Greetings fellow fantasy fiends. My name is Jason Hahn and I’ll be your new Fantasy Doctor here on Dimemag.com.
On top of being a huge fan of the NBA, I’m also a colossal enthusiast of fantasy basketball who has seen some success in recent years. I’ve won three league championships since 2005 and have finished outside of the top three only once (fifth place in a 20-team league during the 2008-09 season). I hope I’ll be able to share some helpful insights with you all this season and eagerly look forward to learning from you guys as well.
So, without further ado, I thought it would be fitting for me to discuss the five most intriguing players with new teams this season.
1. Shawn Marion (SF/PF – Dallas Mavericks): There once was a time when Marion was a lock to finish each season as a top-five fantasy player. Those days, as we all know, are over. While he hasn’t exactly flopped in his 1.2 seasons out of Phoenix, the Matrix has definitely lost a step or two. But with his arrival in Dallas during the offseason, Marion finally has a real shot at boosting his production again. Not only did he have a full summer of training camp with his new team, but he has a very capable floor captain in Jason Kidd running the show and an outright stud in Dirk Nowitzki to play off of on the perimeter. Marion thrived with Steve Nash as his point guard in Phoenix, and Kidd is probably the closest thing to Nash that Marion will see again. While he won’t return to being the fantasy monster he was in Phoenix, expect Marion to benefit from a clean start with the Mavs, especially with Kidd running the point.
2. Vince Carter (SG/SF – Orlando Magic): His reputation usually causes people to overlook his production, but make no mistake – Carter is a valuable fantasy asset. Not only has he been healthy during the past four seasons in New Jersey, missing just 11 games during that time span, but he’s been a solid, consistent all-around player. His scoring has dropped off a bit and on a loaded roster in Orlando, Carter’s scoring average will likely dip into the high teens. Regardless, expect him to take full advantage of playing with a dominant big man in Dwight Howard and to benefit from open looks from three-point territory in the same way Hedo Turkoglu did. His points will dip, but expect more than two three-pointers a night along with good overall production, especially during the first 10 games of the season when Rashard Lewis serves his suspension.
3. Hedo Turkoglu (SG/SF – Toronto Raptors): Here’s where the optimism stops. Not only has Turkoglu sat out of the Raptors’ training camp this summer because of “fatigue,” but he also struggled mightily at the FIBA tournament during the latter part of the summer, averaging just 9.8 points on 33 percent shooting while suffering through soreness in his right knee. Tack on to all this his brand new contract, and it’s easy to suspect that Turkoglu will fall into the trap of letting up and coasting through his first season with his new team, as so many players with new contracts do. He’ll still be good for about two three-pointers and solid all-around numbers each night, but expect inconsistency to be the theme of his 2009-10 season.
4. Andre Miller (PG – Portland Trail Blazers): While there has been talk that the Blazers’ newly-signed point guard could start the season coming off the pine and running the second unit, Miller has played well in his recent preseason outings with his new team and looks more likely to be a starter on opening night. Still, on a young team stuffed with talent, he’ll be hard-pressed to maintain his strong numbers from the past two seasons in Philadelphia. Miller, 33, also failed a conditioning test late last month, which doesn’t bode well for his production this year. Despite his nice new contract, expect healthy competition for the starting point guard spot from the underappreciated Steve Blake. The battle for minutes at that position will likely evolve over the course of the season and could depend on nightly matchups. Don’t be afraid to draft Miller, who is still a smart, strong point guard whose leadership will be invaluable for this young team, but make sure your expectations are in line with the reality of his situation in Portland.
5. Trevor Ariza (SF – Houston Rockets): Ariza certainly made a name for himself (and boosted his contract value) during last year’s playoffs, and his arrival in Houston sets him up to finally take on the major team role that he’s always wanted. But with the absence of Yao Ming and the uncertain health of Tracy McGrady, Ariza might find himself biting off more than he can chew. There’s little doubt that he’ll take the lion’s share of minutes at the small forward position on the Rockets, but there’s also little doubt that he’ll be exposed to more defensive pressure than he’s ever seen as opposing teams take whatever focus they would have had for Yao, T-Mac or Ron Artest and transfer it to Ariza and Luis Scola, who will also shoulder a big load for Houston this year. Without the likes of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol around, expect bigger numbers across the board for Ariza this season. But also expect his weaknesses to be exposed as he’ll struggle with his shooting and turnovers while learning how to be something of a leader on a depleted team.
Throughout the season, be sure to leave your questions, comments, concerns, trade offers, roster problems and more in the comments below.
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