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Jumping the shark: Fantasy sink or swim

by on Nov.03, 2009, under Other

It’s easy to make unreasonably quick conclusions about fantasy players in the beginning of the season, so as we arrive at the end of the first full week of 2009-10 NBA action, it’s time to assess how good of an indicator it was for a handful of players.

Ayyy...

Ayyy...

Below is a quick list of some fantasy forecasts for some players, along with a “SINK” or “SWIM” conclusion for each, conveying whether the early presumptions are justified or not.

It’s a bit early to be certain about almost anyone (hence the title of this post) but for impatient fantasy owners out there maybe this will give you some comfort, or a serving of cold, hard truth.

  • Carmelo Anthony will remain more valuable than LeBron James and Chris Paul: No one deny that Melo is absolutely bananas so far this young season. But remember that he’s only played three games so far and that J.R. Smith, who should average 16+ points per game this season, hasn’t played yet due to suspension. Anthony’s scoring will dip once Smith returns, and the chances of maintaining his strong shooting (54% FG, 88% FT) are slim. Will he finish the season with more value than last year? Yes. Will he put up better fantasy numbers than James and Paul? Unlikely. SINK
  • Danilo Gallinari will finish with top-30 value this season: Gallo has been one of the season’s biggest surprises and should not be available in any leagues. He turned in a mediocre line last night, but he seems primed to play 32+ minutes per night in coach Mike D’Antoni’s shooter-friendly system, and actually has a decent shot at averaging 4+ threes per game this season. He’ll encounter some inconsistency, but take into account his solid shooting percentages and low turnovers and this isn’t much of a stretch at all. SWIM
  • Greg Oden will play 70+ games this season and finish averaging a double-double and 2.5+ blocks per night: Averaging those stats is very feasible, but playing 70+ games is a little harder to believe. Still, after losing noticeable weight during the offseason, which should lessen the load on his legs, Oden looks good this season. He would be playing 30+ minutes a game if it weren’t for his penchant for fouling (though this also preserves his health). Maybe it’s optimistic, but this looks like Oden’s long-anticipated, true arrival. SWIM
  • Michael Redd and Blake Griffin will combine to play more than 110 games this season: Redd is already missing two weeks with a strained left knee (the surgically repaired one) and we all know Griffin’s woes. This isn’t the last time we’ll hear of Redd missing a string of games, and there’s little reason to believe the Clippers will rush their beloved rookie back into action. SINK
  • Kevin Durant will still finish the season with top 10 overall value: His shooting has been disappointing so far, but it’s mostly because of one bad game out of three. He’s grabbing almost three more rebounds a game this year compared to last, and is turning the ball over less than once a game. KD’s threes and assists will come soon enough. It’s easy to be impatient with such a high, buzzworthy pick, but there’s absolutely no reason to fret. Durant will be fine. SWIM
  • Channing Frye, Chris Kaman and Marc Gasol will all finish the year with better values than Tim Duncan, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol: As of today, this is true. Frye is nailing bucketloads of threes, Kaman is playing like he’s mad about all the caveman jokes and Little Gasol has been producing everything you’d want from a fantasy center. Still, all three are likely in for corrections in value as each is vulnerable to their respective kryptonite (Amar’e Stoudemire’s resurgence for Frye, Griffin’s return and injury concerns for Kaman, Iverson for Gasol). Duncan, Bynum and Big Gasol have threats to their value as well, but it’s difficult to believe that all three of the former will finish ahead of the three latter studs. Two of the three? Maybe. SINK
  • Rajon Rondo will average double-digit points this season: His scoring doesn’t impact his value all that much, but this might be an area of concern for owners who were expecting a more offensively-charged Rondo circa the 2009 playoffs. The Celtics’ point guard of the future will get his offense going soon. His owners should be more worried about his yet-to-be-seen free-throw shooting. SWIM
  • Jose Calderon will recover his value and avoid being the bust of the year: Yours truly was among those who expected a breakout year for Calderon, given his fully-recovered health and the potential for a boost in minutes this season. But he seems out of sync, maybe because of Hedo Turkoglu’s presence and ball-handling, as well as the emergence of Andrea Bargnani as an offensive powerhouse. He has shown nothing to get excited about in the preseason and so far in the regular season. The Spaniard has plenty of time to recover his value, but Calderon’s ceiling appears to be set. SINK

What do you think? Are there any other early storylines or trends that you think should be discussed here?

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