Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Masses Have Spoken, Edition 1

Readers of Fantasy Sports, One-a-Day overwhelmingly picked the Lakers to win the NBA Championship, and I have trouble taking issue with the voters' choice.  The Lakers have passed every test this year with flying colors, including snapping the Celtics AND Cavs absurd winning streaks on their respective home floors!  The potential return of Andrew Bynum would be enormous for the Zen Master's umpteenth #1 seed, but no one really knows for sure Bynum's time-table or how effective he'll be if he does make it back.  I've said it in passing, but I honestly feel the Lakers' greatest challenge, right now, is not coming from the Eastern Conference.  The Cavaliers are an amazing team, but unless Mo Williams scores 30 every night, they don't have the firepower to stay with the Lakers.  Currently, the playoff-bound team with the best chance of beating LA in a series is the full, healthy Utah Jazz.  The arena formerly known as the Delta Center remains one of the toughest buildings in the league for road teams (like Denver, though less severe, Salt Lake City is at an altitude), and if the Jazz can get lucky in a road game or two, they've got a shot.  The Lakers swept the season series from both the Cavaliers and the Celtics, and while the playoffs are always a different bird, the Lakers' dominance does have to count for something.

The one-week Poll over on the right sidebar seems to have worked out quite nicely.  A handful of votes, then we'll start a new one up immediately thereafter.  Here is the numerical breakdown for the last poll, before a new one is posted tomorrow:
1) Lakers (50%)
2) Cavaliers (18%)
3) Hawks (12%)
t-4) Magic, Rockets and Celtics (6% each)
7) Spurs (0%)

I can't help but laugh at the Spurs, though it's not as if this poll means anything.  I just wish we had the connections or initiative to take a screenshot of the poll results and paste them to Tim Duncan's locker.  Given Duncan's usual demeanor, I suspect he'd bury the tears deep in his throat, pack up his jersey and take Ime Udoka out for Baskin Robbins to see who can try more flavors.

On the fantasy front, for those still engaged in a playoff run, we have a few names that warrant monitoring from tonight's 3 games.  I want to make a quick point before listing the players.  This is not the time of year to be taking risks with players.  Additionally, if you are competing with a team that is simply LIGHTS OUT in any one category, you may want to think about benching your players that excel in that aspect of the game.  You don't have to win every category to advance -- just the majority.  This strategy may require the benching of a very good player, which is often tough for managers to do, but now is not the time to back down.  To use an example, last year my team was middle-of-the-road in scoring.  I could beat the weak teams and the teams that suffered mid-week injuries, but I rarely came out on top against a good, healthy team in Points.  In the playoffs, it made more sense to bench one of my scorers (e.g. Richard Hamilton), and pick up a player off waivers that could provide a boost in one of the closer categories.  I highly suggest this method as a way for a weaker overall team to defeat a more talented opponent and advance to victory.  That being said, here are the players that can help in a few key categories... make sure to check which days these players are active before dropping someone too early:
  • Rudy Fernandez - 3 pointers - Available in a lot of leagues after missing significant time with nagging injuries.
  • Will Bynum - points and maybe assists - Who knows what's really going on in Detroit with all the injuries, but Bynum is hot right now, and should remain so until Hamilton's return (which may or may not occur on Sunday).
  • Kirk Hinrich - A bit of everything - Still played over 30 minutes despite the return of Derrick Rose.  Hinrich is worth watching, but I don't trust him yet.
  • Joakim Noah - Rebounds and blocks - Due to his minutes hovering in the 28 neighborhood, Noah could have a stinker on any given night, but his intensity and action will usually allow him a few rebounds even on those evenings when Noah decides to lay brick.
  • Tyrus Thomas - Points, rebounds, defense - When he's not in the coach's dog house, Thomas is one of the most valuable fantasy players in the league, combining a very high FG% with a ton of rebounds, steals AND blocks.  Unfortunately, there's just no telling when he might leave a turd in Vinny Del Negro's loafers and ride the pine for 3 straight games.  Still, could be a late-week answered prayer, and I would never stop anyone from deploying him.

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