Yao Ming: Bill Baptist/Getty Images
Yao Ming teased fantasy GMs enough this past season, that he was surely going to be way overvalued in drafts next fall. Not because he nearly averaged 20 and 10 with two blocks and fantastic percentages. We already knew he could do that.
He teased us by playing in 77 games. That's 20-plus more than he managed to reach in any of the previous three seasons.
But anyone who was tempted to believe that you could rely on the giant as a fantasy stud were quickly reminded that he's as frail as he is tall, when his postseason ended due to a hairline fracture in the top of his left foot.
Rockets team physician Dr. Tom Clanton told the Houston Chronicle: "You have to say because of his size, the biomechanics of his foot, the history of what has happened and what he does playing basketball at his size, he is always at risk of something like this happening. No one else in the world is doing what he is doing. There is a risk. We have to manage that. He will get through this and be completely fine. I believe he will have a long career and play many, many more years."
While I hope Clanton is right about Yao having "many, many" years ahead of him, I can't get past the likelihood that Yao's freakishly large body is going to break down every year. That doesn't mean you shouldn't draft him or trade for him. It just means you had better not draft him over healthier options or overpay in a trade.
According to the Indianapolis Star, Danny Granger will be named Most Improved Player on Tuesday. This award doesn't always make sense to me, because quite often the player hasn't improved so much as he just got the opportunity to display his full game for a complete season.
Take Granger's performance after last year's All-Star break: 23.1 ppg, 2.4 apg, 6.7 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 1.4 spg, 2.7 3-ppg, 45.1 FG%, 84.5 FT%.
Not much different than his performance this season: 25.8 ppg, 2.7 apg, 5.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 1.0 spg, 2.7 3-ppg, 44.7 FG%, 87.8 FT%.
That's why I had him ranked eighth overall in roto leagues in the fall. I figured that since he proved capable of doing that for the second half of a season, with Jermaine O'Neal out of the picture and a run-and-gun coach the sky was the limit over a full campaign.
Granger's just 25, so he could actually continue to improve next season -- especially considering that he performed that well while battling injuries.
I don't. I would be completely stunned if Favre isn't in uniform this season, and pretty shocked if he's not in a purple uni for Week 1.
SI's Peter King agrees, noting that, "I feel sure the Vikings want him and will put up with this long hiccup, regardless of the outcome. If they think he can be healthy come August, and he wants to play, they'll have him. And if Favre feels that by August he could play with no pain in the shoulder -- either after having surgery or it going away naturally -- it's likely he'll play."
Let's assume he does end up with the Vikes. What would his fantasy value be? He'd have a great defense keeping the ball in his hands, a superstar running back in Adrian Peterson limiting pass coverage, an excellent offensive line and some speedy receivers in Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin.
Sounds like a recipe for success, so long as you consider he'll surely throw a ton of INTs and his body could finally give out on him at any moment.
Chauncey Billups and Rodney Stuckey: Allen Einstein/Getty Images
If you're a regular reader of this space, surely you've heard me drone on about why I think Joe Dumars made a very smart move by dealing Chauncey Billups' contract to Denver and opening up playing time for Rodney Stuckey, because the Pistons weren't going to win a title with Billups, they cleared a ton of cap space and let Stuckey develop.
However, a lot of Pistons fans have had a hard time watching Billups tear up the postseason and move his upstart Nugs through the playoffs, while the 'Stones are home licking their wounds.
But Pistons fans need to think long-term like fantasy folks do. Winning a fantasy trade doesn't mean you got the better players ... it means you made your team better for the long run to a title.
Most fantasy GMs know Billups as a stat stud. Makes sense, too, since he's been just that since the '05-06 campaign when he averaged 18.5 points, 8.6 assists and 2.3 treys. But guess what? That was his ninth season in the NBA. It took him almost a decade to get to that level. Before that, Billups was just a fantasy afterthought; a chucker with an awful FG%, who could hit some threes and dole out some dimes. In fact, he didn't average better than 40% from the field until his fourth season or top 14 points per game until his sixth.
Specifically, consider these stats: 13.4 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.5 rpg, 43.9 FG% in 31 minutes.
Then look at these stats: 13.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.1 rpg, 38.6 FG% in 33 minutes.
The latter is Billups' second year in the Association, the former is Stuckey's second run.
True, Billups swishes far more threes than we'll likely ever see from Stuckey, but Stuckey will make up for it with a far better FG% and rebounding. The bottom line, though, is that fantasy GMs and Pistons fans have something great to look forward to in Rodney Stuckey.