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Tuesday August 29, 2006 2:14 pm

Dropping Dimes Draft Blog: Round 2, Pick 5


Two basic business theories can be applied to fantasy basketball. “Consolidate your assets” is one. “Diversify your portfolio is the other.” The tone of the draft to this point has been to build strength on top of existing strengths. So far we have some pretty interesting combinations of guards (Ray Allen/Allen Iverson and Chris Paul/Steve Nash) and big men (Yao Ming/Andrei Kirilenko). There are a million ways to skin a cat, and possibly even more ways to build a successful fantasy team. Sometimes the right play is to follow a trend and other times it helps to take on a different strategy. With Elton Brand already in the fold and as solid as they come, it is time for the big to get bigger and you to get richer.

Round 2, Pick 5: Pau Gasol, PF/C, Memphis Grizzlies

Reviewing the season Gasol had last year, he finished 19th in scoring (20.4 ppg), 17th in rebounding per game (8.9) and 13th in blocks per game (1.9). Field goal percentage is currently a big advantage this team has going for itself, as both Brand and Pau are reliable low-post scorers who make more than half their shots.Description

Two things distinguish Gasol from the other possible choices at this point in the draft. One is his center eligibility. Looking at the big men still available, the list includes players with big-time injury questions (Marcus Camby or the much talked about Amare Stoudemire), had a down year (Tim Duncan), have serious fantasy issues with their game (Ben Wallace or Shaquille O’Neal) or are not as good a match for Brand (Brad Miller drops more dimes, but does not score as much and his blocks total is low for a top fantasy center).

His other asset is Gasol’s dime-dropping ability. One might assume that each of the 30 teams in the league should have a point guard who can distribute the ball enough to rank amongst the top 30 in assists, right? Well last year Gasol dished 4.9 assists per game which put him 31st in the league. Now this was almost double his previous career high, but if he can keep up this stat, his value in a league that employs two centers will be huge.

Gasol’s free throw percentage took a pretty sharp downturn last year, as he shot only 68.9% from the line. In the past he has been good for at least 71% or so, so hopefully he can bounce back and improve on this. Better numbers at the charity stripe could easily translate into a few extra points a game to his scoring average. Gasol should have more potential to improve on his free throw shooting than Duncan does.

If you surf the net for fantasy basketball sites, you will find people who actually offer up draft analysis without taking into consideration the context within which these players were drafted. What good is that? In the first couple of rounds, you are always going to be passing on more than a few good options. Whether someone is picked “early” or “late” depends on how you plan to build your team. The old golf adage rings true; you can’t win a golf tournament on the first day, but you certainly can lose it. Championships are won in the middle rounds, but they can be lost in the first few rounds. For this team, I chose to go with a more reliable option who adds oomph! to my Brand Name. I will take the slightly lower totals in rebounds and blocks compared to what someone like TD brings for more points, dimes and a better chance in FT%. And as you can see by the picture at the top, these two studs have already agreed to kick some serious tail this year. G’yeah!


Other team members:

1.8 Elton Brand, PF, Los Angeles Clippers

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So Pau Gasol needs foot surgery. Obviously as the season gets closer this will have to be taken into consideration when making your draft list. The report I saw lists no timetable for his return at this time.

It’s still many weeks before the start of the season but take this as a lesson not to hold your draft too early. This way you can react to the latest updates on players.

Also, I can understand why team management, the players and fans have hesitation about their stars playing in tournaments like the world championships. Yes, it is an incredible honour to play for your country. But these are multi-million dollar assets to your franchise, and an injury like this can be a catalyst for a terrible season.

In terms of this pick, if I had known about this at the time, I would have taken Tim Duncan, who was taken off the board right after. He is a bigger negative in terms of FT%, but his other stats are still solid, even at the level of diminished returns from last season. A draft is not about simply taking the next highest ranked player from last year, or even your carefully researched list. You have to take your league settings into account. Another star big man goes well with Brand.

I don’t feel neither center pick is a reach. Surf the web for mock drafts or early drafts, and both Gasol and TD were being taken well within the top 25, and some were leagues with one center requirements only. That’s why I would still pass on someone like Billups. A winning fantasy team is not about each individual player’s ranking or value. The sum can certainly outnumber the individual parts if you play things right.

Too early yet to comment on any long-term fantasy fall-out. Check back for that down the road.


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