Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What the F?

By Anthony Peretore
Western Conference Wednesday
Week of January 5-11


What the F? is a run down of every team in the NBA, facts surrounding them, player(s) to look out for on the fantasy front, and a forecast of their games this week. The intent of this blog is to provide readers with up-to-date information on their favorite teams, help with their fantasy team, and predictions for every NBA game this week. Comments are much appreciated.

SOUTHWEST DIVISION
1st: San Antonio Spurs (26-7), Last Week: (3-1), Predicted: (4-0)
FACTS: The Spurs have won six of their last seven games (only losing at Sacramento) and in superior blow out fashion. In those six victories, San Antone outscored their opponents by an average of 20.3 points, including a 114-80 massacre of the Trailblazers. This team continues to dominate defensively as well, leading the league in opponents’ PPG (85.1—3.9 less than anyone) and opponents’ FG% (41.2). When you’re also averaging 102.5 PPG in your last five (keep in mind only 81 in their loss), it’s pretty tough to lose games. They have definitely separated themselves from the pack as the elite team in the NBA.

FANTASY: Who should I be angrier at Tim Duncan or Coach Gregg Popovich? TD has averaged just 16.3 PPG over his last six, but playing in only 32.2 minutes per night. Compare that to Kevin Garnett who has averaged 40.0 minutes per night in his last 6, and you can see why I have contemplated trading Duncan in recent weeks. I think if you can get equal rebounds and blocks (say Ben Wallace) as well as a decent scorer in return, pull the trigger. The Spurs are a phenomenal basketball team and Popovich is going to give Duncan all the rest he can, especially after his tour in Athens this summer.

FORECAST: Thursday: vs. Indiana (Win), Saturday: vs. Denver (Win), Monday: @Utah (Win)

2nd: Dallas Mavericks (20-10), Last Week: (1-0), Predicted: (1-0)
FACTS: On Tuesday, Dirk Nowitzki was named Western Conference Player of the Month for December after averaging 27.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG, and 1.6 BPG and leading the Mavs to a 9-4 record. Thanks in large part to Dirk, Dallas has hit an offensive explosion in their last three games, averaging 112.3 PPG in wins over lowly Milwaukee, Boston and Denver. The team is 7-3 since Michael Finley returned from the injured list, a stretch in which their PPG average has been an astronomical 105.6. This number is very close to their league-leading 82-game average from a year ago (105.2).

FANTASY: It seems as if their big off-season acquisition is going to factor into the equation after all. Since Jason Terry was handed back his starting point guard duties on Dec. 18, he has averaged 11.7 PPG, 7.2 APG, and 2.2 SPG in just 29.5 min. Both backup points (Darrell Armstrong and Devin Harris) have seen limited action since Terry’s promotion, a stretch in which the team has gone 5-1. Look for Terry to warrant 30+ minutes in the immediate future and get rid of DA and Harris if you haven’t already.

FORECAST: Wednesday: vs. Lakers (Win), Saturday: vs. Indiana (Win)

3rd: Houston Rockets (16-15), Last Week: (3-0), Predicted: (2-1)
FACTS: Well it appears that management did the right thing in trading away veteran Jimmy Jackson in order to acquire G David Wesley. Jackson was apparently criticized (particularly by T-Mac) for taking away shots from more polished offensive weapons. Not only did the move solidify a rather weak Houston backcourt, but it’s also allowed Tracy McGrady to shift to his more natural position at the ‘3.’ Since the shift, McGrady has averaged 30.3 PPG (more than 6 points over his season avg.) while maintaining similar rebounding (6.3) and assist numbers (5.3). Wesley, on the other hand, has struggled in his first three games, putting up just 6.7 PPG and 4.7 in 34.3 minutes. Given the time to adjust to a new setting, and we may finally see what Wesley and the Rockets can truly do.

FANTASY: Besides T-Mac, the other player who has gotten a spark from the recent trade has been G Bobby Sura (glad I dropped him last week). In his last four contests, he has averaged 13.0 PPG, 6.5 APG and 1.7 SPG. Once Wesley adjusts, Sura should come back down to earth, but he’s worth a gamble now if you need short term help at the point.

FORECAST: Wednesday: vs. Phoenix (Loss), Friday: @Lakers (Loss), Sunday: @Denver (Win)

4th: Memphis (16-17), Last Week: (3-0), Predicted: (2-1)
FACTS: There have been recent discussions of the Grizzlies making a run at New Orleans point guard Baron Davis, a rumor that GM Jerry West said had a slim chance of going down. PG Jason Williams has been like an ugly stripper looking for lap dance clients: shopped around and finding no one that desperate. It must do wonders for his game to know that the team has had him up for sale for months. Memphis does have good reason behind their anxiousness however. Williams is averaging career-lows in APG, RPG and SPG and as a result, minutes per game. The team secretly (well if I know it can’t be much of a secret) thinks they are better off with Earl Watson running point, something Paul has concurred with in watching almost every Grizz game in the past few weeks. Should be fun to see how this unfolds…

FANTASY: F Shane Battier shifted back into the starting lineup in Memphis’ most recent game, scoring a season-high 18 points while snatching 4 steals in 30 minutes. Battier has started 23 out of 31 games this season and three out of his last five. Why Coach Mike Fratello keeps juggling his starting lineup is beyond our knowledge, but who can argue with him when the team has won its last four. Keep on an eye on Battier for he’s probably available in most leagues and can serve as a valuable 9th or 10th man.

FORECAST: Thursday: @Detroit (Loss), Friday: vs. New Orleans (Win), Tuesday: vs. Indiana (Loss)


5th: New Orleans (2-27), Last Week: (0-2), Predicted: (0-2)
FACTS: Quote from Paul with the Hornets and Celtics tied at 46 at halftime the other night: “The Hornets aren’t too bad anymore dude.” Boston then went on to outscore New Orleans 36-19 in the third quarter and ended up winning 108-90. Lesson learned: the Hornets are atrocious and just when you think they may be putting things in place, they either get smoked or discuss moving Baron Davis for Marko Jaric, Kerry Kittles and a tin of Skoal. I’m not going to waste my time and list every category N.O. ranks dead last in again (check last week’s What the F?) but just know it more than a few. And on a side note, if you happen to be following a Hornet game on your computer and a picture of Chris Anderson comes up, immediately look away. If you do happen to glance at his picture for more than 3 seconds, immediately flush your eyes out with water and call poison control.

FANTASY: I’d say try to acquire P.J. Brown, but he’s 35 years old and playing out of position which may lead to injury. I’d say go get Lee Nailon, but I don’t trust guys named Lee. Dan Dickau and Anderson aren’t getting enough minutes, and you shouldn’t jump on J.R. Smith until he has at least one more solid game. Definitely keep an eye on this team though, because with a 2-27 record, Coach Byron Scott is looking for production wherever he can find it. I heard Shawna the team cheerleader is starting at the ‘2’ tonight.

FORECAST: Wednesday: vs. Chicago (Loss), Friday: @Memphis (Loss), Saturday: vs. Sacramento (Loss), Tuesday: @New York (Loss), sorry Hornet fans.


NORTHWEST DIVISION

1ST: Seattle Sonics (23-6), Last Week: (3-0), Predicted: (2-1)
FACTS: Am I the only one still trying to figure out how this team is so damn good? I’ve read all the articles (including my own “Behind Three-Point Lines”) that give the secrets behind Seattle’s early season success, but I still remain skeptical. Fine, Ray Allen is a god and Rashard Lewis is having a great season as well. But somehow Coach Nate McMillan is getting production out of 23-year old PG Luke Ridnour, Danny Fortson (leads the league in techs), Reggie Evans, a guy named Vladimir, Jerome James (male Jenna Jameson?), and rookie Nick Collison. On paper, if this team was 15-14 I’d still be praising them, but they’re 23 and freakin’ 6!! And to add to it, they just ended the Heat’s 14 game winning streak, IN MIAMI!! I need to stop using exclamation points.

FANTASY: If you need rebounding desperately, grab either Evans or Fortson who rank 3rd and 6th respectively, in boards per 48 minutes. That’s the key though, getting the minutes. Evans only averages 23.4 while Fortson logs just 18.5 a night. Keep an eye on both and if either gets 30+ in say, three consecutive nights, he may be worth a 10th spot on your squad.

FORECAST: Wednesday: @Orlando (Win), Thursday: @Washington (Win), Sunday: vs. Miami (Loss-revenge style), Tuesday: vs. Clippers (Win)


2nd: Minnesota T'wolves (16-13), Last Week: (0-3), Prdctd: (3-0)
FACTS: How furious do you think Kevin Garnett is right now? During their current 3-game slide, KG is averaging 31.3 PPG (career-high 47 last night), 13.3 RPG, 5.3 APG and 2.3 SPG. On the other hand, the two other guys (besides Wally) who have been counted on to carry this team, Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, have been atrocious. In their last three, Alien and Spree have averaged a combined 31.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 11.7 APG and just 0.7 SPG. GM Kevin McHale should strongly consider shipping both of these underachievers out the door (check out Chard Ford’s article today on ESPN.com).

FANTASY: Besides KG and Szczerbiak, I wouldn’t go near anyone else. I’ve been thinking about this, I think Kwame Brown and Michael Olowokandi should have to fight each other until one of them is dead. If you are the first pick of a draft and three-five years later you’re considered a bust, you should have to fight for your life.

FORECAST: Wednesday: @Charlotte (Win), Friday: vs. Philadelphia (Win), Saturday: @Washington (Loss), Monday: vs. Lakers (Win)


3rd: Portland Blazers (14-15), Last Week: (1-2), Predicted: (1-2)
FACTS: Why is Nick Van Exel starting again? At 4-4, it seems that the Blazers are doing just fine with him running the point, but let’s dig a little deeper into the box scores. Of these four wins, three have come against Golden State, Milwaukee, and Atlanta who have a combined record of 25-63 (.284). In those four losses, Portland has been defeated by an average margin of 16.3 PPG in which NVE has shot a masterful 31.7% from the floor. See everything looks fine on paper, but when you dive into the numbers, you can clearly see that the Blazers must be putting him on display for trade.

FANTASY: If either Van Exel or Damon Stoudamire gets traded or injured, pick up rookie Sebastian Telfair quickly. This Blazer team is going to fade fast and he will be getting 30+ by the end of the year.

FORECAST: Wednesday: @Clippers (Loss), Friday: vs. Miami (Loss), Sunday: @New York (Loss), Monday: @Philadelphia (Win)


4th: Denver Nuggets (14-17), Last Week: (1-2), Predicted: (1-2)
FACTS: The good thing is, the Nuggets still have a very potent starting lineup and one of the deepest teams in the NBA. Add to it that they are only 2 games back of the 8 seed in the West and everyone in the Rocky Mountains should be thrilled. The downside is that they have lost 10 of their last 12 and have been injury-riddled all season with starters Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby missing 6 games apiece (only 3 wins in those 11 games). Add to it that they have an ex-WNBA Coach as their new head man and there is plenty of reason to doubt how far the Nugs are going to get this season.

FANTASY: With “Iron Man” Marcus Camby missing his last two games with a strained back, it may be wise to go after Nene, but only at a relatively cheap price. The Brazilian has put up excellent numbers (17.8 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 1.3 BPG in 38.8 min) as the starting center in Denver’s last four games. Maybe the team will wise up and get rid of the creaky Camby and use Nene as their fulltime ‘5.’

FORECAST: Saturday: @San Antonio (Loss), Sunday: vs. Houston (Loss), Tuesday: @Sacramento (Loss)


5th: Utah Jazz (11-21), Last Week: (0-4), Predicted: (0-4)
FACTS: In my opinion, it is in Utah’s best interest to throw in the towel on the rest of this season like San Antonio did several years back, eventually ending up with Tim Duncan. Like the Spurs that year with David Robinson, the Jazz have been without their best player, Andrei Kirlineko, for some time now. Already 5.5 games back of a playoff spot and AK-47 still weeks away from returning, why not throw in the towel and take a chance at getting another Wake Forest stud in PG Chris Paul? If I were Utah’s GM, this would be my game plan and plus I’d be rich and have 30 girlfriends, so what the hell would I care?

FANTASY: Yes I’m second guessing myself, but I honestly don’t think there is any way Coach Jerry Sloan can stick with Keith McLeod as his starting PG for too much longer. First of all he sounds like the guy who was the last cut from Boyz II Men and secondly, Carlos Arroyo was an absolute stud in the Olympics, so we all know he has it in him to lead this team. The Puerto Rican sensation logged 22 minutes the other night and dropped 15 points compared to McLeod’s doughnut. However, if the team were indeed throwing in the towel, leaving McLeod to run the show would be a nice start. If some idiot in your league dropped Arroyo, pick him up.

FORECAST: Wednesday: vs. Philadelphia (Loss), Friday: @Chicago (Loss), Saturday: @Milwaukee (Win), Monday: vs. San Antonio (Loss)

PACIFIC DIVISION

1st: Phoenix Suns (27-4), Last Week: (3-0), Predicted: (2-1)
FACTS: After their potentially crippling loss at San Antonio, the Suns have bounced back by winning their last three games by an average of 12.3 while scoring 115.3 per contest. We all saw Amare Stoudemire drop 50 points the other night on the Blazers, but what is constantly overlooked is his unbelievable field goal percentage. Not only does he lead the league at 59.8%, but he also continues to shoot more accurately on a nightly basis. Last night, Stoudemire shot 15-19 (78.9%!) from the floor for 37 points to follow up his 20-27 (only 74.0%) night for a half century against Portland. Superstar in the making doesn’t even come close to describing this man-child.

FANTASY: Stay away from any Phoenix player that isn’t a starter. The starters on this team are all averaging 30+ minutes per night, which means very little run off the bench.

FORECAST: Wednesday: @Houston (Win), Saturday: @Clippers (Win), Sunday: vs. Indiana (Win), Tuesday: vs. Miami (Loss)


2nd: Sacramento Kings (20-9), Last Week: (3-0), Predicted: (2-1)
FACTS: Not like I put my lock against them or anything, but the Kings won for their first time at MSG in six years last night. This team has been very unpredictable, evidenced in their loss to Golden State last Sunday followed by a win over San Antonio. Losing Bobby Jackson for the whole season is going to hurt this team more than people expect. For a team relying on Greg Ostertag and rookie Kevin Martin to solidify their already weak bench, the Kings could potentially slip all the way down to a 7 or 8 seed.

FANTASY: If you like taking Chris Webber’s word on things, then you’ll go ahead and pick up backup G Maurice Evans. Webber was quoted the other day as saying: “Over the first two days of working out, I saw his effort and his strength, and I said 'That guy is going to be really, really good.’” Apparently how much you can curl translates in a sweet game on the court. Evans dropped a career-high 16 points in 26 minutes last night at the Garden prompting Webber’s immediate praise. Do not run out and grab Evans now, but keep an eye on his production especially with Jackson gone for the season.

FORECAST: Wednesday: @Toronto (Win), Friday: @Atlanta (Win), Saturday: @New Orleans (Win), Tuesday: vs. Denver (Win).

3rd: L.A. Lakers (16-13), Last Week: (1-1), Predicted: (1-1)
FACTS: The Lakers desperately need a point guard and soon. Starter Chucky Atkins had a whopping 0 points and 1 assist last night in 26 minutes of play. I’m pretty sure I could do that in 26 minutes, actually I’m positive. On top of that, the team only got Kobe Bryant 16 shots last night while Bruce Bowen kept him in check most of the night. They need a solid point to compliment Bryant. With Atkins displaying relatively no threat with the ball, there is no way for this team to gel into a cohesive unit. Sure they can beat up on the mediocre and weaker teams, but the fact is, they are 0-6 against the first place teams this season. Expect GM Mitch Kupchak to eventually pick up the phone and inquire about Jason Kidd, Gary Payton and Sam Cassell (if he hasn’t already).

FANTASY: Stay away from any Laker not named Kobe Bryant or Lamar Odom. Center Chris Mihm is too inconsistant, same with Caron Butler and Atkins is well, scroll up.

FORECAST: Wednesday: @Dallas (Loss), Friday: vs. Houston (Win), Monday: @Minnesota (Loss)

4th: L.A. Clippers (15-15), Last Week: (3-1), Predicted: (1-3)
FACTS: Here come the Clips baby, my underdog to do damage in the first round of the playoffs! Not only are they exciting to watch, but they are one trade away from being a second place team in this division. The rumored trade for Baron Davis, I’m sure will remain at that initial stage with GM Elgin Baylor once again falling asleep at the wheel. Why not give up a first round pick, Marko Jaric, Kerry Kittles and Wilcox? Davis is a top 3 point guard in the league and the perfect candidate to tutor Shaun Livington. L.A. has to get this done, they have absolutely nothing to lose.

FANTASY: Before this trade goes down, the Clips are going to continue to be led by point guard Rick Brunson. Not only did Paul pick him up in our league this, but for good reason. The Brunson Burner is averaging 11.7 PPG, 6.7 APG, and 1.0 SPG in his seven starts. If your point guards are all taken by one bastard in your league (as ours is) then snatch up Brunson.

FORECAST: Wednesday: vs. Portland (Win), Saturday: vs. Phoenix (Loss), Tuesday: @Seattle (Loss)

5th: Golden State Warriors (11-20), Last Week: (1-2), Predicted: (1-2)
FACTS: Quote of the week right here from Peter May of the Boston Globe: “Adonal Foyle recently passed Joe Barry Carroll for the top spot on the Warriors' all-time shot-blocking list. That's the hoop equivalent of Madonna passing Mariah Carey on the best actress list.” In other news, just as the Warriors seemed to be getting things on track by winning four in a row for the first time all season (including a win @Sacramento), their leader scoring Jason Richardson went down with an ankle injury. Then his immediate replacement, Mickael Pietrus, turned his ankle and missed their most recent game. Both are questionable tonight @Boston.

FANTASY: If you need boards, pick up the Murph, Troy Murphy. He’s helped guide my team into second place thus far and put up a solid 29 and 14 the other night vs. Philly. Murph is currently 5th in the league in RPG at 10.9. He remains the only real formidable option on Golden State besides J-Rich (when healthy).

FORECAST: Wednesday: @Boston (Loss), Friday: @New Jersey (Loss), Sunday: @Toronto (Win), Monday: @Chicago (Win)

1 Comments:

At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PG Jason Williams has been like an ugly stripper looking for lap dance clients: shopped around and finding no one that desperate.

Good job on losing a loyal reader.

 

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