It’s that time of year. It’s time to break out those player notes, team previews, and projection cheat sheets.
It’s NEVER too early for fantasy hoops goodness!
So for your fantasy basketball guidance, here are 10 players who we believe are primed for a bounce-back year. Several names were floated, but if one of us disagreed that a particular player is going to bounce back (do better than he did last season), he doesn’t make the list. As much as Patrick wanted T-Mac to be given a pass… we didn’t think it would be as informative as it would be sarcastic. So you can obviously say that this is a unanimous selection. We may vary on our how well or to what level will these players redeem last season’s fantasy production, but we are in agreement that better things can be expected from these guys.
10. Brandon Roy (G) Portland Trail Blazers- He managed to play in only 65 games and we saw his numbers take hits, pretty much across the board. He is now considered a borderline “injury prone stud” in some circles. For these reasons, Roy has gotten some major ranking downgrades coming into the 2010 fantasy draft. Assuming he can stay healthy and deliver 75 or more games of the 2008-2009 Brandon Roy we all enjoyed watching, which by the way is very doable, then Roy should be able to bring some second-round studliness back to the table. Think about it, 22/5/5 with a steal and a three per night, not to mention accompanying good shooting percentages is a pretty damn good deal.
9. Al Jefferson (F/C) Utah Jazz - In 2008-2009, Big Al averages 23-11 and 1.7 BPG. The catch? He injures his ACL and only manages to log 50 games for the entire season. He has surgery to repair the damage and manages to play in 76 games om 2009-2010. The catch? He shows up as a shadow of his “statistical self” from the year before. His stats fall sharply and the fantasy world loses a little bit of faith. Now in 2010-2011, he’s paired with an all-star point guard and on a team that is famous for its PG-PF pick and roll game. We like his outlook this season.
8. Devin Harris (PG) New Jersey Nets- He played in 64 games of the Nets’ worst year in the NBA. Hampered by injuries that didn’t get a chance to fully heal, his play, like the Nets’ season was largely uninspiring. New Jersey has a new owner, a new coach, a fresh direction, and a bunch of new faces on its roster. Elements are in place for Harris to deliver a more motivated performance and take his team from one with the worst record last season to one that just might squeak out a 50-win season. He’s fully capable of delivering 20 PPG, 5.5 APG, and huge FT% impact.
7. Kevin Martin (SG) Houston Rockets – Kevin played 51 games for Sacramento in 2008-2009. He then split 46 games between the Kings and the Rockets in 2009-2010. That’s not very encouraging. So what makes us at GMTR think 2010 will be any different? You can call his 24 games with Houston an “adjustment period.” Since reports point to Yao Ming being limited to 24 minutes per game, it looks like it will be up to Martin and Aaron Brooks to bear the bulk of the scoring load. The Rockets, in spite of this news, still has more inside threats – *cough*LUIS SCOLA*cough* – than the Sacramento Kings did when Martin was there. He should have ample space to get his killer, medium-range jumper flowing more freely than Patron tequila at a Spring break bash.
6. Tony Parker (PG) San Antonio Spurs - He played 56 games last season, but his hand is fully healed, and Manu Ginobili is getting old. What’s there to look forward to? He wasn’t much more than a 20-point, 5-assist guy anyway. Well, rumor has it that he wants to play in New York, and by rumor you knew we meant Eva right? Oh that, and Tim Duncan is ALSO getting old. His tenure with the Spurs is likely coming to its end soon, and he will probably be out to showcase his game…. and if the Spurs want to trade him later on in the season, the will probably be out to showcase his game. As long as he plays his like a quality point guard better than he raps, he should outperform his current ADP.
The key use of this list of players is that these are guys will have the likelihood of being undervalued in most fantasy leagues. There is an opportunity to get good value from these players just by simply drafting them a round or two farther down than what they are capable of bouncing back to.
Case in point, I personally missed out on Josh Smith in ALL of my leagues last season. I was too hung up with his 2008-09 performance and did not spot his potential to bounce back. My loss. These are 10 players who we feel are at least worth a second or closer look when you’re preparing for the 2010 fantasy season.
5. Hidayet Turkoglu (G/F) Phoenix Suns- There is a question as to who missed whom more last season between Hedo and his former team, the Orlando Magic. Turkoglu thought he would do well and be better utilized by the Toronto Raptors last year. He was wrong. How do I put this nicely…. He sucked as a Raptor and his fantasy value quickly followed suit. While his 2009-10 performance might still be traumatically burned into the memories of his fantasy owners last season, he is now on a new team and with a point guard who can turn garbage into gold! – or simply Channing Frye into a fantasy-relevant player – You say “poh-tay-toe;” I say “poh-tah-toh.” During occasions that Steve Nash will be resting his aching everything on the bench, Hedo will get to perform some point-forward duties during those minutes. It’s difficult to think that Turkoglu will be more of “Toronto Hedo” than a new and fantasy-revitalized “Phoenix Hedo” this season.
4. Andris Biedrins (C) Golden State Warriors - I playfully and painfully like to refer to Biedrins as the Center-version of the Rockets’ Kevin Martin. He’s great and helpful when healthy, but unfortunately has trouble doing just that. At 24, it’s difficult to visualize this Latvian seven footer as being injury prone. His 33-game 2009-10 season was his worst since breaking out in ‘07-’08. Whether he will remain a Warrior by season’s end, is still in question. On the other hand, the fact that he’s owed $36 million over the next four years, might be an issue. Regardless of his recent past, it’s not likely that he will remain to wallow in his five-point and 7.9-rebound averages from last year. On another team, you know, the kind that does not have a David Lee, Biedrins will probably be serviceable rebounder and paint-clogger. He might just surpass his very late-round draft projections. To what extent, we will still have to see…
3. Yao Ming (C) Houston Rockets - To be fair, we agreed on this list before news on Yao’s minutes broke on the Net. We still agree that he is a bounce-back candidate. It’s just we’re not as enthusiastic about his upside. Let’s assume he does play only 24 minutes a game. Strictly. 70 or more games of an eager, healthy, and motivated Yao is still far better than 82-game missed season. On that note he’s kind of an unfair no-brainer as a member of this list. The Rockets are committed to taking things easy with him this season. That to me, is a positive in the broader perspective of things, but as far as the 2010-11 is concerned 12-14/7/1.5 with good FG% and FT% is still worth drafting in the late rounds. He might just end up doing better than some other injury-prone centers out there whose names rhyme with Shmoden. It’s unfortunate that the Rockets, or Yao for that matter cannot have the bones of his feet insured, unlike some dude’s frickin’ HAIR!!!
2. Gilbert Arenas (PG) Washington Wizards - Two things should be considered when taking a long hard look at Gilbert Arenas this season. First is health, but Gil showed us last season that he was working passed that as shown by his 22.6 PPG and 7.2 APG over 32 games. Now that he’s had so much more extra time to rest, he should be in even better shape. Second is whether he will go through another bout of utter “WTF were you thinking?” So far, he’s on track for a bounce-back year. He started off by impressing the Wizards’ owner. He’s following it up with possibly, just possibly, a fresh outlook now that he’s playing alongside a future all-star PG. It’s hard to trust Arenas after looking at the circus that has been his recent NBA career, but if things fall into place (and they just might), Gilbert should be capable of “early round” pick-worthy numbers.
1. Anthony Randolph (F) New York Knicks - Bounce back? From what? He hasn’t done anything yet! True. We would however, like to remind everyone that Randolph missed out on his projected potential due to the concussion he suffered after being hit over the head by Don Nelson’s dog house. That, and the fact that he actually did get injured in the latter half of the season. He’s in a new team that’s committed to START him and give him prime minutes. So if there was ever such a thing as a “RE-Sleeper,” Randolph would be this year’s candidate. Stay tuned, as we will provide a more in-depth and possibly equally humorous look at his potential upside in our New York Knicks Fantasy Basketball Preview. Anthony Randolph = Amar’e v.2.0 beta?
The wild NBA ride we will all remember as the 2010-2011 season is about to begin and with it comes an epic, no LEGEN — wait for it — DARY, fantasy hoops season as well. Grab that value when you can; where you can.
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