Ryan Knaus

NBA Fantasy Trends

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Big Trouble in Little Portland

Wednesday, March 26, 2008



Phony Iavaroni

The Grizzlies are another fantasy headache. Coach Marc Iavaroni continues to shuffle his starting five, occasionally swapping out Hakim Warrick for Juan Carlos Navarro. This is the Don Nelson effect gone awry. I realize other coaches employ similar tactics with great success—Manu Ginobili never seems to be bothered much when he shifts from the bench to the starting five, or vice versa. But these are the Grizzlies, after all. They are in rebuilding mode, and Iavaroni's decisions often seem arbitrary and counterintuitive. Wouldn't his young team be better served by having some stability? Wouldn't Navarro develop his NBA skills more readily by playing one role for longer than a week and half? Isn't Warrick's blossoming post game enough to force Iavaroni to keep him on the court? I mean who else can the Grizzlies throw it to on the block…Darko? Not a chance. I should acknowledge that some of my anger is because Iavaroni has eliminated 92% of Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry's potential fantasy value, miring them in an awful time-share that only got worse once Javaris Crittenton came to town. And then the Grizzlies somehow didn't trade Lowry this season, even though a ton of teams were clamoring for him. What, there was no team willing to part with someone as good as Kwame Brown?

Warrick has been a solid fantasy contributor, but only while starting. Check out the disparity:

Starting: 16.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks.

Not Starting: 7.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.3 steals and 0.3 blocks.

(The real drop-off isn't quite so steep now, since the majority of his games as a reserve came with Pau Gasol still in a Grizzlies uniform.) Warrick has played 30+ minutes in four straight games, so keep him active and hope Iavaroni calms down the lineups—just don't be shocked if Hakim throws out another random 22-minute clunker.

Idling on the runway

Elton Brand has had some positive vibes lately—he finally participated in a 5-on-5 scrimmage, he says his Achilles is nearly 100% healthy and his coach is seemingly eager to welcome him back onto the court. These are all good things, but owners should count their blessings: just because EB returns for a few games doesn't mean he'll be posting MVP numbers during the week of your fantasy championship. Brand is thawed out—now he has to warm up a little. Expect limited minutes and limited numbers in the half dozen or so games he might appear in—Brand even said he might play in the final eight games of the season, which would mean a return on Wednesday, April 2nd.

I don't own Gilbert Arenas in any leagues, but if I did I would drop him overnight, in my sleep, in a heartbeat. His latest setback is a dagger for owners whose faith in Agent Zero has kept them afloat for many agonizing months. He could still return, but I can't see him significantly impacting anyone's fantasy fortunes.

Arenas has been out for months and months, and three days ago the team doctor refused to clear him for action. His checkup next week could be just as fruitless, potentially leaving owners precariously little time to unload him before weekly lineups need to be set. Even if he does return, he has already said (once in an interview, once in his blog) that he won't play more than 20 minutes and doesn't want to start. So we're left with a rusty Arenas returning from back-to-back knee surgeries, his game predicated on speed and rhythm jump shooting, his role limited to 18 minutes off the bench…I personally see no reason why he should be owned in any leagues right now. Feel free to email your responses to this (I know it's not easy to accept, if you own him).

Jermaine O'Neal has been practicing for a while now, and Pacers coach Jim O'Brien says his return is solely dependent upon his conditioning. O'Neal said on Tuesday that he expects to be back "soon". The Pacers are scrapping for a possible playoff spot, so he could make a difference down the stretch in fantasy leagues. Unfortunately, I feel the exact same way about O'Neal as I do about Brand—J.O. has missed 31 straight games and is struggling just to get his conditioning back. Forget about 20 & 10 with a handful of blocks—the only 20 & 10 games he'll have this season will be in minutes and points.

We'll end on a downbeat this week, there's nothing wrong with that. I'm just trying to look at the prospects of these guys in a realistic light, and actually hope that I get proven wrong. But months of relative inactivity can't be overcome in the course of two weeks. Well, at least we won't have to wait long to see if any of these guys pan out.

Shawn Marion is the most heated topic right now, and I'm sorry to say that updates are simply hard to come by. He's definitely abusing the privilege of day-to-day, but it sounds like he genuinely wants to return. Hang on to him, then think about dropping him if there's still no positive news out of Miami next weekend. UPDATE: Marion didn't travel with the Heat on their current four-game road trip.

Email away.

RK


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Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.
Email :Ryan Knaus



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