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Thursday October 26, 2006 9:42 pm

Stat’s All Folks: Doing It Preseason Style!

Kevin Martin takes it to the rack!I have to admit, I was brainstorming and thinking of different ways to write an introductory paragraph about how the NBA was back, but for some reason I just couldn’t come up with anything.  I wrote out the ubiquitous Star Wars reference about Episode V, but didn’t want to appear too fanboyish the first time out.  Then Apocalypse Now hit my head with that whole “I love the smell of…,” but thought of the connotations and chucked that idea.  Then the Rodney Dangerfield classic, Back to School came to mind and how the NBA doesn’t get any respect, but didn’t want to go on a diatribe validating the League. 

So, what am I saying?

I watch entirely too many movies, but I’m also way too excited about the NBA being back to think straight.  However, I’ll pop in Brad Pitt’s Meet Joe Black into the DVD player to bore me and calm my nerves enough to write this article.

(Ten minutes later; yeah, that quickly)

During the regular season, the aim of Stat’s All Folks will be to take a stock market look at the standard cumulative categories – points, assists, rebounds, three-pointers made, steals, and blocks.  I’ll be calling out the “bulls” and “bears” in each category, in order to help you assess your portfolio of players on your fantasy basketball team(s) and whether you should sell, hold, and/or diversify your assets.

Here’s the preseason installment of Stat’s All Folks.  Jagshemash, NB and A!

POINTS

BULLISH

Kevin Martin, SG, Sacramento Kings: No more Bonzi Wells to take Martin’s spot at the two.  Although there is now a John Salmons, who isn’t as offensively skilled as Martin.  Especially with Mike Bibby injured, Martin will get his time to shine and just like that month of February this year when he averaged close to 17 ppg with starter minutes, Martin will take advantage of the opportunity.  Even when Bibby returns, Martin should do well enough to still get enough minutes on the floor to be fantasy effective.  Martin is too good of a shooter to sit on the pine.

Charlie Villanueva, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks: Villanueva didn’t get enough burn at the beginning of his promising career last season with the Raptors, but by the end, he had many people in the T-Dot apologizing for booing the Raptors pick of him in last year’s draft.  In some sense, he’s a poor man’s bald version of Dirk Nowitzki - a big man with pretty good perimeter skills.  Now with Andrew Bogut on the shelf for about the first month of the season, Villanueva will have every chance to show how much versatility he has and will likely be the second option in the Bucks offense after Michael Redd.  Raptors fans will be booing the organization for trading Villanueva if/when he blows up.

BEARISH

David West, PF, New Orleans Hornets:  Mr. West, please meet Peja Stojakovic.  He will be taking away most of your points as the Hornets new number one option on offense.  You’ll still contribute nicely in the percentage categories, but not so much in points.  It was nice knowing you, please exit to the right along with your second or third tier fantasy Forward status.

 

ASSISTS

BULLISH

Raymond Felton, PG, Charlotte Bobcats:  What TIME is it?  FELTON-time… HOO!  I think Brevin Knight has been one of the more underrated point guards in fantasy basketball the last few seasons, but Felton proved late last season that he’s ready to run the Bobcats offense.  The sophomore dynamo averaged close to ten assists in the last month of the season, foreshadowing what many people know now – it’s Felton’s time.  Sorry, Brevin, but it was fun while it lasted.

Stephon Marbury, PG, New York Knicks: Last season was bad for Marbury.  I’m talking Son of the Mask bad and that’s pretty bad.  However, with the expulsion of Larry Brown as coach and the bringing in under threat of firing, Isiah Thomas, Marbury should come back strong this season.  At least stronger than his sneakers, which have been blamed for Marbury’s heel problems.  Of course, Starbury denies this allegation and being an owner of a pair, I can tell you, said allegations are probably wrong.  In any case, what can’t be denied is that with the free reign Thomas will give him and the personnel made to run in the open court, Marbury should be dropping dimes more at his 8.1 career clip than the 6.4 last season.

BEARISH

Brevin Knight, PG, Charlotte Bobcats and Sam Cassell, PG, Los Angeles Clippers: It’s time for youth.  In Knight’s case, please see above.  For Cassell - to borrow from The Beatles - Shaun Livingston is “getting better all the time.”  Look for the kid from Peoria, Illinois to make a little more noise and establish himself that much more as a superstar in the making this season.  And, the funny part in all of this is that Sam I Am will probably be fine with this.  I mean, getting paid millions for two more years as old as Cassell is will make anyone happy.

 

REBOUNDS

BULLISH

Rasheed Wallace, PF, Detroit Pistons: With Ben Wallace gone and not hogging all the board opportunities for the Pistons, Rasheed should up his rebounding totals and make more of a fantasy impact, which is somewhat decimated with the stripping of his Center eligibility.  However, at some point during the season, Wallace should get that back as Nazr Mohammed is not starter material.  And while Tayshaun Prince should also improve his board totals, look for Rasheed to feel that need to feed… umm, his hands with boards.  Yeah,okay, let’s move on.

Robert Swift, C, Seattle Supersonics: Okay, so a pale guy like Swift should never get as much ink as he’s gotten during this offseason.  But, that just may be the way for Swift to accumulate more rebounds.  It’s symbolic, really.  Dennis Rodman was a weird guy with a lot of tattoos and grabbed boards like he was a fat kid and the ball was a gigantic cupcake.  Swift is a weird looking guy with tattoos on him and his 40 per minute rebounding average last year would have him cleaning the glass in double digits.  So, expect Swift to start dating Carmen Electra after he wins the rebounding title this season.  Okay, so both are fantasies, but Swift getting about nine to ten boards a game isn’t.

BEARISH

Jamaal Magloire, C, Portland Trailblazers: That 9.5 rpg average Magloire had last season with the Milwaukee Bucks (yeah, I was surprised too) is going to go down more than the Iron Sheik did to Hulk Hogan in the 80’s.  With the Portland Gorilla, Joel Przybilla, and Zach Randolph down in the trenches, Magloire won’t get many opportunities to pad his rebounding stats.  In fact, he should probably just turn in his Windex right now.

 

THREE POINTERS

BULLISH

Damon Stoudamire, PG, Memphis Grizzlies:  Stoudamire is coming off of an injury-plagued season with the Grizzlies, seeing him only play 27 games.  However, he should be healthy this season and start raining triples once again, even hitting on average two per game.  Pau Gasol is out for a couple of months and unless any of Stromile Swift, Hakim Warrick, or Jake Tsakalidis has been hiding their ability to score the way Gasol scores, Stoudamire should get his fair share of shots.  In fact, when Gasol does comes back, Stoudamire will still get his shots because the defense will key down on Gasol who has an uncanny knack to pass to the open man.  And if it’s Stoudamire, bring the umbrella.

Steve Novak, SF, Houston Rockets:  The boy is just straight up ridiculous with his shot.  J.J. Reddick might have gotten all the hype with his shooting ability last season at Duke, but Novak was better.  The rookie shot mostly from beyond the arc last season with Marquette – 259 of his 363 shot attempts – and hit 46.7% of them!  Not only that, Novak is sick from the free-throw line, hitting 74 of 76 (97.4%) free-throw attempts last year.  With Yao Ming doing damage down low and Tracy McGrady penetrating, you have to believe that Novak is going to be open quite a bit this season.  Even with limited minutes, Novak could still rank up high for treys made.

BEARISH

Ray Allen, SG, Seattle Supersonics:  C’mon, Allen can’t possible hit as many triples as he did last season, can he?  He’ll still get his, but he’d actually have to be Jesus and not just play one in a movie to hit that many again.

 

STEALS

BULLISH

Jameer Nelson, PG, Orlando Magic:  Nelson is a tough player and leaves it all on the court.  He just needs to stay healthy and stay on the floor, so maybe he shouldn’t leave it all on the court and take some back with him to the locker room.  Anyway, for the season last year, he averaged 1.1 spg, in only 28.8 mpg.  Want to know his potential for thefts?  Well, of course you do.  In the month that Nelson averaged his most minutes on the floor (January; 34.6 mpg), Nelson averaged 1.7 rock rips per contest, which would have placed him tied for seventh in the category.  I’ll take it!

Nate Robinson, PG/SG, New York Knicks:  As mentioned earlier, Isiah Thomas is going to let his team play an open court game, going up and down the court.  That means taking advantage of Robinson’s legs and athleticism.  As a sub, Robinson averaged 0.5 spg in 16.3 mpg.  As a starter, he averaged 1.4 spg in 30.5 mpg.  In 11 games in the last month of the season, Robinson stole the ball 1.9 times per contest.  No longer under the chaotic rotation of Larry Brown, Robinson should get more consistent minutes, which means more consistent opportunities to rip the rock and less times of me stating his split numbers.  He’ll just be that darn good.

BEARISH

Eddie Jones, SG, Memphis Grizzlies:  Last season, Jones averaged 1.8 spg.  I just don’t see that happening again when I consider his age (35) and the fact that the Grizz may just go with their youngsters to let them get their lumps since by the time Pau Gasol comes back, the Grizz may be in a depressing funk.  Jones is actually an ideal candidate to be that veteran traded during the season to a contender where he’ll be nothing more than a great complementary player.

 

BLOCKS

BULLISH

Kendrick Perkins, PF/C, Boston Celtics:  The splits Perkins put up last season shows a lot of promise in the shot-blocking category.  As a sub, he averaged 1.2 bpg and as a starter, 1.8.  But, here’s what impressed me, pre-All Star break, he averaged 1.4 rejections per contest and a deuce after the break, including 2.3, 2.0, 2.0 in his last three months of play.  Considering he should be the starter from the get-go, I’d expect some nice swat numbers from the man.

Darko Milicic, PF/C, Orlando Magic:  All Darko needed was time on the floor, which he was never going to get in Detroit.  Not with the Wallaces and the lone McDyess there.  Considered a huge disappointment (understatement) in Detroit, garnering comparisons to Sam Bowie (that guy drafted before Michael Jordan) since the Pistons passed up on Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, Milicic needed a change of scenery.  He got that with a trade to the Magic during the season.  In Orlando, Milic proceeded to block 2.1 shots in 20.9 mpg.  Look for even more from Milicic this season as he forms a dominating duo down low with teammate Dwight Howard. 

BEARISH

Shaquille O’Neal, C, Miami Heat:  I’ll admit to liking Blue Chips (easy to do), Kazaam (hard to do), and even Steel (really easy to do since I was probably the only one that saw it and can lie about how great it was).  I even get down to the Fu-Schnikens/Shaq collaboration, “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock)” (okay, I’m REALLY embarrassed by this one), but something I don’t like is the fact that O’Neal is getting older, more injured, and will lose time during the regular season to get him ready for the postseason, which has zero implications in fantasy basketball.  So, while Shaq may still be the most dominating player in the game, the domination only comes in spurts now.

Well, folks, this concludes your preseason edtion of Stat’s All Folks.  I’ll be here every week during the regular season, trying to become the Gordon Gekko of fantasy basketball.  Be my Bud Fox.

 

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