In conjunction with a recent Yahoo! Sports Fantasy NBA experts draft, I derived three specific questions for each of the other 11 members in the league relating to their drafted teams. I also had a couple members in the league tailor three questions directed at my team. Here are those questions, along with each league member's answers (owners are listed in the order of their first-round pick):
RotoWire.com – Jeff Erickson
Question: There is talk that Phoenix will try to limit Steve Nash's minutes to around 30 a game in an attempt to keep him from breaking down and to give Leandro Barbosa an opportunity to continue his development. That said, did that factor into your mind when you chose Nash at No. 24, ahead of other tops PG's like Stephon Marbury and Sam Cassell?
Question: Corey Maggette is coming off a breakout season. But in traditional eight-category fantasy leagues, Maggette only stood out points and free throw percentage. Taking him at No. 25, is that an indication you think that his game is going to round itself out even more this season, or would you be satisfied with more of the same from Maggette?
Answer: Maggette may not necessarily stand out in other categories, but he does help out in seven of the eight traditional roto categories (blocks being the notable exception), all while qualifying at both guard and forward. With Quentin Richardson gone, I look for Maggette to play an even larger role in the Clippers' offense. I don't view Kerry Kittles as the same sort of threat to his production that Richardson was. I would be satisfied if Maggette produced more of the same, but I look for a little more in terms of scoring and rebounding.
Question: You took Samuel Dalembert among the top 50 picks (No. 49). Besides being center-eligible and a proficient shot blocker, he also averaged 12 points, 12 boards and shot .560 from the field last April in his first shot at being a regular starter. What numbers are you looking for from Dalembert to justify his selection here?
Answer: Your question cuts to the heart of my reasoning. His shot-blocking in particular stands out, but Dalembert made tremendous strides over the second half of the season, and he has the all-important center eligibility. In a league where Brad Miller, Rasheed Wallace and Theo Ratliff (!) all went in the second round, due to their center-eligibility, and Jamaal Magloire went in the third, I'm actually pretty pleased to get Dalembert where I did. We're projecting him to average about 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game. If he does that, I'll be happy with my selection.
Dan Rosenbaum – Asst. Professor (economics) at UNC-Greensboro
Background info (in the words of Dan): Dan Rosenbaum is often cited for his expertise on the NBA luxury tax and for his "DanVal" method of determining player value from plus/minus statistics. But he is a rookie fantasy league player, so don't make too much fun of his picks.
Question: You selected Carlos Boozer, coming off a big season in Cleveland, at No. 50 overall. Any fear that he won't be able to sustain his high points, rebound and FG percentage totals moving into the West, where he'll matchup against the likes of Kevin Garnett, Kenyon Martin, Zach Randolph, Elton Brand and company on a more regular basis?
Answer: After the draft I was able to put together a simulation system to evaluate fantasy league players and based strictly upon last year's per game stats, Boozer is ranked #34. So needing a big guy with my fifth pick, I felt comfortable with Boozer even if he is a bit less productive than last season. True, defense will be tougher out West (but not due to Randolph), but I think it is possible he may be more of a go-to option in Utah than he was in Cleveland.
Question: Nene has teased fantasy owners with his potential in his first couple years in the league. But now he'll back up Kenyon Martin. This fact wasn't enough to dissuade you from taking Nene inside the top 100 (No.98). Coming off the bench, what kind of numbers are you looking from Nene to justify this selection?
Answer: Nene shows my bias towards players who help their teams win, since he is fabulous at doing all of the little things. For that reason I think Denver will have to find a way to keep him on the court. My fantasy league system rates him at #86 playing just 32.5 minutes per game. As a very young player who is likely to improve, I figure him to be a good center pick at #98 even if his minutes decline slightly. He is a solid 6-category player (weak in free throw percentage and three pointers), which is rare for someone at the center spot picked late in the draft.
Question: As a current resident of North Carolina you, perhaps, have a better idea of what to expect out of the expansion Charlotte Bobcats than most. That said, what do you make of your Round 11 selection, Gerald Wallace? He's very likely to lead this team in scoring, but have you seen enough to indicate that he is more than just a scorer?
RotoWire.com – Peter Schoenke
Question: You selected Dirk Nowitzki ahead of Kobe Bryant. Is this a product of the fact that Yahoo! awards him center eligibility and Y! default leagues (and this league) mandate that you must start two centers? Or would you have taken Nowitzki ahead of Kobe regardless of his eligibility and roster requirements?
Question: You went big early (Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire, Ben Wallace, Carmelo Anthony) at the expense of your point guard position. You ended up with Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, Rafer Alston, Damon Stoudamire, Kenny Anderson. Was this strategy by design – meaning that you feel good with what you ended up with at the PG spot? Or, would you have done things differently given a second chance?
Answer: I saw a run on guards and decided not to jump in because I thought I had a few sleepers in the end I liked. I think it worked out well because I got great value at forward during the run and because Stoudamire, Alston and Crawford could all get decent playing time. Anderson at least has a starting job and could surprise early on. Terry is definitely the Achilles' heal on my team since I waited so late to fill the starting position.
Question: You are a Minnesota native, which may explain why you opted for Latrell Sprewell and Wally Szczerbiak in the final few rounds. Were these picks from the heart, or did you perceive them as good values at where you were able to land them? How does a healthy Wally fit into the T-Wolves rotation this year?
Answer: Sprewell was decent value in the 9th round. I'm not too high on him as I see him getting less minutes as he gets older, but he's a solid last forward because he'll get his shots. Szczerbiak may have been more of a homer pick, but it was only two years ago he averaged more than 17 points per game. He'll start the year sharing time with Trenton Hassell based on matchups if the T-Wolves need offense or defense. If there is an injury – especially to the big three of Garnett, Sprewell and Cassell – he could put up big numbers. He's the kind of reserve pick you want – someone with a lot of upside if they luck into playing time.
Yahoo! Sports – Joe Lago
Question: You were able to land Kobe Bryant at the No. 4 pick? What numbers do you expect from Bryant now that he's no longer saddled with Shaq?
Answer: Well, I'm hoping Unselfish Kobe suits up each night and tries to prove he can make his Lakers teammates better. I'd be happy with numbers similar to Kobe's 2002-03 season (30, 7 and 6) when he kept the Shaq-less Lakers afloat by himself. Kobe will contend for the scoring title, but unfortunately, that means Ball Hog Kobe will surface from time to time, particularly late in games when he forces shots against double teams. Even though Rudy Tomjanovich wants the Lakers to run more, Kobe's shooting percentage should take a dip for the third straight season.
Question: You took Rasheed Wallace at No. 21 overall. Certainly the fact that he has Y! center-eligibility factored into your decision, but are you at all worried about the decline in 'Sheed's numbers upon moving to Detroit last season. Also, that Pistons' frontcourt also features Antonio McDyess, Derrick Coleman and a (must-be-developed) Darko Milicic on the bench. Any worries about reduced playing time for R. Wallace, as well?
Answer: Having to draft two centers – and with centers going quicker than I expected – I had to grab a big man. I wanted at least one of my centers to have some shooting range, and 'Sheed, with his 3-point capability, was the best option. I'm not concerned about the new backup bigs stealing PT from 'Sheed. Larry Brown says McDyess will play starter's minutes, but let's see if McDyess' left knee can take that kind of pounding.
Question: Drew Gooden, it is safe to say, has been a bust in his first two seasons. Now he moves to his third team (Cleveland) in as many years. By taking him at No. 93 overall, is that an indication that Gooden is ready to finally tap into his vast talents?
Yahoo! Sports – Jeremy Stone
Question: We saw what Jeff Van Gundy's half-court offense did to mute Steve Francis' numbers. He was traded in the offseason for Tracy McGrady, your top pick (No. 5 overall). Any concerns that McGrady might fall victim to Van Gundy's slow-it-down attack, too?
Answer: It's absolutely a gamble. You could argue too many of my guys are with new systems, and it's hard to say what they'll do. But McGrady will shoot better without three guys hanging on him all the time, and I think he'll be a more willing passer than Francis. The Rockets remain unsettled at the point and he should get his share of assists feeding to Yao.
Question: In a league that places such a high premium on centers, you wound up with Erick Dampier and Chris Bosh? What do you expect from these two this season, and do you feel you sufficiently filled your post needs?
I'd be lying to say I'm not a little concerned, though.
Question: Doug Christie has long been an underappreciated fantasy performer, and you gave him some respect by taking him at No. 77 overall. But were there any concerns about his plantar fasciitis in the back of your mind and do you think it will be a factor for him come the regular season? And do you know what sign he uses to let his wife know that his foot hurts?
Answer: I needed the steals! When you've got a 34-year-old guard that relies on quickness – and he's got a foot problem – it's a concern. But he has played 80-plus games every year with the Kings, and he will play through pain. Maybe Chris Webber "calls him out" if he doesn't. Maybe his wife makes him. I think if he had the old-school pumps, he could just pump them up to let his wife know the foot is a problem, but I'm guessing the Mrs. tells him not to waste their time with foot signals – she just wants to know he loves her (and only her).
Yahoo! Sports – Jeff Murison
Question: Jason Kidd is an X-factor this season. Coming off micro-fracture surgery on his knee, he is out indefinitely. Some say he'll come back just after the New Year. Others say he'll come back in February in time to showcase his skills for a trade. You took him at No. 54 overall. When do you think he needs to return by to justify your selection? And do you think he'll ultimately be traded?
Answer: When drafting Kidd you need to ask yourself two questions. When do I think he will come back and play? Have I already drafted another decent point guard option? I believe Kidd needs to return to the Nets by January 1 to justify my 5th round selection. I drafted Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury in rounds 2 and 3 respectively so I am set at the Guard position until Kidd returns. If he returns by Jan. 1 and is healthy, I have a first-round caliber type player who can help me make a fantasy championship run. On the other hand, if he is out later than Jan. 1, I might be hard pressed to remain near the league leaders.
I do not believe Jason Kidd will be traded this season. Kidd is set to earn 90 million over the next 5 years of his contract. That huge contract and his injured knee will make it too difficult for the Nets to grant him his trade request.
Question: Shareef Abdur-Rahim is expected to start at small forward for Portland. Yet you took Darius Miles, backup to Rahim, just nine picks after Rahim came off the board. Is this an indication that you feel Miles will perform at the same level as Rahim coming off the bench. Or do you feel one of the two will be traded?
Question: Allen Iverson (No. 19 overall) moves to the point guard spot this season. Did that factor into your decision to select him? How do you see that switch affecting his numbers this season, if at all?
Answer: I did not factor in the move from shooting guard to point guard when selecting Allen Iverson 19th overall. After selecting Kirilenko in the first round I was looking to add a quality scorer to my roster. A.I. fits that bill perfectly. Iverson has always been a shoot first, pass second player dating back to his days at Georgetown, where he played point guard. Iverson will continue to be the number one scoring option for the Sixers this season. If Glenn Robinson can rebound from an injury-plagued 2003 season, Iverson's assist numbers should improve from 2003. Look for all of his other numbers to remain about the same.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Brandon Funston
Question: With the signing of Kenyon Martin it looks like Marcus Camby and Nene will be fighting for minutes at center for the Nuggets. Camby was your fifth-round pick. Do you really see Camby relegating Nene to the bench and logging a lot of minutes for Denver this season?
Answer: Camby signed a long-term contract with Denver in the offseason. They aren't paying him to sit, especially when he's healthy enough to play. Nene will get looks backing up both Martin and Camby. But I expect Camby to get his 30 minutes, which is enough time for him to grab his 10 boards and swat his 2-3 shots. With centers at a premium, that's all I was hoping to get from him here. Oh, and another 72 games played would be the cherry on top.
Question: On paper, your team is sorely lacking in perimeter threats. While most owners drafted 3-4 players who made 100-plus three-pointers a year ago, your top sharpshooter is Joe Johnson, who made barely one per game. Are you expecting any of your draft picks to elevate their game from beyond the arc, or is this a need you'll address through waiver-wire work?
Answer: Well, I do expect Steve Francis (freed of Houston's half-court game) and Gary Payton (freed of L.A.'s triangle offense)to both elevate to more than one trey per game. And, Luke Ridnour is capable of putting one in from behind the arc each night. But I'll admit that I left myself light in three pointers. If one of my late gambles doesn't pan out, I'll be quickly looking for trey help on the waiver wire. Namely Voshon Lenard.
Question: Since he's logging a lot of minutes in the preseason, Grant Hill is on everyone's radar. However, basketball's version of Ken Griffey, Jr. is falling beyond the seventh round in most drafts. Since you took him there – how many games are you expecting from Hill this season. On the off chance he stays healthy, what type of numbers do you expect from him in Orlando now that Tracy McGrady and his 23-plus shots per game have left town?
82games.com – Roland Beech
Question: It's very hard to win a fantasy league when you finish last in a category. You set yourself up for that scenario by taking Shaq (who shoots more free throws than anyone in the league and did it at a sub-.500 clip last season. You also have fellow line clankers in Antoine Walker and Theo Ratliff. Do you feel you are set-up strongly across the other categories to makeup for your free throw deficiencies?
Answer: It's funny how things go. It wasn't my intention to go after Shaquille in part for the point you make that he kills you on free throws, but there I was with the eighth pick and he was available and I did take him. Once you've got the big guy on your team there are two avenues to consider – pad the rest of the lineup with good free throw shooters to try and get to at least average standing, or alternatively throw the category away and grab some players who can help you and will be downgraded by other teams for their own FT deficiencies. I opted for the latter course. Now in a league that's not very competitive, having a dud category can be fatal, but if all the teams are playing hard then it's not such a damaging thing if you can muster high placements in most other stats.
Question: OK, let's talk about Ratliff. We know that he blocks shots like no other. And the center position is at a premium here. But to take him No. 17 overall meant passing on Steve Francis, or another attractive center like Jamaal Magloire. Given that Ratliff only factors strongly in blocks, are you worried that you reached a bit for him?
Question: Antoine Walker, your No. 41 overall pick, has a license to shoot in Atlanta. Last time that was the case (in Boston) he was producing a heavily-weighted sub-.400 field goal percentage. There is little doubt that he'll put up big numbers in the non-percentage categories, but given your already worrisome FT% category, are you concerned that you could have two players inhibiting success in two categories among your first three picks?
Answer: I'm not worried about my FG% in that if Shaq stays healthy and has the kind of high-scoring/dominating season many expect in Miami I'll be in good shape there. With Walker, you have a case where I don't believe he's a good fit for most NBA teams trying to maximize their wins on the season, but in fantasy terms this season he should be fantastic, given he's out there playing for the next fat contract and wanting to prove himself. He should post big numbers in scoring, threes, rebounds, assists, and add decent steals and blocks.
Yahoo! Sports – Matt Buser
Question: LeBron James averaged 20 points as an NBA rookie straight out of high school. You took him with the No. 9 overall selection, ahead of established stars like Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Shawn Marion, to name a few. What are your lofty expectations for King James this season, and did you have any hesitation in pulling the trigger on James?
Answer: My expectation for LeBron is improvement in every area of his game outside of assists. Carlos Boozer's departure and LeBron's move to SF should expand his role in scoring and on the defensive end. Playing closer to the basket will help his FG% and get him more trips to the free-throw line, as well. With Jeff McInnis and Eric Snow manning the guard spots, his assist numbers will dip, but the ball will still be in his hands an enormous amount. I did consider Marion in the same spot, but I had to take James for his nearly limitless potential. I think James' upside is so great that 25 points, 7-plus rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and 45% shooting aren't just wishful thinking, but a distinct possibility.
Question: Donyell Marshall is one of the most underappreciated fantasy players in the game. Please explain to fantasy owners why Marshall, your Round 4 selection, is a better pick than guys you passed on like Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson, Ron Artest and Zach Randolph.
Question: In Round 7, No. 81 overall, you played it safe with P.J. Brown. By safe, I mean, you know what you are going to get from the 35-year old Brown: roughly 10 points, 8 boards, good percentages, but not much else. Were you looking to go with a safer, lower-ceiling player at this point in the draft as opposed to gambling on a higher-ceiling power forward with a little more risk like Troy Murphy, Dwight Howard, Drew Gooden, Mike Sweetney and even Shareef Abdur-Rahim?
Answer: At this point in the draft, I needed a PF and I felt that my team was lacking rebounds more than any other one statistic. I may have pigeon-holed myself with that philosophy, because, while I spent every second of my allotted time deciding who to draft, I couldn't get past the fact that P.J. simply gets rebounds. I rationalized the pick with the fact that he gets a steal and a block every night, so he's not entirely one dimensional. I could have rolled the dice on someone like Gooden, Murphy, or Howard, but I did take the 'safe' route to fill what I felt was a specific need. I'm not necessarily regretting the pick, but, needless to say, any changes to my team via trades will need to include an upgrade at PF.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Mike Harmon
Question: We saw Peja Stojakovic post monster numbers without Chris Webber (your pick at No. 39 overall) in the lineup. His production declined a bit upon C-Webb's return. You took Peja at No. 10 overall, which indicates you expect another monster season out of him. Do you think Webber will negatively affect his numbers again, or do you feel like Crystal Chris will find his way to the injury list yet again? Also, how much of a concern is it to you that Peja is calling for a trade. Certainly, there aren't many more ideal spots for a shooter like Peja than Sacto.
Chris Webber's return from injury last season changed the game, as the Kings worked tirelessly to get him involved. With that said, Peja only lost an average of two shots per game. If anything, his legs were tired from carrying the squad. I think there will be a better flow to the offense and with the number of offseason changes in the Western Conference, Sacto's run-and-gun style will delight fans and fantasy owners alike.
Question: Your centers are Michael Olowokandi and promising project Chris Kaman. Certainly these guys have potential, but potential doesn't fill a fantasy stat sheet. Taking these guys as your center starters is a gamble that may or may not payoff. Do you see the stars aligning for these guys to make a roto impact this season?
Answer: I would be lying if I didn't say that Olowokandi's continuing injury problems didn't scare me somewhat. However, he is a game-changing center on the defensive end (read: blocked shots and boards) when sound. Just look back to his 2002-03 season, where he averaged 2.2 blocks per game and more than nine rebounds. I'm counting on him for 65 games.
Chris Kaman is truly a pick based on potential and expectations of better things for the Clippers. The former star of the Central Michigan Chippewas will likely see his minutes boosted this season. I'm looking for double-digit scoring, seven or eight rebounds per game and a little more than one blocked shot per game.
Question: With Peja, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison, you appear to have scoring in the bag. But other than Webber, you don't have a player on the roster who averaged more than 8.0 boards per game. Also, other than a banged up Jason Williams, you don't have a player on your team that topped 6.0 assists last season. Are you comfortable with what you are sitting with, or do you have an action plan for improving in these categories?
Answer: Around the league, only 30 players averaged 8.0 rebounds per game last season, with players such as Matt Harpring and Lamar Odom achieving that total for the first time. Erick Dampier reached that level for the first time since 1997. I guess I'm saying that past performance is not indicative of future success.
I'm hopeful to see my young centers step up their games and for players like Vince Carter and company to pad the rebounding totals, even if they come off of their own misses. In short, leagues aren't won on draft day, so I'll be scouring the box scores to review the rotations and PT afforded to back-ups around the league. And of course, it's a long, long season, so the injury bug will most certainly make a hero or two from the waiver wire.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Matt Romig
Question: You didn't take a true point guard until the No. 134 overall pick (Chucky Atkins). You appear to be trying to piece-meal assists by grabbing shooting guards and swingmen who distribute (Ray Allen, Brent Barry, Manu Ginobili). Is this a correct assumption, or was missing out on a top pure point guard one of the laments of your draft?
Answer: I'm still reeling from what transpired between my third and fourth round picks – and that's not an exaggeration. I was thinking point guard with the No. 35 selection, but since I was torn between Dwayne Wade and Kirk Hinrich and I didn't want to risk losing out on a guy I had targeted, I took Michael Redd. I figured Liss (RotoWire) would draft either Wade or Hinrich with one of their next two picks, but I was fine with Redd and whichever point guard fell to me at No. 38. In little more than the time it took me to scratch Redd's name off my draft sheet, both PGs were gone. It was the fantasy equivalent of losing a game on a three-quarter court shot. I still don't believe it happened. The drop-off from there was substantial enough that I decided to address the point guard position later. So while it wasn't my plan going in, I did adjust and began to target the likes of Barry, Ginobili, Marco Jaric (who I didn't get), etc.
Question: Eddy Curry has apparently lost weight and is looking great. You drafted him as one of your starting centers, nabbing him at No. 83 overall. Of course, we hear optimistic reports on Curry every October only to watch him wallow in inconsistency. What are your realistic expectations from Curry?
Question: You took teammates Brent Barry and Manu Ginobili at No.'s 59 and 62 overall, respectively. Any arguments going on in your head trying to determine which one to take first. Also, do you see these players elevating their games because Barry moves to a better team with a need for his shooting touch and Manu gets some outside pressure relief in the way of Barry?
Answer: I wasn't thrilled about owning teammates, particularly with one coming off the bench. Barry will play more meaningful minutes in San Antonio, but I don't see the departure from Seattle helping his fantasy production. I liked him because he does a lot of things and the departure of Hedo Turkoglu created a perimeter void that he's sure to fill. To be perfectly honest, I think I reached a little early for Ginobili – a great clutch/character player but not yet a true fantasy factor. If I had to do it over again, I'd take a guy more capable of filling up the score sheet like Eddie Jones or Mike Dunleavy, but that's why they time each pick. If anything, I'm covered if one or the other gets hurt.
RotoWire.com – Chris Liss
Question: From preseason indications, Gerald Wallace and Primoz Brezec could be the most valuable fantasy Charlotte Bobcats. But Emeka Okafor could also figure into that mix. You selected Okafor as the top Bobcat when you took him No. 60 overall. There are concerns about his offensive game and the fact that Melvin Ely also can man the power forward spot for Charlotte. That said, what are your projections for Okafor and how many minutes a night do you expect he'll log?
Answer: Okafor is 10 times the athlete Ely is, and though he might lack offensive polish, his rebounding, shot-blocking and post defense should keep him on the floor. I see Okafor as a 14 ppg, 9-10 rpg 2 bpg guy with a good FG% (most of his shots will be put-backs from very close range). Since he qualifies at C, I was happy to get him where I did.
Question: With the No. 84 pick you took new Phoenix signee Quentin Richardson, who happens to play the same position as last year's breakout Sun Joe Johnson. Do you expect Q to be able to reach the numbers he put up last season (17 pts, 6 boards, nearly 2 treys and 1 steal) competing with Johnson for PT? Also, do you expect the Suns to follow through with plans of running that smaller offense (Amare Stoudemire at center, Shawn Marion at power forward and Q at small forward) more often than not?
Question: You got a potential steal with Al Harrington at No. 61 overall. He goes from the bench of a loaded Indiana squad to the empty cupboards of Atlanta where we saw Stephen Jackson and even Chris Crawford and Bob Sura tear it up last year. With Harrington and Antoine Walker running a two-man show for the Hawks, what are your expectations of Harrington?
Answer: I actually don't love Harrington's game – he's a bit one dimensional, but he could easily average 18 ppg, and he'll likely log big minutes which means he'll stumble into rebounds, and an occasional steal or assist.
- Gerald Wallace