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Fantasy basketball

Posted by Ed Ryan January 15, 2009 05:54 AM

While flipping between Celtics-Raptors and Eagles-Giants last Sunday, I saw Celtics guard Ray Allen drain eight three-pointers in Toronto. Allenís shooting ability is no secret, but his performance left me curious. I began wondering about the fantasy value of Allen and his teammates this season.

I havenít had any Celtics on my squad for the past two seasons, so I havenít been intimately aware of their fantasy value. Sure, I follow the Celtics closely, but itís different when a player is on your team. Take Washingtonís Caron Butler, for example. I had Butler last season and was determined to get him again this year (I did). I loved him in 2007-08, and Iím on bended knee once again. The guy is a force, and I might not have realized how good he was if I didnít have him on my roster.

So how are the Celticsí top players treating their fantasy owners? Letís take a look:

Kevin Garnett, F: Garnett remains a solid fantasy contributor, but he is no longer a statistical force. Celtics coach Doc Rivers is extremely careful when it comes to Garnettís playing time, and this season Garnett is averaging just under 33 minutes per game. Aside from his rookie season, thatís a career low, as is this yearís scoring average (16 points per game). In category leagues, Garnett has always been terrific for rebounds, but even that is slipping compared to his career average (9.1 rebounds per game this season, 11.1 for his career). Would I want Garnett next season? Yes, but not until the third round. Add up his points-rebounds-assists-blocks-steals totals and heís 14th among NBA forwards.

Paul Pierce, F: Pierceís scoring went down with the acquisitions of Garnett and Ray Allen, but his all-around game canít be denied: He averages 19 ppg, 5.6 rpg, and 3.7 assists per game. Though not superlative in any one category, Pierce ranks just behind Garnett in fantasy value among NBA forwards. Would I want Pierce next season? Yes, but not until the third round (sound familiar?). Pierce will be 32 at the beginning of next season. Heís still capable of putting up huge scoring numbers, but the days of him carrying your squad are probably over.

Ray Allen, G: Allen (below) is still valuable in category leagues because he remains an accurate three-point shooter (39 percent this season, just below his career average) and can still score (18 ppg). But Allenís scoring ó like Pierceís ó slipped when he was partnered with other perennial All-Stars, and heís unlikely to ever again average 24.4 ppg, as he did between 2002 and 2007. Allenís toughness, though, cannot be questioned: Heís in his 13th season and is averaging 36.5 minutes per game, just about one minute less than his career average. Would I want Allen next season? No, unless Iím in a category league and need his three-point shooting percentage.

Rajon Rondo, G: Rondoís scoring (10.8 ppg) will likely force you to start him only in emergencies if youíre playing in a regular format, but in a category league, Rondo will help you with assists (7.7 apg), steals (2.2 spg), and even rebounding (4.7 rpg). Would I want Rondo next season? Yes. At the moment, heís the perfect third guard, and if his scoring average and shooting percentages continue to creep north, Rondo is a potential fantasy star.

Ed Ryan writes about fantasy sports and betting for OT and can be reached at ed_ryan@globe.com

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