By Brandon Funston
February 24, 2005
On the eve of the NBA trade deadline, the Sacramento Kings shipped the talented, but enigmatic, Chris Webber to Philadelphia in exchange for Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson and Brian Skinner. The Kings also included Matt Barnes and Michael Bradley in the deal.
It's hard to fathom a player of Webber's skills being dealt to the fourth team of his NBA career, and I'm not going to try to explain reasons why. Instead, let's talk about what this means for fantasy owners.
I don't envision this deal affecting Webber's value too much. Teamed with Allen Iverson, the inside-outside combination should be lethal. And because Webber is such a good passer from the post, Iverson should reap the benefits of some easier scoring opportunities. That said, Webber's assists might dip as he no longer will benefit from a Kings offense that was big on working the ball through the post.
With Iverson in control of the rock, you'll likely see more set plays where the ball is dropped into the paint for Webber to break his man down and get to the hoop. If Philly is smart, though, it'll employ Webber as a conduit of the offense, working the ball inside to open up the lethal Kyle Korver from the outside, much like how it worked with
Peja Stojakovic in Sacto. Either way, Webber will remain a top-25 fantasy performer, assuming his knee allows it.
My immediate reaction upon hearing the trade details was, "Ooh, this is good for Kenny Thomas." I did a quick run through free agency in the five leagues in which I participate, and Thomas was available to me in one of them.
On average, Thomas was available in roughly half of Yahoo! default leagues prior to the deal. You can be certain that his availability percentage will quickly shrink. He is likely to step into Webber's vacated starting power forward role, and if the Kings are willing to give him 32 to 35 minutes a night, he can be a double-double guy like he was last season (13.6 points, 10.1 boards). He's also a decent passer, which meshes well with his new team. And fantasy owners can expect at least a steal a night and solid shooting percentages from the field and the line.
It remains to be seen how much of an impact Webber's departure will have on the Kings' place in the standings but, if the past two seasons are any indication, it might be more of a positive influence than you'd expect. The team is 50-15 since the beginning of last season in games in which Webber was on the sidelines.
Players like Stojakovic and Brad Miller stepped up big-time last season sans Webber. Peja averaged three more points per game than his previous career high and Miller picked up two more boards a night than his prior best. Both players should, again, be expected to elevate their games.
If Stojakovic continues to be hampered by a strained hamstring, role players like Darius Songaila and Williamson could warrant fantasy 10-day contracts. Otherwise, the Webber deal mostly affects the Kings' starters, who all stand to benefit from a fantasy standpoint since they'll be asked to pick up Webber's 21 points and 10 rebounds a night.
While Thomas can handle the glass, there is some scoring slack that will need to be absorbed by Mike Bibby, Cuttino Mobley, Stojakovic and Miller. Elevate the stock of all these guys, if only slightly.
Brandon Funston is a Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert. Follow him on Twitter. Send Brandon a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 11:57 am, EST
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