Fantasy Basketball Roundtable: LeBron James’ fantasy production

by on Oct.12, 2010, under Other

LeBron James

The (former?) King is this week's roundtable discussion topic. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

I’m happy to share that I’ll be participating in this season’s Fantasy Basketball Roundtable. I’m in some quite illustrious company:

This week’s roundtable is hosted by LestersLegends.com. The topic is: “How will LeBron’s taking his talents to South Beach affect his fantasy production?

Here’s my take:

Thinking about LeBron’s projected averages in 2010-11 is akin to playing ping-pong with myself. The optimistic side of me sees the caliber of teammates he has this season compared to what he had last season and can’t help but to see the opportunities to expend less energy on scoring and more on crashing the boards, dishing the ball and defense. Then the pessimistic side of me kicks in with a scoff and thinks about how the Heat’s offense won’t be much faster than the one the Cavs ran and the distinct probability that James won’t be dominating the ball nearly as often as he did in Cleveland, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope for him improving his numbers much at all. All that, along with the possibility of a good fistful of blowouts in the Heat’s favor this season and the consequential decline in minutes for James, seems to point to a bigger fall from fantasy stardom for the stud than most are expecting.

As much as I’d like to be bold and choose one side or the other, the reality will fall somewhere in between my splintered perspectives. I think James will play fewer than the 40+ minutes per game he’s averaged in his first seven seasons in the league, but it won’t matter too much since his time on the floor will be more efficient than the time he spent on the floor with the Cavs. With Wade and Bosh set to take a good number of shots, I expect many of James’ passes to them will result in easy assists, and I anticipate that he’ll be freed up to crash the boards more often.

James had four triple-doubles during the regular season in 2009-10. He’ll more than double that number this season, but in terms of averages, I’m (whimsically) forecasting something in the neighborhoods of:

- Points: 20-24
- Rebounds: 7.5-9
- Assists: 8.5-9.5
- Threes: 1.5-2
- Steals: 1.6-2.1
- Blocks: 1.2-1.7

Even if he “only” notches the lower bounds of these projections, he’ll still be a fantasy force worthy of a top-three pick. The X factor will be whether or not James can lift his free-throw percentage to above 80 percent for the first time in his career. I doubt that happens but if it does, and if James reaches averages closer to the upper bounds of the above projections, the No. 1 spot in the wonderful land of fantasy basketball will be his for the recouping. I might be naive, but I’m expecting fewer points, small boosts in rebounds and assists, and mostly unchanged output in other categories from James this season.

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