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InsideHoops [Fantasy Basketball]

Fantasy Basketball: InBox II





/ Oct. 25, 2004

The Answerman is the first and only alternative fantasy basketball and romance advice columnist on the web. He is here at to answer all your questions (or at least the interesting ones).

I’m still only answering draft questions. Once we are into the season, I’ll talk about trades and team organization. Sorry for those of you who have already drafted, but if I’ve learned anything in my years, it's that extended foreplay makes it better:

Dear Answerman:


I know you recommend avoiding players with health problems but a lot of the great players are coming off injuries from last year (Nowitzki -- ankle; Duncan -- ankle, Kobe --shoulder, Ray Allen -- ankle, B. Davis -- knee..) how do you not pick one of these guys in the first round? -RD

Dear RD:

If a guy misses a total of 40 games over the course of two years, I stay away. Under that rule, Nowitzki, Duncan, and Kobe are fine.. Though you can expect to lose some Kobe and Dirk games this year, it won’t be enough to impact draft position.

Also, look at a player’s history. Some guys suffer temporary injuries, heal by surgery/rest and come back fine. Watch Matt Harpring in pre-season; historically he is a healthy player. He is a safe pick.

You want to be weary of guys who are frail. Baron Davis is a good example. I didn’t like what I saw from Gilbert Arenas last year, either. I am becoming more confident in Vince Carter. Of course, there is the grand-daddy of them all, Grant Hill. I don’t care what they are saying in Orlando, do not draft this guy.


Hey whats up I just wanted to let you know that I have been reading your articles for a long time and they helped me win my league last year. I am in an 8 category roto league that includes fg %, ft %, 3pm, points, reb, asts, steals and blocks. The way it is looking now I think ill get Shaq in the first round. My question is I know he will kill me in ft % and I can live with that, so should I just look for other players that fill similar categories as Shaq such as fg %, points, reb, blocks and you can say he is nice for assists from the c position? Just want you to tell me who u would take to compliment Shaq? -JJ

Dear JJ:

You ever have a girlfriend, who is unbelievable behind closed doors… but when you go out of the bedroom she is an evil wench?

She makes fun of you in front of your friends, has nothing nice to say, doesn’t listen when you talk, and makes you buy her expensive gifts. Whatever nastiness she is up to, you excuse it saying, "I can live with that, we have just such great sex."

Eventually, you are broke and miserable and you end it (by her dumping you) just to save your soul.

That’s what it is to have Shaq on a roto team with ft% as a category. You will excuse his paltry percentage because of all the good stuff he brings, but at the end of the day, you CANNOT win a roto league finishing dead last in any category.

Shaq’s damage is so brutal because not only does Shaq shoot a bad %, but he shoots so many free throws that he will drag every good shooter you have with him.

Eventually you are mired in 4th place, miserable, and you trade Shaq just to save your team. It doesn’t matter because he does permanent ft% damage in a matter of weeks.

So my advice, since we are still pre-draft, do not draft Shaq in a roto league with ft% as a category.


This year so many players changed uniforms, I have a problem drafting my players. Boozer, Okur and Nash & Q-rich bring lots of competition to these teams. Do you have any alternatives to get a team with depth? -Stef

Dear Stef:

It is very difficult to predict how a guy will do on a new team, with new system and new teammates. Especially a guy like Okur, who always showed promise but never had enough minutes to justify a fantasy roster spot.

Here’s what I do:

Look at a player’s history. Despite changes in scenery, guys will usually play to their average;

Look at the level of commitment by the team. Q-Rich has been the 6th man in preseason and is trying to create a 6th man niche where the was none before. He will have a long haul.

Look at who the player is replacing. Stackhouse is essentially replacing Jamison. Look at what Jamison did last year and you’ll have an idea for Stack this year.

If you are unsure or doubt the player, stay away. You want predictability and results.


Many experts predict that Richard Jefferson will have an amazing season, mainly because there are so few scoring threats (if any) on New Jersey. How I see it, is the opposing team will focus there entire defense on containing him. Not only that, but we don’t know if he can create his shot, and at least 6 points of his average are usually contributed by Jason Kidd. Am I wrong in considering him a bust? -Peja

Dear Peja-

You ask one of the predominant questions in team-situational analysis. When a player loses a teammate is he better due to the increased minutes/shots or worse due to the increased defense? I will generally answer, "about the same." No one gets doubled on every possession and no one gets every shot from a lost teammate. In the end, it pretty much evens out.

Look at what we know about R.Jeff. He has consistently improved his game every season, the Nets are completely committed to him, and he was great during the brief stretch without Kidd and Martin last year.

He will not be a superstar or a full-fledged "Fantasy Stud" but is definitely a worthwhile pick. Assuming health, he will not be a bust.


I would like to thank you in advance for the great tips and advice you are going to give and that are going to help me win my league, again. No pressure. Should I pick Amare ahead of Brand and J.Oneal? Thanks for all your help and shalom from Israel. -Gil

Dear Gil,

I am assuming that Amare, Brand and O’Neal are all power forwards in your league and none qualify as centers. Of the batch, I would take O’Neal first. He is in the most stable situation and put up great numbers last year. Though his fg% and assists leave something to be desired, of the choices, he is my favorite.

More importantly, do NOT pick Elton Brand. Elton has proven some things over the years, he is a great scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker. He is consistent. His teams always lose. Most importantly, he is consistently battling injuries. Not season ending injuries. Just, he’ll-be-back-on-his-own time-table injuries.

Injured players on bad teams take a very long time to come back and are always at risk of losing minutes. Elton Brand’s averages will be fine, your team won’t be.


Hi Answerman! Greetings from Germany. I have to disagree with you: I will never ever draft Andre Miller again! You forgot to write that he averaged just 0.1 3s a game!!! That was extremely frustrating last season. Not getting 3s from your pg is poison for that category. Unless you managed to get Allen and Pierce in the first 2 rounds...but who would take 2 sg's first? -Rudolf

Dear Rudolf,

Nothing better than people telling me about my mistakes. Your point is well-taken and I print your comment so that the readers can be aware.

A couple of things: 1) you can draft 3-pt shooters, it's not that tough a category to replace; 2) I rely on SG’s for more 3’s than PG’s; and 3) 3pt is a stupid category. Right up (down) there with turnovers.


Here’s a bonus for you - Primoz Brezec. Everyone is wondering "Who?" in Charlotte. Its not Wallace or Emeka, it's Primoz.

That’s it for this week. Next week we’ll have some immediate, irrational, knee-jerk reactions from the first games of the season. If you have any questions, ask the

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