It’s so funny to me how reluctant the average fantasy basketball player is to accept change in fantasy standings, but also how quickly someone’s opinion will change based on something they hear or perceive. For example, let’s take the case of Kevin Durant. Long slated to be a mega-stud in the NBA, KD broke out on a torrent last year. Let’s take a look at his beastly totals from last year:
.476/.863 FG/FT% 452FTM, 97 Tre’s, 1871 Pts, 482 REB, 205AST, 96st, 53blocks
Averaging 25.3 ppg, Durant was a gem. He’s young, incredibly athletic, and the precision outside shooting from a 6′9 G/F makes him almost unstoppable when he’s hot.
All of a sudden, people are saying that Durant is better than Lebron James. Folks, these types of statements are absurd. Let’s break this down for a second. Lebron plays on a team with Mo Williams, Delonte West, Zydryunas IlGauskas……..all guys who can put the ball in the basket. Durant played with Russell Westbrook ( shot only 39% from the field) , Jeff Green (noted for his defensive skills), and other noted incapables such as Robert Swift, Malik Rose, D.J. White, and Etan Thomas. This year, with the addition of James Harden who is not only a capable scorer but someone who can create for himself, as well as useful contributors such as Desmond Mason and Shaun Livingston, don’t expect Durant’s scoring to go up. In fact, expect it to go down. Durant is not a “slasher”; he is a smart player who uses screens and exploits the match-ups that are available, but his strength lies in the mid and long-range shooting. With Harden holding down the SG spot, Durant will not be able to exploit match-ups against notably smaller opponents. Without another notable dominant category under his belt other than PTS, it is going to be hard to build your team around a SG outside of the top 5 in scoring, especially when you’re spending a high pick on him. Let’s take a look at another guy, who although might not be young, he is a superstar that can be drafted 20+ picks later and provide you with comparable stats. First let’s revisit Durant:
KD: .476/.863 FG/FT% 452FTM, 97 Tre’s, 1871 Pts, 482 REB, 205AST, 96st, 53blocks
XX: .457/.830 459 FTM, 119 Tre’s, 1658 pts, 457 Reb, 294 Ast, 80 st, 27blocks
While the stats are not exact, and the %’s and extra blocks would probably reinforce the fact that Durant should be drafted higher, Paul Pierce has been one of the most consistent fantasy performers of the last decade. Granted, nay-sayers will point to his fade down the playoff stretch last year, but let’s be serious: Pierce carried that team for most of the regular season and is the reason Boston was even able to make it out of the 1st round of the playoffs. Their strong regular season record ensured a 1st round match-up against a weaker opponent, one who the Celtics could barely manage to scrape by. Any higher seeded team surely would have knocked Boston out in the 1st round. Also, just a reminder, NBA playoffs have nothing to do with Fantasy Playoffs.
Pierce is still a stud. He won’t score 25 ppg anymore, but his stats across the board still mean he’s worthy of a top 25 pick. With KG back, Pierce’s scoring numbers might take a small hit, but 19-20ppg is a solid number. In 2007-2008, with a healthy Garnett on the court, Pierce scored 1570 pts but added a very impressive 143 – 3’s , 363 Assists, and 101 steals. Expect a similar season in 09-10.Also, Pierce has played in 79+ games a season 9 out of the last 10 years. Reliability is my favorite attribute.
So folks, if you’re playing Rotisserie Basketball, don’t overpay for points with a top 5 pick. This is a stats game, and points are readily available everywhere. It’s the more important categories like assists, steals and blocks that need to be addressed. To shine a light on it: 20 players averaged 20ppg or more last year; only 10 players averaged 7+ assists, and only 9 players averaged 9+ rebounds. There are needs to fill with every pick, so choose wisely.