December 31, 2007
Jerry Sloan Photo Credit: Matthias B. Krause/Icon SMI
In the last edition of Picks and Rolls we talked about the Knickerbockers of New York, where the inmates are running the asylum. Madison Square Garden is a three-ring circus where nobody appears to have any power (outside of perhaps Stephon Marbury), and the hierarchy changes on a nightly basis. This is clearly not the case in EnergySolutions Arena. After Gordan Giricek had an altercation with Jerry Sloan on the sidelines two weeks ago he was immediately sent to the locker room. Then Sloan sent him home from the road trip, and Jazz owner Larry Miller backed Sloan up. A week later, Giricek is no longer wearing a Jazz jersey.
Jerry Sloan is the unquestioned leader in Utah. Just ask Gordan Giricek or Andrei Kirilenko.
In fantasy terms it’s not a major trade, but a mildly intriguing one. Giricek should be given a fresh start for the 76ers, and while he’s always been a slightly above average shooter, he’s never been a fantasy mainstay in his six years in the NBA. Perhaps more significant in Philly for fantasy owners is the minutes and shots this should open up for Louis Williams, a 2005 second-round pick out of South Gwinnett High School, where he was named a member of the McDonald’s All-American East Team and the Naismith Prep Player of the Year as the nation’s top high schooler the same year. Williams is an electric scorer who has taken time to adjust to the NBA game, but he’s going to be a fantasy player sooner or later- maybe very soon.
On the other side, Kyle Korver should also see a boost in value. While the Jazz already have a number of options on offense and a clearly-defined pecking order, they have a dearth of perimeter scoring. Utah has lacked an elite outside shooter, and Korver fits the bill. He really wont provide much outside of points, threes, FT% and modest returns in other categories, but those strengths are enough to make Korver a strong play when he’s on his game. That should happen more frequently in this loaded offense. As Korver said in his press conference, “In Philadelphia I was standing around waiting for the ball… Now I feel like I’m playing with a great point guard, where if I make the right read or the right cut, I know he’ll get me the ball.”
The move also nets Philly a lottery-protected, first-round pick and leaves them about $10 million in cap space this summer. Keep an eye on Philadelphia, and specifically veteran point Andre Miller, because these guys aren’t done. New GM Ed Stefanski said after the trade, “People really wanted Andre, too… I’m not saying we’re done. We do have chips that people like. I will say this: Teams have (noticed) how good Miller is. Anyone can get traded, but he is a very good asset for the 76ers right now.”
While the Utah Jazz continue to field the whitest team in the NBA, here are your other fantasy fluctuations of note…
Up and Down Game
Delonte West, PG/SG: After his second season in the league where he posted 12 points, 1.2 steals, .7 blocks, 4.6 assists and 4.1 boards on 49% FGs and 85% FTs, we were big fans of Delonte West in Boston. That kind of all-around production and efficiency is rare and invaluable to fantasy squads. He inexplicably saw less playing time in Bean Town last season, so the change of scenery in the offseason made him one of our favorite sleepers this year. Unfortunately the 2004 first-round pick out of St. Joseph’s has struggled to find minutes again this year, fighting injuries, Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson for tick. Whenever he sees playing time he produces though, and West has dropped 15 dimes, 29 points, 8 boards and 2 threes in 25+ minutes over the last two games. It’s still unclear if West or Ridnour is the better long-term bet this season, but Delonte is worth an add right now.
Antonio Daniels, PG: In his 14 games as a starter filling in for Gilbert Arenas, Daniels was putting up 11 points, 6.6 assists, 4.4 boards and 1.4 steals on 50% FGs and 82% FTs. Gilbert is no sure thing to return to full strength this season, but when Daniels went down with a knee injury on December 15th he was dropped in most leagues. If he’s still available, now is the time to scoop Daniels up. He should return any game now and will resume those extremely solid numbers shortly after, while Arenas isn’t expected back any time before the middle of February.