Mother lode or fool's gold?
Ever since the beginning of the 2008-09 season whenever people talk about freeagents in the NBA the conversation is geared toward the summer of 2010. To be honest, I can't blame them. With Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh just a few of the marquee names that will be available starting on July 1, the natural tendency is to focus on what is probably the best free agent class in the history of the NBA. Well, here at MLFG we feel that the 2009 free agents need a little loving since they were barely acknowledged last summer with the frenzy over the 2010 class at full tilt. This week we will take a look at three of the more prominent free agents from the 2009 class to see what their prospects are for fantasy success in the second half of the season.
After nearly landing with the Portland Traill Blazers, Turkoglu signed a five-year, $53-million dollar contract in July with the Toronto Raptors. The move was seen as a huge win for the Raptors, who were trying to become competitive again after a 33-win season in 2008-09. Turkoglu, however, has not worked out as planned so far in Toronto and has been the target of criticism from Raptors fans and the Toronto media. Can Turkoglu have a strong last two and a half months of the season and help the Raptors and fantasy owners in the process?
Last year Turkoglu was more of a focus in the Orlando offense since he was second behind
I don't see Turkoglu's minutes increasing because the Raptors have actually played better this season when Turkoglu has played less. In October and November, Turkoglu averaged 34.5 minutes per game and the Raptors were 7-11 during this stretch. In December and January, Turkoglu averaged 31.3 minutes per game and the Raptors turned their season around by going 19-11 in these two months. The Raptors aren't going to mess with a formula that has been working, namely keeping Turkoglu's minutes around 30 per game and getting bench players involved.
What you've seen so far from Turkoglu this season is what you are going to get for the rest of the season. For a player who was on average drafted in the fifth round this makes him Fool's Gold all the way.
So will Turkoglu turn things around and start producing like he did in Orlando? That's asking for a bit much, but there is a very good chance that we will see a much better performance from Hedo after the All-Star break. While I wouldn't call him an All-Star caliber player, he is much more gifted than his numbers suggest. Eventually, talent will win out. If Toronto expects to keep Chris Bosh they need to get everything they can out of their big free-agent signing and prove they can go places in the future. Personally I think that Turkoglu is up to the challenge, and gets a Mother Lode from me.
After considering a variety of free agents, the Blazers ultimately settled on Miller in late July, when they signed him to a three-year, $21-million dollar contract. Even with the financial commitment made by the Blazers to Miller, he was in a timeshare with
Well, McMillan finally came to his senses in mid-December when he inserted Miller in the starting lineup for good. His minutes were still inconsistent for the rest of the month but in January he started getting the 36 minutes a game he has been accustomed to for most of his career. With Miller finally back in his comfort zone, January turned into his coming out party for the 2009-10 season. In 15 games, he averaged 18.8 points, 6.7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1.2 steals while shooting exactly 50 percent from the field and 83.1 percent from the line. See what happens, Nate, when you don't mess with a good thing. While I would not expect his January numbers for the rest of the season, he should match what he did last year in Philadelphia over the Blazers' final 32 games. If you polled fantasy owners who drafted Miller in the preseason they would be more then happy with 2008-09 Miller. Because of this, he gets a Mother Lode from me.
After having a career year with the Milwaukee Bucks last season, Villanueva was rewarded in free agency when the Detroit Pistons inked him to a five-year, $35 million dollar contract. Villanueva has struggled in his first season as a Piston much to the chagrin of fantasy owners who drafted him. Will Villanueva be able to salvage his season or continue to underachieve?
The Pistons are going nowhere this season. They will look to play their younger players down the stretch to see what they have for 2010-11 and beyond. Fortunately for Villanueva owners, two of the players that he battles for playing time with are
Don't get me wrong, Villanueva is a versatile player and would be a welcome addition to any team, but he just doesn't have the talent to live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him. Fantasy owners were expecting Charlie to step into his new role in Detroit and increase his stats across the board, but it just hasn't happened. Part of it has been a lack of minutes that he has received, but five rebounds and 43 percent shooting is not acceptable from a power forward in this league. I don't see Charlie turning things around, and as such have to give him a Fool's Gold.
*All stats up to date as of 2/2/10