What Can The Playoffs Teach Us About Fantasy Basketball?

John LorgeSenior Writer IMay 7, 2009

The NBA Playoffs are when teams and players show their true colors and while it's easy to sit back watch the elite competitors now is not the time to turn off your fantasy basketball IQ.

For fantasy purposes there are so many players and stories to follow during the season that in can be overwhelming.  Now with only a few teams playing it's easier to do some in-depth evaluation of next year's prospects.

Josh Howard Is A Headache

If you had Howard rostered during the mere 52 games he played in this year you know the guy is a handful, and that's on the court. 

Howard is one of the top talents in the NBA.  He is long, athletic, and explosive.  Howard is exactly the type of player you want which is exactly the reason you want to stay away from him.

In the San Antonio series Howard was the difference maker.  He added points, threes, rebounds, and steals in about 32 minutes per game.

So what's the problem?

In the first game against Denver Howard was laid out at center court and he only played six minutes in the second game.

The headache is not from how Howard plays it's when Howard plays. 

Josh Howard has missed 92 games in his first six years (15.3 per year), unless you can draft him at a discount don't handcuff your lineup in next years fantasy playoffs.

Dwyane Wade Cannot Replicate 2008-09

Now hear me out.  It's not that I'm saying Wade is not capable of producing those numbers again -- the fact is if the Heat want to be a contender they need a team that does not rely on Wade as much. 

In the 7-game series against Atlanta we saw the best (41 points) and worst (9-for-26 shooting) of the D-Wade show. 

This offseason one thing will happen in Miami and another thing needs to happen.  The Heat were young (Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers) and hadn't played together enough (Jermaine O'Neal and Jamario Moon).  The youth will develop and the team will get comfortable with each other meaning Miami will have more options and Wade will have more confidence in his teammates.

The thing that needs to happen is the Heat still need to make another addition to their squad, undoubtedly this extra player will take some of the points/rebounds/assists away from Wade.

Obviously Wade is still worth a top-5 pick, first overall would not be out of line, but do not pick Wade with expectations of him being a one man team and don't forget that he still has a history full of injuries.

Joe Johnson Has Reached His Prime

Not that it's a bad thing but Joe Johnson has officially reached his prime. 

Once thought of as a budding young star, Johnson will be 28 entering next-season and he posted eerily identical stats the last two seasons.

Johnson has been sub-par in the playoffs up to this point (aside from game 7) and while he is capable, Johnson is an example of a great player on a bad team who's a good player on a good team. 

Now that Atlanta is more talented than in the past, don't expect Johnson to ever touch the 25.0 points per game he had during the 2006-07 season.

Johnson is becoming a very safe pick in fantasy basketball because he has good durability, solid percentages, and can fill-up multiple categories -- just don't expect him to beat his season highs.

J.R. Smith Is Still On The Rise

Maybe it's because he's my favorite player in the NBA but I really thought this would be the year that J.R. Smith broke into fantasy stardom.

Smith had a successful 2008-09 campaign, establishing himself as a high scoring 6th man but Smith deserves to be a starting shooting guard in the NBA and playing 35 minutes per night.

In this year's playoffs Smith is finally showing consistency, something he has struggled with throughout his career. Smith and Carmelo Anthony are developing a good chemistry and Coach Karl has also shown that he now has faith in Smith to play clutch minutes.

Smith is a rare talent in the NBA and he is the closest thing to Kobe Bryant we may see for a long time.  During his time in Denver, Smith has averaged 2.23 threes per game or one three every 10 minutes he’s on the court!

The Nuggets signed Smith to a 3-year deal which is short enough that he needs to impressive from now until his next contract.  As one of the members of the high school class of 2004, Smith still has time to become a star in the NBA and next year could mark is accent.