As I look back on my fantasy basketball career, I find it astonishing how much the game has changed. Back when JB and I wore bell-bottom jeans and flowing paisley shirts it was just the two of us playing fantasy basketball. We didn’t have all these fancy categories the kids have today. All we could keep track of was points and that was hard enough. Back then we would use a CB radio to relay the scores across the country. Some nights we would hear, “Wilt Chamberlain scored 72” and others we would hear how, “Harry pests poured only poo.” Confusing to some, but to us it meant Jerry West must have gotten injured if he only scored 2 points. We would start our draft with a coin flip to determine draft order. Nowadays it takes as much computing power to determine draft order as it did to land a man on the moon. I’m not sure If you have ever played in a 2 team league, but believe me trading was tough. Once a year I would say, “I’ll give you West and Oscar for Wilt and Bellamy.” Then JB would say, “Heyyy mannn, I’m not trading Wilt for nothin’, how about just Oscar for Bellamy.” Inevitably, trade talks ended because we played with only a 2 man roster.
Now people play in 20 team leagues, with 17 player rosters, and my personal favorite the dynasty. Thankfully when JB and I started, there would be that coin flip every year and our teams would change. Well, about half the time they changed. Today’s dynasty format favors those who try to predict how the entire career of a 20 year old kid will turn out. That sounded much easier to do before I typed it out. Nothing I can do about that now. Here’s a couple:
Shabazz Muhammad – SF – Min – Who needs a nickname when your real name should be preceded by a punch from Adam West. If I called him Shabam would you still know who I was talking about? Couple that with the name of the greatest boxer ever and it feels like we’re still in the 60’s. I can even smell the patchouli. Shapow was considered a top 3 recruit by nearly every relevant publication. Lauded for his scoring prowess he received offers everywhere. After turning down scholarships to Kentucky, Kansas, and Duke, Shazam played at UCLA and I have no doubt enjoyed all the benefits of the one-and-done college experience. The college stats don’t jump off the page except for one key category. Points. And just like the long ball in baseball, chicks will always dig buckets in basketball. At closer inspection, during conference play Shazap was doing much more than his average seasonal numbers indicate. Stretches of multiple games with 2 steals, 7-9 boards, but a highly fluctuating FG%. With the uncertainty he falls to 14th in the NBA draft and gets buried on the Timberwolves bench. In summer league ball he shows very little with poor percents and turnovers. After barely playing in the preseason and an early season injury, a trip to the D-League should do Shathwack some good. At least he’ll play. I think he’ll probably do pretty well there too. The question now is that of ceiling and I’ll tackle it in parts. FG%, FT%: Shathunk has shown that these both could be an issue. Both can be worked on and the ceiling is .440 FGs, .780 FTs, which is assuming a lot of work on both. Blocks, Assists, Turnovers: All 3 should be low to nonexistent. Points, 3PTM, Rebounds, Steals: Here is where I think we can expect Shabang to help our fantasy team the most. The steals are the biggest question mark but assuming he puts in the work and gives max effort he could give us 20+ PPG, 1.5-2.0 3PTM, 6-7 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. Next year? I’m sorry to say but “NO” at best he could be a solid bench guy in deep leagues. I’m thinking not until ’15-’16 season could we see him as a starter.
Tony Snell – SG/SF – Chi – With a name that’s straight out of the Godfather I find myself saying, “Eh, Itsa Tony Schnelly”. Of course with the accompanying hand gesture. Itsa Tony was lightly recruited out of high school and accepted a scholarship to play for the UNM Lobos. A quick glance at his college stats shows very little. 12.0/2.5/2.5 and less than a steal per game as a junior doesn’t inspire much confidence in his fantasy appeal but I’m sure there is more. 2.0 3’s per game at nearly 40% shooting combined with above average defense and athleticism is why Chicago drafted Snell 20th overall. A conference tourney MVP can’t hurt either I imagine… all the people…, sigh RIP John. In Tony’s 5 summer league games he averaged better numbers than his junior campaign. In the preseason the minutes dropped, but the solid play continued and on a team considered a playoff contender he was able to establish a limited role off the bench. Since this is the Bulls we are talking about, it was no surprise when players started going down. Jimmy Butler went down clearing up more minutes behind Kirk Hinrich. Then with Derrick Rose going down and Hinrich playing the point, Snell got a golden opportunity as the starting SG on a team that runs it’s starters to death. Unfortunately, the minutes have fluctuated and so has his play. What we have seen already is the ability to catch and shoot at a high percent and play above average defense. Both of which should help keep his minutes up until Jimmy Butler returns. At which time Snell probably returns to his garbage time role. What we want to know is how will Itsa Tony help our fantasy team and how soon? If he doesn’t develop more offensively and becomes comfortable being a 3-point specialist and solid defender, then his fantasy ceiling will remain limited to helping in FT%, 3PTM, and average for his position steals. How soon will he help? Right now, well for a while at least, who knows how long Butler will be out. With Luol Deng in the last year of his contract there have been trade rumors. I don’t think he gets traded this year but perhaps as soon as the start of next year I think we could see a starting a wing combo of Snell and Butler in Chicago.