Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Heart Exam - Pre-draft Analysis

I've done the following things at least once every year for the past 10 years: blood check, dental clean, and play fantasy basketball. Look, let's not kid ourselves. Fantasy football is fun, and fantasy baseball is a classic, but nothing beats fantasy basketball. With that said, I'm going to do my best to keep this column going for the whole fantasy basketball season. I'm not sure what kind of wisdom I can impart on you but I hope that at least you'll find it entertaining, if not helpful. Since this is draft week for almost everyone, I'm going to cover some of the players that I absolutely love coming into this lockout season.

My only rule coming into this year's draft: Draft young. This is a shortened season so guys that perennially miss 15-20 games a year become studs because of the 66 game season. Bear in mind that these recommendations are for 12-team H2H leagues. Let's take a look at that list today:

1. Kevin Martin - Every year, I try to avoid this guy like a plague because he just can't seem to keep himself on the court. However, this year, he might be unnoticed in your drafts, and he's a steal if you can get him late in the 3rd or later rounds.

2. Gerald Wallace - Remember when this guy was just a leaper on the Kings? It's probably why he kept getting injured early on in his career. And every year since, this guy has gone through injury after injury. The amazing thing is that he keeps producing in fantasy. Big man with good percentages, 17-6, shoots the 3 and a steals artist? Yes please. With Oden gone and Camby another year older, expect his rebounds to go up a notch.

3. Andrew Bynum - I'm targeting this guy in all of my drafts. If this guy is going to breakout, this is the season to do it. Barring a trade to another team, the Lakers need Bynum to produce in bunches to stay competitive. With Odom out, Bynum will be forced to play more than his 27mpg last year. We know about his knee problems but if this guy can give me 50-60 games like he's been doing, I'm a happy man. My modest projections for him are 16-12, 2+ blocks.

4. Andrew Bogut - I see Bogut as a bit higher risk than Bynum. At 27, he's going into his 7th season in the league. Unlike Bynum, Bogut's been playing the big minutes his whole career (32.8mpg career). The production is there even though he only averages about 60 games a season. The risk is that Bogut will now have to play more back-to-back games and have much shorter rest in between games. Could this speed up his injuries?

5. Devin Harris - This guy has been on my don't draft list for the past decade. Yet this year, I think he's worth picking up as a middle of the draft sleeper. Devin averages 60 games player per season for his career which is amazing when we only have 66 games this year. Since coming to Utah, he's no longer the #1 or even #2 option on his team anymore. Though Jerry Sloan is gone, Jerry Sloan's assistant is taking over so expect to see much of the same things. With Millsap, Jefferson, and Favors coming into their primes, Harris will no longer need to put his body on the line to make plays. In fact, expect to see Devin shoot more 3s. (3pta before Utah: 2.0, 3pta after Utah: 4.1)


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