Friday, January 27, 2006

FANTASY HOOPS; CENTERS 2ND HALF STUDS and DUDS!

Hard to believe that the NBA regular season is almost at its midpoint!

Let's take a look at some of the NBA's studs, duds, and potential 2nd half stars.

CENTERS

ALL-SEASON STUD: Chris Bosh: With a slim supporting cast, Bosh has been nothing short of brilliant. However, being drafted alongside "King James," Melo' (Carmelo Anthony), and "D-Wade" (Dwyane Wade), amongst others (other '03 draftees: stud Bull PG Kirk Hinrich, resurgent and recovered Buck Pointman' T.J Ford, and New Awlins' "Most Improved Player of the Year" candidate, PF David West), has impacted upon his "star power". With Wade and James receiving most of the draft class's pub', coupled with a lack of passion for team Toronto... essentially Basketball's answer to Siberia, the phenomenal numbers and ability of Chris Bosh go largely unappreciated. Still, the hybrid PF/C has improved upon last season's very solid numbers, plays balls to the wall Basketball, and is a true All-Star. Currently hangin' 22+/9+/2+, with more than a swat per game, Bosh has improved his shooting %'s in EVERY category. Most impressively, Bosh has pumped his scoring average up a full 5 points and change over last season.

FROM OUT OF NOWHERE / SECOND HALF STARS
Chris Kaman: Playing for the L.A Clips' has suddenly become VERY attractive! The 3rd year player has really upped' the intensity of his game and is becoming a daily Double-Double threat. Shooting an impressive 51+% from the floor, Kaman has posted games such as his 17 point, 15 'board, 4 block game against Golden State, a 25 point, 13 'board, 3 swat game against Phoenix, and his crowning achievement to date... 22 points and 22 'boards against the Hornets. With his team healthy, look for a solid 2nd half from the 7'-270 LB true Center.

Mehmet Okur: Did Mehmet occur to YOU during your draft? If you did your research... perhaps, but most likely he did not. The Turkish born Jazz Center teams up with PF Andrei Kirilenko (6-9/225) to form Utah's "Twin Tower" Offensive and Defensive duo. Currently averaging almost 18 points a game, Okur pulls down 9.6 Rebounds, dishes almost 3 Assists, blocks at least 1 would-be bucket per contest, and can bury the 3. Shooting 45.8% from the floor, Okur shoots 38.3% from beyond the arc... and for a Center, that's almost unheard of.
Look for Okur to become more defensive-minded over the season's 2nd half, with the potential to challenge more shots and record more blocks.

SECOND-HALF STUD: Eddy Curry: The Knick Center came to New York as a much maligned free agent. Concerned about a potentially deadly heart condition and unwilling to sign him because he refused to take a definitive diagnostic test, the Bulls allowed the athletic but underwhelming Curry walk. How DARE the Bulls show concern for the athlete! Chicago even went so far as to agree to continue paying him his (already) jackpot sized salary if the test DID indicate an issue! But Curry, seeing only larger and larger dollar signs, refused to take the test- the Bulls refused to allow a player to play with a potentially fatal heart condition- the Knicks spoke to "several" specialists who "cleared" Curry to play... and New York had their first legit' Center since Patrick Ewing split town for Miami. Frankly, even without the heart condition Curry's as fragile as a china vase; Eddie the Knick has already spent time on the pine with 2 seperate nicks. As of Friday, NY's big man is posting a line of 15 (14.7)/6.6, with less than a block per game.
At 6-11, Curry's game is primarily offensive; just like the man himself.

SECOND-HALF STARTER: Primoz Brezec: Projecting the Bobcat for "stardom" is an enromous over-statement. However, Brezec had a nice 2nd half LAST season... and as stands to reason, the more floor time Brezec receives the better he plays. Currently putting up 12+ PPG, the Cat' has been cleaning the glass 5 or so times per game. But, here again we have a BIG (7-1/255) dude who's playing like a Small Forward. In excess of 7-freaking-feet, Brezec should pull down 10-15 'boards a night, and block at least a shot or 2 per game. Instead, "Pri'-For-Brez" is corralling half the number of Rebounds he should each game, and has Blocked a scant 14 shots... ALL YEAR!
Look for Brezec's numbers to improve once Gerald Wallace, Kareem Rush, and Keith Bogans return from their respective aches and breaks. Primoz Brezec DOES have fantasy upside, but just how much upside remains to be seen.

HEADING DOWNWARD! Ben Wallace: The bigger they are... Wallace's diminished skills aren't immediately visible. In fact, it's just a subtle feeling supported by an intersting statistical trend or two. That being said, applaud Big Ben for his accomplishment; with his 18 'board, 6 "No-No" (block) effort during the January 18th game against the hapless Hawks, the "Afro with a pulse" reached 7,000 Rebounds and 1,000 Blocks (no, not in a single game). Let us be clear, these are incredible numbers.
However, the undersized Center (6-9/240-ish) has started to show signs of wear. His PPG average has sagged and, in general, Wallace seems to be a bit... lethargic. Sure, Wallace has notched 20 Doub' Doubs', but he's also laid a bunch of eggs. Eggs like Wednesday's (1/25) 6 point, 6 'board (Okay, Okay... he added 5 Blocks) "explosion," and the game before (Tuesday 2/24) that against Minnesota, where "Big Ben" came up small with 6 points, 8 'boards, and a meager 3 swats.
These are not isolated games either. Wallace's offensive skills, never his strong suit, have fallen off a cliff.
IF YOU CAN... IT MIGHT BE TIME TO TRY AND SELL BEN HIGH! (so to speak)

YOUNG SPUD! Andrew Bogut: Ain't no WAY the Bucks anticipated Bogut's somewhat disappointing production. A "throwback" Center Bogut, an Australian, came out of Utah accompanied by great fanfare and lofty expectations. I, and several other fantasy writers, tempered our projections for the youngster. Although the guy owns an arsenal of low post moves and was considered to be a solid defender, he's not nearly the dominating force many projected him to be.
As of Friday, Bogut's line is a somwhat paltry 9.3/7.8/2.1 with a single swat per game. For a true 7 footer, the kid's rebounding numbers are awfully weak. What follows are Bogut's 'board totals from his last dozen games; 6, 7, 10, 13, 10, 8, 9, 17, 5, 5, 7, 7. Furthermore, the Jazz Center as been playing 30+ minnies' a night... but notches 1-2, and sometimes ZERO, Blocks per tilt. He's recorded as many as 3 Blocks only twice this season... and therein lieth the crux of the issue.
Bogut will either work his Aussie' ass off and reach his true po'. Or, Bogut will be content to remain a middling player and collect a nice paycheck due to the fact that he's one of the few competent 7 Foot Ballers.
Bogut has rare agility and is VERY nimble for his size. With luck, the young Buck won't be a schmuck. He'll work hard during the off-season and hone his skills at "Big Man" camp. He'll be determined to make use of his remarkable physical gifts and return next season as a force of nature!

DUD OF THE YEAR! Marcus Camby: The Nugg' lug was finally turning into a Hoopstah' D-luxe! Coming out of U. Conn' as the Raptors' 2nd OVERALL pick, the fledgling franchise envisioned great things for the collegiate super-star. Frankly, everyone anticipated big things for the lean-as-a-bean Ball machine! Truly capable of being a real and fantasy B-Ball monster, the Dude was finally putting up FILTHY Diggies; 16+ points, 13 'boards, 3+ No-No's, and 50+% shooting accuracy.
But, as is always the case with Camby... injury struck! Felled by a a busted up pinky, Marcus required surgery, pins, and Physical Therapy for the damaged digit. The Denver Center has been pine-lined since the December 27th game against the 76'ers, and should... should, return to action any day.

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