Fantasy: How to Handle the Suspensions
The Answerman is the first and only fantasy basketball and romance advice columnist on the web. He is here at insidehoops.com to answer all your questions (or at least the interesting ones).
Anyone hear about the fight at the Pacer-Pistons game on Friday? It's made the front page of newspapers Ė not the front of the sports page....the actual front page. Arenít we currently at war? Arenít there riots in Chile? Starving children in Africa? Corporate fraud? Star Jonesí Wedding?
Here's where we're at:
Ron Artest. Right or wrong, heís out for the season. Youíve got not choice, drop him. The big question is - How do you replace him?. The fact is, you cannot. Going to have to pick which category of his was most important to your team.
If you want to try to replace the whole Ron Artest with a "poor manís" Artest, Quentin Richardsonís scoring has been disappointing some owners, so you may want to pounce on his strong steals and rebounds. Additionally, Josh Childress has been growing quickly in Atlanta - and Kenny Anderson and Boris Diaw donít exactly have a stranglehold on their positions - he can score, steal and rebound, all Artest specialties. James Posey owners are panicking and he can be Artest-like. Finally, Mickael Pietrus has just returned for the Warriors. Watch him for a while - he may be it.
If you want to replace his steals, Eddie House has been hawking the ball recently, but Brevin Knight and Jason Hart are returning to Charlotte soon. Darryl Armstrong has been strong in Baron Davisí absense, and Larry Hughes is great and still underrated.
For scoring youíve got two replacement players. Earl Boykins can lit it up and has taken full advantage of V.Lenardís absence. Since he doesnít pass - EVER - heís a good scoring option. Jerry Stackhouse has been scoring nicely since Michael Finley went down. Couple that with Stackís improved steals and youíve got a nice temporary pickup.
Stephen Jackson. Heís out for 30 games. Truthfully, he hasnít been THAT good this season - so there is no reason to store him on your bench for half the season. Drop him. There will not be a mad rush to sign him - especially since when he comes back Reggie Miller will be back in action.
Jackson can score some, steal, rebound and pass a little. He really was a poor manís Artest. So the guys mentioned above can help. Additionally, Freddie Jones in Indiana stepped it up on Saturday night and is probably a good pick-up.
Jermaine OíNeal: Jermaineís been suspended for 25 games. That finishes before the all-star break. Do NOT drop OíNeal - he is too good and he is not out for that long. With OíNealís knees you had to figure heíd miss 15 to 20 games anyway. Store him on your bench and wait for him to come back rested and angry.
Meanwhile, you can replace him with Tyson Chandler in Chicago who has been double-doubling with a block for the last few weeks. Also Kelvin Cato is good for rebounds and few blocks. Raef LaFrentz has become good for 8-9 rebounds with a block and a steal as well. Scot Pollard is always an interesting player for rebounds, blocks and steals, though unfortunately he is always injured. David Harrison is worth a look for minutes in OíNealís absence.
Ben Wallace is a non-issue. He is suspended 6 games. Big whoop. You should have the depth to replace him for 6 games. If you donít, you have larger problems than just Ben Wallaceís suspension.
A lot of people are jumping on the Austin Croshere bandwagon. He will certainly get minutes and shots. I am hesitant. Weíve seen Croshere the "savior" already. He got a big Indy contract a few years back and never played up to the pressure of the big contract. While I liked Croshere as a complementary player, getting shots off of Oíneal, Artest, and Jackson, I donít see him in his new centerpiece role. I see turnovers, I see poor FG%, I see forced shots and disappointment.
As final matter - I just want to add that this is part of the fun of fantasy sports - and sports in general. Fantasy sports would be far too easy if athletes were robots. Weíd calculate averages and practically be able to award a winner before the season even started. Injuries, suspensions, diminishing skills, re-defined roles and random poor play are the challenges of fantasy team-building and season management.
Comparatively, the personalities and random good and bad behavior of athletes is part of the joy of following sports. So if you want to get worked up and say "this is a black eye on basketball" and a "disgrace to the sport" go ahead. Me, I celebrate it. Thank the gods of basketball for Ron Artestís CD promotions, Jermaine OíNealsí flying haymaker, Bill Bradleyís race for the presidency, Kobe Bryantís GM-ing in LA, Dikembe Mutomboís work in Africa, Ricky Davisí (non)-triple-double, AIís "practice" press conference, NBA rehabilitation of Lamar Odom and Vin Baker, Rodmanís dress, charitable efforts of 95% of the NBA, Micheal Jordanís gambling, NBA as the first league to openly welcome racial integration, Calvin Murphy and Shawn Kempsí re-productivity...whatever it is Ė itís the fun of being a fan.
And back to fantasy basketball: Even if you had Oíneal, Artest, and Jackson on your squad, donít panic. There is a lot of season left to be played. If you have any questions, feel free to write the Answerman@insidehoops.net.