Aaron Bruski

Offseason Beat

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NBA Lockout Update

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


What to do with the old studs?

 

Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash, and Kobe Bryant have carried you and others to fantasy titles for many a fortnight.  But they’re getting old, so what is an owner to do?  Let’s take a look. 

 

Amare knocked himself out of the playoffs last season by tweaking his back on a warmup dunk.  He says he’s back to normal and he looked freakish athletically in the last exhibition game he played.  But can you commit a first-round pick to a guy whose odometer makes him prone to ticky-tack injuries like that?  I’m leaning no. 

 

Steve Nash may always have the ability to put together a ‘shock game’ in which he runs up numbers like a pinball machine.  More now than ever his minutes are going to be monitored.  Somebody else can have the name value. 

 

Dwyane Wade turned in anywhere between a No. 4 overall and No. 8 overall rank last season in 8- and 9-cat leagues and played in 76 games.  Is he capable of doing that again?  Without a doubt.  Do the Heat have every incentive to keep his minutes down?  Yes.  More so than LeBron, Wade’s long-term health will be monitored by everybody from Micky Arison to Erik Spoelstra.  I foresee 2-3 minutes getting shaved off of his nightly load, and major injuries aside, I’d think the Heat want to see him in the 72-76 games played range.  After LeBron and Durant are off the board, I think we’re going to see a lot of fluidity in the first round.   Wade is a first-round asset, but we’ll see one or more of Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Love go ahead of him in drafts, not to mention one or more of the big name guys like Chris Paul, Amare Stoudemire, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, and Dwight Howard jumping him, as well.  Wade will be on the top-end of this list, but how far he falls will determine whether or not I’ll be drafting him.  This, of course, means I’m not likely to have him on any of my teams.  I can’t see taking him ahead of Curry and Rose, and then Love, Westbrook, and CP3 are right there in the mix. 

 

Kobe Bryant fell out of the top-5 of ESPN’s audacious NBA rankings, but his name has been bigger than his fantasy game for some time.  That’s not changing.

 

And what about the man of the hour, Dirk Nowitzki?  We’ve called him the most boring first round draft pick a couple of years running now.  You can bet his draft stock goes up with last year’s championship performance, even if greater logic says that he has to be adorned with the kid gloves this year. 

 

For the most part, I don’t tend to own a lot of players from this type of a group.  Unlike the major risks in the preceding group, however, owners don’t want to bury their heads in the sand on these guys.  If the price is right, make the move.  Sometimes the shiny new toy isn’t ready to knock off ‘old reliable.’ 

 

To Dwight or not to Dwight, that is the question

 

Dwight Howard shot a predictable 59.3 percent from the foul line last season, but he still managed to grab second and third round value in 8- and 9-cat leagues last season.  He even managed low-end first round value on a cumulative basis in 8-cat leagues.  This was due to pjumps in scoring average (18.3 to 22.9), rebounding (13.2 to 14.1), and steals (0.9 to 1.4).  He blocked fewer balls (2.8 to 2.4) and lost two points on his field goal shooting (61.2 to 59.3), but the result was about a half-round jump in value. 

 

What does this mean?  Well, for starters, he’s not as radioactive as many will believe despite his free throw and turnover limitations.  And while I’m generally not a fan of punting categories because it restricts your draft strategy on the whole against better drafters – building a punting strategy around him makes as much sense as ever.  Without punting, I’d prefer to take him in the middle of the second round of 8-cat drafts, but I doubt he lasts that long.  Somebody always reaches for him.    

 

And if you’re in a league that doesn’t penalize free throw shooting and turnovers, I can make an easy argument that he should be the No. 1 overall pick.  Aside from the lack of depth at the center position, he is simply too productive to overlook. 

 

So where are we now?

 

We’re waiting just like you guys for the results from today’s meetings.  Our draft guide is being produced but we’re forced to take a wait-and-see approach in many ways, as the lockout will have a significant impact on just about everything.  Whenever the sides agree there should be about two weeks from the time of the handshake agreement to the start of free agency, as lawyers from both sides will finalize the rules that everybody will abide by. 

 

In this short time, there will be mass confusion among all parties as to what they should be doing.  There could be mass movement of players from team to team, or the new rules could restrict player movement.  It’s just too hard to tell.  Throw into the mix the restrictions that are about to be imposed in terms of contract length, contract amount, total salary cap, exceptions, and more – it’s a total mess. 

 

Significant cap changes aren’t going to be imposed in Year 1, or at least that is my educated guess, but a low salary cap could crush teams like Miami who are front-loaded with stars.  You get the point.

 

As for the lockout itself, I predicted back in August that the season would start on December 5th, and that date still sounds about as good as any right now.  I selected the date because it gives the NBA three weeks to get the kinks out in advance of its showcase games on Christmas.  David Stern and his owners know the symbolic significance of that date, and it was sort of reaffirming to me that Stern used Christmas in one of his threats. 

 

That said, there could be a handshake agreement as soon as today and, conversely, while it’s unlikely the sides could destroy the season.  Anybody that says they know what’s going to happen is kidding themselves.  It’s mass confusion out there. 

 

This year, more than years’ past, the good fantasy owners are going to separate themselves by being ready in advance of the impending shotgun wedding.  Figuring out who is going to be helped and hurt by the lockout, and staying abreast of the free agency moves will be key during this stretch.  Our draft guide will change with each development, and the blurbs will be the backbone for everything that we do.  Just know that when they say ‘go,’ things are going to get crazy.  For you ringers out there, this should spell opportunity.    



Aaron Bruski has been covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld for five years. Hit him on Twitter at Aaronbruski.
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