Prior to the beginning of the season, the battle of the big men was pretty clear cut. Stoudemire was, at worst, a top-four pick, with Nowitzki and
Of course, that was then. Now, roughly a quarter of the way through the season, the race is a jumbled mess of stats and opinion. Marion has dropped out thanks to a disappointing start, but the remaining four behemoths are in a very close competition for the right to be called the best big man in the game.
So I decided to put our experts to the test and find out which big man they would want for the rest of the season. Not surprisingly, the results were mixed.
Although it has been well documented that I am a big Howard fan, I think I have to take Stoudemire for the rest of the season. Howard is, by far, the better big when we're talking about rebounds and blocks. Amaré, while he has seemed to turn the corner as of late, has put up subpar numbers by his standards. His rebounds (8.3), blocks (1.2), and field-goal percentage (56.5) are all down from last season. He's also attempting 1.3 fewer shots per game. The reason?
Oh, give some of that Bosh! I love Howard, but his 57.3 free-throw percentage hurts in roto leagues and really brings down the totals in H2H leagues, given that he attempts so many free throws every game. I like Nowitzki, but he's not a reliable double-double threat, something I feel you need if your top player is a big man. Stoudemire is just fine, except that he isn't a dominant rebounder or shot-blocker. Bosh kind of combines everything into one, with outstanding shooting percentages. He's averaging 26 points and 10 rebounds, but what I like the most is his desire to become this year's MVP. He'll have to put up big-time numbers to be in contention for that reward, which is music to his fantasy owners' ears.
An interesting question, and the anal answer is probably: it depends on what categories I need the most help in. But I'll assume all things are equal for the sake of discussion and go with Howard. His dominance in blocks this year just takes him to an entirely new level and leapfrogs him over Stoudemire, who is out of sorts on a struggling Phoenix team. Bosh and Nowitzki are both good for points and percentages, but they don't do enough in the peripheral categories to challenge Howard for big-man supremacy in the NBA this season.
Of the four studs mentioned, my vote goes to Bosh. The Raptors big man is averaging 6 points a game more than Nowitzki and is the franchise player for his team. Perhaps no player on the 2008 Olympic Team benefited more from the experience than Bosh, who has increased his scoring and rebounding averages per game when compared to 2007 (by 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds respectively). Plus, you have to love a big man that converts 84 percent of his free-throw attempts. The only concern at this point would be excessive minutes (averaging 41.0 so far in '08), but at a spry 24 years old, he should be up to the challenge.
Any four of the players mentioned will carry a fantasy team a long way, but as long as Bosh stays healthy, his value appears to be limitless moving forward.
Wow, all of the above? If I have to make a choice, it's Stoudemire hands down, followed closely by Bosh. If you've seen my in-season rankings, you know I still see Stoudemire as an elite option, easily top three. But you can't fault a guy like Bosh, who has improved enough that he's on pace to finish among the top 10. Nowitzki is still well worth owning, and so is Howard, if you can live with the slew of missed free throws and turnovers. I have never owned Howard, because it's not worth reaching for him where he always gets drafted.
Five experts weigh in, and we end up with two votes for Bosh, two for Stoudemire, and one for Howard, with
Andriesse was the only one with the resolve to fight past all of Howard's bricked free throws to select the reigning dunk champ, and I applaud him for it. Not a pick I personally would make in a roto league, because I hate tanking categories, but I have to give credit to those that are able to pull it off. Howard is a ton of fun to own, but personally I don't want him on my team if I am going to make a serious run at the league title.
Tommy and Tom team up to pick Stoudemire as their champion, while Greg and Kyle go with Bosh, a.k.a. Canada's best reason to forget