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Thursday July 26, 2007 9:56 am

Dropping Dimes Mock Draft Blog: Round 1, Pick 12

Nothing beats a healthy YaoRare is it that you can find a big man in fantasy hoops that doesn’t hurt you in any statistical categories.  Most just decimate your free throw percentage, while some turn the ball over about four times a game, and some can’t block shots.  Let’s face it…the center in fantasy hoops is just a necessary evil.  Fantasy owners are typically stuck with players that they wouldn’t own for any other reason but because they have to fill up a center spot. 

The player that I’m choosing with the 12th overall pick could easily go in the top eight if he would just be able to stay healthy.  If you take his per-game averages, he’s one of the best players in the league.  You stretch said numbers out by the number of games he’s managed to play over the past few seasons, and it’s not so great.

However, given the lack of depth at the position and my despise for players that kill your free throw percentage, I’m taking a swing at one of the riskier health-bets in the league.

Yao Ming, C, Houston Rockets

When you have a guy that towers at 7’6”, the rebounding and the blocked shots are typically not an issue.  Granted, I would like to see more boards or blocks from Yao, but what I truly love is the fact that he’s improved his scoring year-over-year since he’s been in the league.

2002: 13.5 ppg
2003: 17.5 ppg
2004: 18.3 ppg
2005: 22.3 ppg
2006: 25.0 ppg

Couple all of this with a career free throw percentage of 82%, and you have yourself quite a big man.  Now the unfortunate stat: games played.  Ming has been an absolute killer over the past few seasons.

2002: 82 games
2003: 82 games
2004: 80 games
2005: 57 games
2006: 48 games

48 games is not something that’s going to help your fantasy team at any point of the season, unless you have ample back-up for the remainder.  Compare Ming to someone like Marcus Camby.  Camby’s drafted lower than normal based on the number of games he’s played.  Why not he same for Yao?  Throw it back to last season.  Yao was taken 11th overall in our 2006 mock draft blog.  Within this selection, Dennis Velasco said the following:

Last season, Yao missed 21 games of the season in the months of December and January because of a toe infection… a toe infection.  So, it’s not like he tore his ACL or broke his left foot or something… oops, I’ll get to that later.  So, a freak type of incident - a toe infection - sidelined Yao.  And I don’t even want to know how that happened!  What was he, dating Paris Hilton or something?

Thus, it was passed off as a fluke…Good job, D.

Ming came out firing last season, averaging 26.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game.  These stats were enough to get the headline of a Stats All Folks article.  Unfortunately, Ming fractured his tibia on December 23rd (a day after ther SAF article came out), and would not be back until the Rockets were priming for the playoffs.  Thanks again, D.

The end-of-season run was likely not enough to help the teams which were hurt by Ming’s absence, but watching Ming average 25 points, 10 rebounds and a block in the playoffs is enough for this guy to give him a shot once again. 

Yao has recently been working out with All-World center Hakeem Olajuwon in the off-season and with fingers crossed, I’m hoping he can string together a full season of dominance down low.  He’s one of the ultimate risk-reward picks this season, but if a guy can get Second Team All-NBA honors after missing half of the season, he’s something special. 

Previous Picks This Round:

1.1. LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers
1.2. Kobe Bryant, SG, Los Angeles Lakers
1.3. Shawn Marion, SF/PF, Phoenix Suns
1.4. Kevin Garnett, SF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves
1.5. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks
1.6. Gilbert Arenas, PG, Washington Wizards
1.7. Steve Nash, PG, Phoenix Suns
1.8. Amare Stoudemire, PF/C, Phoenix Suns
1.9. Dwyane Wade, PG/SG, Miami Heat
1.10 Chris Bosh, PF/C, Toronto Raptors
1.11 Elton Brand, PF/C, Los Angeles Clippers



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