Thoughts fantasy owners can't ignore for the NBA season ahead

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Methinks. That's right, like a renaissance man (or perhaps a Hun), I'm here to share my insights, opinions, and advice on any topic that might help you win your fantasy hoops league. Maybe "MeTthinks" a certain stud center will make it through this season intact...finally. Perhaps "MeThinks" a certain big man (and a member of many a sleepers list) is at risk for losing his newly awarded starting job. You might not be expecting what you'll see here, but you can know one thing for sure -- you'll get the straight scoop, covering all potential fantasy-relevant players, whether they be established stars or up-and-comers.

Maybe you'll disagree with me. Good; I want to hear from you. One of the great joys of fantasy is debating the fine points with another person who is just as interested as you are, and doing it just for the fun of it. Maybe you'll agree with me. Good; I want to hear from you too. Tell me what other topics would pique your interest. I want this to cover material that you need, so any and all feedback is welcomed.

On that note, MeThinks ...

• The NBA sometimes gets a bad rap, and that fantasy basketball is quite possibly the most enjoyable fantasy game. Fantasy baseball can hold its own, but it's still hoops first for me. And I'm damn glad opening day is here.

• That Yao Ming will end up delivering great value for his fantasy owners this season. I know he stayed busy over the summer playing for China in the Olympics and hasn't played in more than 57 games since the 2004-05 season. Yao wants to prove the injury worriers wrong, and he is still 28 and in the prime of his career. I'm feeling good that he can make it to maybe 75 or so games played. As a third-round pick in redraft leagues, that would mean his owners have two first-round talents for the bulk of the season. Cash money.

• The Portland Trail Blazers will be a lot of fun to watch this year, and that they'll produce some real fantasy contributors. With guys like Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden, Travis Outlaw, and Rudy Fernandez all playing key roles in the rotation, several teams in your league will be employing the services of a Blazer or two. Hello, youth movement; sayonara "JailBlazers."

• The Miami Heat point guard situation just became even more complicated with the addition of Shaun Livingston to the active roster, particularly when he looked solid in 18 minutes in his debut. Previously I had pimped Chris Quinn as the PG to own in the preseason. Although we still expect Quinn to be the starter heading into the season, the team seems like the idea of giving Livingston a tryout for the gig at some point. I still stand by the opinions that Mario Chalmers isn't ready to run the point in the NBA and that Marcus Banks is too streaky (translated: inconsistent) to take and hold down the job for any measure of time. I still have doubts that Livingston can mount any kind of challenge given the severity of his prior knee injury, but he is still young and apparently resilient, so who knows? There are only so many minutes to go around, so watch this situation closely if you invested in the Miami backcourt, aside from Dwyane Wade.

• That Al Thornton looks much improved heading into this season. Hopefully he isn't a free agent in your league unless you have eight or fewer teams. Hint Hint...

• That the rookie who isn't getting enough pub in the preseason is Indiana guard Brandon Rush. If Mike Dunleavy isn't right after some injury concerns in the preseason, Rush could be in line to start during his absence. Heck, if he can just continue to command the 26 minutes he ran in the preseason, he'll be a big asset to the Pacers and can be a great end-of-bench fantasy option as a backup at both guard slots. His game reminds me of a young Michael Finley, with the potential to approach double-digit points, hit a trey or two per game, pull down a few boards, and maybe grab a steal or two with a couple of assists. And he'll only get better as he grows more accustomed to the speed of the NBA game. He is only owned in 8 percent of Yahoo! leagues so far, so keep an eye on him if he's out there in yours.

• That Ricky Davis didn't do himself any favors in the preseason with his lackluster play. He should still be in line for at least 25 minutes per game regardless of whether he is starting or coming off the bench, but he actually played much better all-around ball as a backup. This is a rare situation where you as a fantasy owner want Ricky to not start for the real world team, in a phenomenon I call the [Ben] Gordon effect. Speaking of Gordon, that's another guy who got no love in drafts. Savvy fantasy GMs who took him super late will be happy. That minor toe injury will be a distant memory by December.

• Fantasy owners are too down on Kevin Garnett this season, most likely the result of him sitting out close to a month last year with some mysterious abdominal injury. Consensus opinion said that the team wanted to rest his 31-year-old body for the stretch run and playoffs, and many questioned whether the injury was really bad enough to keep him out for that long. (That's right, KG was born in 1976 and just turned 32 in May.) You can't base fantasy drafting decisions on speculation, and I was stunned to snag him with the 17th pick in one of my drafts last week. KG, meet Mr. Amare Stoudemire. Amare, meet KG. This is gonna be fun.

• I'm not sold on Bobby Simmons delivering on his sleeper prognostications. I really want him to succeed, but realistically, he's a guy who once had a breakout season, and since then ... nothing. Sure, there was an injury involved in his disappearance, but I'm not so sure he can hold off Chris Douglas-Roberts from stealing away playing time over the course of a whole season. Simmons had better hope the team is in contention after the All-Star break. That's all I'm saying.

• I'll also be keeping my eye on Russell Westbrook, Jason Thompson, and Ronny Turiaf in the first couple of weeks. I like Westbrook and Thompson to have value at some point this season, but Turiaf has a chance to provide an immediate impact up front for the Warriors. His only inhibitor would be the games that coach Don Nelson plays with his rotation, but if he establishes a consistent role in that rotation, Turiaf will produce.

• That Sean Williams somehow found a way to take the "team" concept too far. When offered a chance to prove his wares at the starting center position in preseason, Williams deferred to rookie Brook Lopez, saying he did it for "the team." Sean, please, please, do not allow yourself to turn into the next Stromile Swift. Your team already has one of those, and one, frankly, is too many. When you get a chance to shine, you gotta be hungry. You can't be a shot-blocker/enforcer with your gluteus maximus firmly entrenched at the end of the bench. OK, pep talk over, now go out there and block some shots for your poor fantasy owners.

• I can't wait to see what Matt Barnes can do in the starting lineup. Remember when Quentin Richardson looked like a different player, just straight draining treys from downtown at a career-best rate? Yeah, that's the type of improvement in numbers I see in Barnes once he gets fully entrenched in the offensive flow. Simple directions, Matt. Just hang out on the wing or in the corner and wait for SteveNash to draw the defense into the lane. Pass. Shoot. Score. Rinse. Repeat.

• Just in case you're still wondering, that big man/sleeper in risk of losing his job is none other than Sean May . It may be just a conditioning problem that is a concern for head coach Larry Brown, but even if May does get back in shape, will that knee ever have the same burst?

• Oh yeah, and a shout out to Leo Sacco. I hope you got a slam dunk at your draft on Sunday.