How is that finger of B-Diddy's?
That is the question that the ...a stern warning fantasy hoops team is riding on this season. A little while back I made mention that we were going to get a gang of like-minded bloggers together to battle out a fiercely contested Fantasy NBA crown this season. Little did I know that the entourage of budding Kevin Pritchards we would assemble would be such a prestigous gang of bloggers with serious fantasy hoops credentials.
Rather than list all of those fine bloggers immediately, let's have a look at how the Battle of the Bloggers is shaping up and inadvertantly we'll get around to discussing the prospects of all of the teams and their managers. I should mention that already trash talking has begun in this league, with many a season of fantasy sports under the belts of this group. There is no shortage of cockiness here.
Who has given up on Free Throw Percentage already?
That would have to be Ryan McNeill of Hoops Addict, who has managed to draft Dwight Howard (.590), Tyson Chandler (.593) and Tracy McGrady (.684). Really Ryan should just go out and get himself Shaq now to top it all off. If he stays with those guys, the season is over in that category. Then again, it's not always a bad strategy to admit defeat in one category if you know you can bolster others in the process. The other area that Ryan might need to boost a little is in the three point shooting department, where he does not have one player that managed to break the 100 mark for the season during 2007/08. That could all change of course if Dwyane Wade has added an outside stroke in the off-season and if T-Mac has a healthy year. We shall see...
Injuries... it's all part of the fun!
Scott of Waiting For Next Year will be waiting for January, as that is the date set for the return of Gilbert Arenas, who may well give the WFNY squad a boost in the home stretch to the playoffs. That is not to say that Scott will struggle in the interim. He has put together one of the most well-rounded squads in my opinion, with coverage across the board of categories. One concern for the team though: there are a few players who definitely will not be able to wait for next year, as their production continues to drop. Having Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and to a lesser extent Kevin Garnett on the team may hurt from this perspective. On the other hand, he has one of my favourite fantasy (and real life) players in José Calderón, so I instantly like his squad.
The ...a stern warning squad is one that I'm already happy with, although I do have my reservations. Baron Davis is a constant injury risk and he already has a finger situation worth keeping an eye on. Jermaine O'Neal and Nene Hilario are both coming off injuries (with Nene's being particularly wince-inducing for all of the males in the room) and thus are slightly unknown quantities, however they form a large percentage of my big man ranks. There are plenty of shooters in the squad, so three pointers should not be of concern. Davis, Jason Richardson, Andre Iguodala, Michael Redd and Leandro Barbosa all hit at least 100 treys last year, so I felt comfortable in making the season's first trade in sending Jamal Crawford off in exchange for the rebounding and shot-blocking prowess of Canadian team exile Samuel Dalembert. He'll team up nicely with German defector Chris Kaman inside for my squad. Meanwhile, I'm very happy with having Caron Butler and Tayshaun Prince on the wings -- in particular I expect this to be a big season for Prince with increases in several categories, especially threes and points.
Dennis Velasco of About.com's Pro Basketball site has been playing fantasy hoops since before you were conceived in the back of your parents' car. He has all of the tricks and knowledge and I have to quietly say that this scares me a little. On that basis, I second-guessed myself four times upon making the Crawford-Dalembert swap with him. The trade certainly benefits both teams in terms of needs, however there is plenty of change at play in the respective teams that those guys play for. Crawford has just inherited a coach in Mike D'Antoni who will up the tempo and has already stated that he expects the Knicks guard to thrive in, however his recent performances have been uninspiring. Meanwhile Dalembert has one Elton Brand coming in to eat up his paint in Philadelphia. Despite this, the big man has already said that he expects Brand's arrival to merely free him up and allow him to grab even more offensive rebounds. Oh, how I hope this is true. Dennis's Bout It Bout It squad has also snared my man Brandon Roy, who will no doubt continue to rise this season; as will Kevin Durant. Rashard Lewis and Amare Stoudemire are two of the studs of FNBA and Marcus Camby, when healthy is unrivalled in the big man categories.
Meanwhile, after following Nels' Give Me The Rock site for some time, I know that this guy certainly knows his rotisserie from his VGM and his head-to-head from his keeper leagues. If you're a fantasy geek, you'll realise that those comparisons don't even make sense, but I just wanted to throw them all into one sentence anyway. In short, I know that GiveMeTheRockettes will be a competitive side this season. Turnovers may well be an issue to look out for, but having LeBron James on board instantly makes you a dangerous team. There are some unknowns here though. When will Manu Ginobili return from injury and will he be ready to contribute immediately? What will Greg Oden bring to the table? Grant Hill: is he going to decline further? Corey Maggette in Warriors colours is a great thing for any fantasy owner though, and Joe Johnson always contributes well. This team will be a contender.
Best team name award
There are two great contenders here for best team name. The first is The Ollie McClellans, owned by good friend Ethan of NESW Sports. McClellan of course, was the inspirational manager in the all-time great basketball movie Hoosiers. Ethan has put together a fearsome backcourt of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant -- devastating either on the fantasy court or a real one. His team is stacked in the forwards department with Antawn Jamison, LaMarcus Aldridge (look out for him this season!), Pau Gasol, Rasheed Wallace and potential rookie of the year, Michael Beasley. Add Brad Miller and Ben Gordon into that mix and you have the makings of a great squad.
What are the odds of the other entrant into the best team name stakes having the name "Ollie" in it? Well, you guessed it, it does. Kev Ollie's Mustache is a fantastic name, coming at you from Zach of TalkHoops.net. The big weakness I see for this squad is in the assists department, but outside of that, a well-rounded team is taking shape. TJ Ford is the only point guard in the locker room. Perhaps Kevin Ollie himself will need to be given a call-up. There are some quality big men in Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, Andrew Bogut, Al Harrington and Andrei Kirilenko, so rebounding will not be an issue. Paul Pierce and Danny Granger will take care of many of the other categories.
Erik over at Points In The Paint has his hands full with a few high profile fantasy leagues, so here is hoping that this means I'll snare a free agent from his grasps whilst he's not looking! Then again, all of that practice certainly helps. He has already had one spot of bad luck, with Deron Williams going down with injury, however that should only be a short setback. Erik has gone the small ball route, which may cause him to struggle in the big man cats like rebounds and blocks. Having Kevin Martin, Shawn Marion, Rudy Gay, Mike Miller, Mehmet Okur and Mo Williams on his team will make him dangerous nonetheless. OJ Mayo is the biggest question mark on the squad.
The opposite of small ball...
Zorgon of the OKC NBA blog, known as Blue Blitz, is packing heat in the big man department. What other way do you describe a squad that contains Yao Ming, Andrew Bynum, Andris Biedrins, Dirk Nowitzki and Emeka Okafor? "Zorgon and Erik, I see your future... it involves a trade..." Zorgon also boasts Chauncey Billups and little-big-men Richard Jefferson and Hedo Turkoglu. All I can say is, wow. We are going to struggle when it comes to matching Blue Blitz in rebounds and blocks. A solid squad.
Last but definitely not least
The Suicidal Penguins represent the Utah Jazz blog and they are definitely to be feared. Pick a category, it's covered. You want assists? Chris Paul and Andre Miller have got you. Blocks? Josh Smith and Kenyon Martin. Carlos Boozer, Al Horford and Kevin Love will mop up the boards. Ray Allen will nail the treys. Ron Artest and Ronnie Brewer will steal everything in sight.
After reviewing all of these teams, I am more confused than ever as to how this season will pan out. That is what makes it so exciting. I'm quietly confident that my team will represent ...a stern warning proudly. But as any fantasy fan knows, it only takes one injury to put a season on ice. I present to you the fantasy squad that I hope will take out the prestigous first annual Battle of the Bloggers:
Baron Davis (PG)
Jason Richardson (SG, SF)
Andre Iguodala (SG, SF)
Caron Butler (SF)
Jermaine O'Neal (PF, C)
Michael Redd (SG, SF)
Chris Kaman (C)
Leandro Barbosa (PG, SG)
Samuel Dalembert (C)
Tayshaun Prince (SF)
Nene Hilario (PF, C)
Good luck to all competing. Updates will continue as the season tips off.