Friday, February 15, 2008

First Half Fantasy Basketball All-Stars

Now that the first half of the 2007-08 NBA season is complete, let's take a look at the players who were the cream of the fantasy crop. Note: If a player has multiple position eligibility, he will only be given consideration at the position where he has accumulated the most starts and/or minutes.

First Team

C - Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns - Amare gets a slight nod over Dwight Howard due to his superior scoring ability. The second half looks awfully bright for Amare, as he is now the unquestioned centerpiece of the Suns offense with Shawn Marion in Phoenix. Expect an increase in Stoudemire's production across the board. 

PF - Tim Duncan, San Antonion Spurs - Duncan is never the sexy pick. However, among this year's group of PFs who all have very similar numbers, Duncan's solid scoring and rebounding numbers (Nearly 20 points and 11.5 boards) coupled with his good defensive stats, FG% and ability to contribute in assists make him the most well-rounded PF out there.

SF - Lebron James, Cleveland Cavaliers - The King is averaging over 30 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists a game and is putting up numbers that haven't been seen since the days of Oscar Robertson. He is single-handedly carrying a below average Cavs team into the playoffs and firmly establishing himself as the NBA's best player. If Lebron isn't the consensus #1 pick in your fantasy basketball drafts over the next 8 years, your leagues stink.

SG - Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers - Kobe continues to be a fantasy beast this season, with the ability to contribute in a variety of categories in addition to pouring in the points. His scoring average is actually down 3 points this year; however, he has seen increases in rebounds and steals while maintaining strong assist and three point numbers. Looking ahead to the second half, keep an eye on Bryant's injured right pinky as it may hurt his production.

PG - Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets - Paul is the best player on the NBA's most surprising team and has clearly been the best all-around point guard in the league. He is averaging a double-double putting up nearly 21 points and 11 assists a game to go along with a remarkable 4.1 A/T ratio that is second only to Jose Calderon. In addition, he averages 2.6 steals a game which is among the league leaders. He has certainly been the finest fantasy point guard at arguably the strongest and deepest position.

Second Team

C - Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic - DH is an absolute beast in rebounds and blocks and has shown a much-improved offensive game this season averaging over 21 points to go along with a .600+ FG%. It won't be long before he is the top center in fantasy basketball.

PF - Shawn Marion, Miami Heat - Continues to be the most consistent producer across the board, averaging a double-double (16 points and 10 rebounds) on the season and supplementing it with excellent averages in the defensive categories. Marion also provides admirable contributions in three pointers and has a .500+ FG%.

SF - Caron Butler, Washington Wizards - In Gilbert Arenas' absence, Butler has raised his game to a new level and is having a career year. He is averaging career highs in points (21.4), assists (4.5), steals (2.4), three pointers (1.1), FG% (47%) and FT% (91%); providing owners with excellent output in a wide variety of categories. Arenas should be back at some point in the second half so Butler may experience a slight drop in his numbers, but he should continue to be a valuable contributor late in the season due to his versatility. 

SG - Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs - Similar to ButlerManu Manu has enjoyed his finest pro season, averaging around 20 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 three pointers and 2 steals. Ginobili is one of only a handful of players that can help fantasy owners in 6 categories (also shooting 83% from the FT line) making him an anchor for your fantasy team heading down the stretch. 

PG - Allen Iverson, Denver Nuggets - As is the case each year, Iverson is among the league leaders in points, steals, assists and minutes played. However, after a down year by his lofty standards coupled with his rising age and the fact he plays alongside Carmelo Anthony, AI went a little later in drafts entering this season; late third-early fourth round in some cases. Iverson has rewarded the owners that believed in him, by raising his scoring and steals while continuing to put up excellent assist numbers.

Honorable Mentions

C - Yao Ming, Al Jefferson
PF - Carlos Boozer, Kevin Garnett,, Josh Smith
SF - Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Josh Howard, Rudy Gay
SG -   Dwayne Wade, Joe Johnson, Michael Redd 
PG - Steve Nash, Baron Davis, Deron Williams

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