PG, Orlando Magic, Andrea Bargnani :: SF/PF/C, Toronto Raptors