Fantasy Basketball Awards
If only we knew before the season…
by Charles Peach / @Charles_Peach
Fantasy awards can get tricky, even more so than the NBA’s end of the season honors. In fantasy, awards encompass the fantasy Playoffs whereas the NBA’s only take into account the regular season. The Playoffs in the Association are a different beast, complete with its own Finals MVP. Imagine the ensuing debates if the NBA operated the same as fantasy – it would get ugly. In the end, the entire 82-game regular season would be overlooked and all the awards would be doled out amongst the team who won the Finals and the teams who got close.
I appreciate the players who perform during the fantasy Playoffs, but at the same time I don’t want the first five months of the season to be forgotten. So with my 2010 Fantasy Awards I strive to find a healthy balance.
If we were to have a Finals MVP equivalent in this year’s fantasy season it would be Kevin Durant. The youngest player ever to win the scoring title tallied 30 or more points in each of the last seven games of the season. (Who did he surpass to become the youngest scoring champ ever? Max Zaslofsky of the ’47-48 Chicago Stags. Duhhh.)
FANTASY MVP: LeBron James
I know he sat out when fantasy owners needed him most, but remember he flirted with triple-doubles throughout the season. His final line for the ‘09-10 season: 29.7 points, 8.6 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 1 block, 1.7 threes, 50.3 FG%, 76.7 FT%, and 3.4 turnovers.
MOST DISAPPOINTING MVP CANDIDATE: Chris Paul
Hard to fault a guy for getting injured, but the fact that CP3 was on the floor for only 45 games this season made a huge impact the fantasy season. He was the number 2 overall pick in most leagues and even number 1 in some, but next year I won’t be surprised to see Durant go in front of him.
WAIVER WIRE PICKUP OF THE SEASON: Carl Landry
Landry was overlooked in the drafts of many 12-team leagues and he ended up having a very solid season. He was traded in February from the Rockets to the Kings and didn’t miss a beat, finishing the season averaging 16.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 53.6 FG%, and 80.6 FT%. His emergence this season was fantastic considering what he went through last season. In March 2009 he was involved in a minor car accident in Houston. When he stepped out of his vehicle to inspect the damage he was shot at by an occupant of the other vehicle. He suffered a flesh wound to the leg but returned to the court three weeks later. Glad to see Landry take a huge step forward this year.
In 16-team leagues Landry was likely drafted, so the player who came out of nowhere was Darren Collison. Who could’ve predicted Collison to play so well in the absence of CP3? In Collison’s 37 starts he averaged 18.8 points, 9.1 assists, 1.4 steals, 1 three, and 48.5 FT%. Not bad for a rookie.
Other nice waiver wire pickups this season include Andray Blatche, who emerged after Washington cleaned house in February and had some monster games as a starter for the Wizards. In those 36 games as a starter he averaged 20.8 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Marcus Thornton averaged 20.3 points, 2 threes, and 1 steal after the All-Star break. Just another strong example of the amazing Class of ’09.
George Hill, one of Gregg Popovich’s favorite players, improved greatly in his sophomore season to become a key component for the Spurs. As a guard, he shoots the ball very well (47.8 FG%) and takes care of the rock (1.3 turnovers per game).
Robin Lopez rose from the depths of the box score to the starting lineup in January and had many people running to the computers to scoop him up. He only had six games where he played 30 minutes or more. In those games he averaged 18 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 70 FG%.
Taj Gibson was yet another rookie to play a huge role for his team this season. He held it together for the Bulls while Joakim Noah sat out a chunk of games. Gibson started 70 games this season and his rebounding numbers elevated every month.
LATE-ROUND STEAL: Stephen Curry
It didn’t happen immediately. But with patience came one of the brightest young stars in the League. Once he started clocking major minutes and getting comfortable, it didn’t take him long to start playing his style – supremely confident. He will pull up and drain a three without giving you time to blink. Playing in Golden State just made him that much more of a fantasy gem. After the All-Star break he averaged 22.1 points, 7.7 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2.7 threes, 46.8 FG%, and 90.6 FT%. Not included in those averages is the final game before the All-Star break, in which he feasted upon the Clippers for 36 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds, and 7 threes.
Marc Gasol went very late in most drafts and he rewarded owners with a dazzling season; 14.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1 steal, and 58.1 FG%.
Of course there was Tyreke Evans, who had a rookie season for the record books joining Oscar Robertson, MJ and LeBron as the only rookies to average 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. The only thing stopping Evans from being an elite fantasy player is three-point shooting, which is a vital element to fantasy success. You NEED your guards to hit threes and he only hit 0.5 per game.
Aaron Brooks was another double-digit round draft pick. If you were the one in your league to get him that late, you must’ve felt awfully smart. He finished the season averaging 19.6 points, 5.3 assists, and 2.6 threes.
Jamal Crawford, usually avoided because of his poor shooting and frequent turnovers, was much more efficient this season. He averaged 18 points and 2.1 threes coming off of the bench for the Hawks this season, but more importantly he raised his FG% to 44.9 and trimmed his turnovers down to 1.7 per game.
Channing Frye looked like a poster-boy for this award early on, but when Robin Lopez took his starting job he fizzled out a bit. He still had a fine season finishing with 11.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 0.9 blocks, and 2.1 threes.
SLEEPER: Zach Randolph
This was a close call between Z-Bo and Andrew Bogut. The edge goes to Z-Bo because he played a dozen more games than the Big Aussie. Fantasy owners hit their snooze buttons a few times on these guys back in October allowing them to slip somewhere between the 5th and 8th rounds. Randolph was one of only three players to do the 20-10 thing this season (Chris Bosh and David Lee the others), finishing with 20.8 points and 11.7 rebounds. Bogut finished with 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks.
Joakim Noah falls into this category as well, but plantar fasciitis derailed his special season. Prior to the All-Star break he averaged 11.2 points, 12 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. To give you an idea of how much he was slept on – he went in the 7th round of one of my drafts, four picks behind Mario Chalmers.
BEST VALUE: David Lee
This award is meant for the guy who could be had in the 3rd or 4th rounds but performed like a 1st rounder. Lee put up terrific numbers this season; 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds with a 54.5 FG% and 81.2 FT%.
Gerald Wallace is the runner-up for this award. Crash played a career-high 76 games this season and averaged 18.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.1 blocks. The 10 rebounds per game were, by far, the highest of his career. His previous season-high was 7.8 per game.
YOU KEEP DOUBTIN’ BUT I KEEP BALLIN’: Tim Duncan
Before the last handful of seasons, people expected Timmy to fall off. They think his age will finally catch up to him. They think he’ll sit out the tail end of back-to-backs. What does he do? He plays 78 games, averages 17.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks while improving upon his percentages from last season (50.4 FG% and 69.2 FT% last season, 51.9 FG% and 72.5 FT% this season).
I was one of the doubters. I learned my lesson. Tim is as tough as they come, competitive as hell, and a class act.
Alright, this is a sensitive subject. Every season there is bunch of busts and for a number of different reasons. So we’ll have to categorize this year’s busts carefully:
THE FINGER-PISTOLS AWARD: Gilbert Arenas
Many people were high on Agent Zero coming into this season. People were anxious to watch a healthy/healthier Gil get back on track after missing a ton of playing time in the last two seasons. Things got off to a good start; 22.6 points, 7.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2 threes per game. Dare I say, Hibachi? But before I could make the sizzling Japanese culinary reference, Gil started playing with guns. And we all know how that ended…
NEW CITY, NEW TEAM, CRAPPY FANTASY STATS: Vince Carter
Coming off of a solid season in New Jersey, Vince brought his act to a contender in Orlando. His numbers fell off across the board. Check out the comparison:
08-09 – 20.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1 steal, 0.5 blks, 43.7 FG%, 1.9 threes
09-10 – 16.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.2 blks, 42.8 FG%, 1.6 threes
Hedo Turkoglu, the man Vince replaced, got the big bucks and moved to Toronto. He left his 16.8 ppg in Florida though, and only brought 11.3 with him along with a 41 FG%.
Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva became teammates in Detroit. Not long after, they became benchmates. BG went from 20.7 points, 2.1 threes, and 45.5 FG% with the Bulls to 13.8 points, 1.2 threes, and 41.6 FG% with the Pistons. Charlie saw his stats deflate from 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds last season with the Bucks to 11.9 points and 4.7 rebounds with the Pistons.
Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest weren’t traded for each other before the season, but they essentially swapped teams. Ariza tried going from role player to playmaker and it didn’t work out too well as he shot 39.4 percent from the field and 64.9 percent from the charity stripe. Artest’s scoring wasn’t needed on the Lakers as it was with the Rockets. In Houston, last season, he averaged 17.1 points but that dropped to 11 points this season in Hollywood.
JARRETT JACK OUTPLAYED ME AWARD: Jose Calderon
Calderon was a popular choice between the 2nd and 3rd rounds. The season got off to a strong start for Spaniard but then he got injured for a bit. When he returned he found himself in a time-share at point guard with Jarrett Jack, and couldn’t win his starting job back until late in the season. He finished the season averaging 10.3 points and 5.9 assists. Jack averaged 11.4 points and 5 assists.
I MISS HEDO: Rashard Lewis
Lewis suffered quite the drop-off from last season. He fell from 17.7 points and 5.7 rebounds to 14.1 points and 4.4 rebounds. The lineup shuffling didn’t seem to affect the Magic too much in the regular season, but we’ll see if the tandem of Rashard and Vince can get Dwight back to the Finals.
I WOULD’VE BEEN A STEAL… IF I COULD STILL JUMP: Elton Brand
It was a popular belief prior to the season that EB was healthy enough to get back a little closer to the 20-10 days. If you grabbed him in the 3rd round, like many did, you probably didn’t finish too well in your league because he averaged only 13.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks.
Blame it on the groin. Blame it on the ankle. Blame it on the knee. Got your body mangled. Blame it on the pa-a-a-a-a-atella…
Blake Griffin will be a rookie next year because he didn’t play one game this season after fracturing his patella in the preseason. Remind you of another number 1 pick?
Greg Oden went down again this year as he also fractured his patella in December and was only able to play 21 games.
Michael Redd just can’t get that knee right as he was limited to 18 games this season.
Andris Biedrins, the highly sought after Latvian, is usually a high draft pick because of his rebounding and blocking abilities along with the overall inflation that comes along with being on the Warriors. But groin and abdominal injuries kept that Swiss flag next to his name for most of the year.
Anthony Randolph showed flashes of why everyone wanted to draft him so high, but he only ended up playing 33 games this season. He remains a mystery until next season…
It’s been a fun season. I hope the column provided you with some helpful advice along the way. Thank you all for reading and commenting week after week. Enjoy the Playoffs!