Mostly NBA Notes: Injuries Wreaking Havoc

20 Oct
by in General

Tough luck for those who've already had their draft or auction and came away with Kevin Love or Dirk Nowitzki, as both will be sidelined for the foreseeable future with injuries. Nowitzki's was less of a shock as he's been dealing with a knee issue since last year, and it was clear he wasn't feeling right all preseason. Hopefully the arthroscopic surgery means he returns feeling much closer to 100 percent, and it's better to get it taken care of now rather than midseason, but the bet is him likely missing around 20 games. In the meantime, Elton Brand and O.J. Mayo are the main beneficiaries of Nowitzki's absence. Love's hand injury, on the other hand, came out of nowhere and was actually the result of doing knuckle pushups. He should be able to return close to full strength and stay in shape while out due to the nature of the injury, but he could be sidelined anywhere from 5-to-8 weeks, so the previously unquestioned top-five fantasy player needs to be sufficiently dropped down draft boards. Among big men, Al Jefferson, Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge should all go before him now, with possibly the Gasol brothers as well. It also depends on format, as those in H2H leagues should be more aggressive going after players currently injured.

Speaking of health risks, what do we make of Eric Gordon? He was the 34th most valuable fantasy asset in 2010/11 at age 22, contributing across the board. He was drafted aggressively last year with the hope of further growth and eyes toward a monster season after joining a New Orleans team more than willing to hand him over the keys to the offense with Chris Paul leaving town. Instead, a knee injury ruined his season, limiting him to just nine games. Gordon was brought back by the Hornets on a maximum contract, even if he preferred to go to Phoenix, and it's possible a big year is in store. However, he's missed the past five preseason games while dealing with chronic soreness in his knee, the same one that required surgery last year. This has certainly been priced into his current cost, as his ADP is a modest 99. Few players can match Gordon's high risk/high reward combination.

German man tries to jump into frozen pool. It doesn't work out as planned.

Faced with a mid-to-late first round pick, I'm having a hard time deciding between Josh Smith and Al Jefferson. The latter was the more valuable of the two last season (6th vs. 16th) and gets bumped up in value in 9-cat leagues, as he had an NBA-best 5.26% Turnover Rate last season. But Smith actually averaged as many boards (9.7) and blocks (1.7) as Jefferson, while helping a lot more in assists and steals. It's also possible Derrick Favors cuts into some of Jefferson's production, whereas Smith could see increased shots with Joe Johnson gone, and for what it's worth, he'll be in a contract season. While Smith's stated goal of shooting fewer three-pointers will hurt one category, it will likely help another, as a better FG percentage should be in store if he truly follows through with the plan (his eFG% of 38.3 was well below league average (52.5%) last season). So, who would you go with first, Big Al and his gigantic bed, or J-Smoove?

Who won "last night's" debate?

Brandon Jennings really improved his shooting last year, finishing with a career-high 41.8 FG percentage. While that improvement was hardly insignificant (his previous best was 39.0 percent), 41.8 percent is still a drain to be sure. However, further examination may reveal something different. Here are his FG percentages month-by-month: December/January (44.5%), February (33.6%), March (43.4%), April (44.6%). Jennings wasn't noticeably battling an injury during his ice cold February, and it's possible the sequencing of his shooting means absolutely nothing, but it's probably worth pointing out he hit at least 43.4 percent of his shots in three of four months last season, which is a dramatic improvement in the weakest part of his game. He did so while attempting a whopping 5.9 three-pointers per contest — the fifth-highest mark in the league. Jennings just turned 23 years old and set career highs in ppg (19.1), spg (1.6) and 3pt (2.0) last year and is a good FT shooter who keeps his turnovers in check. There were only four players who averaged at least 1.9 3pt and 1.5 spg last season, and Jennings was one of them.

Who won "last night's" debate part two.

Sticking with the Bucks' backcourt, it should be interesting to see how Monta Ellis meshes with Brandon Jennings over the course of their first full season together. After getting shipped to Milwaukee last year, Ellis saw his FG attempts drop from 19.0 to 16.0 and his three-point tries get cut in half, from 4.2 to 2.1. The big decrease in Usage Rate (it went from 30.73 in Golden State to 25.0 in Milwaukee) actually made him a more efficient player, as his rebounding, assist, steal and block production all remained nearly identical, and he saw his turnovers per game drop from 3.3 to 2.6. Of course, his usage with the Warriors was likely a bit inflated thanks to Stephen Curry being sidelined for a big chunk of last year, but Ellis could also assert himself more in 2012/13 now more acclimated with his Bucks teammates, although he doesn't exactly seem like the type of player who would make coach Scott Skiles happy. Jennings may be the clear leader of this team, but Ellis is the unquestioned No. 2 option on a Milwaukee squad that doesn't have many alternatives, so he should be in store for a nice year.

SDSU student wins a car by sinking half court shot at Midnight Madness event.

Andrei Kirilenko doesn't put up flashy numbers in the main fantasy cats, but he also sneakily doesn't hurt you in any and can be a major contributor to the defensive stats (career numbers of 2.0 bpg and 1.4 spg). He's not going to exactly fly under the radar in most fantasy leagues, but Kirilenko hasn't played in the NBA since 2010/11 and is known as a major health risk, so he's something of a "sleeper." AK47 won league MVP playing in Russia last season and impressed during the Olympics afterward, so it's not like he's been sitting on his couch since leaving the states. He'll be playing for a franchise other than Utah for the first time in his career, joining a Minnesota team in which he could immediately be a major contributor, especially with Kevin Love (hand) out, and Brandon Roy remaining a huge question mark. Even when this team is full strength (including getting Ricky Rubio back), Kirilenko should be a fixture in the starting lineup and is a strong target in the middle rounds of drafts.

Here's a 600 LB marlin jumping into a boat. If only said boat had more cameras aboard.

I get the JaVale McGee hype, as it's easy to understand after he finished second in the NBA in blocks last year despite getting just 25.2 mpg. He also shot 61.2 percent from the field, added 0.5 spg and is an athletically gifted physical freak at 7-0, 252. Visions of him getting starter's minutes leading to Serge Ibaka type block production only with more rebounds and points certainly are enticing. McGee might also currently be the most entertaining player in the NBA. However, for reasons not unrelated to that "highlight" clip, he's not exactly guaranteed a big increase in playing time. In fact, his mpg actually dropped from 27:23 in Washington to 20:30 after getting traded to Denver, and coach George Karl has consistently brought McGee off the bench during the preseason behind both Kosta Koufus and Timofey Mozgov. McGee is obviously the player to own even if he continues to come off the bench throughout the season, and his upside is undeniable, but don't be surprised if Denver's frontcourt minutes remain spread around.

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Tags: Al Jefferson, Brandon Jennings, , dirk nowitzki, , , , , , percentage, , store
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Spin Doctors: Kobe Bryant vs. Kyrie Irving

19 Oct
by in General


In a battle of two highly talented guards, one toward the end of a career while the other is just beginning theirs, two members of the Yahoo! Fantasy staff view them differently.

Who do you prefer, a proven superstar with an impressive track record yet now in the decline phase, or a budding star with little history but with a ton of potential?

Funston says Kobe's still got it: The main argument against Kobe is that he's old. But being 34 years old is only a problem if you are starting to show the obvious wear-and-tear that comes with the mileage you've traveled. And I'm having a hard time finding proof that Kobe is, in fact, in decline.

Over the past seven seasons, Kobe has played 96 percent of the Lakers' regular season games. Last year, he produced the sixth-highest scoring average, sixth-highest free-throw percentage, fifth-highest three pointers per game mark and eighth-highest minutes per game average of his 16-year career. He finished last season's Yahoo! game ranked No. 15 in fantasy output per game.

And here's a key component to this argument. Kobe was one of only four SG-eligible players ranked among the top 32, and one of only two (along with Dwyane Wade in the top 19). As for the PG position, where Irving is eligible, there were 11 players ranked among those top 32. Fact is, you aren't going to have a problem finding a big-time producer at the point in your draft, but an elite shooting guard is a different story.

Last season, Kobe was a six-category positive in fantasy, and he can all but carry a squad in the Points and FT% departments. And one of his negatives (FG%), could turn back into a plus given that he now has Steve Nash setting him up and guys like Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Antawn Jamison to deflect much of the extra attention Kobe would normally see on the offensive end.

Both Bryant and Irving have the potential to be top 10 fantasy commodities but, as I said, if that's the case, then I'll opt first for the shooting guard over the point guard. Especially when the SG has 14 consecutive years of elite production on his record.

Dalton says to go young: Kyrie Irving averaged 19.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 6.7 apg, 1.5 spg and 1.7 3pt while shooting 45.8 percent from the field last March before injuries severely limited his minutes over the final month of the season. That's obviously cherry picking numbers, but it also highlights the upside of someone who was just a 19-year-old rookie with only 11 collegiate games under his belt. Irving shot 39.9 percent from behind the arc and 87.2 percent from the line, as there's no real weakness in his game (even his 0.4 bpg ranked third among all point guards). He's battled health problems in the past but enters 2012/13 fully healthy and as the clear centerpiece to a Cleveland team that has improved its roster over the offseason.

Kobe Bryant was more valuable last year according to Basketball Monster, checking in as the 23rd ranked player compared to 38th for Irving, but these are two players clearly headed in opposite directions in their careers. I'm not going to argue Bryant isn't one of the best players of all time, and it's hard to say he's wearing down after he easily led the NBA in Usage Rate last season, but the 34-year-old has accrued 1,381 games in his career if you count the playoffs. The addition of Steve Nash will no doubt have its benefits for Bryant, but he's not going to be handling the ball nearly as much this season and should also lose some shots to newcomer Dwight Howard as well.

Point guard admittedly looks deep this year, but I'd give Irving a legit chance at beating Bryant in seven of the nine fantasy cats, and the youth factor here shouldn't be overlooked. I'm not burying Bryant by any means, as this is less of indictment on him as it is a highly favorable outlook for the sophomore from Cleveland. Irving should finish 2012/13 as a top-15 fantasy player.

Tags: argument, , decline, , , ,
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NHL CBA blame games; USA hockey will never catch Canada (Puck Headlines)

19 Oct

Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

• Nicklas Backstrom joins hands with teammate Alex Ovechkin in celebration of having well-compensating jobs. [@plysenkov via alexovetjkin]

• Great stuff from professor James Mirtle on the NHLPA offers and how they attempt to approach 50/50. (Note: His post doesn't contain the third offer, which may or may not have been written on a cocktail napkin.) [Globe & Mail]

• Mark Spector drops the hammer on Gary Bettman: "Bettman, however, has reached critical mass as the owners' emissary. It was under him that the pendulum swung so far to the players' side that a year-long lockout was required. And even with a step that drastic, it's taking a third consecutive stoppage to get that pendulum back to 50/50. That's why he looks so tired. Why Bettman couldn't even muster up the stage presence to entertain the NHLPA offer over night before countering." [Sportsnet]

• Frank Seravalli on the lockout: "I can get behind the players' wanting every dollar of signed deals to be honored. Otherwise, owners who signed players to mega-deals this summer would not have been bargaining in good faith, knowing that they would be asking for a reduction in revenue sharing." []

• Shawn Horcoff doesn't believe the owners were negotiating in good faith: "There was no talk whatsoever, not even any communication among their own people in the room, among the owners. It was that quick. It didn't really matter what we had to say. Unless we totally accepted their deal, they weren't going to take it. Right away you could tell they're not serious."  [QMI]

• Check out the awesome check from Pat Sieloff in the OHL last night. [Buzzing The Net]

• The AHL is feeling pretty good about the lockout, with attendance up 5 percent. Said President Dave Andrews: "Clearly, we've had far more exposure than we normally have from the main-stream hockey media and, if the quality of your league in enhanced, more people attend the games," said Andrews. "There's about 100 players in our league now who would have been on an NHL roster at the start of the season." []

• presents six reasons why USA Hockey will never catch Canada, including "Passion and Pressure": "Canada is expected to win at hockey, no matter whom they play. At the World Junior Championships in Buffalo in 2010, Canadians were lined up for miles to cross the border to watch their country play. During the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, an estimated 80 percent of the Canadian population watched the Gold medal game between Canada and the U.S. In America, the two biggest games in USA hockey history—the 2010 Gold medal game against Canada and the 1980 semi-final game against the Soviet Union—were not even aired live on a major TV network. In 2010,  NBC showed ice dancing over hockey." [Stack]

• Ellen Etchingham's feeling the expansion blues: "… if you're in one of those fortunate places where tickets are cheap and plentiful and you can't imagine life without going to NHL games multiple times a week, if you believe that NHL hockey should be brought to more people even if the product is barely worthy of the name, then riddle me this: where does it end? If two more teams is good, would not four more teams be better? If we want to keep the NHL in Phoenix and Nashville and Sunrise and Columbus, and have it also in Markham and Quebec, why not Hamilton and Seattle and Kansas City? Why not Tulsa? Hell, think big my friends, why not Honolulu? Why not just absorb the AHL in its entirety and have NHL hockey everywhere? If talent dilution is not a problem at 30 teams, and not at 32 teams, then when does it become one?" [Backhand Shelf]

• Kudos to the NHL for going purple on Spirit Day. []

• Connor McDavid is pretty good. [Hockey Primetime]

• The KHL is good hockey and bad business, which we believe automatically qualifies them for NHL revenue sharing. [National Post]

• Another good one from Backhand Shelf as 67Sound proposes a "make-whole" salary cap. [BS]

• Craig Conroy will get his number retired by Clarkson University. [Flames]

• Congrats to Scott Niedermayer for getting into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame. Now, name-check Tom Kurvers in the acceptance speech … []

• Finally, we give to you this Montreal hockey brawl, and at one point turns into a crazy pile-on. As opposed to a crazy pylon, which is Dion Phaneuf:

Tags: , , faith, , , , , , Stack, USA hockey
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Why NHL’s bad faith negotiating damages CBA talk progress (Trending Topics)

19 Oct

Trending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey, occasionally according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?

"[We're] going to get a deal done" - Gary Bettman to some dude, October 18, 2012, approximately 2:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

"We were done in an hour today because there was really nothing there." - Gary Bettman to reporters, October 18, 2012, 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Funny, that.

Why, it's almost like the NHL had no intention whatsoever of accepting whatever offer the NHL Players' Association put forward yesterday, and that everything it has done to this point has come as part of bad-faith negotiations disguised as platitudes about how much the fans matter and how important it is for them to get a deal done.

[Nick Cotsonika: Enough with the grudges and greed, get down to business and solve the CBA]

OK, maybe I shouldn't go that far. Getting a deal done is clearly on the League's to-do list, but getting one that in any way serves to protect even the slightest interest of the players (i.e. The Product) is something in which Bettman and the five or six guys driving this Cold War have no interest whatever. Period.

Let's put it this way: Both sides have likely always targeted a 50-50 endgame. How they eventually get there is the real issue, and some of the ancillary stuff — like what revenues they're going to be splitting right down the middle (but not really, wink-wink) and how players are able to actually earn money under that system — is very much up for debate.

So it should have come as no surprise to anyone on the entire planet that the League just happened that extend a 50-50 offer on Tuesday that was couched in a lot of the language uncovered by Deadspin's report on its B.S. focus groupery about 16 hours earlier.

Shared sacrifice, indeed.

Make no mistake, the League knows exactly why fans have been so quick to turn on it in this labor negotiation when they backed it near-uniformly in the last one: Its draconian power grab is as transparent as the Russian players' threat to stay in the KHL.

[Related: 'Not a good day' as NHL and NHLPA meet again, get nowhere]

That's why the Luntz Global questionnaire had all that stuff about "Which stuff about how greedy all the greedy owners are is the MOST true?" Because everyone saw through that first joke of a proposal this summer, and everyone saw through the petulant, teary-eyed foot-stomping about "The PA hasn't made an offer in weeks!!!"

To be totally clear here, the only thing Donald Fehr was brought in to do for the NHLPA was make sure the amputation wasn't as bad as the owners would have liked it to have been. Everyone involved, and even most who aren't, has always known that this deal, like the last CBA the players were bullied into signing, would end with the players losing money. Fehr's goal — and boy is it ever a crazy one — is to make sure the paycut they eventually take doesn't cost them anything that's already guaranteed in their current contracts. What a jerk. What a monster.

Yeah, 50-50 revenue splits in the NHL's deal sound super-fair, and so does increased revenue sharing (and, OK, so it's only like 80 percent of what the players wanted, but it's something). But when the owners are dictating what does and doesn't count as revenue that gets split, and oh by the way you guys have to pay for the "make-whole" issue yourselves because we're not getting involved in that … well, anyone with half a functioning brain can see that this in no way constitutes a good-faith offer.

Donald Fehr called it "borderline unfair" yesterday, and that sounds like a nice way of putting it.

[Also: The Vent: Fan cheers for Leafs to protest lockout; others plan a party]

Let's think about that 50-50 split critically, okay? The current split is 57-43 in favor of the players. We all know this. So the league is essentially asking for that 7 percent back — and in reality, it's a little more than 12 percent of what the players actually make — with what concessions going the other way. Did you guess, "Almost none?" Good job. No intention to honor contracts as currently written, no givebacks on free agency rights. Just suspension appeals going to someone other than Gary Bettman. Whoopie.

The point of the NHL's offer this week was to turn the conversation from, "Hahaha look at this stupid focus group garbage," to, "Aren't the players a bunch of jerks for trying to rob you of an 82-game season by not accepting our slightly-less-insulting-than-the-original offer? We sure think so."

To some extent, it worked. That's why they negotiated in public and put the whole thing, more or less, on its website, complete with a handy-dandy explanation of all the nice and cool things the NHL was offering. Not that there weren't some good things in there (some of which helped the teams that conformed to the league's war against cap-circumventing contracts in an entertaining and largely-acceptable way), but there certainly weren't enough that the players should have considered entertaining it for more than a minute.

[Sunaya Sapurji: Meet the most interesting man in junior hockey]

But again, it was a PR move, and so the NHLPA fought back in the only way it knew how, offering three proposals with all different terms, but two of them with revenue shares based on growth, rather than just flatly dropping to 50-50 as the NHL's does. The other, which they had to know the league would never accept under any circumstance, sure doesn't make Bettman look good. Basically, it said, "We'll go to 50-50 today if you give us the money you owe us on the current deals up front."

Oof. That last part really has to sting Bettman. The players were ready to capitulate to your 50-50 demands right away, as long as the owners you represent in all this gave them the money contractually owed them.

Instead you pitched a fit to the media and considered it to be in a different language than what you were asking.

This is, in the NHL's mind, not acceptable. Reason enough for Bettman to storm out of a Toronto office building after talking about how deeply disappointing all this non-capitulation is — and to be sure, that's the only thing he's upset about — then get in a hired car and take the first flight back to New York City. Second time in a row that's happened. All the PR spin in the world can't change the fact that it's the league, not the PA, that refuses to negotiate.

"There was nothing to talk about," Gary? Sounds to me like that's only because the things to talk about weren't exactly what you wanted to hear. Next time try holding your breath until your face turns blue. That'll show everyone that you and aren't being inflexible at all.

Don Fehr, the players, and the fans (one of whom you directly lied to less than two hours before your press conference) will know you mean business.

Pearls of Biz-dom
We all know that there isn't a better Twitter account out there than that of Paul Bissonnette. So why not find his best bit of advice on love, life and lappers from the last week?

BizNasty on the bright side: "Insult me all you want but I'm still tied for 1st in every single statistical category in the NHL right now."

If you've got something for Trending Topics, holla at Lambert on Twitter or . He'll even credit you so you get a thousand followers in one day and you'll become the most popular person on the Internet! You can also visit his blog if you're so inclined.

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Joe Staley, Brandon Jacobs active for the 49ers

18 Oct

San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is active for Thursday night's game against the Seattle Seahawks. Staley suffered a concussion during Sunday's 26-3 loss to the New York Giants and needed to pass the league's concussion protocol before being cleared to play. That Staley is active means that occurred on Thursday.

Also active on Thursday night is running back Brandon Jacobs, who will make his 49ers debut after missing the first six weeks and losing $75,000 in "per game active" roster bonuses. Wide receiver Mario Manningham (shoulder) is inactive and will lose out on a $15,625 "per game active" roster bonus.

For the Seahawks, the only real surprise is that seventh round pick J.R. Sweezy is inactive, leaving the team with just seven offensive linemen dressed for Thursday night's game. Sweezy opened the season as the starting right guard and has played in 30.42 percent of the offensive snaps and 29.94 percent of the Seahawks' special teams snaps this season.

Seattle: WR Charly Martin, G John Moffitt, G J.R. Sweezy, DT Jaye Howard, CB Danny Gorrer, CB Byron Maxwell, S Winston Guy

San Francisco: QB Scott Tolzien, RB LaMichael James, WR A.J. Jenkins, WR Mario Manningham, G Joe Looney, NT Ian Williams, S Trenton Robinson

Tags: , , Joe Staley, , mario manningham, , , protocol, , , , , Wide
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Hail to the ‘Pigskins’? Two newspapers now refuse to use Washington’s football name

18 Oct

There's long been arguments about the political correctness of the Washington Redskins' nickname -- some feel that it is a pejorative term, and many Native Americans find it offensive. The "Redskins" nickname was given to the team in 1933 by then-owner George Preston Marshall, supposedly in recognition of head coach Lone Star Dietz, who may have been part Sioux. That Marshall was a known and avowed racist who greatly opposed the integration of the NFL doesn't do a lot for the argument that the team's nickname is an innocent conceit.

The Kansas City Star has long refused to use the "Redskins" nickname in its football coverage, and now, a newspaper closer to the team has followed suit. The Washington City Paper has decided to use the term "Pigskins" instead of "Redskins" when writing about the home team. The Washington City Paper is an alternative weekly with a circulation estimated in 2009 at 71,000. The new name was decided by a poll of the paper's readers.

From the City Paper's City Desk:

Over the last week, 1,125 of you voted on which of five names we should go with, and Pigskins—a.k.a. Hogs, in a tribute to the team's great offensive line of the first Joe Gibbs era—stiff-armed the competition like John Riggins did to Don McNeal in Super Bowl XVII. The name won 50 percent of the vote. Washington Monuments came in a distant second, with 16 percent; Washington Bammas got 13 percent, Washington Half-Smokes, 11 percent, and Washington Washingtons 10 percent. There were a few late entries that we liked, such as the Washington RG3skins—inspired by the quarterback's touchdown run last Sunday—and the Washington Americans.

I like the Washington Half-Smokes, but that's just me. Here's what I want to know: How long will it take for various animal rights activists to muster up a cauldron of outrage over a new nickname that isn't exactly vegan? You can go right down your own drain with this PC stuff, though there's more merit to the objections in this case, if you know about the man who named the team.

"I remain unconvinced by every argument I've ever heard that the name is not a racial epithet, plain and simple," Derek Donovan, the Star's public editor, wrote in a recent column. "And I'll even break my usual rule about commenting on issues outside The Star's journalism to say that I find it inconceivable that the NFL still allows such a patently offensive name and mascot to represent the league in 2012."

[Related: Redskins implement protection plan for Robert Griffin III]

Mike Madden of the City Paper agreed.

Yes, we realize opinion is split among Native Americans over the issue. But we have a hard time imagining a world where a modern pro sports team called itself, say, the Washington Kikes (to choose an example that picks on my own heritage), even if some Jewish fans didn't mind. Still, the solution the Star has found seems less than perfect—they drop the nickname altogether and just refer to the team as "Washington." Sports teams have names; we just wish this team had a different one. Besides, referring to "Washington" winning or losing might leave readers wondering which Washington team we mean—the Nationals? The Wizards? The Caps? And sadly, there are quite a few District residents who root for a different team altogether.

Again, it's important to know the context, and what was in the hearts of the people who named the team when they did so. Marshall had to be told by John F. Kennedy to hire black players for his team before he would actually do so. In the end, the president had to threaten Marshall with eviction from D.C. Stadium (later RFK Stadium) before the old coot would bend.

I'm usually as opposed to knee-jerk PC stuff as anyone, but I don't think that's the case here. In this case, the term "Redskins" also speaks to the vile practice of segregation in sports, because it was attributed to the team by one of the bigger blockheads the NFL has ever seen.

So, perhaps it is time for the Redskins to do what a few conscientious editors have already done. Change the name. Not because it's expedient, and not because of political pressure, but because any team that asks for the trust of the public should hold up a better and more promising legacy.

Related NFL video from Yahoo! Sports:

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
• Dan Wetzel: Nike, Livestrong abandon Lance Armstrong at wrong time
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Tags: argument, , , paper, , , Smokes, , Washington City Paper,
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Jeremy Evans is now the majority owner of Ronny Turiaf (VIDEO)

18 Oct

"What I can't stand about the NBA game is how teams keep drafting guys based on potential," your Big 10-loving friend says. "Sure, a guy might jump really high, but why should I care about some random guy who, I don't know, barely averaged double figures in the Sun Belt or whatever?"

Your Big 10-loving friend sits still for a moment, then quietly nods.

[Fantasy Basketball '12: Play the official game of]

Those of us who look at numbers a bunch already knew Jeremy Evans could block shots — he swatted 8.8 percent of the field-goal attempts opponents took while he was on the floor last year — and pretty much everyone already knew the Utah Jazz small forward could dunk. But something about seeing him do both in the same sequence, on the same play and to the same man — who, unfortunately, was Los Angeles Clippers center Ronny Turiaf, whom we love beyond the telling of it — feels very surprising.

I doubt it's going to earn the third-year forward out of Western Kentucky much more playing time this season in a stacked Jazz frontcourt, but after seeing him actually make a play like this in a game — closing out on a midrange shooter, using that super-long wingspan to block the shot, corralling the loose ball, taking it the length of the floor and cramming on top of a shot-blocker, all in one fluid motion — kind of makes you feel like he might be someone worth keeping an eye on going forward in a way that winning the Slam Dunk Contest never did.

After all, despite barely getting off the bench for Utah during his first two seasons in the league, the Jazz re-upped Evans for three years and $5.5 million this summer. Maybe this is an indication that they knew something we don't. It was a pleasant surprise on a preseason Wednesday night ... unless, of course, your name is Ronny Turiaf.

If the video above's not rocking for you, feel free to check it out elsewhere, thanks to our friends at the National Basketball Association.

Tags: Fantasy Basketball, , , Jeremy Evans, , majority, moment, , official game, , , Ronny Turiaf
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Ball Don’t Lie’s 2012-13 NBA Season Previews: The Philadelphia 76ers

17 Oct

For the first time in two years we'll have an orthodox, full-length NBA season to look forward to. No lockout nonsense, and precious little obsession as to whether or not LeBron James will ever win the big one. He's won it, already, and our sanity as NBA followers is probably better off as a result. However big that shred of sanity is remains to be seen, following yet another offseason that once again proved that the NBA is full of Crazy McCrazytons that appear to take great delight in messing with us continually.

As a result of that offseason, and the impending regular season, why not mess with Ball Don't Lie's triptych of Kelly Dwyer, Dan Devine and Eric Freeman as they preview the 2012-13 season with alacrity, good cheer, and bad jokes.

We continue with the ultra-patriotic Philadelphia 76ers.

Kelly Dwyer's Kilt-Straightener

You don't have to love the Philadelphia 76ers. You just have to marvel at the way they constructed a team that was an anathema to all modern pro basketball thought, committed to a franchise savior in Doug Collins in spite of years of evidence that suggested they should at least try to counter Collins' whims, dumped big for small, mindful for thoughtless … and still ended up its summer with the best center in their conference.

Sweet moves, dingleberries.

By any rational line of thinking, the Sixers turned in a miserable offseason — mostly working without a proper GM on their way to more or less handing the reins over to Doug Collins in the form of in-house GM hire Tony DiLeo. Along the way, the team managed to somehow spend more money while essentially trading Elton Brand and Lou Williams for two vastly inferior players in Kwame Brown and Nick Young. The Brand release was such a stupefying move that tends to burn even with Andrew Bynum's presence on this roster — the team took in no real cap savings for his release, the team's ownership group still has to pay his salary from here on out, and the Sixers bid against absolutely nobody on their way toward landing Brown for two years at an above-average salary for a below-everyone player.

Lou Williams goes to Atlanta, and the team pays more to pull in Nick Young. I'm not convinced Doug Collins has seen Nick Young play basketball, because Nick Young and Doug Collins will go together like Nick Young and Doug Collins. Also, Nick Young will make more money than Lou Williams this season.

(Of course, they'll have cap space next summer. Then again, Andrew Bynum's hoped-for extension will eat up just about all of that cap space, and they'll still have to replace the brilliance that Nick Young no doubt lent to Philadelphia throughout 2012-13.)

It was a shakeup that the 76ers needed, but one that was executed miserably until the team was able to upgrade from Andre Iguodala to Andrew Bynum. As a result, provided Bynum hits his stride and stays healthy sometime this winter, the 76ers will be a better team than the one we saw for most of last season, one that saw the team follow up a white-hot start with a miserable finish. The addition of a series of new faces should help the buffer between Collins and his roster as they both near the inevitable burnout, and in the meantime the group could contend for 50 wins.

Because Collins can coach. He can coach his tail off and will have his team prepared for their opponent, even if Collins' offensive schemes can be their own worst enemy. The team spent most of 2011-12 acting as a college team of sorts, moving the ball and focusing on the sort of interchangeable parts that both win NBA games and turn NBA teams into shooting, jumping question marks. Even as it challenged for the Eastern Conference finals last May, you never got a sense of who the Sixers were. Now, with Bynum anchored down low, you get it.

[Fantasy Basketball '12: Play the official game of]

It's in, and then out. Out to Jason Richardson, the underrated Dorrell Wright, and aforementioned Young. Jrue Holliday will still be around to look people off, while Thaddeus Young and Lavoy Allen stay behind to work that weird in-between game that we loved from the pre-Bynum 76ers.

Collins will lord over everything else. Few know X's and O's better than this guy and he will be just as adept working with his new roster as he was working with his motley collection of tweeners (at every single position, somehow). It's during the summer, and trade deadline, that we worry about with this man.

The meantime, provided Bynum can play 2300 minutes in a season for the first time in his career, could be worth all the offseason missteps.

(I don't think he'll play 2,300 minutes. Hence the record listed below.)

Projected record: 44-38

Fear Itself with Dan Devine

It is tonally appropriate that the NBA season tips off just before Halloween -- because on any given night, each and every one of the league's 30 teams can look downright frightening. Sometimes, that means your favorite team will act as their opposition's personal Freddy Krueger; sometimes, you will be the one suffering through the living nightmare. In preparation for Opening Night, BDL's Dan Devine considers what makes your team scary and what should make you scared.

What Makes You Scary: The prospect that change is good. After their most successful season in nine years and "fielding arguably [their] strongest team in over a decade," as Bradford Doolittle writes in the highly recommended Pro Basketball Prospectus 2012-13, the 76ers responded by shipping out five of their top nine players from a season ago (including three of the five players who saw the most floor time for Philly in the postseason) and deciding that they were going to be a very different type of team. Peace out, Integral Parts of a Team That Came Within One Win of the Eastern Conference finals!

Though he's known as an emotional sort, Philly coach Doug Collins clearly wasn't too sentimental about the Sixers' roster following their seven-game second-round loss to the Boston Celtics, telling Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News that the front office quickly decided "that team had reached its peak [and] knew we were going to have to make changes." Here's why:

Last year's Sixers ranked 17th in the league in offensive efficiency, featured eight players who averaged at least eight points per game but nobody who averaged more than 15 points per game, produced the league's second-most midrange jumpers (only the Charlotte Bobcats took more) and second-fewest field-goal attempts taken within the restricted area (only the Dallas Mavericks managed fewer), and generated the worst free-throw rate in the league. That came on the heels of the 2010-11 Sixers, who ranked 17th in the league in offensive efficiency, featured eight players who averaged at least 7.2 points per game but nobody who averaged more than 15 points per game, produced the league's second-most midrange jumpers (only the Washington Wizards took more) and ninth-fewest field-goal attempts taken within the restricted area, and generated the third-worst free-throw rate in the league.

The spread-it-out, pull-up-rather-than-attack, everybody-take-turns approach that Collins took in his first two years in Philly limited mistakes (the Sixers have had the lowest turnover rate in the league both years) and, in tandem with excellent team defense (No. 8 in defensive efficiency two years ago, No. 3 last year) produced consecutive playoff appearances; there are, to be sure, virtues to the tactic. But it also produced two heavy first-round underdogs to established powers (the Miami Heat in '11, the Chicago Bulls in '12) who, if not for serious injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah this spring, would both have been out-in-five also-rans.

So rather than be seduced by the second-round run, Collins and company allowed sixth man Lou Williams and 3-point specialist Jodie Meeks to leave in free agency, used the collective bargaining agreement's amnesty provision to shed the remaining $18.2 million on Elton Brand's contract, and signed noted bust Kwame Brown to play center alongside the re-signed and position-shifted Spencer Hawes. Most notably, of course, they shipped out star swingman Andre Iguodala, second-year center Nikola Vucevic and rookie Moe Harkless as part of a four-team blockbuster that brought back center Andrew Bynum -- a player who has ranked in the league's top 25 (including 11th last year) in at-the-rim field-goal attempts in four of the past five seasons, and finished 27th and 14th in free-throw rate among players who've made at least 20 appearances and averaged 20 minutes per game, and who shoots just under 69 percent from the foul line for his career.

The 76ers have organized, streamlined and defined their offense -- they're going to work inside out, feeding Bynum on the block early and often, and see if they can't use Hawes to get some Pau-to-Andrew, high-low volleyball action going. They're going to take advantage of the fact that most teams will have to double Bynum, which should create openings for penetration by point guard Jrue Holiday or clean looks for shooters like Holiday (38 percent from deep last year) and fellow new imports Jason Richardson (36.8 percent), Nick Young (36.5 percent) and Dorell Wright (36 percent). They're also hoping the extra post attention will clear space for newly minted starting small forward Evan Turner to operate in the hope that, after two largely underwhelming years in the pros, he can reclaim the playmaking form that made him the National Player of the Year at Ohio State.

They'll miss Williams' Microwave act off the bench, but they should get most of his scoring production back from the combination of Wright and Young. They'll miss Iguodala's all-around game, but they should still be good defensively with Turner and Holiday manning the perimeter and Bynum -- a legitimate post defender and force on the glass (finishing fifth in defensive rebound rate last year) who changes and blocks shots (he would've tied for fifth in block percentage two years back had he played enough minutes to qualify), but whose reputation as a defender has suffered by dint of being compared to Dwight Howard -- gumming up the paint. And the offensive gains they're likely to make thanks to having a low-post threat for the first time in more than two decades ought to more than make up for any defensive drop-off. The redefinition should be enough to give Collins not only his third straight playoff appearance, but also a legitimate shot at taking out a higher seed with or without injuries.

What Should Make You Scared: The prospect that change is bad. The thing is, it's really easy to see this thing blowing up in Philly's faces.

For one, the idea of Bynum as double-team-commanding low-post linchpin could be shaken pretty damn quick by the reality that, as TrueHoop's Beckley Mason noted, he doesn't handle doubles well; as Zach Harper wrote at Bleacher Report, 56 percent of Bynum's turnovers last year came in the post, most as a result of a double team. It stands to reason that Bynum had outgrown the third-wheel role in which he found himself in L.A., but if all the low-post attention that comes with being Philly's lead "dog," especially late in games, amplifies his ball-security issues and he turns out to be a less efficient scorer, the Sixers will need a Plan B in the worst way. Sure, Turner could figure it out and Holiday could start looking for his shot more, but would you bet your life on either of those things?

Plus, if he's turning the ball over, he's going to drive Collins crazy, which could make Collins something of an unpleasant guy to deal with for Philly players. Oh, that reminds us: This is Year 3 of the Doug Collins Era, which has throughout Collins' coaching career been the upper limit of how long a group of young charges can stand to deal with his exacting nature. The combination of that track record, this past spring's ominous rumblings about unrest in Philly and the addition of the very smart and occasionally petulant Bynum -- who, lest we forget, is in a contract year, knows he will absolutely receive a max offer this summer, and is seeing how he likes Philly even more than Philly is seeing how it likes him -- to the mix could produce some unwanted fireworks in the Sixers' locker room. (Also, watching Collins coach Nick Young could be very, very funny.)

In the best-case scenario, Bynum rises to the challenge, the team falls into place with a logical pecking order at long last established, and all the offseason change produces a team that competes for a top-four seed in the East. But within that order, there sure seems to be a lot of opportunities for chaos.

Eric Freeman's Identity Crisis

There is no more important asset for a basketball team than talent, and yet the more loaded squad does not always win. What we've seen in recent seasons isn't only that the best team wins, but that the group with the clearest sense of self, from management down through the players, prevails. A team must not only be talented, but sure of its goals, present and future, and the best methods of obtaining them. Most NBA teams have trouble with their identity. Eric Freeman's Identity Crisis is a window into those struggles, the accomplishment of realizing a coherent identity, and the pitfalls of believing these issues to be solved.

The Sixers have done many a middle-tier team's dream, parlaying several valuable pieces (including their best player) into a legitimate All-Star. While Andrew Bynum's credentials as a superstar are still in question, his talent is not, and he figures to be the East's starting center in the All-Star game for quite some time. However, he's still a risk, and the Sixers can't act as if their offseason coup means the difficult work is done.

Bynum is clearly the new face of the franchise, but he also hasn't proven himself either as being capable of carrying the offensive load or the sort of player with the maturity to transition to a leadership role. That's not to say that Bynum is incapable of taking on those responsibilities, and it'd be unfair to assume he can't just because he played with Kobe Bryant for every season of his career up until this one.

There is nevertheless danger in committing to Bynum fully, and not just because of his perceived maturity issues. For one thing, Doug Collins has perhaps invested in an inside-out style of play too much, basing the offense around Bynum but also planning to pay another true big man (seemingly either Spencer Hawes or Kwame Brown, though most likely the former). What that does, effectively, is to put pressure on Bynum by giving him the ball while simultaneously giving him less room to work, partially recreating his situation with the Lakers without giving Bynum the cover of playing as a third option. Bynum is good enough to transcend any spatial issues in the paint, but if he doesn't then he'll surely be blamed for failing to produce in line with the expectations of an All-Star center. He would deserve much of that criticism, but he would also have been put in a less than ideal situation by a coach with an increasingly outdated sense of NBA positions.

The low-post offensive threat is as established a basketball archetype as any, which provides hope that Bynum can be inserted into the lineup without issue. But this is far from a surefire issue, both because of the Sixers' past as a wing-oriented team and the basic difficulty of integrating any new player into a system. This problem only gets bigger the more time Bynum misses with his knee injury.

The bright side for the Sixers is that they have Andrew Bynum, a player all but a few teams in the league would go out of their way to obtain. But team identities can't change over just a summer. If this relationship is going to work, everyone must be aware of that difficult process.

Tags: Andrew Bynum, , Doug Collins, , nobody, , , , Sixers
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Lames: Fitz flop on the horizon in Minnesota

17 Oct
by in General

Each week the Noise highlights 10 bold names who he believes are destined to torpedo your teamleave egg on his face. For those playing the Lames home edition, each player must be started in at least 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues to qualify. As an accountability advocate, results, whether genius or moronic, will post the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, post your Week 7 Lames in the comments section below.

Matthew Stafford, Det, QB (81-percent started)
Matchup: at Chi
Somehow it appears the Madden Curse has infected Stafford and not the video game's cover athlete, Calvin Johnson. The popular second-round pick, off one of the greatest QB seasons in NFL history, has seen a precipitous drop in production. Plagued by turnovers and misconnects, he's yet to tally a multi-TD passing game this season. Still, he remains on pace to throw an arm-taxing 697 times this season, which would best his franchise record 663 attempts from a year ago. Unfortunately, his dip in YPA ('11: 7.6, '12: 6.8) and red-zone inefficiency continue to keep him outside the QB top-12 in per game average. So does his uneven performance in-game. Evident in last week's thrilling win in Philly, Stafford has become the league's latest comeback king. His fourth quarter QB rating 103.9 completely dwarfs what little he's accomplished earlier in games (1st: 48.1, 2nd: 58.7, 3rd: 80.1). If he didn't sleepwalk through first halves, he would easily be a top-five signal caller. Consistency will be key for Stafford Monday night in Chicago. Tim Jennings and company have yet to allow a multi-TD passer and have given up a mere 6.1 yards per attempt. Earlier this season, proven passers Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo failed to reach the 20-fantasy point mark against the Bears. Stafford was a turnover machine the last time he visited the Windy City, throwing four picks. In the rematch, anticipate a similar outcome.

Fearless Forecast: 26-42, 283 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions, 4 rushing yards, 15.6 fantasy points

Ray Rice, Bal, RB (99-percent started)
Matchup: at Hou
The impact of Ray Lewis' loss on the Ravens isn't limited to defense. His on-field presence and leadership will most certainly take a team-wide toll. It's possible the Ravens could use it as a rallying cry. They could also crumble, leaving owners hoping for favorable returns on both sides of the ball dejected. It's extremely rare Rice's name is mentioned in this space. He's arguably the league's most versatile weapon, a certifiable PPR behemoth. He's finished in 'Lame' territory only three times in his past 24 games. Accurately predicting a Rice letdown is akin to stumbling across 'binders full of women' -- slim odds. Still, Houston, even minus premier run stopper Brian Cushing, is capable of forking Rice. Bradie James, who filled the massive void left by Cushing, graded out nearly the same against the run last week against Green Bay as the former All-Pro did in his previous five games. Granted the Ravens are a more formidable ground foe, the replacement's effort was nothing to scoff at. The Texans, collectively, are one of fantasy's stingiest run defenses. They've yet to surrender a RB rushing TD and largely held established commodities Reggie Bush, Maurice Jones-Drew and Willis McGahee in check. Of all people, Chris Johnson is the only rusher to hurdle the 70-yard mark on the ground versus Houston this year. It's serious HUEVOS, but it's not improbable Rice bombs in H-Town.

Fearless Forecast: 17 carries, 66 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 15 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 10.4 fantasy points

Marshawn Lynch, Sea, RB (81-percent started)
Matchup: at SF
A tango with San Francisco, fresh off allowing its first 100-yard rusher at Candlestick in 21 regular games, means Lynch could be more 'Least' than 'Beast' Mode. No amount of Skittles can prepare him for the defensive onslaught. The Niners, worn down by the incessant pounding issued by the Giants offensive line and Ahmad Bradshaw, didn't resemble their usual immovable selves. It's unlikely to happen again. After all, Russell Wilson is no Eli Manning. San Francisco, unlike last week, can isolate its focus on containing the opponent's strength, the run, which it failed to do the last time the division counterparts met face to face. Last year in Week 16, Lynch rolled up 134 total yards and a touchdown against the Gold Panners. However, that happened in Seattle. In the rematch, San Fran will get the best of the Beast. Even after last week's misstep, the Niners have still allowed just 3.3 yards per carry and the second-fewest fantasy points to RBs. Lynch is an animal after initial contact, but expect him to find few treats in San Francisco.

Fearless Forecast: 20 carries, 74 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 8 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.7 fantasy points

Larry Fitzgerald, Ari, WR (98-percent started)
Matchup: at Min
With Kevin Kolb sidelined by tender ribs for the next several weeks, John Skelton is set to man the controls for sliding 'Zona. Most fanalysts would contend the QB change is a major win for Fitzgerald. Skelton's tunnel vision for the wide receiver is well-documented. When No. 19 has taken first-team reps, a span of 13 starts, he and Fitz have combined for seven touchdowns and 10.5 targets, 5.6 receptions and 90.5 yards per game. Still, it's shortsighted to believe the pair will instantly rekindle their on-field love out of the gate. From a fantasy perspective, the MetroDome doesn't exactly scream 'Romance!' As most are well aware, the Cardinals couldn't protect the pocket from a line of legless basset hounds. Cardinals QBs have been sacked 28 times this year, the most in the NFL. Skelton has a quicker release than Kolb, but he's a fixed object. For Jared Allen and the rest of Minnesota's dogged front, he will look like a freshly cooked goose. If badgered relentlessly, Skelton's chances of connecting with Fitz downfield are limited. Keep in mind, among WRs, only Donnie Avery has surpassed 75 yards against Antoine Winfield and friends this year. In a homecoming of sorts for the Minnesota native, he won't be crowned king.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 60 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.8 fantasy points

Brandon Lloyd, NE, WR (81-percent started)
Matchup: vs. NYJ
For "Gumby," a clash with Antonio Cromartie isn't very appealing. For one, the possibility of unwanted pregnancy is uncomfortably high. And so is the potential to underwhelm statistically. Against receivers with prototype frames, Cromartie usually operates at the highest level. Previously, he locked down Andre Johnson, Michael Crabtree, and, for 3.5 quarters, Reggie Wayne. Overall, he checks in as the eighth-best cover-man according to Pro Football Focus, conceding just a 41.7 catch percentage to assignments. Lloyd bruised his shoulder late last week in Seattle, but returned to a full practice Wednesday. Even though he's close to full strength and possesses freakish athleticism, he could fall victim to the matchup this week. Remember, New England has leaned more heavily on the run this year, ranking No. 1 in rush attempts per game. Given the Jets' shortcomings stopping the run, Stevan Ridley will likely be the centerpiece of the game-plan this week.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 52 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.9 fantasy points



Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their "Flames" (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Mondays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Reader Record: 17-25 (40.5%)

Can't get enough Andy Behrens, Brandon Funston, Scott Pianowski, Dalton Del Don and "The Noise?" Listen to The Fantasy Freak Show (Now on iTunes) every Friday at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on Yahoo! Sports Radio

Tags: , , , fantasy points, HUEVOS, , Lames, mark, , , , Stafford
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Spin Doctors: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant

17 Oct
by in General

In some ways, this is a ridiculous debate. It's like discussing which richly appointed ultra-luxury car you'd like to drive. Clearly you can win your fantasy league with either LeBron James or Kevin Durant as your No. 1 pick.

Nonetheless, James vs. Durant is a fun argument, and two members of the Yahoo! fantasy staff see it differently. Let's play the feud...

Dalton makes the case for LeBron: Let's face it, you can't really go wrong here, and the difference is slight at best with these two. In fact, because of Chris Paul's higher health risk, it could easily be argued LeBron James and Kevin Durant are in a clear tier by themselves. Durant is younger and seemingly still showing growth with each passing year, but James, who was ranked as the most valuable player in fantasy according to Basketball Monster last year, is the clear best player in the league and worth the top pick.

The additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis at the wings in Miami could lead to an uptick in assists for James, while Dwyane Wade's continued health concerns should ensure James sees plenty of run on a team that remains not that deep. James attempted a career-low 2.4 3pt last season, and while that resulted in "only" 0.9 3pt, it also led to him shooting 53.1 percent from the field. 53.1 percent! His performance at the line (77.1 percent) was also the second best of his career, while his 7.9 rpg tied for a career high.

James is one of the most durable players in the league who only continues to get better on the defensive side of the ball. And whereas Wade's minutes need to be monitored (his 33:12 mpg were a career low last season), Durant has to contend with teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden, who are stars in their own right and have both seen their field goal attempts increase every year they have been in the league. Again, I believe this is mostly quibbling and think Durant is a close second, but give me King James if I luck into the first pick of the draft.

Behrens gives the nod to KD: To be perfectly honest, I doubt I'll convince many of the LeBron zealots that Durant should be the top overall selection. As soon as our preseason top-100 ranks were published, I began hearing from the feistiest of the LBJ supporters, and ... well, let's just say they weren't interested in arguments on behalf of anyone else.

And I get it. LeBron is exceptional, an all-time player, dominant in multiple categories. He's a machine in terms of counting stats — perhaps not 3s, but everything else — plus he's shot over 50 percent from the floor in each of the past three seasons. If you take him first, no one is going to scoff at the selection. It's easy to build a case for James.

Still, if I happen to land the No. 1 pick, I'm making Durant the centerpiece of my fantasy roster, without hesitation.

KD's counting stats are basically as absurd as LeBron's, as most of you know (last year: 2.0 3s/G, 8.0 Reb, 3.5 Ast, 1.3 Stl, 1.2 Blk, 28.0 Pts). But the trait separating Durant from the rest of the player pool is this: He might just be the greatest volume shooter, both from the field and from the line, of the fantasy era. If you build your team around KD, you're going to find it almost impossible to screw up in free throw or field goal percentage.

Over the last 33 years — since the NBA introduced the three-point arc — there have been only 10 individual seasons in which a player has shot at least 45.0 percent from the field and 86.0 percent from the line, while attempting 15.0 field goals and 7.5 free throws per game. Kevin Durant has delivered three of those seasons. He's the only player to do it more than once, and he's done it each of the last three years. Here's the full list. No shooter over the past three decades has been as reliably accurate as Durant, while hoisting shots at such high volume. Other players may shoot a lot, but not this well. Others shoot well, but not as often.

Combine KD's freakish percentages with his extraordinary contributions in other stats, and we have clear top-pick material.

Tags: , , James Harden, KD, Kevin Durant, King James, , , , , ,
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