NBA First-Half Fantasy All-Stars
By Chris Goudey
WagerWeb.com Contributing Writer
The final results have just come in on this season’s NBA All-Star voting, and while you see the typical names on the list of starters (Wade, LeBron, Garnett, Kobe, Duncan, etc…) for the East and West, in fantasy basketball all of these guys are pretty much doing what was expected of them. Those aren’t the guys that are going to win you a fantasy title because they give you the same great numbers year after year and you select them with your 1st and 2nd round picks. No, the players that win you fantasy titles are the ones you draft in the late rounds or acquire off free agency early in the year that become solid to outstanding NBA starters, so while you see the big names on the real All-Star squad, my All-Star team is going to look a lot different.
I’ll break these down by position because in fantasy, your lineup usually consists of point guards and shooting guards, not just “guards” like
they do in the real All-Star game. Here are the All-Stars from a fantasy perspective:
Maurice Williams, Milwaukee – Mo was most likely a last-round or next-to-last round selection in most drafts, but has played like a 3rd-4th rounder. Williams was a backup last year to T.J. Ford, but became a starter this year when Ford was traded to Toronto in the off-season. Mo has been very solid across the board, averaging 17 ppg, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and just over 1 3-pointer and 1 steal per game. Unfortunately he got hurt a couple of weeks ago and it’s now looking like he won’t be back for at least another couple of weeks, so hopefully his owners can wait it out until he returns. Williams might not make the end-of-year team because the Bucks acquired Earl Boykins to fill in for
him and Boykins has played just as well as Williams did. It remains to be seen what will happen because the team now has 5 guys for 3 spots (Mo, Boykins, Michael Redd, Charlie Bell, and Ruben Patterson), but as far as the 1st half is concerned, Mo is definitely an all-star.
Deron Williams, Utah – After a rookie season where he lagged in comparison to Chris Paul, the other PG taken early in the 2006 draft, Williams has shown why he was so highly regarded coming into it. D.Will was probably taken a few rounds before Mo so he gets the second spot instead of the first on my team, but his numbers are very close to his namesake. The one area where Deron is unquestionably better than Mo is in assists, where he averages 9.1 per game, tied for 2nd in the league with Jason Kidd. The rest of his numbers are almost identical to Mo, with Mo being a slightly
better rebounder. There is no reason why Deron can’t continue this play and could take over the top spot by the end of the season.
Honorable Mention: Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix; Earl Boykins, Denver-Milwaukee; Jarrett Jack, Portland
Kevin Martin, Sacramento – Martin is another guy like Mo Williams, who was probably drafted very late if at all, but has put up almost “real” All-Star numbers. Martin has been an outstanding shooter, making almost 50% of his shots from the field and 88% from the line. In leagues that count those two categories he has made a world of difference because he’s taking a lot of shots, enough to average over 20 points per game. Add in 1.6 3-pointers per game and 1.2 steals and you’re looking at some great
fantasy numbers. Martin’s not much of a rebounder or passer but you can get those stats from your PG and your big guys.
Mike Miller, Memphis – Miller has just become a fantasy stud this season, combining deadly long-range shooting with a new-found love for rebounding and passing. The new uptempo game they are playing in Memphis is perfect for Miller, who was probably taken in the mid-late rounds in most drafts. Previously he had been known as just a 3-point shooter but this year he has really stepped up his game, going from 1.9 per game to 2.8 this year, which is 4th in the league behind Gilbert Arenas, Ray Allen, and J.R. Smith. The thing that’s making Miller a much better player this year are his assists (4.4 per game) and rebounds (5.9), which are very strong in comparison to most of the other players at the position. Miller is a true swing player, playing both
shooting guard and small forward, but I put him here because there are two small forwards that I couldn’t keep off the team.
Honorable Mention: Monta Ellis, Golden State; J.R. Smith, Denver; Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia
Josh Howard, Dallas – Howard is one guy on this list that might make the “real” team, but that’s more because of his defense and his team’s record. For the fantasy team he makes it because he was probably a mid-round selection who is putting up 2nd round numbers. There is only one out of eight categories where Howard isn’t putting up at least good numbers, and that’s assists, which is no big deal for a small forward. You’d like a guy to have at least 4 assists per game but when he averages 20 points, 7.2 rebounds (outstanding for a SF), 1.5
3’s made, 1.3 steals, and even gets 1 block per game, you’re not going to complain when he’s only getting you 2 assists. Howard is a nice percentage shooter also, making 46% from the field and 83% from the line, so when you add all that up, you have your starter at SF.
Caron Butler, Washington – It’s hard to believe the Wizards got this guy for Kwame Brown, isn’t it? Butler has a shot at making the East All-Stars because of his outstanding improvement and the fact the Wiz currently have the best record in the conference. This guy is probably the biggest reason for the team’s improvement, despite the heroics of Mr. Hibachi Arenas. Caron is having a dream season, averaging 21 points, 8 rebounds (the best rebounding SF in the game if you don’t count Shawn Marion), 4 assists, and 2 steals. He’s also shooting 48% from the
field and 88% from the line. Those are just excellent all-around numbers. Butler is not a big shooter of the 3-ball, so hopefully if he’s on your team you’ve got some others who can do that, but with those other fantastic numbers he’s giving you, you’re probably sitting in a very nice position in your league.
Honorable Mention: Luol Deng, Chicago; Kyle Korver, Philadelphia; Matt Barnes, Golden State
Al Jefferson, Boston – It took a month or so for Jefferson to get into the starting lineup thanks to the brilliant coaching of Doc Rivers, but now that he’s there, he might not come out for 10-12 years. Jefferson has just been a beast down low, averaging 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game since December. For a guy who was probably acquired off the waiver
wire, he’s really helping your team right now and is probably the best player that didn’t get drafted in most drafts this year.
David Lee, NY Knicks – If that honor doesn’t go to Jefferson, it might go to Lee, who has come out of nowhere to average almost 11 rebounds per game, and that’s in only 30 minutes per contest. If Isiah Thomas was smart he’d be playing Lee 40 minutes per game and then he’d probably be the leading rebounder in the league. Lee’s not a big scorer yet, only averaging 11 points per game, but he averages a fantastic 61% from the field and 79% from the line, which make him a valuable member of a fantasy team. By having a guy like Lee on your team you can afford to have a couple of low-percentage scorers (i.e. Allen Iverson or Gilbert Arenas) to balance it out.
Honorable Mention: Zach Randolph,
Portland and Carlos Boozer, Utah. Both guys are obviously having great years and are very nice values compared to where they were drafted, but remember this team is about guys who are going to win fantasy titles for you, and while I’m sure teams who own Zach and Booz are doing well, there are more 1st place teams who have Jefferson and/or Lee.
Andris Biedrins, Golden State: Anytime you can draft a guy who will get you 10 rebounds and 2 blocks per game in the last round, you’ve done very well for yourself. Biedrins is the guy who fits that description this year, and while he’s fallen off a bit recently, owners who have had him since the beginning of the year are sitting pretty. It remains to be seen how the recent trade the Warriors made where they acquired Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington will affect Biedrins, but as long as he
gets the minutes, he’ll keep producing the rebounds and blocks. He also shoots a lovely 62% from the field, so he’s like David Lee with the added bonus of 2 blocks per game.
Eddy Curry, NY Knicks: I didn’t think I’d ever see this guy on anyone’s all-star team because of his supposed attitude problems, but apparently Isiah has made one good coaching move this year. Curry’s having a career-best season, averaging 19.5 points on 59% shooting. Eddy was probably a late-round selection and while he doesn’t rebound as well as most big guys (7 per game) and doesn’t really give you any other numbers except good shooting and scoring, for his price tag he’s been a very nice value. If he could ever use that body to get some boards and block some shots he could be a real All-Star, but fantasy owners are still happy with him this year.
Honorable Mention: Mehmet Okur, Utah; Nick Collison, Seattle; Mark Blount, Minnesota; Alonzo Mourning, Miami
If you have a few of my All-Stars you are probably sitting pretty in your league and could be dominating if your stud players (the “real” All-Stars) have been healthy. The key for the 2nd half of the year is to pay attention the box scores every night and see who’s getting more playing time than they used to. That’s the way you can acquire guys ahead of your competition and stake your claim to your fantasy championship!