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Tuesday September 1, 2009 7:58 pm

One Man Mock Draft: Fantasy NBA 2009: Round 2, Pick 1

Posted by Alvin Lai Categories: Fantasy, NBA,

The first major injury disclaimer proclaimed in this mock draft, in the 50 games he played last season, this guy delivered. Battling back from an ACL injury can prove to be a tough task indeed, but the word on the street regarding his rehab has been quiet this summer, which hopefully indicates that it has gone well.

Drafting at the turn basically breaks down into two strategies when it comes to the top two picks: 1) Take one guard and one big man so you have the option of tailoring your team depending on what players are available in the later rounds or 2) Stacking two players who have similar strengths in an attempt to become very formidable in a few core categories at the expense of other categories you effectively punt. Generally at the top of a draft, the NBA players are so good that you do not have to give up on a category so early, with the notable exception being Dwight Howard and his free-throw percentage.

A friend of mine we call Dice, tabbed these two guys last year as his top two picks, so in a tribute to him, let’s see how the one guard/one big guy tandem can work out for you.

Round 2, Pick 1: Al Jefferson, PF/C, Minnesota Timberwolves

Here are his numbers and league ranks from last season. Because he only played in 50 games, Al Jeff did not qualify for league ranking in some categories, however a ranking is still given as if he did.

Field Goal Percentage: 0.497 (25th)
Free Throw Percentage: 0.738 (110th)
Three-pointers made: zero
Points: 23.1 (8th)
Rebounds: 11.0 (6th)
Assists: 1.6 (did not significantly rank)
Steals: 0.8 (134th)
Blocks: 1.7 (13th)
Turnovers: 1.84 (89th)

The game Al Jeff plays closely approximates the ideal prototypical big man in fantasy hoops. When he played last year, he was a double-double machine who ranked in the top ten in points and rebounds. He swats away a lot of shots. He shoots well from the field. His free-throw shooting is not great, but it also is not dismal. This combination is hard to find. Take away the blocks and you have Zach Randolph, hardly a fantasy favorite. Sure, we all like the uniqueness someone like Dirk Nowitzki or Troy Murphy bring to a fantasy team, because they play the big positions and shoot the ball well, hit the three, all while still rebounding.

Deron Williams was picked at the end of the first round. Health permitting, this team has a top three point guard and a top three fantasy center at its disposal. It might take more work over the course of the season, but having a team capable of winning different categories depending on the opponent can definitely lead to a lot of success. The big question mark will be Al Jeff’s health. Therefore, if he lands on your radar, make sure to monitor him over the course of the preseason.

The Minnesota Timberwolves will not have Ricky Rubio on the team for at least a couple of years, and he might never play for them. The team hired Kurt Rambis to be its new head coach, and a faster pace of play could be in store for the T-Wolves. Al Jeff and Kevin Love are an up and coming front-court pair to watch. Both could average double-doubles for the upcoming year. Minnesota has been drafting lottery picks for a number of years now, but no one has really stepped up to become the face of the franchise. Al Jeff is the closest thing they have to an All-Star, and assuming his knee lets him play full-out, he will be a good value pick here.

Should you want to be more cautious, Pau Gasol is also still available. At this stage in their careers, Gasol averages about 10% less than Al Jeff in the key big man stats, but Gasol is the more proven and durable pick for this year. The other direction would be to pick a point guard, where the next tier in that position runs deep with the likes of Chauncey Billups, Steve Nash and Jose Calderon available.

As a fan, I hope Al Jeff comes back strong and has a good season. For fantasy hoops, you have to seriously consider taking him despite the injury risk at this stage in the draft.



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