Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Kind Of Dudley Who Makes "Dud" Jokes Too Easy (Or: Even My Sure Things Fall Through).

Tossing out fantasy basketball prognostications is a little like Chris Dudley hoisting a free-throw: unlikely, hopeful, and even when successful, you still look like a fool. Thus, after typing up a storm on the potential prospects of another man named Dudley, I am now looking a lot like a massively-uncoordinated Yale graduate grooming a forested thatch on my chest. Jared Dudley —the kids can call him "J-Dud"— dialled up a honker in his second successive game as full-time starter t'night. In his duel against Luol Deng, the 10,000 BC Eagle went Upper Paleolithic, casting stones basketward to the tune of 0/5 FG, 0/2 3PFG (he's now a smooth 0/9 for the year from range), with 2 REB, 2 TO, and 0 points in 20 power-packed minutes. Deng performed mildly better, going for 30 and 5 on 10/17 shooting, thereby winning this battle of the kind-of-awkward ACC small forwards. As for the Dudmeister, as far as making the case for more minutes goes, well, all he did was prove that he has a long way to go to measuring up to his namesake. J-Dud, you my have fly-if-it-were-still-01 cornrows, but you ain't know Christen Guilford Dudley.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Kind Of Dudley Who Won't Get Molested By Gordon Jump's "Friendly" Bicycle Shop Owner In A Very Special Episode.

As somone who drafted Gerald Wallace in two separate leagues this year (ahhh, regrets), I've been following Bobcats boxscores eagerly this season. And, as someone who waxed enthusiastic over Walter Herrmann's fantasy potential b'fore the campaign tipped, I've been following Bobcats boxscores eagerly this season. But, mostly I've been wondering why Sam Vincent —who, as bad keeping-it-in-the-brotherhood Michael Jordan appointee flailing his way through a one-and-done season, is looking suspiciously like Leonard Hamilton reincarnate— has been giving so minutes to Primoz Brezec and Jeff McInnis, two guys it's hard to believe're still in the league.

Now, going into the year, Vincent was promising that his Big Orange Bobbies were to play some kind of uptempo ball. Given they're averaging a 25th-"best" 92.4 PPG (at 43.3% from the floor!), this is clearly not happening; and Vincent's decision to keep starting Brezec and keep publicly complaining about his lack of big bodies shows we're clearly not dealing with the second coming of Nellie, here.

Today's news that Charlotte has extended an offer-sheet to Anderson Varejão will, ultimately, have little impact on the Bobcats' season. Because anyone who knows hoops knows there's no way that Danny Ferry and the Cavaliers won't match the offer. Which means that the search for a productive fifth Bobcat is still on.

For whatever reason, Vincent has decided that Walter Herrmann isn't that guy. But, yesterday against Toronto, he may've finally settled on the fifth wheel: Jared Dudley. Given Dudley's productiveness (15.2 PPG and 11.4 RPG per 40), his tenacity, his court-awareness, and his incredible penchant for corralling offensive rebounds (he grabs one every 6.5 minutes, and is 39th in the league in ORPG (ahead of Udonis Haslem!) despite playing only 14 minutes a night), he's seemed like a likely candidate from day one. But it's somehow taken until Day 35 for Vincent to realise that Dudley probably needs more burn.

In his first start, Dudley responded with 16 points, 10 rebounds (5 offensive), and 3 steals in 37 minutes; his 14 FGA second-most on the squad. All of which are mighty impressive numbers. However, given that the 'Cats got hosed by a Toronto team missing half their guys —Dudley's +/- a less than sexy -15 (which wasn't quite Gerald Wallace's -27, but...)— many a fantasy owner may be wary that this newfound lineup change will be permanent. Especially given Vincent's hardly shown himself to be the sharpest tool in the coaching shed. But, given the scant depth at his disposal, and given that Anderson Varejão isn't walking through that door, and Sean May isn't walking through that door, there's actually a definite, definite chance that this Dudley move could stick. There're minutes to be had in the Queen City, and it's be no surprise if Dudley done doo right and scored them. Given he's likely available in nearly every fantasy league, Dudley's a minimum-risk guy who could possibly reap maximum rewards later in the season. Well, just as long as Vincent doesn't bring back Ye Olde Brezec Beanpole to the starting lineup.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My PHD (Player Hater Degree).

Statistics, statistics, statistics. It’s hard to turn anywhere on the internerd’s wires in this new-millennial fantasy-freak’d era and not be overwhelmed by all kinds of wacky statistickry; all manner of eggheads with theorems and calculators quantifying and pace-adjusting in search of some kind of numerical truth. These are sometimes would-be academics, oftentimes just actual academics; so many PHDs being, after all, nothing but statistics, statistics, statistics. But, as fantasy owner, you don’t need no PHD, just a Player Hater Degree. So, hey, let loose, let loose your love/hate. With statistics that —as is the statistical way— say exactly what you want them to say!

Percentage of games in which Dwight Howard had a 30/15:
2006/07: 2.4%
2007/08: 23.5%

Percentage of games in which LeBron James hung 40 or more points:
2006/07: 1.2%
2007/08: 18.7%

Percentage of games in which Michael Redd had both 5+ rebounds and assists:
2006/07: 3.7%
2007/08: 38.4%

Percentage of games Tyson Chandler grabbed 14+ rebounds:
2006/07: 32.8%
2007/08: 13.3%

Percentage of games Ronnie Brewer played 30+ minutes:
2006/07: 1.7%
2007/08: 50.0%

Percentage of games Kirk Hinrich didn’t hit a three-pointer:
2006/07: 16.2%
2007/08: 38.4%

Percentage of games Kirk Hinrich scored 20+ points:
2006/07: 37.5%
2007/08: 0.0%

Percentage of games Ben Gordon scored 30+ points:
2006/07: 18.2%
2007/08: 0.0%

Percentage of games Ben Wallace had 14+ rebounds:
2006/07: 24.6%
2007/08: 0.0%

Percentage of games Zach Randolph had more turnovers than assists:
2006/07: 73.1%
2007/08: 90.0%

Percentage of games Eddy Curry had more turnovers than assists:
2006/07: 92.5%
2007/08: 84.6%

Percentage of games David Lee played over 25 minutes:
2006/07: 72.4%
2007/08: 30.7%

Percentage of games David Lee had 12+ rebounds:
2006/07: 43.1%
2007/08: 15.3%

Percentage of games Pau Gasol dragged down single figure rebounds:
2006/07: 44.0%
2007/08: 80.0%

Percentage of games Richard Jefferson posted 25 points or better:
2006/07: 9.2%
2007/08: 66.6%

Percentage of games Raymond Felton had a 20/10 double-double:
2006/07: 2.5%
2007/08: 23.0%

Percentage of games Andre Miller had 8+ assists:
2006/07: 53.1%
2007/08: 7.1%

Percentage of games Andrei Kirilenko had 8+ assists:
2006/07: 0.0%
2007/08: 31.2%

Percentage of games Lamar Odom had 5+ assists:
2006/07: 48.2%
2007/08: 0.0%

Percentage of games Mehmet Okur posted 17+ points:
2006/07: 57.5%
2007/08: 6.2%

Percentage of games in which Jason Collins totalled at least 5 points and 5 rebounds:
2006/07: 6.2%
2007/08: 0.0%

Percentage of games in which Jason Collins went scoreless whilst playing over 20 minutes:
2006/07: 17.5%
2007/08: 38.4%

Percentage of games in which Jason Collins played more than 20 minutes whilst Sean Williams played less than 20 minutes:
2006/07: N/A
2007/08: 61.5%

Percentage of Nets games in which Sean Williams looked utterly electrifying whilst Jason Collins embarrassed all friends and family watching:
2006/07: N/A
2007/08: 100%

Percentage of NBA players whom I could come up with some sort of sardonic percentage-based statistic on:
2006/07: etc.
2007/08: etc.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Vanishing: Detroit's Bench.

When the Detroit Pistons won the NBA title in 2004, they did so, largely, because they had one of the best bench groups in the entire league. With Mehmet Okur, Mike James, Lindsay Hunter, and Corliss Williamson coming off the pine, the Pistons would send in some mighty contributors to sub for the starters: James and Hunter pressuring the ball full-court, Williamson a low-post offensive hub, and Okur a pick-and-roll nightmare. Yet, by the time Detroit showed up for their title defence, Okur, James, and Williamson had all been shown the door. That next year, the coach once known as Pound For Pound —Larry Brown!— decided to do without a bench, pretty much.

In the seasons since, be it under whiny-faced Larry or Flip Saunders, that’s been the way the Stones’ve rolled. But, after successive postseason flameouts to lesser teams, a mass-cultural shift was planned in Detroit. From Joe Dumars on down to buying-it beat-reporters, all we heard out of Auburn Hills was that this year’d be different; that Rodney Stuckey and Amir Johnson and newly-inked Jarvis Hayes were ushering in a new era of bench productivity. It was, really, the only story from Detroit this summer.

This had a trickle-on fantasy effect: guys like Johnson and Jason Maxiell went from being statistical curiosities to cult-like sleepers, and former Wizzle Jarvis Hayes was —despite a career of tantalising preseason productivity— a favoured flyer in deep fantasy leagues. Yet, as the season’s marched on, some promising early season production from Maxiell and Hayes has ended up amounting to not much.

In two of Detroit’s last four games, Flip’s fallen back on old habits. Against Chicago, all five starters played at least 35 minutes, and only one reserve (Hayes) got on the court for more than 11 minutes. The five bench-guys (Hayes, Maxiell, Flip Murray, Arron Afflalo, Nazr Mohammed) combined to play 50 minutes, score 13 points, grab 6 rebounds, and dish out a mighty 1 assist.

In Portland last night, the same five-man-unit came off the bench for 55 minutes, totalling 18, 8, and 4. Meanwhile, 33-year-old Rasheed Wallace posted his second game of 40+ minutes in the space of five days. In early-November. So much for conserving the starters.

At this rate, not only will hustle-stat machines like Maxiell and Johnson never be fantasy contributors, but they won’t even be given the opportunity to effectively spell the aging starters. If so, will Detroit offer the exact same excuse come Spring 2008, when they lose to the Celtics/Nets/Raptors/etc in the playoffs?

Hey, Coach, Why No Burn?

There are guys around the league that drive fans nuts: stone-fisted, brainless bigs like Kwame Brown or Brendan Haywood; poor-shooting, turnover-prone gunners like Stephon Marbury or Flip Murray; and, most of all, complete and utter spastics like No-Neck Johnson or Primoz Brezec, guys who it’s impossible to believe are still in the league, let alone starting for your beloved ballclub (this working under the perhaps-erroneous assumption that the Hawks and Bobcats actually have actual fans).

Then, there’re other ballers out there who drive folks mental. Crazy in that way that hustling, hard-working, heart-and-soul, always-influence-the-game-whenever-they-step-on-the-court guys cause fans to freak out. When people are patently so talented, so productive, and so influential any time they’re on the court, their absence from the hardwood can make loyal followers of their team go goon-crazy.

In terms of fantasy basketball, these fan-favourites often double as deluxe sleepers; the kind of guys who contribute mightily in limited burn, to the point where if you calculate their per-40-minute numbers you nearly faint at the prospect. Mostly, they’re hustlers; guys who you dream of grabbing four offensive boards, ripping three steals, and blocking four shots in a night’s work. Every night. Be it for your fantasy team, or for your non-fantasy —y’know, real life— club. In every case, the same question need be asked: Hey, Coach, Why No Burn?

Anyone starting a defence of Isiah Thomas need only point to Balkman as Exhibit A. In the ought-six draft, Thomas went out on a limb, denying Knicks’ fans lust for UConn point Marcus Williams, selecting, instead, an anonymous Gamecock hustler who’d shown little talent at scoring the ball in college. In one-and-a-bit seasons, Balkman has shown that being a natural scorer is about the only thing he isn’t. Balkman is an amazing on-ball defender, a sneaky-quick help defender, a disruptive influence in the passing lanes, an aggressive rebounder, a gifted ball-handler, and has an amazing knack for dribbling the ball in transition all the way to the hole and finishing with two hands. In the Knicks’ sole memorable night of the season —the rousing Denver win— Renaldo changed the tenor of the entire game; his defensive effort on Carmelo Anthony just the tip of his all-floor influence. Whilst Balkman’s contributions to the game were mostly intangible, he still delivered promising stats: 11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 3 blocks in 27 minutes. For his career, Balkman’s per-40-minute numbers go: 12.2 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.8 TO, 2.0 SPG, 1.5 BPG, and 50.3 FG%. For role-player comparison’s sake, Jared Jeffries’ career per-40-minute stats: 9.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2.1 TO, 1.2 SPG, 0.8 BPG, and 43.6 FG%. Is that even a comparison? So, okay, Renaldo can’t shoot (he’s hit 55% from the line, and for some reason has gone 5/29 from three), but that wouldn’t be what he’s on the floor for. Balkman delivers something the Knicks, outside of David Lee and Nate Robinson, completely lack: energy, enthusiasm, passion, aggression, defense, hustle. Y’know, the kind of things that Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry are renowned for not bringing.

For a guy whose career has totalled, thus far, 185 minutes of court-time, Amir Johnson has received a mighty amount of exposure (see: any Pistons blog) and cash (see: 3 years, $11mil). I guess posting 20 and 12 with 3 steals and 4 blocks in an otherwise-meaningless regular-season finale will do that. Maxiell’s gotten much more ‘real’ playing time, and this season is even averaging 6.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.7 BPG, decent numbers for a backup big-man. But, for Pistons fans, those numbers still aren’t enough. Most dream of Johnson and Maxiell splitting time as the fifth starter. If those guys combined to play 48 minutes a night, at the power-forward spot, say, their career output suggests they’d do numbers something like: 18.0 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 3.7 BPG, at 49.7 FG%. As the season progresses, though, it’s looking unlikely they’ll even combine to average 24 minutes a night.

James Singleton’s rookie season —asail ’pon a Clipper ship bound for postseason glory— was a thing of tantalising fantasy beauty. In the 15 games in which the highly-energetic reserve forward played over 20 minutes, his averages, in 28.9 MPG, were most eyepopping averages of: 8.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 0.9 TO, 61.9 FG%, 75.0 FT%, and even went 7/12 from three-point range. Not only did Singleton meter out as a perfect, across-the-board fantasy player, but it was even more impressive to see him on the court; playing chest-to-man defence, hedging on screens, hustling his heart out, crashing the glass with gay abandon. Clippers fans, in the midst of the greatest season in the Franchise’s abhorrent history, absolutely loved this guy. So, going into 2006/07, the expectation would only be that the sketchy burn Singleton received in his rookie year was going to give way to a defined second-year role. The result: Mike Dum-Dum-leavy, one of the dimmer coaching bulbs in the NBA box, dished out 29 DNP-CDs, and only played him over 20 minutes 5 times! Before we knew it, a guy who once looked to be both fantasy sleeper deluxe and future member of the Hustle Hall Of Fame was on his way to Spain, possibly never to be seen in the League again. But, hey, at least we got to see plenty of Tim Thomas.

CRAIG SMITH, Timberwolves.
When Randy Wittman ‘ascended’ to the head-coaching position in Minnesota, amidst the appalling scapegoatery that befell Dwayne Casey, and the once-above-.500 Timberwolves quit on the season after management quit on the coach, something should’ve been plainly obvious to anyone coming into the situation: Craig Smith, the Neo Big Nasty, needed to play more. End-of-season breakdowns, by 82games, show that Smith and Garnett ranked as Minnesota’s top two-man combo, not to mention them being at the 4/5 in six of ’Sota’s top seven 5-man units. This season, Smith’s 18 MPG are the same as last year’s 18 MPG, but he’s doing the same things as last time around: 10 PPG, 5 RPG, 55.3 FG%, plenty of offensive rebounds, hard-ass screens, and leave-a-mark fouls. But, given that the T-Pups’re supposed to be on the tank, blooding the kids and hoping a few of them turn out okay, why Smith isn’t being fed more time must remain puzzling to the few remaining fans in the Twin Cities. Like: every minute that Antoine Walker or Theo Ratliff’s Expiring Contract gets on the floor at the expense of Smith seems like a minute too many.

TYRUS THO… uh, I mean, JOAKIM NOAH, Bulls.
Ladies and gentlemen… Joakim Noah! 2008 winner of the Tyrus Thomas Memorial Why No Burn? Award! Just as in last season, when Chicagoans ached for Scott Skiles to just put the damn kid in the game already, once more both Bulls fans and curious onlookers’re perplexed as to why their mighty-uptighty coach isn’t giving Noah more run. In Chicago’s only win of the season thus far(!!!), Noah did everything Ben Wallace was once believed to do: influence the game without taking a single shot. Against the Pistons, in his 12 minutes on the court, Joakim went 0/0 from the floor, but grabbed 5 offensive rebounds, dished out 4 assists, and recorded a +6 plus/minus rating. Given he’s played 50 minutes in his three-game career thus far, working out the rookies per-48-minute averages is self evident: he having 13 rebounds (8 offensive), 3 steals, and 4 blocks thus far. Sure, he’s 0/7 on the year from the field, but 6/8 from the line goes nice. Compare this to the decaying corpse the Bulls’re trotting out at centre for like $20mil a season: 3.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 32.1 FG%, 27.3 FT%, in 27 MPG. Now, compare suddenly-Small Ben’s thus-far numbers against last year’s turn by PJ Brown’s Expiring Contract: 6.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 40.7 FG%, 78.7 FT%, in 20 minutes a night. The Lesson: all those who spent last season baying for Thomas to play ahead of PJ should be even more indignant this season. Oh, no, wait, I mean: The Lesson, for Ben Wallace Fantasy Owners: You should’ve followed the Statsheet Stuffin’ draft rules advice.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Random Fantasy Explosions: Week One.

So, you spend all that time scouring summer-league scores, tightening up your rankings, and prognosticating on forthcoming on-court exploits, and then the season comes, and you throw all that out the window. Mere days into the season, and already some players are playing way above anyone’s anticipated productivity.

Through three undefeated Indiana outings, Lil’ Dunny is leading the League-leading Pacers from the fore, averaging an unbelievable 22.3 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.3 3PG, all whilst shooting 49.0% from the floor and 40.0% from behind the arc. If we’re to go strictly by those numbers, I don’t think it’s out-of-line to posit that, at some point over the summer, Dirk Nowitzki took possession of Junior Mikey’s sexy, sexy body.

Sure, we all love Granger’s game, and many fantasy pundits would’ve posited that the lithe wing could’ve entered the magical one three/steal/block per-game club this campaign. But after his second year wasn’t really much of a marked improvement on his first, many more had reservations about whether Granger’d be much more than an effective blender. Yet, the second-year stud’s performance for Jim O’Brien’s crazy Pacers bonanza might nearly be as surprising as Lil’ Dunny’s. In three Indy wins, Granger’s gone gonzo for: 22.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 1.3 BPG, and 3.3 3PG, with percentages of exactly 50/50/80. Chances are, if you own Granger in your fantasy league, you’re doing about as well on the scoreboards as Indiana is.

If Haywood is unowned in your fantasy league, he’s the elephant in the room that no one’s talking about. Pick him up, right now. Through three games, the almost-coordinated former Tarheel towel-waver has more than twice as many offensive rebounds (25), than the decaying corpse of Ben Wallace has total rebounds (11). As it stands, Etan ‘Dear Andrew’ Thomas’s sparring partner is going for 10.0 PPG, 13.7 RPG, 3.0 BPG, and an ass-reamingly astonishifying 8.3 ORPG. If Dan Grunfeld’s Dad’d known that the long-term absence of Thomas would compel Haywood into this kind of productivity, Ernie not only wouldnt’ve matched that Bucks offersheet back in the day, but would’ve personally bought Etan a gift of ‘going-away’ bratwurst. That said, maybe he still will; sausage the perfect heart-clogging present for a guy you suddenly may be wishing ain’t coming back any time soon.

Whilst the Bibby injury and Artest suspension obviously stepped Salmons up in terms of his offensive responsibility, I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for the ever-quiet guard to erupt for 21.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 53.2 FG% and 92.9 FT% through the first three Kings Kontests. With Coach Bill Fuller suddenly realising that most of his roster is for-shit —see Kenny Thomas, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Orion Greene— Salmons’ burn won’t even sink too far once Ron-Ron returns.

Having been happy to draft the not-so-fat Turk in a head-to-head league this past week, it’s hard for me to include Hedo herein; doing so immediately implying that I wasn’t expecting this when making the pick. And, well, it’s true: expecting this I was not. Through three games for Stan’s Men of Magic, Turkeyglue is doing: 22.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, and 2.7 3PG at 53.3 3PT%. With mondo minutes coming to the Turk all year long, he has the chance to be really, really good well beyond week one.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Boxscore Watchin'!: The Season Is On.

Two days into the NBA, and a decent number of teams already on the slate, and we've so much to learn about the new NBA season.

Not only does Mike Conley Jr remind me ever so much of Kenny A —the tiny frame, the snaking quickness, the leftie dribble, the pure PG's vision, the inability to hit jumpers— but before the year I thought he was in line to replicate Anderson's rookie numbers: 7.0 PPG, 3.2 APG, copious struggles from the floor, much learning to be done. But, now, even those expectations may need to be tempered. Whilst game 1 doesn't always have much bearing on the next 81, it's certainly worth noting that Conley didn't even check into the contest. Damon Stoudamire, who manned the point for much of the run, went for 18/4/4, with 4 threes. Kyle Lowry, as backup, continued to reinforce the idea that he's actually a triple-double threat anytime he gets enough burn. And Conley watched on. Playing for a Grizzlies squad that, at the moment, seems more like a veteran group with playoff aspirations than a rebuilding unit blooding a teenaged quarterback, I can't imagine Conley's minutes will pick up to the point of him being a fantasy contributor until sometime in the new year. And, this is meaningful. Because, it's likely, in your fantasy league, that someone did draft Conley, but no one drafted Stoudamire. Not-Quite-As-Mighty Mouse is, if you're seeking threes, a fine potential fantasy play at this point. Conley, well, not at all.

Did anyone else see Jason Collins working the blown-out 'fro for the Nets? Right as he was going head-to-head with a cornrow'd Ben Wallace? Watching the lumbering Collins thud around the court, hair barely moving with the 'momentum', Collins did little to provoke 'fear' in anything but the sinking hearts of Nets fans. Their club drafts Sean Williams, signs Jamal Magloire and Malik Allen, gets Nenad Krstic back from injury, and continues to develop Josh Boone... but look who's still there, his starting assignment seemingly etched in stone. Mr. 4 And 4 himself.

Remember when Philly scrapped to the 2001 Finals, then got ousted in the first round the next season? Remember when Miami's title defence ended in a first-round sweep last year? Remember when the Cavaliers followed up their 2007 Finals berth with a season so mediocre you could barely believe it was the same team? That's where we're at. Dark clouds're gathering over Cleveland, and they're not dispersing anytime soon my friend. Troubled times lie ahead. For, this club has some of the worst collective karma you could possibly witness on the floor. I've already written that Bwon Bwon looks completely joyless, but I didn't realise that's extended to the whole team. They remind me of a group of friends who're all connected through one person, and then in that person's absence, they realise that actually have neither anything to say nor anything in common. So, unless life-of-the-party Anderson Varejão returns sometime soon, it's going to be an awkward, socially-maladjusted season for these first-round-ousters.

With the signing of the decaying corpse of Ju-Ju Hound Howard by Cubezzz, I'm eagerly awaiting the unspeakably confusing boxscore for the Cleveland/Dallas return bout. Hopefully it reads:
10:26  CLE - Layup by D. Jones. Assist: D. Jones
10:41  DAL - J. Howard made an 18-foot jumper from the left wing. Assist: J. Howard

As any prognosticator —be they fantasy weenie or advance scout— could've told you was on the cards, Luke Ridnour ended up riding the pine for PJ's up-and-down Sonics. Lil' Chihuahua-Face himself, Dr. Earl Watson!, got the gig at the one, and, whilst he didn't exactly rekindly memories of his last game (6/15 threes!) against the Nuggets last season —with a sweet, sweet, 1/8 night from the floor— he does seem to be set as the starting guy. Fantasy cult hero Delonte West did little to dissuade his fervent following, with an impressive 19 point, 5 rebound night. Going into the season, the Sonics had many questions at many positions, and PG was a prime one. But, for the moment, we can know this: Ridnour will be riding the pine.

Ramblin' Bobby Swift, everyone's favourite seven-foot firecrotch, also copped all of 0 minutes for the Sonics against Denver; making good on my preseason dismissal of him. If you can't beat out Johan Petro for burn, I'm not sure you should qualify for any kind of 'fantasy sleeper' status.

8 MINS, 0/1 FG, 1 PF. So long, Dead Poet. Fantasy relevance never knew ye.