Each week, we'll gather the RotoExperts team of fantasy basketball analysts together to ask them a relevant fantasy basketball question. On to this week ...
Question: Now that we are one month into the season, who is your early pick for these three awards: Fantasy MVP, biggest pleasant surprise, biggest disappointment.
The first month of the season is in the books, and what a month it has been. Now that the dust is starting to settle, it's time to take a good, hard look at your rosters and make some tough decisions. The moves you make (or don't make) now will shape your strategy for the rest of the season, so weigh your options carefully.
That being said, now is also a great time to reflect a little. I asked our experts to give out a few very early awards dealing with the best and worst of the first month of the '08 NBA season. Here is what they came up with:
If you had asked me who my Fantasy MVP would've been before the season, I would've said Chris Paul. Ask me now and I tell you the same thing, with incredible numbers to back me up. I knew CP3 was going to be good, but he's topping last year's performance. Merely saying the kid has game is a massive understatement. This year, he's increased in every statistical category with the exception of points. After 14 games, Paul is averaging a robust 20.6 ppg, while leading the league with 11.6 asts and 2.8 stls. Throw in 5.7 boards, and career highs in field-goal shooting (52.4 percent), free-throw shooting (86.5 percent), and three-point shooting (40 percent), and you've got an undisputed Fantasy MVP. Still not convinced? Oh yeah, he's also ranked first in both cumulative and per-game fantasy value. What else is there to rave about?
Biggest Pleasant Surprise
The biggest surprise for me this year has been Spencer Hawes. When I watch him play, he is literally a younger clone of veteran Brad Miller. While, supposedly not very athletic, he's a strong shooter and a decent passer. Through 18 games, he's averaging almost 13 pts, 7.1 rebs and 1.9 blks. He's evern shooting 42 percent from three point range. He has the potential to be a pretty solid player and I have to admit, I didn't think Hawes had it in him to be this good.
I have no doubt in my mind that Mike Miller will get better as the season progresses. But right now, he's been a massive disappointment. Whenever I need him to score/make three's, he gives me a 1-10 performance. To be fair, the Rick Kamla look-alike is averaging nice rebound and assist numbers, but that's probably not what you drafted him for. You drafted him for three's and scoring. He's been my biggest disappointment so far, hopefully he turns it around soon.-- Jonathan Huang
Without a doubt, the fantasy MVP for the first month of the season has been Dwyane Wade. As long as he's healthy, expect it to continue. He's averaging 1.6 blocks, an obscene number for a guard, and adding 2.5 steals and nearly a three per game. Other than LeBron James, no player has a higher box score ceiling from game to game. And considering where Wade was drafted -- anywhere from fifth overall to the second round - he's providing the best value in the league as well.
Biggest Pleasant Surprise
Like many, I was worried about the situation O.J. Mayo was heading into in Memphis. I feared he'd be chucking at an abominable rate while stumbling trying to do too much on a bad team. Not only has Mayo made a seamless transition to the pro game, he is shooting a very efficient and productive 46.4 percent from the floor. He's pouring in 22 points per game, showing a mastery of the NBA three-point distance, and has been nearly perfect (89.6 percent) from the foul line. He's been the pleasant surprise of the season so far.
What is going on with Tyson Chandler? His numbers in 2007-08: 11.8 points, 11.8 rebounds. In '08-09: 8.2 points, 7.9 rebounds. Chandler has dealt with a minor ankle injury, but that's still no excuse. Obviously New Orleans is struggling this year and Chandler is taking the biggest fantasy hit. He was drafted to rebound and then rebound some more; if he keeps this up, he's no longer a starting fantasy center.-- Jeff Andriesse
Chris Paul is first in assists-per-game (11.6) and steals (2.8), 10th in the NBA in scoring (20.3 ppg) and 14th in field-goal shooting (52.2) and free-throw shooting (85.7). Not to mention that he has 12 double-doubles and 10 games in which he has scored at least 20 points and dished at least 10 dimes. The guy is pretty valuable.
Biggest Pleasant Surprise
Most experts projected Devin Harris at roughly 16 points and 7 assists-per-game. His 6.4 assists-per-game average is right in line with the experts' prognostications, but his 25.3 scoring average (helped by a 47-point outing on Nov. 30) is astronomical compared to preseason expectations. Considering that the Nets have nothing to speak of for a post game, Harris can keep a 20-plus scoring average the rest of the year.
Fantasy owners who were fortunate enough to have Atlanta's Josh Smith on their squads were literally disappointed that the do-everything slam dunk champion got injured four games into the season. Of course, his 12.0 points-per-game scoring average and paltry 1.3 assists average were slightly disappointing in their own regard. However, his steady rebounding (8.0), block (2.5) and steal (2.3) averages left fantasy owners with an ATLien size hole in their rosters.-- Kyle Stack
The fantasy MVP award is a simple one for me. I have to go with Dwyane Wade for a few reasons. First, his average draft position was pick No. 8, yet he is playing arguably better than both Chris Paul and LeBron James who went in the top-three in just about every draft. By drafting Wade, you were able to turn around and get an early second-rounder to go along with a player who going into Monday night was leading the league in points scored, tied for first in steals, tied for fifth in assists, and tied for eighth in blocked shots. Wade was the best first round value-pick and is my early pick for Fantasy MVP.
Biggest Pleasant Surprise
My biggest "Pleasant Surprise" has got to be O.J. Mayo. That's likely because I continue to write him off -- only because I still don't believe that he can play at this level for 82 games. Despite that, Mayo has been a terrific scorer, three-point shooter, free throw shooter, and a solid source for steals. He's currently a top-20 talent, which puts him in my surprise category because I was writing him off until next year.
Finally, my biggest "Disappointment" early on is Carmelo Anthony. I know he just left Sunday's game with a sore elbow, but he has been mediocre all season long. For a guy who you likely snagged in the third round, fourth at the latest, he has not lived up to his billing. He's shooting below 40 percent from the floor and he's hit only 12 three-pointers on the season. At 19.9 points per game, Melo is no better than any of the players you could have grabbed in the tenth-round. I still think he's a buy-low candidate (as long as his elbow doesn't become an issue), but for the first month of the season he wins my award for biggest disappointment.-- Tom Lorenzo
The fantasy MVP vote was rightfully split between Wade and Paul, but if I had to choose one, I would go with Wade. He has been flat out amazing so far this season, and has shown great value for a guy that many owners got with the fifth pick or later.
I was very high on Harris during the draft, but even I can't deny that O.J. Mayo deserves the award for the Biggest Pleasant Surprise. An undersized rookie two-guard putting up the kind of numbers he does is just flat out amazing. Now the only question is whether or not he can keep it up.
As for the disappointments, I was very tempted to go with Mike Miller. Then he busted out for 19, 10 and 5 with 5 threes against the Bobcats. Hope you got him while his value was low, because it isn't anymore! I agree that Melo and Chandler have been pretty bad, and the Josh Smith injury has undoubtedly hurt a lot of owners. But what about Andre Iguodala? I keep thinking he is going to snap out of it, but he failed to reach double digits in scoring in his past two games and just can't seem to find his rhythm. For a top-20 pick he sure has been a tough guy to own. The talent is there, but at this point his owners have to be getting nervous. He could be a nice high-risk, high-reward trade target if you are looking to gamble a little.
We will update these awards again in another month and see where everyone stands. Until then, if you have a player you think deserves an MVP, Pleasant Surprise, or Biggest Disappointment award send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.