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Friday November 3, 2006 5:01 pm

Stat’s All Folks: Small Sample Sized Meal

Deron WilliamsOnly three days of NBA action have been in play, which may cause a crisis when you’re writing a weekly article and you want as many samples of performance as you can, but have no fear.  Sometimes, it’s the early jump on players that can make a difference to a team that wins a fantasy basketball championship and a team that doesn’t.  Ask those that picked up David West or Boris Diaw last season.  And what’s the value now of that underperforming early round draft pick and what will it be moving forward?  Relax, it’s only been a few days, but it doesn’t hurt to note who’s doing what.

Stat’s All Folks will be 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.

POINTS

BULLISH

Anthony Parker, SG, Toronto Raptors: Parker, the two-time Euroleague MVP, did not disappoint in his debut with the Raptors.  He started and played 36 minutes in the loss against the New Jersey Nets.  There was some worry by fantasy owners on whether or not he would lose time to Fred Jones and Morris Peterson (when Andrea Bargnani played at the small forward position), but the Raptors will probably end up playing small ball and sit Rasho Nesterovic more as he did against the Nets.  If Parker is available, I’m really bullish on him to be a great waiver wire pickup for points.

Quentin Richardson, SG/SF, New York Knicks: Sure the 31 points against the Memphis Grizzlies came in three overtimes while playing 56 minutes.  But, here’s what speaks well for “Q” continuing to do well – he started and he’s found his three-point stroke, shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Larry Hughes, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers: If Hughes can continue to do what he did in the first game of the Cavs’ season against the Washington Wizards – 27 points in 39 minutes – it won’t just be good for the Cavs, but also for Hughes’ fantasy owners.  Most importantly, Hughes will need to remain a perimeter threat, 3-for-4 from the land of moneyballs versus the Wizards in order to open up lane opportunities for LeBron James and himself.

BEARISH

Hedo Turkoglu, SF, Orlando Magic: Turkoglu only scored 11 points in the Magic’s first game against the Chicago Bulls.  Now, while I think he will average just a bit more than that, he won’t be the offensive option he was last season.  Grant Hill is back (19 points), Jameer Nelson (21 points) is ready to step up his game, and Dwight Howard (27 points) is becoming the man-beast in the box we all knew he’d become.  Last season, Turkoglu got his burn on the court because Hill was injured, Nelson was still green, and Howard was content to rebound and stick balls back in.  It’s going to be a different story this time around.

Gilbert Arenas, PG, Washington Wizards:  Seven points.  The Detroit Pistons’ Carlos Delfino scored more points (8) than Arenas.  However, I only put Arenas here, as an extreme example, to remind all the worry-warts out there to relax.  So, relax.

 

ASSISTS

BULLISH

Deron Williams, PG, Utah Jazz:  If Williams continues to perform like this – 18 points and 10 assists – he’ll never see head coach Jerry Sloan’s doghouse again.  With a season’s worth of time learning and applying Sloan’s offense, Williams’ 10 assist performance is bound to continue consistently.  Remember, John Stockton did pretty well with that offense.  Pretty well, indeed.

Stephon Marbury, PG, New York Knicks: Thanks to playing for a coach he likes, Marbury seems to be back to his old self, being able to score, but also setting up his teammates for easy shots.  Okay, so it took almost a full regulation’s worth time to do it, but I wouldn’t doubt Marbury thriving under Isiah Thomas.

Brevin Knight, PG, Charlotte Bobcats: So much for Knight sitting on the pine while fellow point guard, Raymond Felton started at the lead guard position.  I guess I made the mistake, again, of underestimating Knight and if Adam Morrison continues to come off the bench for an offensive spark while Knight starts alongside Felton in the backcourt, well, congratulations to all those managers that took a flier on Knight in their drafts.  Expect, at least, the seven assists he dropped on Indiana Pacers to continue for the season.

BEARISH

Sebastian Telfair, PG, Boston Celtics: What happened?  Telfair was supposed to be the point guard the Celtics were sorely lacking the past couple of seasons.  However, the lone assist he passed to another Celtic is not going to cut it if Telfair and his fantasy owners are going to succeed.

Raymond Felton, PG, Charlotte Bobcats: After averaging a little over seven assists a game after last season’s All-Star break, including nine dimes in the last month of the season, Felton was on the fast lane to being one of the better passing guards in the league.  Well, the one assist he acquired slams the brakes on that.

 

REBOUNDS

BULLISH

Eddy Curry, C, New York Knicks: I have to put Curry here first.  Fourteen rebounds?  In one game?  This is very noteworthy for the career 5.1 boards per game Curry.  If Curry didn’t foul out of the triple-overtime game after 41 minutes of play, Curry could have had more.  But, let’s be honest, you’d be happy if he got eight.  Maybe Thomas does know what he’s doing.

David Lee, PF, New York Knicks: Didn’t mean to have back-to-back Knicks here, but Lee is an outstanding player when he’s on the floor.  Lee grabbed 13 boards in 30 minutes and everyone loves this guy in New York.  He’ll get his opportunities on the floor and is a great addition in deep leagues.

Hakim Warrick, SF/PF, Memphis Grizzlies: With Pau Gasol on the mend, Warrick will be getting most of the time at the power forward position, as well as most of the boards.  Look for Warrick to break out this season.

BEARISH

Amare Stoudemire, C, Phoenix Suns: In two games thus far, Stoudemire is averaging 2.5 rebounds.  Granted, it’s been in limited minutes, but there is obvious rust on Stoudemire and he just doesn’t look as explosive as used to.  With Shawn Marion, a healthy Kurt Thomas, and last season’s surprising Boris Diaw all ready to clean the glass, Stoudemire will be hobbling in the background.

 

THREE POINTERS

BULLISH

Leandro Barbosa, PG, Phoenix Suns: It was a losing affair for the Suns against the Los Angeles Lakers on the first night of the season, but it sure wasn’t for Barbosa owners as he shot 6-for-8 from beyond the three-point line.  Barbosa finished with a career-high 30 points in that game. 

Quentin Richardson, SG/SF, New York Knicks: See above in POINTS section.  In addition, if Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, and Nate Robinson decide to actually pass first, Richardson will be set up on the wing enough times to become a strong factor from the outside, especially with Jalen Rose gone and not able to take away Richardson’s minutes.

BEARISH

It’s hard to get on anyone for not hitting any triples at this point in the season, especially since three-pointers aren’t as easy to accumulate as points or boards.  So, we’ll cool it with the bearish three-pointer stock watch.  Although, I do find it funny that neither the Philadelphia 76ers’ Kyle Korver or the Milwaukee Bucks’ Charlie Villanueva do not have one three-pointer.

 

STEALS

BULLISH

Ron Artest, SF, Sacramento Kings: Well, Artest’s new CD sales may not come in bunches, but the steals sure did in his first game of the season against the Minnesota Timberwolves.  One day after his hip hop CD came out, Artest stole the ball seven times, displaying why he’s a former Defensive Player of the Year.  Look for the rock ripping to continue for the whole season.

Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, Indiana Pacers: The only time it’s good for Jackson to act like a criminal is on the court when he’s stealing the ball, which he did well of (four swipes) in the win against the Charlotte Bobcats.  Jackson is a tough defender and is good for about 1.4 steals per contest.   

Thabo Sefolosha, PG/SG, Chicago Bulls: The Swiss rookie wunderkind is showing why he was a lottery pick this past summer.  Sefolosha has some flash, but is also a solid defender as he has two steals in each of the Bulls’ first two games.  And with the Bulls already being a solid team, in addition to Ben Wallace being around to make sure everyone plays defense, Sefolosha can only get better.
BEARISH

Just like with three-pointers, it’s hard to gauge who’s worthy of a “bearish” tag since it’s so early in the season.  So, check back next week where I will have enough of numbers to look at to suggest which players are lazing around in the stats.  And, be forewarned, I won’t be placing any “bearish” tabs in the Blocks category either.

 

BLOCKS

BULLISH

Emeka Okafor, PF/C, Charlotte Bobcats:  Okafor is back!  For all the Okafor owners out there, get down on your hands and knees right now and pray that Okafor stays healthy.  Okafor blocked six shots in one game versus the Pacers.  He also had 13 boards.  Could it be that Okafor is going to get back to doing what he did his whole career at UConn and his rookie year in the league – block and board?  Well, it’s looking really good that it’s going to turn out that way.

Rudy Gay, SF/PF, Memphis Grizzlies: The 6’9” Gay came out of college with a reputation of being freakishly athletic, but also unfocused during stretches.  The four blocked shots does not scream “unfocused” to me, but Gay will need to sustain his drive in order to survive a long season.

Jason Maxiell, SF/PF, Detroit Pistons: If you’re in a deep league, you definitely should pick up Maxiell.  Who is he?  He’s a young and hungry player ready to do what he needs to do for the team to win.  In only 12 minutes of play, Maxiell had three blocks in one game.  If Nazr Mohammed doesn’t pan out the way the Pistons want, Maxiell is next in line to take those minutes, for which he would do well.

So, the sample size was small this week, but any profitable trader knows that you pick and choose and continue to be active in the market.  If you sit back and relax, you’re going to miss something.  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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