By Rob Shaw, FantasyFanatics.com
It’s good to see that it didn’t take too long for the Knicks to raise attention the wrong way. Kobe Bryant is still on the Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal looks like he retired, and Rasheed Wallace is back to filling out the stat sheet. Here’s a look at a few of the topics being discussed over the past week on the FantasyFanatics.com fantasy basketball forum:
Andrew Bynum Is Learning the Game
At some point this season, likely sooner than later, Andrew Bynum is going to figure a few things out and be the go-to big man that the Lakers have been lacking since Shaquille O’Neal left for South Beach. Phil Jackson is still trying to bring him around slowly, but looking at his numbers, you realize that Bynum is ready to start, and is likely to be a second-half beast, particularly if Kobe and his 30-shots per game are traded. The New Jersey native is 7’0″ and 275 lbs, and the best part is he just turned 20 years old. Expect a very different career between Bynum and another center drafted in the lottery straight out of high school, his teammate Kwame Brown. Bynum is much more developed and seems to have a desire to become a great center. Based on his early numbers, he already is.
Beno Udrih Is Getting the Point
Udrih returned from a finger injury to play 26 minutes last Saturday night. His numbers do not jump off the page, but he was in at crunch time and head coach Reggie Theus praised his performance. Slowly, but surely, Udrih has improved on the court, and finally broke out in a Sunday win over the Detroit Pistons. Compared to the shoot-first mentality of the Kings injured point guard Mike Bibby, Udrih is a patient pass-first point guard who rotates the ball out on the perimeter before settling for an outside shot or a risky pass. On Sunday he took a season high 13 shots. The good news is that he knocked down nine of them, and hit all five free throws for a game-high 23 points. He also dished out a season’s best six assists. The Yugoslavian native will never stack the stat sheet with dozens of points, or even double-digit assists all that often, but he does limit his turnovers, play solid defense, and as he proved on Sunday, he can knock down his shots.
A New Big Man in New Jersey
The Nets are looking for some inside help for their version of the “Big Three”. Nenad Krstic does not seem completely back from injury and Jamaal Magloire is not doing the job. That opens up an opportunity for Sean Williams, the team’s 17th pick overall in the 2007 draft. He looked great against Kevin Garnett last Saturday night posting 10 points and 4 rebounds in just 11 minutes. Little did we expect for that to be the start of something much bigger. Williams is currently the starting center for the Nets. In his first start on Saturday against Shaquille O’Neal and Miami Heat, Williams scored 22 points on 7 for 11 shooting. He also hit 8-of-10 free throws, grabbed eight boards, made two steals, two blocks, and played 36 minutes. For a team that has struggled to find a center over the past few decades, settling for Sam Bowie, Chris Dudley, and even Benoit Benjamin, the Nets have a 6’10″ star who can do it all. As a rookie, it is hard to expect much consistency, but at a very shallow position, Williams is a better option than Theo Ratliff, Joel Przybilla, and the other centers used to simply fill out a fantasy roster.
Josh Smith Is Still Reaching New Heights
In fantasy hoops, Josh Smith is solid gold. There are not many players eligible as either a guard or forward who can reject shots the way that this high-flying Hawk can. However, this guy isn’t a Theo Ratliff, or even an Andrei Kirlenko. There is a lot more to his game than blocks. For starters, let’s take a look at the damage Smith imposed on the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. He scored 38 points, blocked 3 shots, made 2 steals, grabbed 7 boards, and went to the free-throw line on 16 occasions. Sure the Hawks lost, but this is fantasy we’re talking here! The Hawks have a glut of talented forwards on their team, but Smith won’t allow himself to be outshined. Expect career highs of 20-points per game and 3-plus blocks. He currently sits at 20th overall in the fantasy rankings. However, some fantasy owners may believe that this is simply a hot start. If I were you, I’d make as many offers as possible and hope that a fantasy owner bites. If you already have him, sit back and enjoy the ride.
Top 10 Fantasy Ballers as of Week 3:
RANK LAST WEEK
1. Chris Paul 8
2. Shawn Marion 1
3. Manu Ginobili 9
4. Kevin Garnett 3
5. Andrei Kirilenko UNRANKED
6. Rashard Lewis 6
7. Lebron James UNRANKED
8. Allen Iverson 7
9. Carlos Boozer UNRANKED
10. Marcus Camby 2
NO LONGER RANKED LAST WEEK
12) Steve Nash 4
13) Jason Terry 5
18) Richard Jefferson 10