November 04, 2008

MeThinks. It might not look like a valid word, but it was standard grammatical usage long, long ago. Now it's just my catch phrase for my weekly diatribe about the topics I deem most important for active fantasy owners. We're one week into the NBA season now, long enough to gauge general player fantasy value. However, with several rotations still in flux, minutes and resulting fantasy value can change by the game. But we're following all of these guys on your behalf, so just come here to get the scoop on the most fantasy-relevant topics of the week.

And one small request: I want to hear from you. Tell me what other topics would pique your interest. This column needs to cover material that you need, so any and all feedback is welcomed.

On that note, MeThinks ...

All that preseason ado about Marvin Williams (SF/PF, ATL) was a bit overblown. Sure, he's 22 years old and still has room to grow. I just think it was premature to assume he had developed a dependable three-point shot after he hit four in the first two preseason games. Rest of preseason? Zippo. And this after he pulled his disappearing act down the stretch last year, smack dab on top of the fantasy playoffs. It's also interesting to note that Atlanta has opened up the season looking like a worthy 2-0 team, albeit with little to no contribution from Williams yet. With a starting lineup full of capable scorers, there just aren't a ton of additional shots to go around. If you own him, wait for a hot streak and cash in quickly, because Marvin is sure to be up to his old tricks after the All-Star Break.

I was extremely impressed by Utah's franchise-best, five-turnover team performance against the L.A. Clippers on Saturday night. To think they did this with arguably their best player, Deron Williams still out injured (with all due respect to Carlos Boozer, it becomes obvious that this whole roster is darn talented. Just wait for their floor general to return. I know that I, for one, think he has a genuine chance at delivering top-10 overall value for the balance of this season.

We need to watch the point guard situation in Oklahoma City closely. EarlWatson can't afford to struggle too much in the early going if he wants to remain the starter -- case in point, his 3-for-12 shooting from the field against Houston on Saturday night. Russell Westbrook had his ups and downs in the preseason, but he sure looks capable in the minutes he's earned so far. But I just can't see the team holding him to fewer than 20 minutes per game once he gets a better grasp of the offense, barring another career-best run like Watson pulled out of his rear end last year. Youth movement is right around the corner.

The nagging back injury that has been limiting Luke Ridnour had better heal up quickly if he also wants to keep his job. Ramon Sessions started for him on Saturday and delivered another stellar passing performance, finishing with nine assists (plus 12 points and a steal). Deep league owners need to snag Sessions now hoping the team likes what they see, or perhaps prospecting in case Ridnour's back problem lingers.This is a kid who averaged 11.5 points and 11.3 assists in April last season. Read into that what you will, but you don't average 11 assists over a span of 10 games by mistake.

I'm stunned to see Ricky Davis at the bottom of the rotation on a depth-challenged Clippers team. And this with Marcus Camby having played a single game. You'd also think they'd give him more burn with Baron Davis dinged up again, but he is still hovering at or below the 20-minute range. Some things change; the Clippers just stay the same.

All is not gloomy in Clipperland. Don't overlook Cuttino Mobley if you need cheap SG depth. He looks solid so far and will continue to put up minutes as the established starter here. Heck, he scored 20 on Ronnie Brewer -- a very solid defender -- on Saturday, so maybe those old legs still have a hop or two left in them.

You can officially cross PG Marcus Williams off your "relevant" list. First, he was so unspectacular in running the point in Monta Ellis' absence, that he was passed on the depth chart by such scintillating talents as DeMarcus Nelson and C.J. Watson. Now the team won't even re-up the kid for his fourth year in 2009-10. Too bad for the kid, and too bad for fantasy owners, because there's no PG on this roster worth owning in typical leagues until Ellis returns.

It was nice to see Carmelo Anthony back on the court over the weekend, even if his return was for a dismal-shooting 5-of-15, 13-point performance. The kicker? How about 0-for-4 from the line. Looking deeper, he did manage to muster four rebounds, six assists, three treys, and a steal. And five TOs ... humph. OK, Melo, first game mulligan. I'm not concerned one bit. Especially with AI out of his way, Melo is poised to have career-best numbers. Is 30 ppg achievable? I wouldn't put it past him.

It's foolish to overreact to slow starts by guys such as Beno Udrih and Rafer Alston. Hey, it's not like you thought these guys would be elite talents when you picked them, so why not let them ride out an early-season slump on your bench? Udrih is opening the season as a starter for the first time ever, so it's just jitters. Rafer stunk up the place last November, shooting 38.7 percent from the field and 56.5 percent from the line, and he eventually came around to finish with averages of 13.1 points, 5.3 assists, 1.9 treys, and 1.3 steals. If you're hurting for PG depth and they are available in your league, get them now. They'll both be fine over the course of a whole season.

I really like what I've been seeing from Daniel Gibson at times this season. We know what he is -- an explosive outside scorer and decent athlete. If you need a three-point specialist who'll contribute very little elsewhere, he's a solid bench filler a la Leandro Barbosa back when he first burst onto the scene as a dynamic perimeter scorer off the bench.

You will want to have Memphis power forward Darrell Arthur on your team in January, assuming he keeps getting 25-plus mpg through the season. He just needs time to get assimilated to the NBA game, and he'll be a good backup PF for fantasy purposes. With the other frontcourt options on that roster, it makes no sense to delay his development, so he'll play as long as he stays out of foul trouble.

That Marcus Banks is still ... Marcus Banks. Your starter in Miami will be Mario Chalmers initially, and either Chalmers or Shaun Livingston, if the latter ever gets up to full speed. The smart money is on Chalmers to command the minutes this season, but Miami seems to like the idea of experimenting at the position, so who knows? Keep an eye on Chalmers' production, and if he struggles heading into December, be ready to react in case the team changes direction ("Beno? Rafer? Where you at?").

I'm not liking how Boris Diaw looks in the Suns' new offense. His numbers aren't atrocious so far, particularly his percentages, but he simply looked better in the old scheme. Hopefully he can adjust, but we're not talking about massive improvement either way. I wouldn't fault you for moving on and relieving yourself of the headache, assuming there's a more consistent option on the wire. Raja Bell, that goes for you, too.

So that about does it for this week. Like I said, I want to hear from you, so tell me what's on your mind, and I'll consider it for inclusion.

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