- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
The Celtics are really good, the Knicks are really bad, none of this is really breaking news, but man, after seeing them play on Thursday night, I didn't realize how extreme this was. In fantasy hoops there are some players who are such a joy to own, every time they play you know you're getting something good. The Celtics have a few players like this. The Knicks, um, what do they have?
Naturally, I got to thinking, do the Celtics have the best fantasy team among their own players, and do the Knicks have the worst? Scanning the Player Rater is only part of the proof, really, because someone like Rajon Rondo might not score well, and you might really need assists and steals, while someone like Eddy Curry might score higher than he should because of his high field goal percentage, and the fact turnovers aren't a statistic in our game, but might be for you.
I've got Curry on a few teams, knowing full well when I selected him that he could pass the ball to the other team or fumble it out of bounds as much as he desired, and it wouldn't stop him from scoring in the high-teens and making the shots he takes. I'm pleased with Curry, actually. Three Knicks ranked ahead of him on the Rater, but none in the top 50. But that, my friends, is for another day. Today's it all good.
I expect you'll have thoughts on this blog, since it's so subjective, and that's what I want! Send 'em in and I'll post some on Monday when we finish this off with the worst teams for fantasy. For now, here are the best, and you might be shocked.
Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett had his streak of scoring in double digits for the last 411 games snapped, but he still delivered the rebounds, assists and a few blocks. You wanted more? Blame the horrific Knicks. Garnett played a mere 23 minutes, since this game was over so quickly. C'mon, Knicks, you're hurting fantasy players on other teams as well! Garnett comes in at No. 4 on our rater, while Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are at Nos. 27 and 34, respectively, proving that they've seen some decline in their games for the good of the team. While I have been impressed with the help the big three are getting from others, especially Rondo and the somewhat underrated Kendrick Perkins (some boards, good blocks), each of whom didn't miss the top-100 by much, after doing all this research, much to my surprise, my vote for top fantasy team is not in Beantown, but somewhere else.
Phoenix Suns: Hey, this team scores the second-most points in the NBA, so it's not surprising that we get tons of fantasy goodness from them. Steve Nash is a fantasy monster, and I'm still angry that I took Gilbert Arenas over him in that 30-team monstrosity I'm in with the No. 4 pick. You say, how could I have known Arenas would miss three months, and you'd be right. But I can still seethe over it. Nash is the No. 2 player in fantasy right now, behind only behemoth LeBron James, and Shawn Marion is just outside the top-10. Amare Stoudemire missed some games, or he'd be right there, too, and a fourth player, Leandro Barbosa cracks the top-40 as well. That's four players, and the fifth starter is at No. 60! Grant Hill is scoring 14.8 points a night, and he shoots well. He's on our most added list, and Boris Diaw is ownable for his all-around game. Nothing against the Celtics, but the Suns are better in fantasy. The question is, we've established this, but are these teams 1-2? I'm gonna say no, they are not, because the next team has three magnificent players as well, and all in the top-17 of our Rater, which no team can match.
Utah Jazz: Surprise! Look at the big three in Utah, it's very impressive. Carlos Boozer is a stud. Fantasy owners let him slip to round three only because he doesn't block shots, but look at the points and boards, the field goal percentage, he's a monster. Andrei Kirilenko and Deron Williams are each top-20 players right now, and I don't expect any regression. Kirilenko doesn't score or rebound enough for most fantasy owners, but he's averaging 5.4 assists and he's a shot-blocking fiend. Williams has merely become one of the top point guards in the game. But that's not all on this team. You'd think Mehmet Okur is the next-best player, but he has struggled a bit, is shooting a poor field goal percentage and missed the top-100. How about sophomore Ronnie Brewer in the top-40 overall? I don't think it will continue, because he basically scores and derives much of his value on steals and shooting, and he's not proven he can sustain it yet, but he's on our most added list and is up to 95.6 percent owned. Not bad at all. The Utah Jazz first? Hard to believe.
Denver Nuggets: Marcus Camby is healthy and dominating, really. Just take a look at those stats. Allen Iverson just misses the top-10, and Carmelo Anthony scores a lot and has a career-best mark in assists, but where are the boards? So the Nuggets have their own special big three, and its cumulative average also trumps the Celtics, but I like Boston's depth more for fantasy. The No. 4 Nuggets player in fantasy is shooter J.R. Smith, and he's outside the top-100. Three other Nuggets are in the 100-150 range, as well, but aren't owned in many leagues (Kenyon Martin, Eduardo Najera, Linas Kleiza). But hey, being top-5 in our rankings is solid.
Orlando Magic: The Golden State Warriors are the league's top-scoring team, which I imagine is just what Don Nelson wanted, but after Baron Davis rounding out the overall top-10, no teammate is in the top-50. Houston has two very good players as well, though can we count on health from Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady all season? The case can be made for these teams, as well as probably Cleveland, which has the league's best player, and a few other surprising parts in top-30 Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and a guy few drafted, Daniel Gibson. But take a look at Disney World, because the Magic is legit! In fact, I buried the lead a bit, but this is actually a better fantasy team than Boston, with four players ranked in the top-50. Dwight Howard is certainly holding his own at No. 7 overall, and in your league, if free throws made are your thing and not free throw percentage, the case can be made for him as a top-3 fantasy option. Rashard Lewis is No. 19, far ahead of Pierce and Allen, and Hedo Turkoglu also tops those other Celtics, as his 18.5 points per game and 2 threes are serious stats. Jameer Nelson gets enough assists to be a No. 2 point guard as well. Call it magic or whatever, but this team is better in fantasy than Boston.
So, the top-5, for now, is:
Got thoughts? Is there a more deserving team? Send 'em in, and maybe we'll be just as surprised for the bottom-5 teams as I was for the top-5.
Patrick (New York): "Hi Mr. Karabell, my basketball keeper league is up in arms because of this trade: Richard Jefferson, Damien Wilkins and Antonio Daniels for Kevin Garnett and Raja Bell. The commish thinks it is collusion. The league I am in uses the settings field goals and free throws made, threes, 3-point percentage, rebounds, assists, steals, minutes, points and turnovers. I feel the trade is fair by our league standards. The guy was really looking to move KG."
Eric: There's a big difference between collusion and just a bad trade, so I can't possibly know what went on behind the scenes, but is this trade fair? Garnett is the best player in the deal, without a doubt, and no stars really came back in the deal. It's a wise time to move Jefferson, now that Vince Carter looks healthy, and Daniels has seen his play level off. The extra categories actually helps make the deal more fair, I think. Do I like the trade for the guy who really wanted to deal Garnett? Not really, but I never scream collusion unless I have good reason to, and one can't know that from a lopsided trade.
Tino (New Jersey): "How about Kobe Bryant and David West for Carlos Boozer and Vince Carter? Which side of the trade do you like better? Boozer is a beast this year, but I watched the Nets-Lakers game the other night and Vince looked overweight and hesitant to drive the ball on his frail knees/ankle. Along with the huge contract he just signed I think I've convinced myself to deal him after writing this message."
Eric: I can see the case for both sides, because Boozer is a top-10 talent, and Carter should end up just fine, in my opinion. In fact, as I'm writing this message I think I've convinced myself I'd take the Boozer-Carter side of the deal! OK, I'm joking, I would go with Kobe/West, but I guess it depends on what you need, and how confident you are in Carter's health. David West is a fine player performing at a high level, and Kobe is the No. 3 player in fantasy, and offers assists, steals, you name it. I don't think he'll be traded, by the way. But I wouldn't cut bait on Carter because of his contract or health. He dropped 32, 9 and 7 on Memphis the other night and looked fine to me.
Keep sending those comments by clicking here, and let me know what you'd like me to write about, what you think of other blogs, mistakes I have made that I probably didn't mean to, whatever you want. There was great feedback on Wednesday's baseball blog, which I will run next Wednesday. I will also share my thoughts on the huge Delmon Young-Matt Garza trade. Wow! Enjoy your weekend!