- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
In Friday's blog I discussed the best NBA teams for fantasy hoops, admitting that when I had the idea, I assumed the Boston Celtics were the best. That proved to be incorrect, as my subjective research showed in the end three other teams ranked higher for me, including another East contender from the middle of Florida. Imagine that! Click here for Friday's blog and thanks for those who already shared your thoughts.
At the same time, while watching the New York Knicks have their score nearly doubled by the Celtics last Thursday, I figured that team would be the worst for fantasy. Well, that wasn't really the case either. The Knicks are bad, of course, but not quite that bad.
Without further ado, here are my picks for the current five worst teams in the league in fantasy, and this time we'll count backward from five to one so as not to confuse anyone.
5. Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Kaman is doing things we didn't believe possible, and Corey Maggette can score points, but the rest of the Clippers are sputtering. Sam Cassell leads the squad with 4.2 assists per game, but he's missing games, and that doesn't help your team. Sammy doesn't hit 3s or get steals, and his backup Brevin Knight actually has scored fewer points than Tim Thomas has fouls. Hard to do. Appreciate the wonderful Kaman numbers, own Maggette and make Thomas one of those players who is constantly being added and dropped, but this is not a great fantasy team.
4. New York Knicks: Nope, they aren't the worst, but boy have they tried to be. Four-fifths of the starting lineup are actually quite presentable, and ownable, though they aren't consistent. Leading scorer Zach Randolph oddly ranks fourth among the starters in fantasy value, thanks to poor shooting and having the same amount of blocked shots as Stephon Marbury. In my Chris Rock voice, how does someone that large have only two blocks all season? Wouldn't more than a few shots just run into him? Whatever. Jamal Crawford would be a top-50 player if he could get that field goal percentage to .425 or so (it's currently at .399), and Marbury is in the top 25 for assists. As for the seemingly hated Eddy Curry, who really slipped in fantasy drafts, he hits his field goals and has cut his turnovers per game from 3.6 to 2.1, which is incredible. The Knicks might actually be better in fantasy than real life!
3. Portland Trail Blazers: No Blazers made it into the top 50, but LaMarcus Aldridge seems worthy. He leads the team in points, rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage, but Brandon Roy has not taken that next step up. While his points are about the same, and his assists have risen a bit, he's rebounding less, shooting worse from the field and the line and not hitting enough extra 3s to make up for it. No other Blazers are definite owns in fantasy, moving on and off the most added/dropped lists. Martell Webster shows signs, and Steve Blake certainly gets enough assists to warrant attention. No Western Conference team scores fewer points than the Blazers.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Well, we knew this was coming after the Kevin Garnett trade. Al Jefferson has done his job, as he is one of five 20-and-10 guys in the game entering Monday's action. He's ranked No. 42 on our Player Rater, but that seems a bit ridiculous. To me he's top 20. The problem with the Wolves is there's not much else. Rashad McCants scores and has range, but doesn't do anything else. Antoine Walker is the next scorer, but he's not much of a fantasy option, though his 4.6 rebounds do rank second on the squad. Believe it or not, this team's No. 2 fantasy player, just outside the top 100, is Marko Jaric. Oh, if only Theo Ratliff were healthy! At least Randy Foye will hopefully return soon to become the team's second-best fantasy option.
1. Chicago Bulls: This bunch hasn't been bad just for fantasy, but obviously in real life as well. The Bulls had a big weekend, beating the Hawks and Bobcats to escape the Eastern Conference basement. Things should improve, but what about in fantasy? Nobody on this team is ranked in the top 75. Ben Gordon is the only one in the top 145! Only Gordon and Luol Deng score, but they aren't great fantasy options. Gordon doesn't rebound, and he's shooting 39 percent from the floor. Deng will be better for fantasy, in time, but he doesn't hit 3s or free throws. Kirk Hinrich keeps starting, but his stats look like the Eastern version of Luke Ridnour. Ben Wallace looks like Reggie Evans with a block and a half per game. It's ugly. Look for it to improve, however. I doubt the Bulls will be this bad for much longer. Maybe they already turned the proverbial corner.
Who just missed this list? The Indiana Pacers haven't been a great fantasy team so far, not with Jermaine O'Neal struggling, though Jamaal Tinsley has been terrific. In Miami, it wouldn't be fair to rip that team knowing that Dwyane Wade missed so much time, but other than him, it's not a strong group. Shaquille O'Neal, even if he were shooting 80 percent from the line, is not a great fantasy player anymore. Seattle is actually getting decent performances from a few guys not named Kevin Durant. Chris Wilcox and Damien Wilkins are only a few spots behind Durant on the Player Rater, though field goal percentage has a lot to do with that. If our rater included turnovers, Durant wouldn't be faring as well.
Gabe (Ann Arbor, Mich.): "What about the Atlanta Hawks as a top-5 fantasy team? Obviously they're a little young, but they're deep with Joe Johnson and Josh Smith leading the way, plus Al Horford, Marvin Williams, even Josh Childress isn't a bad bench guy."
Eric: The Hawks are not a bad fantasy team at all, especially since Smith is a shot-blocking fiend who gets steals. He's only No. 34 on the rater, but that should be a low point for him as his points and rebounds get more consistent. Horford is the one to watch here. His minutes will go up, and he could be a 12-and-12 guy who blocks shots really soon. The Hawks aren't top 5, but they could be top 10.
In Friday's blog I discussed the best NBA teams for fantasy hoops, admitting that when I had the idea, I assumed the Boston Celtics were the best.