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Wednesday September 13, 2006 2:38 pm

The Psuedo Studs of Fantasy Basketball

Gerald Wallace with the flush!Okay, so we all pretty much know which NBA ballers will be going in the first two rounds of our fantasy basketball drafts – the Marions, the Jameses, the Garnetts, and Nashes.  The first two rounds should pretty much be a walk in the park, other than wondering about a few players coming off of injuries – Tracy McGrady, Andrei Kirilenko, and Yao Ming.  But, these players have so much upside and are so established as difference makers, there’s no question they’ll go in the first two rounds in most leagues, except in our DD Draft Blog: Round OneRound Two.  Sorry, Tracy.  But, you know what?  We were probably thinking too much.

In any case, what about those unheralded players that are on the cusp of studhood?  Players that will come off the draft board starting in the third round and probably no later than the fourth and maybe fifth round?  Who are those players going to be? 

Don’t worry, I got you with this.  I can’t give away all of my secrets, but check out the following seven players.  All things considered, such as position eligibility and upside I think these players could potentially put up first and second round value, or at the very least a round ahead of where they’d probably be drafted.

NOTE: Since we’re still in the middle of our DD draft, I won’t be going into great detail here since I don’t know how the draft will unfold and I may end up getting one of these guys, in which case I’d just copy and paste what I wrote and that would be just plain lazy on my part.  Worse yet, I may plant a seed in my DD brothers-in-blogging to draft one of the following players because I made a compelling argument.

Not Bad Meaning Bad, But Bad Meaning Good
Ron Artest, SF, Sacramento Kings
‘05-’06 Stats: 16 G; 19.4 PPG; 4.9 RPG; 2.2 APG; 18 3PTM; 46.0 FG%; 61.2 FT%; 2.6 SPG; 0.7 BPG; 2.7 TO (Indiana Pacers)
‘05-’06 Stats: 40 G; 16.9 PPG; 5.2 RPG; 4.2 APG; 60 3PTM; 38.3 FG%; 71.7 FT%; 2.0 SPG; 0.8 BPG; 2.2 TO (Sacramento Kings)

The unfortunate incident lovingly called The Malice At The Palace, which took place two seasons ago has left an indelible mark on Artest like a scarlet letter.  There’s no denying it.  However, there is also no denying Artest’s talent and his ability to contribute in several fantasy basketball categories, particularly in the steals category.  Ever since coming into the NBA, Artest was known for his defense.  Eventually, he became a legit scoring threat, able to bull rush down in the box and pop that trey.  With half a season under his belt with the Kings, not wondering if he’d get traded, and most of all, dropping his hip-hop CD just before the real games begins, Artest should be entering the season a happy warrior… err, a tru warier?  In any case, Artest should be ready to save his fist-pumping for when he helps the Kings, and subsequently your fantasy basketball team, win some games.

Not That Mike, But Like This One Too
Mike Bibby, PG, Sacramento Kings
‘05-’06 Stats: 82 G; 21.1 PPG; 2.9 RPG; 5.4 APG; 188 3PTM; 43.2 FG%; 84.9 FT%; 1.0 SPG; 0.1 BPG; 2.4 TO

Yes, another King.  And as good as Artest is, Bibby may be the one that rules them all.  In a league where it seems that all the point guards are scorers, Bibby is one of the tops.  His assists numbers dipped from the previous season, but ‘05-‘06’s dime average is more than acceptable, especially considering Bibby will help a fantasy hoops brother out in the aforementioned points category, plus triples made, free-throw percentage, and steals.  And, it’s not out of the question that Bibby brings that assists total up to his career 6.4 apg average.  If you need some scoring punch like Mr. Kool Aid bursting through a brick wall for your team (especially if you drafted, say, Shawn Marion in the first and, say, Ben Wallace in the second round) Bibby is a great balance and complement to what those big fellas bring.  Bibby may be a little man, but his game is big.

Ordinary Name, Extraordinary Game
Joe Johnson, PG/SG/SF, Atlanta Hawks
‘05-’06 Stats: 82 G; 20.2 PPG; 4.1 RPG; 6.5 APG; 131 3PTM; 45.3 FG%; 79.1 FT%; 1.3 SPG; 0.4 BPG; 3.3 TO

When Joe Johnson went to the Hawks last season, I thought that there was no way he was going to have as good a season as he did with the Phoenix Suns.  Why the heck did I think that?  Because we were talking about the Hawks here and they haven’t been good since the Nixon administration.  But then I thought, wait a minute, because it’s the Hawks and they didn’t have a star player (no offense Al Harrington, however, Josh Smith is rising and I’m not just talking about him physically, but also his game), Johnson could do quite well.  But, I didn’t think he’d do as well as he did, especially considering the position flexibility he brought to the table.  While Johnson didn’t hit as many threes as he did with the Suns, he still got his treys, as well as contributing to points, dimes, boards, swipes and decent percentages.  Look for Johnson to continue to do his thing as he’ll handle the ball most of the time because I just don’t trust that Speedy Claxton will play as much as the Hawks would like.  He’s an injury waiting to happen and he isn’t used to getting a lot of minutes on the floor.  So, look for this ordinary Joe to keep it popping, especially with Harrington out of town.

Don’t Laugh, He Really Is One Of The League’s Better Big Men Despite His Name
Mehmut Okur, PF/C, Utah Jazz
‘05-’06 Stats: 82 G; 18.0 PPG; 9.1 RPG; 2.4 APG; 82 3PTM; 46.0 FG%; 78.0 FT%; 0.5 SPG; 0.9 BPG; 2.0 TO

Wait, what?  A big man that can shoot well from the charity stripe?!?!?!  You have to like that, just because that’s as rare as me passing on an offering of Rocky Road ice cream from my grandmother.  But, with Okur, you’re going to get so much more than just a good free-throw percentage.  With a healthy Carlos BOOzer (that one is for you, Cleveland) and Andrei Kirilenko, I’d expect that Okur may not score as much, but he should be good for about 16 ppg, as well as eight boards per game.  Plus, let’s not forget the threes he makes, as well as those solid percentages.  Other than blocks, there really isn’t anything that you can ask more of from a big that can spread the love to fantasy basketball categories the way Okur can.

If Shots Were Women, His Would Be Jessica Alba
Michael Redd, SG, Milwaukee Bucks
‘05-’06 Stats: 80 G; 25.4 PPG; 4.3 RPG; 2.9 APG; 160 3PTM; 45.0 FG%; 87.7 FT%; 1.2 SPG; 0.1 BPG; 2.1 TO

Redd has one of THE sweetest shots in the league.  I guess you can say it’s the left-handed version of former Bucks teammate Ray Allen’s.  While Redd is mostly known for his scoring ability (although the casual NBA fan not living in Milwaukee may not even know who Redd is period), Redd can obviously do more than just that, although his high scoring average is, in and of itself, desirable to fantasy hoops owners.  Redd has to get his points somehow, so why not from beyond the arch where he made a couple per game last season.  Add to the fact that Redd is one of the better rebounding guards and shooters (from the field and the line) in the league and you got yourself a pretty strong player on your team.  And, oh yeah, he can not only score, but he can swipe the ball at a decent clip also.  Redd should change his last name to Green because the man is money when he shoots.

The Other Dope Shooting Guard in Cali Not Named Kobe
Jason Richardson, SG, Golden State Warriors
‘05-’06 Stats: 75 G; 23.2 PPG; 5.8 RPG; 3.1 APG; 180 3PTM; 44.6 FG%; 67.3 FT%; 1.3 SPG; 0.5 BPG; 2.2 TO

Richardson is a scoring machine with upside.  In each of his five seasons in the league, Richardson’s scoring average has improved from season-to-season and contrary to popular belief, it’s not just from dunking the ball.  Yes, he won back-to-back dunk contests during the 2002 and 2003 All-Star weekends, but look at his triples made and tell me he can only dunk.  What’s amazing to me is that J-Rich is only 25 years old and can conceivably get better.  If Baron Davis AKA Elijah “Mr. Glass” Price actually stays healthy, he and Richardson make a deadly backcourt combo.  Have no fear, there’s enough of the rock to go around between these two… just not for anyone else.  In any case, you could probably tell already that Richardson’s free-throw percentage isn’t all that great, so make sure to draft smart in the later rounds to make up for the deficiency.  But other than that, take the high points, very good boards for a guard, a few dimes, treys made, steals, and a very good percentage from the field and be happy.  Richardson may not be Kobe, but at least he didn’t get arrested.

Just Imagine When He Improves His Skill Set… W-O-W
Gerald Wallace, SG/SF, Charlotte Bobcats
‘05-’06 Stats: 55 G; 15.2 PPG; 7.5 RPG; 1.8 APG; 16 3PTM; 53.8 FG%; 61.4 FT%; 2.5 SPG; 2.1 BPG; 1.8 TO

Wallace is just like Justin Timberlake, bringing sexy back, as in the sexy steals and blocks categories.  Wallace finished last season as the only NBA baller to average a deuce+ in both categories.  This clearly sets the 24 year old who is about to enter his sixth NBA season (What?  Really?  His sixth?) apart from other players, other than the Matrix of the Suns, AK47 of the Jazz, and Big Ben of the Bulls (the one with the taller hair).  Unlike the other Wallace, Gerald can actually put the ball in the basket and, in addition, can board pretty well for a wing player.  And thanks to finishing on the break a lot and being a highlight waiting to happen, Wallace shoots a very high percentage from the floor.  Mind you, Wallace is relying on pure athleticism.  What if he develops a consistent J or a go-to move to the basket?  Dang.  Wallace is part of a great youth movement down in Carolina country and it’s a substantial part, make no mistakes about it.  And if you think he doesn’t want to make his new boss (Michael Jordan) happy, either you or Wallace is crazy.  Expect great things from Wallace this upcoming season because I think he’s going to learen some good things to make him great.

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