Rob Blackstien

Basketball Daily Dose

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Studs and Duds

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Today marks the final Daily Dose of the NBA season, so as a treat, we're going select our studs and duds for each NBA team.

We hope we were able to help you bag yourself a fantasy championship this season, and if not, well, why weren't you following our advice?

Atlanta Hawks

Stud – Josh Smith: While J-Smoov didn't necessarily explode to the next level this season, he did set career highs in scoring, assists, steals, field goal attempts and FG percentage (thanks to cutting down on the ill-advised long bombs), all despite getting a bit less PT on a deeper Hawk team. He also was able to reduce his turnovers and improve his FT percentage after shooting poorly from the charity stripe in 2006-07.

Dud – Acie Law: While many expected Law to ultimately emerge with the Hawks' starting PG gig, he made just six starts before losing the job to Anthony Johnson and when Mike Bibby arrived in town, all hope was lost for the rookie. Injuries and plenty of DNP-CDs rendered it a lost season for Law.

Boston Celtics

Stud – Paul Pierce: This was one of the toughest calls because it's clear that while the Big Three propelled Boston forward in the standings, they completely cannibalized each other's fantasy value. But we've got to give it to someone, so let's honor the team's long-suffering vet, Pierce, who stayed healthy, reaching 80 games for the first time since 04-05, and improved his blocks, assists, steals and FG percentage. The Truth also set a new personal best by canning 84.3 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe.

Dud – Sam Cassell: Despite some solid games lately, it's been a bit painful to watch Sam I Am's game deteriorate after such a great career. Even with his seemingly incessant injuries, Cassell wasn't doing too poorly with the Clippers before they bought him out and he signed with Boston. But in Beantown, he barely saw enough action to be of use and his shooting (38.5 percent from the field) was downright pathetic. It's about time for the ice floe here, Sam.

Charlotte Bobcats

Stud – Jason Richardson: After struggling with injuries last season, J-Rich proved he was back in a big way, matching his career high in MPG yet still being able to play all 82 for the first time since 02-03. He set new career highs in 3-pointers per game, 3-point percentage and BPG, while improving his other numbers almost across the board. Life on the east coast obviously agrees with him.

Dud – Emeka Okafor: It wasn't an awful season for Okafor, but considering he finally stayed healthy for the entire year, you had a right to expect more. His touches dropped for the third straight season, while his FT percentage continued to plummet, reaching new career lows. He also slipped in scoring, rebounding, steals, blocks and assists.

Chicago Bulls

Stud – Ben Gordon: This is another tough call; finding a player capable of taking this award on a massively underperforming Bulls' team was no easy task, but someone has to get the nod here. So we'll go with Gordon, based on him setting a career high in FT percentage and tying his mark in RPG. He also improved his 3-pointers per game, but overall was a disappointment. Gordon is expected to remain with the Bulls next year, but probably not beyond that.

Dud – Kirk Hinrich: So many candidates here, but let's go with Captain Kirk, who is probably in line for a demotion in rank after scuffling through the worst season of his career. He set low water marks for games played, MPG, 3-pointers per game, 3-point FG percentage, FTs per game, PPG, RPG and APG while tying his worst ever in SPG. Hinrich was incredibly unreliable, but annoyingly did just enough that you had to keep him.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Stud – LeBron James: It's hard to argue against King James being the fantasy MVP of the entire league after averaging 30 PPG, a career high 7.9 RPG and 7.2 APG, which matched his career best. That across the board production marked the first time since Michael Jordan in 1988-89 that anyone had numbers that high. Toss in career bests in FG percentage, blocks per game and a career-tying performance in FTA per game, and you've got a slam dunk for LBJ.

Dud – Ben Wallace: Ugh. What happened to Big Ben? Sure, a sore back down the stretch didn't help, but as bad as he was in Chicago, he was possibly even worse once landing in Cleveland after the big deal. In shallower leagues, there was no point in even owning him anymore.

Dallas Mavericks

Stud – Josh Howard: While Disco Dirk remains the best player on the Mavs, we've got to give the nod here to Howard for a career season in which he set new personal marks in MPG, 3PM per game, free throws made and FTA per game, PPG, RPG and APG. He also tied his career high in games played, managing to avoid a major injury.

Dud – Jerry Stackhouse: Injuries really limited his value, but even with an increase in MPG when he did play, Stackhouse's SPG dropped to a career low 0.5 while his scoring and assists were also down. He also shot the ball very poorly this season, and ended the year as a fringe fantasy factor.

Denver Nuggets
Stud – Allen Iverson: AI will likely never be a 30 PPG man again as long as he's playing alongside 'Melo, but he stayed completely healthy, playing in all 82 for the time since 2002-03, and in setting a career best by sinking 34.5 percent of his shots beyond the arc, improving his rebounding and cutting his turnovers, the Answer was able to lead the Nuggets to 50 wins for the first time in 20 years.

Dud – J.R. Smith: I'm tempted to go with either Chucky Atkins or Nene here, but given that they spent most of the season injured, they really couldn't stick around in fantasy lineups long enough to really do damage to your team. So Smith gets the call here as he was unable to build on his breakout campaign last year. Used exclusively off the bench, Smith's PT was down significantly, yet he still set a new career high in turnovers. He shot very well, but didn't do enough of anything else to generate value.

Detroit Pistons

Stud – Chauncey Billups: It was hardly Mr. Big Shot's best season, especially with the Pistons relying more on their bench this season, but he still posted career bests in both FG and FT percentage. Lights out, baby.

Dud – Walter Herrmann: After a big rookie season, many took a draft day flyer on Herrmann this season, but he wasn't able to come close to duplicating his first year given a massive reduction in PT on a deeper and healthy Bobcat squad. After he was dealt to Detroit, he was even less useful.

Golden St. Warriors

Stud – Baron Davis: B-Diddy played all 82 for the first time since the Hornets were still in Charlotte, rewarding owners with probably his finest NBA season. He was able to log more PT, showing nice improvements in his 3-point and FT shooting, while his rebounding and scoring were also up. Davis also fell just four blocks of matching his career high.

Dud – Marco Belinelli: Wasn't he supposed to be a starter back in October? That prospect lured plenty of fantasy owners to use a pick on him back on draft day, but he never did start a single game. In fact, he was a complete non-factor, spending way too much time in Nellie's doghouse to ever be an option.

Houston Rockets

Stud – Tracy McGrady: Yao Ming deserved this until yet another major injury cut his season short. So T-Mac takes home the Rockets' stud of the year, even though it was hardly a banner year for him. He was able to log more minutes when he was in the lineup, but other than that, McGrady wasn't at his best, struggling particularly with his shooting down the stretch. In fact, the more I think about this, the more I am tempted to give the nod to Luis Scola here.

Dud – Rafer Alston: Again, I'm tempted to go with Steve Francis here, but the fact that we knew quite early that his season was a wash minimized the negative effect he had on your team. Alston meanwhile, while not completely going into the tank, did experience a reduction in scoring, assists, steals and 3-pointers.

Indiana Pacers

Stud – Danny Granger: Granger has arrived as the man for the Pacers, breaking through in his third year as a major force. His first full season as a starter was a resounding success, so look for Granger to go before the fourth round next year.

Dud – Jamaal Tinsley: Normally, I don't give the Dud to an injured player, but the fact that for a month Tinsley looked like he'd eventually make it back wound up hurting his owners until deep into March in many cases. That, combined with him tying his worst ever showing from the field (38 percent), helped clinch this for Tinsley.

L.A. Clippers

Stud – Corey Maggette: If not for an injury-riddled season that ended early, Chris Kaman's breakout would have deserves kudos here. Instead, Maggette's year, also reduced to an extent by injuries, gets the nod. Back as more or less a full-time starter this season, Maggette responded brilliantly, putting up the second-best scoring season of his career and getting back to the steal per game level. He fought through late-season injuries in a season that meant nothing to the Clippers, and fantasy owners appreciate that.

Dud – Brevin Knight: Wasn't Knight supposed to be the man with Shaun Livingston out and Sam Cassell still as fragile as they come? Well, he stayed moderately healthy and got plenty of starting assignments, but simply was never able to do much with the gig. By season's end, Smush Parker was playing more than the fragile Knight, and that's just sad.

L.A. Lakers

Stud – Kobe Bryant: After last year's offseason of discontent, Kobe's MVP-type performance this year was a welcome sight. He played all 82 for the first time since 02-03 and while his shooting slipped slightly, Bryant's steals and rebounds were up.

Dud – Luke Walton: Walton was unable to consolidate last year's breakout, spending most of the season coming off the bench and not seeing anywhere near last year's PT. Add to this the fact that his percentages were down across the board, and Walton's inconsistency this year made him very tough to keep on your roster.

Memphis Grizzlies

Stud – Rudy Gay: The second-year star broke through in a huge way this season, adjusting to heavier minutes as a full-time starter with ease. His across-the-board production has elevated him to top 25 player status heading into next season.

Dud – Darko Milicic: It's rather fitting that Darko finished the season with an undisclosed injury, as fantasy owners everywhere have been wondering what's wrong with him all year. Sure, he did have some health issues this year, but other than a career high in RPG, this season marked a major backslide for Darko.

Miami Heat

Stud – Shawn Marion: It's hard to honor anyone on this team, but the stellar rebounding work from the Matrix after he arrived in Miami is worth a tip of the hat. Of course, even this is dubious as his season ended early with plantar fasciitis, leaving owners high and dry for the final couple weeks of the season.

Dud – Mark Blount: It's not as if Miami was blessed with scoring options, especially with Flash missing a huge chunk of the season, but Blount failed to take advantage of the situation and carve out a role for himself. His touches were way down, and his production plummeted across the board.

Milwaukee Bucks

Stud – Andrew Bogut: While Michael Redd was the Bucks' MVP, it was not his best season, whereas Bogut just keeps getting better every year. He's now averaging a near double-double and, at the age of 23, I expect to see continued improvement next season. Consider this: after 31 double-doubles in his first two seasons combined, Bogut put up 38 this year.

Dud – Charlie Bell: After a nice breakout last season, Bell completely flopped this year. With the Bucks much healthier, his starts were few and far between while his overall PT took a major beating, bringing most of his numbers down with it. To make matters worse, his ironman streak ended last month.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Stud – Al Jefferson: What a year! Finally fully healthy, Big Al enjoyed a massive breakthrough campaign, thriving offensively as the T-Wolves' go-to man. Jefferson's big year helped take some of the sting out of losing KG.

Dud – Corey Brewer: I don't like to diss rooks, but those expecting big things from Brewer this year were way off the mark. He simply was not productive enough to be of use except in very, very deep leagues. Brewer is an excellent FT shooter, and the fact that he averaged a steal per game coming mostly off the bench was promising, but he was nowhere near the factor offensively that we anticipated back in training camp.

New Jersey Nets

Stud – Richard Jefferson: While VC may be the Nets' MVP, his scoring average dropped almost four points per game this year, so we're going with RJ, who was able to play in all 82 for the first time since 03-04. Jefferson's PT was up and he responded with a career-best 22.6 PPG to earn the nod here.

Dud – Nenad Krstic: Sure, he was able to play more games than last year's injury-shortened season, but Krstic was anything but healthy this year, appearing in just 45 games. When he was healthy enough to play, he often took a backseat to emerging youngster Josh Boone. Throw in the fact that he shot an absolutely unacceptable 41 percent this season, and you've got a write-off of a year from Krstic.

NOK Hornets

Stud – Chris Paul: Here's a shocker, eh? Paul reached 80 games for the first time, and took his game to a new level. Other than declining rebounding numbers, it's been nothing but good news for Paul owners this season.

Dud – Mike James: What a complete waste of a roster spot James proved to be this season. His horrible shooting in Houston made it impossible for him to carve out more PT, and he's been even worse since arriving in the Big Easy.

New York Knicks

Stud – Jamal Crawford: In his first season as a full-time starter, Crawford not only avoided injury (reaching 80 games for the first time since 03-04), but he exploded with the finest season of his career, showing an improved shooting touch along the way.

Dud – Quentin Richardson: There are so many options here, and I'm tempted to go with Isiah Thomas on principle, but Q-Rich's awful season after a fine 2006-07 campaign takes the cake. Although he was unable to avoid injury, the 65 games he did play in actually represented the most he's managed in three years in New York. However, his numbers plummeted, making him a complete fantasy non-factor. To make matters worse, it looks like Richardson's days as a starter could be over.

Orlando Magic

Stud – Dwight Howard: This isn't a slam dunk as Hedo Turkoglu was a revelation and Rashard Lewis an all-around contributor, but Superman was so improved this year, how can we ignore him? His scoring, rebounding and blocks were all up, and he even slightly improved his FT percentage.

Dud – J.J. Redick: Is it too soon to call the former Duke star a complete NBA bust? Pre-season visions of Redick emerging with the starting two-guard job quickly went up in smoke as he failed to earn a single start all year. In fact, he's never started an NBA game. And if we thought his rookie year was a disappointment, then this season has been an absolute disaster.

Philadelphia 76ers

Stud – Andre Iguodala: Iggy continues to up the ante, this year setting a career high in blocks, and developing a perimeter game. I'm concerned about his off year from the line, but that's quibbling at this point.

Dud – Kyle Korver: No one on the Sixers who was taken on draft day has disappointed, so I'm going to cheat here and take ex-Sixer Korver, who was awful before being dealt to the Jazz. And given the reduced role he's seen in Utah, it's been a tough fantasy year for him.

Phoenix Suns

Stud – Amare Stoudemire: Given his career-high 59 percent FG shooting, improved FT shooting, fantastic offense and development as a shot blocker, I'd say Stat enjoyed his finest NBA season to date.

Dud – Boris Diaw: Diaw's career continues to deteriorate since his breakout two years ago. His lack of blocks in the past two seasons has particularly upset his fantasy owners.

Portland Trailblazers

Stud – Brandon Roy: Although I'd like to see him stick more shots from beyond the arc, Roy's overall development in season two is worthy of this honor. As he continues to draw more fouls, he will morph into a top scorer.

Dud – Channing Frye: He had a strong finish to the year, but overall, he simply didn't get enough PT to be of any use, especially since he spent most of the year coming off the bench. Frye's career appears to be in reverse, with declining numbers two straight years after his fine rookie effort.

Sacramento Kings

Stud – Ron Artest: Given the amount of injuries he had this year, it's hard to do this, but Artest deserves the nod for being able to play so effectively and log heavy minutes while hurt most of the season. His 3-point shooting was solid, helping him top 20 PPG for the second time in his career.

Dud – Mike Bibby: I'm cheating again. But none of the draft-worthy Kings underachieved, so Bibby, who averaged a substandard 13.5 PPG while with Sacramento, gets the nod. In fairness, Bibby was better after the deal to Atlanta, but he still hasn't been able to stem what appears to be a career in decline for the past three seasons.

San Antonio Spurs

Stud – Manu Ginobili: He should be the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year after putting up a career best 19.5 PPG.

Dud – Tim Duncan: Another reach here, as none of the few draft worthy players the Spurs have really tanked, but Duncan slipped the most despite a solid rebounding year and improved FT shooting. But his diminished FG percentage (especially compared to last year) and reduced points, blocks, steals and assists were disappointing.

Seattle Sonics

Stud – Kevin Durant: Who else? Just witnessing his improvements in the second half (especially with his shot) gave us an indication of what's in store for this kid, who is still a teenager.

Dud – Luke Ridnour: Ridnour's career is very clearly in decline now, as he couldn't hold the starter job in Seattle and simply didn't earn enough PT to be of any use. He can't be trusted with a roster spot on your fantasy team any longer.

Toronto Raptors

Stud – Jose Calderon: It's hard to pick someone from a disappointing Raptor team. Chris Bosh is their MVP, but he again dealt with injuries and backslid; Anthony Parker is perhaps their most consistent performer, but not dynamic enough to be a real fantasy force. So Calderon gets the nod here for a great breakout, stepping up with T.J. Ford suffering another major injury. I'd like to see Calderon draw more fouls to take advantage of his excellent shooting, but overall, it was a great season of progress for the Spanish Fly.

Dud – Jason Kapono: Can someone explain to me why the NBA's leading 3-point shooter of a year ago averaged less than half the amount of attempts this year as he did in his breakout 2006-07 campaign? Yes, the sudden emergence of Jamario Moon hurt him, but small wonder Kapono had virtually no fantasy value.

Utah Jazz

Stud – Deron Williams: Williams took his game to a new level in his third season, bouncing back after an off year from the perimeter, and showing marked improvements in almost every other facet of the game.

Dud – Mehmet Okur: The normally durable Okur missed more games than usual, and his shot suffered, taking his scoring with it. It wasn't an awful season, but was somewhat disappointing, and represents his second straight year of decline.

Washington Wizards

Stud – Caron Butler: Injuries limited his overall value to your team this year, but when he was in the lineup, there's no denying the effect Butler has as he just keeps getting better and better. I'd like to see more trips to the FT throw line, but assuming Butler can play 75 or more games one of these years, how good is he going to be?

Dud – Gilbert Arenas: Usually, a team can recover from losing a star player for an entire year, but when your high first round pick is limited to 13 games all season, chances are it was a lost year for you.

Rob Blackstien runs, a site featuring daily fantasy sports analysis. In addition to his baseball work on the site, he contributes to Rotoworld’s basketball coverage. Rob also writes for, and has contributed to Rotoman’s Fantasy Baseball Guide and Fantasy Football Guide.
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