Author Topic: Early top 12 analysis  (Read 1205 times)

Offline VOLTAN

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Early top 12 analysis
« on: August 03, 2010, 05:53:50 AM »

When do I draft Stephen Curry?
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I could not sleep on Monday night and I'm placing the blame on Stephen Curry. I literally didn't sleep except for a half hour (4 to 4:30 a.m.) because of what has been happening in the first rounds of early fantasy mock drafts I'm participating in. Every year there's a guy who everyone seems to jump on to have a big year, and this year, that guy is Curry.

But really, looking at the numbers from last year, it should not come as a surprise. The question really, is what didn't Curry do?

Stephen Curry

80 games played
17.5 ppg (pre All-Star: 14.8, post All-Star: 22.1)
2.1 3-pointers per game
4.5 rebounds per game
5.9 assists per game
1.9 steals per game
46.2% shooting
88.5% free throws
3.1 TOs

So he only blocked 0.2 shots per game? Who cares. Everyone raved about the fact Tyreke Evans averaged 20-5-5 for the season, and while that was a major accomplishment, his fantasy numbers simply didn't come all that close to matching Curry's.

Tyreke Evans

72 games played
20.1 ppg
0.5 3-pointers per game
5.3 rebounds per game
5.8 assists per game
1.5 steals per game
45.8% shooting
74.8 free throws
3.0 TOs

Yes, those are solid numbers, but Curry's 3-pointers and steals were fantasy gold, while Tyreke's free throw shooting and lack of threes made a huge difference in how they stacked up in fantasy last year. ranked Curry as the No. 6 player in fantasy, if you don't count turnovers and look at cumulative totals, meaning the 10 games missed by Evans also hurt him quite a bit. And if you add the TOs in there? Curry still comes in at No. 7 over all, while Evans was a fourth-round value in non-TO leagues, and a sixth-rounder in ones where TOs hurt you. Evans should be better this year, but he's still not first-round talent as far as I'm concerned, until he starts hitting threes and free throws.

So the question now becomes, where do we take Curry in this year's drafts? I've had two of them so far, and have taken him at No. 5 as well as No. 11. So let's break down the players in the first round of fantasy drafts this year, and see how it shakes out.

First of all, I've pretty much decided I do not want to be stuck with the No. 4 pick this year, and the reason is Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk is coming off a fantastic season, finishing as the third-best fantasy player in the universe in most formats, just behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant. But Dirk is sort of like a Bud Light, when you really want a Guinness, Fat Tire or Stella. If cold enough, it'll taste all right and get the job done, but is simply b-o-r-i-n-g. He also averaged less than a steal and 3-pointer per game, but got his value from super-high shooting percentages, 25 ppg and nearly eight rebounds per game. In addition to being able to get those percentages and boards later in the draft, I am looking to have fun with my fantasy leagues. Yes, I want to win, but, I also want to have players I love to watch on TV, and who have a flair for the dramatic. Curry could triple-double at any time, or have 'one of those big games' every time he takes the floor. But with Dirk, we pretty much know what we're going to get every time he laces them up, and I don't need any more Bud Light.

Anyway, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and LeBron James are going to be taken at No. 1, 2 and 3 in almost every draft this year. The order might fluctuate, but they are the fantasy version of the "Big 3." So getting a pick inside the Top 3 is where you'd ideally like to land, as LeBron or CP3 as a consolation prize should work for just about anyone.

But if I don't land one of the first 3 picks, I'm fine with dropping down toward the end of Round 1. I got Curry there once, and Amare Stoudemire is usually going to be there late in Round 1, as well. What I don't want to happen is to be stuck with Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant or Danny Granger with my first pick.

So without further ado, here is a pretend first-round draft order, and my thoughts on who I like, don't like, and why. And what you'll see here is actually my rough draft of the first-round order in our eight-category rankings for the Draft Guide.

1. Kevin Durant Stud. He's primed for another monster season and should be the No. 1 pick in almost every draft this year. LeBron will go No. 1 in some leagues, but playing with his buddies in Miami is going to have to hurt a little.

2. LeBron James Still the King and he's still going to put up monster numbers. And he's got something to prove this year, knowing that failure is no longer an option. But he's also going to have to share the ball with a couple very good players, and his numbers will almost certainly have to fall a little.

3. Chris Paul In a minute or two, I'm going to start bagging on guys for missing games, but for some reason, I'm completely willing to forgive and forget Paul's wasted season last year, when he played in just 53 games. I have no idea why I am doing this, but I am hoping that last year was a fluke. Paul is also going to have some things to prove. Like, that he really isn't another LeBron, and wants to play hard for the Hornets, and that last year's injury mess was a fluke. I'm on board with that, and wouldn't hesitate to take him with the No. 2 or 3 pick.

4. Dirk Nowitzki As stated above, I would be hesitant to take Dirk here, but this is where we're ranking him in the Draft Guide, and this is where he should go in most leagues. If you're like me and don't want Dirk this year, you better hope you don't have the No. 4 pick. And if you do, whom do you take instead?

5. Stephen Curry Curry's numbers were ridiculous last year and it sounds like Don Nelson has a decent shot at staying on as the coach in GSW. While that's normally not a good thing to hear, it is for Curry and his stats. Add into that equation that Curry is now the face of the franchise (sorry, Monta Ellis), and that the Warriors completely overhauled their franchise this summer, from the ownership on down. Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Morrow, Corey Maggette, C.J. Watson and Ronny Turiaf are all gone. Those are six guys who played a fairly important role for this team last year. David Lee, Dorell Wright, Jannero Pargo, Jeremy Lin, Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric are in, while Andris Biedrins and Brandan Wright should be back from their injuries this year. But what this tells me is that the Warriors have a whole bunch of grinders, and outside of Lee and Biedrins, none of them are proven NBA starters. But Curry is, and he should only get better from here on out. There is no downside with Curry, and while there is risk associated with taking him this early, it's no greater than the risk associated with Dirk, Kobe, Wade, Granger, or anyone else you'd consider taking instead. Would I reach for Curry at No. 4 if I had to? As of today, I think I would.

6. Deron Williams Williams has a decent chance of still being available to you at No. 10, 11 or 12, but the question really becomes, who would you rather own if you're picking sixth in your draft? Williams is still getting better by the day and could even be a better point guard this season than both Curry and Paul. And building fantasy teams around point guards seems to be the way to go these days. So I would strongly consider taking Deron at No. 6 this year, again passing on guys like Kobe, Granger and Wade.

7. Amare Stoudemire Stoudemire at No. 7 might sound like a big reach, especially when you consider he fell to me at No. 14 in a recent mock draft and was No. 15 at Basketballmonster last season. But the more I think about what he is going to do for Mike D'Antoni and the Knicks this year, the more I like him early. He could easily average 25 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, a steal, 55% shooting and 82% free throws for a Knicks team lacking scorers. And if he does, those are monster numbers. Again, he is a guy who still has a lot of upside, and while he's been mired in a bit of a funk over the past couple seasons, the sky is the limit this year. His knee is a bit of a concern, but he's played in 82, 79 and 82 games in three of the last four seasons. We all predicted a monster year from Amare a couple years ago, which was a mistake, but it really feels like it's finally going to happen this time. I could be wrong, and there's a decent chance you could wait on Amare and get him in the early part of Round 2, but I'm still not sure I'd rather own Kobe, Granger, Wade or Gasol instead of him. Pairing Amare with the Knicks looks like a fantasy marriage made in Heaven. Or dare I say, 'Manna from Heaven.'

8. Kobe Bryant I am not hating on Kobe. I am actually a Kobe fan, but his finger and knee make me nervous, he's got as many miles on those legs as anyone not named Kevin Garnett, and the Lakers may be more cautious with him than ever in order to make sure he's close to 100 percent for the playoffs. We've seen his ceiling, and it's probably all down hill from here on out. No more 81-point games, no more "me first" attitude and no more total domination. Kobe is more of a team player than ever, and when you add in the mileage and injuries, he simply looks more risky than those guys I'm taking before him. He played in 73 games last year, but his owners were held hostage for those two missed weeks in February with the fantasy playoffs on the line. Maybe he plays in 80 games this season, but I'm just not feeling it. And having said that, I will gladly take him at No. 8 (and possibly 6 or 7) in this year's drafts. But as of this morning, and after tossing in bed thinking about it for the last eight hours, I am bumping him down below Amare, Deron and Curry. Those guys have upside, and Kobe simply doesn't.

9. Danny Granger Granger was really tough to own last season, missing 20 games (and 15 the year prior), and standing outside bombing more than seven 3-pointers per game! That killed his field goal percentage (42.8% after being at nearly 45% the previous two seasons), while his scoring and blocks also took a step down. The main problem I have with Granger is his bum knee, which was a problem even back in college. But I'm also not loving the fact that the Pacers, once again, are going to be awful, and will not have anything to play for late in the season, when you're looking to make a fantasy playoff run. I just get a bad karma buzz from Granger this year, and guys who took him over Durant last season know exactly where I'm coming from.

10. Pau Gasol Gasol missed the first 11 games of the season with a calf injury, but was then spectacular the rest of the way. I like him again this season, and might even be inclined to take him over Granger or Kobe. Gasol flirted with 20-20 games throughout the season and was a beast, but part of that was due to Andrew Bynum not playing at full strength, as well as missing games. If Bynum can somehow stay healthy this season (a huge 'if,' I know), that's going to further hurt Gasol's numbers. He's going to have a big year either way, and is an automatic first-round pick.

11. Dwyane Wade As we all know, Wade will be running alongside chums LeBron and Chris Bosh, and while he'll still have some monster games and function as the Heat's primary point guard (even though Mario Chalmers will start there), his numbers are still bound to take a hit. You may feel strongly that Miami is still Wade's team, but I don't think it is. LeBron is not there to play Robin to his Batman. Wade is still first-round material, and could be much more valuable than I'm projecting, but he seems to be a guy with very little upside, and a vast injury history. I'm going to do my best to let someone else have him this season.

12. This pick is still completely up for debate in my book. Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith, Jason Kidd, Brook Lopez, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash are all possibilities, while some folks might look at Andre Iguodala, Carlos Boozer, Gerald Wallace and Monta Ellis with the back-to-back 12 & 13 combo.

Melo & Rondo, Melo & Josh, or Josh & Rondo all look good to me, but if you start off with Rondo and Josh, you're going to have a problem with free throw percentage and 3-pointers. And in many leagues, especially ones that don't read Rotoworld, there's a decent chance that Curry, Deron and Amare might all be available at 12 & 13. And if that's the case, I say it's a win for the owner who has those picks this year.

We've still got time before real drafts start happening this fall, and I might change my tune slightly. But this is what I'm feeling right now, and I really am expecting huge years out of Curry, Stoudemire and Williams, and won't be afraid to take them a little early to make sure I get them. At this stage of my life, I'm pretty tired of Bud Light. And while some folks might consider taking one of those three over proven veteran talent a gamble, it's a pretty small one, if it's even a gamble at all. In fact, it feels more like smart money to me.