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Friday October 26, 2007 8:33 pm

The Fantasy Jump Off - 10.26.07

Al Thornton

The Fig Cap: “Satten said he doesn’t believe?  WHAT?!?!?”

October 30th will soon be upon us when the Portland Trail Blazers, sans Greg Oden, take on the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs led by Tim Duncan.  And later on that night, the revamped/revitalized Houston Rockets with their dynamic duo of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady do battle with Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers (as of this writing, anyway; who knows what happens with the Black Mamba with all of these rumors flying around).  What else do you need to know about the start of the 2007-08 NBA season?

That’s what The Fantasy Jump Off is all about.

Each week during the season, TFJO will hook you up with the 411 in regards to the week ahead in fantasy basketball land – number of games each NBA team will be playing, hot and cold players, and tidbits such as who’s injured, suspended, or just oozing with phenomenal swag.  If there’s anything else that you’d want to know and see each week on here, feel free to suggest anything by dropping me a line – dennis@droppingdimes.com.

What Time Is It?  Game Time! (Week One: 10/30-11/4)

Teams Playing Two Games: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks
Teams Playing Three Games: Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle SuperSonics, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards
Teams Playing Four Games: Utah Jazz

Hoops Hot?  Hoops Cold?

Okay, we’ve only seen NBA preseason games, which are just a couple of notches up from NBA Summer League games.  What does that mean?  It isn’t as easy to tell what’s real during the games that don’t count and those that will.  So, for this first week, we’ll take a quick look at who’s been performing well and keep it positive.  Afterall, at this point, every team is on the same level playing field and hope springs eternal… until the Minnesota Timberwolves lose their first game, which will set off a trend for the rest of the season.  However, hopefully there will be some hope for hearing NBA Commissioner David Stern saying, “With the first pick of the 2008 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select… O.J. Mayo from USC.”
Dwight Howard has looked simply dominant with some polished low-post moves (he’s gone old school and added a hook shot) and leading the Association in blocks per game at 3.3 rejections per contest.  However, we all saw this coming.  What we didn’t see coming is Howard’s uncanny knack for converting from the charity stripe.  A 61.0% career free-throw shooter, the Man-Child is draining shots from the line, even hitting 13 of 16 attempts in a preseason game.  Shaq, give Dwight a call.

LaMarcus Aldridge is certainly looking like the real deal.  Steve Alexander from Rotoworld got some dubious comments from a lot of us in Dropping Dimes’ Experts League for drafting the big man from Portland, but Steve is looking like a genius now.  Aldridge is leading the League in points per game at a 21.8 clip (okay, so it’s without Brandon Roy on the floor, but still) and getting that production from the center spot is going to make a lot of fantasy basketball managers happy. 

Gerald Wallace is proving that he can still score in the preseason (21.7 ppg; second in the L).  Even with new addition Jason Richardson on board the Bobcats train, Crash will still get his points as he didn’t lead the team in scoring for nothing last season.

How is everyone’s favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award doing?  Kevin Durant is proving he can score as he’s dropped 18.8 points per contest in the six games he’s played during the preseason.  However, a sprained left ankle could delay his debut once the season starts, so keep your ear to the ground regarding any news. 

Al Jefferson is showing that every backboard is the same in every city around the country as he’s leading all NBA players with a 13.6 boards per game average.  And it’s not even close as the player ranked second has a 10.5 average.  Considering the T-Wolves are building around Jefferson and there isn’t anyone as talented as he is on the roster, it’s a safe bet that he’s going to be a beast on the block.

Oh, and who’s that second ranked player in rebounds?  None other than The Matrix, Shawn Marion who is proving that despite being disgruntled, he can still put up numbers.  Granted, Amare Stoudemire hasn’t really been around, but it’s hard to deny in fantasy basketball circles especially that Marion doesn’t do work.  And speaking of doing work, in this case cleaning the glass, Kevin Garnett is third with a 10.0 rpg average, so don’t fret KG owners as The Kid is still boarding.

Can one of Earl Watson or Luke Ridnour please be named the starting point guard and get about 36 minutes of burn each game in Seattle already?  Both are ranked in the top five in assists during the preseason with Watson at 6.4 and Ridnour at 6.0.  Imagine how nice it would be to own the player that gets about three-quarters of play with the Sonics as their point guard.  No more PG-by-committee!

I give props to my Dropping Dimes colleage, Matt Satten, as his call of Luis Scola doing well with the Rockets as soon as he was traded is on point.  Scola is looking very comfortable in coach Rick Adelman’s offense and will eventually start over Chuck Hayes at some point during the season if not right off the bat.  Scola can shoot and pass with seeming ease and is a great fit down in Houston.  If he’s on your waiver wire, he shouldn’t be.  Continuing on with proclamations, it looks like my call of Al Thornton is looking good as he’s leading the L in three-point percentage (69.2%), sticking nine of 13 attempts from behind the arc.  Of course I don’t think he’s going to shoot that well during the season, but Thornton is more of an “attack the basket” sort of guy.  So, with his ability to get to the rim and the line added with his skills to knock down the triple, well, Thornton makes for a good sleeper and you should do what the Sixers did not and that’s get him on your team.  Right, Matt?  Thornton > Thaddeus Young.

TFJO Tidbits

Remember that these players are suspended and should not be on your starting roster to begin the season – Stephen Jackson (seven games for pleading guilty to criminal recklessness for firing a gun outside of a strip club last fall); Ron Artest (seven games for his no contest plea to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in May); James Posey (one game for his no contest plea for a reckless driving charge); Josh Howard (two games for throwing a forearm at Brad Miller defending Devin Harris during a preseason game); and J.R. Smith (three games for conduct detrimental to the team).

Some injuries of note to begin the season – Dwyane Wade is still out indefinitely after left shoulder and knee surgery during the offseason; of course, we’ve all known for a while that Elton Brand will miss the first few months of the season; Adam Morrison is likely out for the season with a torn left ACL (Matt Carroll equals nice pick-up); Lamar Odom is expected to miss the first two or three weeks of the season after left shoulder surgery; promising Pistons rookie Rodney Stuckey broke his left hand and is expected to miss about six weeks; Andrew Bogut sprained his left wrist and is questionable for the start of the season; Samuel Dalembert is questionable with a stress fracture in his left foot; Leandro Barbosa is questionable with bruised ribs; and Brandon Roy is questionable with a sore left heel.  For all of the “questionable” players, keep your eye out for news as the season gets closer.

This week saw a big trade of Ricky Davis and Mark Blount moving over from the cold weather of Minnesota to the warm and beautiful climate of Miami as they were part of a trade that sent disgruntled and out of shape forward Antoine Walker to the T-Wolves.  I really like this trade in a “real” sense for the Heat as they are getting proven scorers in Davis and Blount.  Fantasy-wise, Ricky D will still be a stat stuffer, but not as much as he would have been had he stayed in the chaos of Minny.  When Wade finally gets healthy, Davis’ value drops a bit, but I’d take the 16/4/4 he’ll probably still give you.  As far as Blount goes, can we really have faith in Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning staying healthy all season?  Yeah, the answer is no.

That’s it for the debut of The Fantasy Jump Off.  My goal is to help you help yourself.  Enjoy the start of the season!

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Glad to see you’re coming around on Scola.

How disappointed are you going to be when Thornton is in a platoon with Tim Thomas and Ruben Patterson?


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