Fantasy Hoops Roundtable: Taking My Talent to South Beach

Oct 12, 2010

Basketball Roundtable

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We are bringing back the fantasy basketball roundtable. I am hosting the discussion.
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This week’s question is:
How will LeBron’s taking his talents to South Beach affect his fantasy production?
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Ryan Lester from LestersLegends.com
When LeBron James decided to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh I cringed a bit. Because it was tacky? Yes, that certainly was part of it. I don’t blame him for leaving, but he could have taken a more subtle approach. Mainly I cringed because I have him as a keeper on my fantasy team.
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While I think he still puts up monster numbers, I think his production takes a hit. With other capable scorers on his team, I don’t expect him to score 27+ points a night. I think 25 is a more likely number. He won’t touch the ball nearly as much with Dwyane Wade on the floor with him, so look for the assists to drop down closer to the 7.0 per night range. With Bosh, Udonis Haslem, and company I expect him to grab about 7.0 boards a night.
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It won’t be all bad though. Wade and Bosh should take some pressure off LeBron, freeing him up to take better shots. I expect his field goal percentage to increase. Also, having the ball less will mean fewer turnovers.
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I would still take LeBron number two overall because he is so good in so many categories, but his sharing of the limelight allowed Kevin Durant to surpass him as fantasy basketball’s number one player.

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Henry from WeakSideHelp.com
There is a lot of talk about triple-doubles raining from the sunny skies in Miami from all the usual suspects (thank you for destroying my off-season ESPN). I imagine that this team will be just like any other LeBron has played on, albeit with vastly superior talent. The crux? Expect LeBron to dominate like he always has for fantasy but with a pretty strong caveat.
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James is a natural passer and he has fun doing it. Whether it’s those behind the back flicks or the no-look, cross court bullet, it’s like a production for him. It is here that he is the polar opposite of Dwyane Wade, who will be the beneficiary of someone finally being able to find him. Naturally then, a bump in his assists is to be expected, especially when we consider that Chris Bosh is going to be knocking down open 15 footers with regularity. I think this will result in a small change with regard to his pure statistical production. I don’t know if it’ll be high enough to threaten 10 per game, but his career average is 7.0 and I would expect something similar or slightly higher than last season’s 8.6.
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LeBron also obviously knows how to score. Averaging just a tick under 30 points last year, he can do it almost any way except efficiently from beyond the arc or at the free throw line. The Heat are going to need to score points to win games (duh) but he has enough talent around him to ensure that it doesn’t have to be 30 a night. Instead of doing everything himself like at Cleveland, the load will be well and truly shared. I wouldn’t be surprised in Bosh ends up averaging nearly as many points as Wade or James when all is said and done (and by nearly, I mean within 4 points). This is probably the one area which could see a substantial (3-4 points) drop off.
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Apart from that, I think most things will same. He hasn’t forgotten how to steal, block or rebound the ball. Just like in Cleveland, there is no true Center. However unlike in Cleveland, I expect the Heat are going to be able to win a bunch of games without James needing to be on the court for 40+ minutes night in, night out.
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If things go as planned, 15 point leads heading into the 4th quarter are going to be a common sight. If Coach Spoelstra can manage to keep leads (something which probably contributed to getting Mike Brown fired), then James could end up playing anywhere between 34 and 38 minutes per game averaged out over the course of the season. Think about it this way. Dwyane Wade was able to win 47 games last season without Chris Bosh or LeBron James. There is no way in the world James plays anywhere near what he did in terms of average minutes per game last season and that impacts on the bottom line.
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For me, this is a real risk to his fantasy production (especially if you play Roto leagues or if you make the playoffs in a H2H league) and people should be aware of this on draft day. Given his phenomenal ability to do everything else, this is more than slightly offset for a high draft spot, just probably not high enough for all those LeBron lovers out there. He is a firm #3 draft pick for mine, behind Durant and Chris Paul.
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Tommy from HoopsWorld.com

Love him or hate him (and the way King James behaved this summer gave plenty of people reason to hate), there is no denying LeBron’s otherworldly gifts. The back-to-back MVP awards on his mantelpiece are reminders of the epic numbers James has posted during his NBA career. He is the most physically-gifted and talented basketball player on planet earth. We could get into the stats in-depth, but I assume we all agree they are jaw-dropping. Yet, while we all know what LeBron is capable of on the basketball court when he is the undisputed leader and play-maker; now it will be fascinating to see what kind of numbers he put up as a member of Miami Thrice.
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Consider this: The Miami HEAT under Coach Eric Spoelstra (a pupil of Pat Riley), as a defensive-minded team, take a slow-down, grind-it-out approach on offense. Last season they averaged 96.5 PPG, which ranked 25th out the 30 NBA teams. In addition, only five teams took fewer shots on a nightly basis – Miami attempted 79.5 field goals per game. The HEAT’s pace factor was 89.6 (28th of 30). Clearly, this is not a run-and-gun unit.
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For his career, LeBron James averages 21 shots per contest. Over the last two seasons, Dwyane Wade has averaged nearly 21 attempts a night as well. Chris Bosh was usually up over 16 FGA’s each game as the Raptors main weapon. Summed up, that’s a total of approximately 58 shots a night. Obviously, each of these three guys will have to accept a lesser allotment of their team’s total attempts. All three understood a subjugation of ego and decreased shot attempts was part of the new South Beach Diet.
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Interestingly, this shouldn’t be a major issue for LeBron. Even his newfound haters would have to admit that LeBron (on the court) is one of the least selfish superstars the NBA has seen in quite sometime. The beauty of LeBron’s game is its versatility. He doesn’t need to score 30 points a night to be effective, despite the fact he could score 40+ every time he steps on the floor. LBJ’s basketball IQ is incredibly high, and he understands the undeniable importance of involving teammates. If he didn’t have a problem sharing the ball with Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker, he won’t mind deferring to D Wade or Bosh when the situation calls for it…Thus, while LeBron’s scoring will almost certainly dip, there rest of his numbers should actually increase. In fact, I’d be willing to wager that LeBron averages a triple-double this season.
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Adam from Razzball
A successful masseuse – above all else – should relax and comfort the client. Knock the knots out of their neck. Massage the Charley horses from wherever one gets Charley horses. In the end it’s about de-stressing. Attaining this lack of stress is usually a great thing … unless the client becomes so relaxed that they tear open a fart forceful enough to skip the exotic waterfalls CD playing quietly in the background. We’re all human. Chill farting is a part of nature, but it shouldn’t be a COMMON part of nature. These tranquilized toots are proof that too much relaxation can be problematic.
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Miami is LeBron’’s masseuse. And while his change to South Beach is great for the Florida economy, club promoters, and Dwyane Wade’’s nine empty ring fingers, it’’s not great for the stats of the best player in the league.
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Don’’t misunderstand me; there are enough stats to go around on this team. On nights where Wade takes the wheel or Bosh or whomever, it’s more than possible LeBron will happily fill in the non-scoring parts of the stat sheet. That’’s what makes him dangerous, he can do it. But realistically, this Heat team could blow out half the league this season, and LeBron could watch those fourth quarters from the bench. The Cavs won 18 games last season by 15+ points, and this Heat team is better than that Cavs team. And although James averaged over 35 mpg in those 18 blowouts, Cleveland didn’’t have two of the 10 best players in the league standing alongside him (according to everyone except Mo Williams). Then there’’s the end of the season after a playoff spot is wrapped up. Will LeBron sit another four straight games? Or six? Or eight?
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When he’’s on the floor, he’’ll be the best fantasy option possible. Easily. The problem is that with the army he’’s got around him, he won’’t need to be on the floor 36+ minutes per game. He’’ll play relaxed, he’’ll play breezy, but come fantasy playoff time or an easy string in Miami’s schedule, that relaxation could turn to gas in owners’ faces a few too many times.

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Jeff from Damn Lies & Statistics
All of the disdain everyone outside of Miami has for LeBron James makes it easy to forget that he is the best player in the NBA. He may not be the most clutch or mentally toughest yet, but he is still a steamroller of a human with sublime offensive and defensive gifts. He has already harnessed them, and I sense that as he tries to repair his image, as well as sensing an elusive championship on the horizon, he is going to be motivated. Of course, he won’t match his stats from last year for a few reasons. He won’t need to score as much on Miami, and this team could indeed be so good that they blow people out pretty regularly, meaning lots of rest. But LeBron playing point forward is so intriguing that I’m now considering him only slightly worse than a year ago and the 1-AA to Kevin Durant’s 1 and Chris Paul’s 1-A. If LeBron only averages 25 points, he could still improve on his rebounding, assists and field goal percentage.
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Nabate from RotoExperts.com
LeBron’s fantasy value will have a slight overall increase with only his scoring going down. With the personnel around him, he will serve as a Magic Johnson-type point forward and is a legitimate threat to average a triple-double. His FG% (which was very good last season at 50.3%) will go up as he won’t have to jack up over 20 shots every game.
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Justin from Life is Just a Fantasy … Baksetball Blog
I’ve witnessed LeBron James and the Miami Heat in-person going head-to-head with 2010′s consensus No. 1 fantasy pick, Kevin Durant, and James made me a believer that he’ll come damn close to averaging a triple-double this season. Close but he won’t average one.
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Seeing the Heat live in Kansas City, it was clear the offense runs through an aggressive and attacking James, who threw down a pair of sick dunks on his way to 22-7-8 in just 29 minutes. No Dwyane Wade (sore hamstring) meant the ball was all James’ and D-Wade will likely find that he’s no longer running the show once he comes back. James pretty much said as much after the Heat beat the Detroit Pistons in the first preseason game. “I can’t defer,” James told reporters. “I’m never in defer mentality.”
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Here’s the bad news: James’ scoring is going to take a hit, but the drop isn’t going to be as big as some expect. I’m projecting 27 points and 1.7 threes per game. He’ll be a distributor, dishing to better players than he played with in Cleveland. In KC, James looked happy driving and kicking to an open Mike Miller, who was spotting-up for threes, or dumping it to Chris Bosh for a smooth15-footer . I expect James to average 9 assists a game while also grabbing 8.5 rebounds, 1.7 steals and a block.
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My biggest concerns about LeBron are blow-outs and the Heat clinching the Southeast Division early. Both mean James will be sitting on the bench much earlier than fantasy owners will like (James sat out the last four games of last season, and it was painful). So I’ll be rooting for close games and an April fight between the Heat and Orlando Magic for the division title.
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Jason from fBasketballBlog.com
Thinking about LeBron’s projected averages in 2010-11 is akin to playing ping pong with myself. The optimistic side of me sees the caliber of teammates he has this season compared to what he had last season and can’t help but to see the opportunities to expend less energy on scoring and more on crashing the boards, dishing the ball and defense. Then the pessimistic side of me kicks in with a scoff and thinks about how the Heat’s offense won’t be much faster than the one the Cavs ran and the distinct probability that James won’t be dominating the ball nearly as often as he did in Cleveland, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope for him improving his numbers much at all. All that, along with the possibility of a good fistful of blowouts in the Heat’s favor this season and the consequential decline in minutes for James, seems to point to a bigger fall from fantasy stardom for the stud than most are expecting.
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As much as I’d like to be bold and choose one side or the other, the reality will fall somewhere in between my splintered perspectives. I think James will play fewer than the 40+ minutes per game he’s averaged in his first seven seasons in the league, but it won’t matter too much since his time on the floor will be more efficient than the time he spent on the floor with the Cavs. With Wade and Bosh set to take a good number of shots, I expect many of James’ passes to them will result in easy assists, and I anticipate that he’ll be freed up to crash the boards more often.
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James had four triple-doubles during the regular season in 2009-10. He’ll more than double that number this season, but in terms of averages, I’m (whimsically) forecasting something in the neighborhoods of:
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- Points: 20-24
– Rebounds: 7.5-9
– Assists: 8.5-9.5
– Threes: 1.5-2
– Steals: 1.6-2.1
– Blocks: 1.2-1.7

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Even if he “only” notches the lower bounds of these projections, he’ll still be a fantasy force worthy of a top-three pick. The X factor will be whether or not James can lift his free-throw percentage to above 80 percent for the first time in his career. I doubt that happens but if it does, and if James reaches averages closer to the upper bounds of the above projections, the No. 1 spot in the wonderful land of fantasy basketball will be his for the recouping. I might be naive, but I’m expecting fewer points, small boosts in rebounds and assists, and mostly unchanged output in other categories from James this season.
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Daniel from Rotoprofessor.com
He’s still Lebron. Just a different Lebron.
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I dropped Lebron to #5 and Dwyane Wade #3 in my fantasy rankings. Does this mean I think Wade is a better player? Not necessarily. I just think the new dynamic in Miami will play out in a way that has a slightly more positive impact on Wade’s stats. I’ve tried to scale the whole argument down into just a few points, so here goes:
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Lebron James demands the best defender available. That’s no secret. In the past, teams playing the Heat were forced to play their best defender on Dwyane Wade. Of course, most NBA teams have more than one good defender. When you’re talking about the skill level and speed of Wade, though, the slightest downgrade at defender can translate into a big statistical difference. If teams choose instead to place their best defender on Wade and their second best on James, expect the Heat to go undefeated.
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It’s no secret that Lebron legitimately enjoys setting up his teammates and getting them involved. What’s more, he has incredible court vision. Wade’s scoring nature should fit with James very well. This should mean an increase in assists per game for Lebron, but I think the rise in Wade’s scoring will make up for this improvement on Lebron’s part.
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The only time anyone has been able to question Lebron’s effort was during the playoffs last year. No one’s really sure what happened, but I think we can all agree what we witnessed was an outlier and not the norm. That said, I think he’ll see a decrease in rebounds this year. Not because he’s unwilling or unable to get them, but because he won’t be forced to by the team around them. There are definitely a few holes in the Heat lineup, but the front line talent should help James focus more on playing his game than continuing to be his team’s everything.
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In short, I think the new team around him will free up Lebron to focus on quality over quantity. Yes, he’s proven he can do both, but (barring injury) he shouldn’t have to on this team.
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Will from Rotoprofessor.com
It seem almost inevitable that the dream team trio is willing to sacrifice some statistical goodness in order to make a run at a championship and possibly a dynasty. The chances of Lebron posting nearly 30 points again are slim, I realize that. But are we really talking about a big enough difference where he goes from 1 to 5 or lower? Keep in mind he was hands down the best player in fantasy basketball last season.
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Let’s look at what kind of hit we might should expect this season for Lebron. The average shots per game for a team last season were between 81 – 82. Is it so far fetched to believe that of those 82 shots, 50 of them will go the Big Three? I don’t think so, everyone on that team knows who the first, second and third options are. So 50 shots per game gives Wade & Lebron both 18 and Bosh 14. Last season Lebron took 20 shots, so he loses two shots per game. But as Daniel said, the shots will be more quality than when he was taking on four guys in Cleveland and throwing up five threes a game to keep his team in the lead. So he loses two shots, but takes better shots. We’ll say he drops about four points due to that. That’s still over 25 points per game people.
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I think his biggest hit might come in terms of rebounding as he has never played with a dominant rebounder like Chris Bosh. But even still, the guy is 6-8 250 (that’s being generous) and he is always around the ball, he’s going to continue to get some rebounds, and at least 6 of them a game.
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As far as the passing game goes he is going to have the ball in his hands a ton, and if he isn’t scoring, he’s going to be setting up scores an awful lot. Now Wade can do something no one in Cleveland could, he can create on his own, he doesn’t need Lebron to feed him his points. But Lebron just has a knack for finding the open man, and with all the attention on Lebron and Wade there will be open guys, Bosh isn’t going to see many double teams down low, Mike Miller is going to be wide open on the perimeter quite often. And Lebron is going to find these guys. So dropping any further than 7.5 assists would be a surprise to me.
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Add to all of this that his FG% could go up even more with him getting and taking better shots. And his turnovers should go down since he doesn’t have to do everything and you’re looking at a guy who will score 25 points, get 6 rebounds and 7.5 assists, at the least, not to mention everything else he does.
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Can you really convince me that someone outside of Kevin Durant or Chris Paul can do better than that?
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Lebron is going to take a little hit, just like Wade and Bosh, but he’s still Lebron James, the most dominant guy in the NBA, don’t let the new jersey fool you.
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Nels from GiveMeTheRock.com
GMTR actually did a podcast about the Heat this weekend (click to listen).
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What really stuck with me the most was [Patrick from Give Me The Rock] saying that LeBron’s numbers were so far ahead of everyone else in the league, that even if he drops off 20%, he’ll still be the #2 or #3 pick. The thing I think that might change with LeBron this season is that while his Points come down his FG% should be solid and his Assists might actually go up. With Wade defending one of the wings and Bosh and the Big Man Monster they’ve created back there, I can see LeBron easily matching his Steal and Block numbers, and even if he’s playing Point Forward as many predict, I can actually see his Turnovers coming down, especially as the season goes on and the team gets used to playing together. So, the bottom line: LeBron = Still Valuable, just in a slightly different way than past seasons.
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Patrick from GiveMeTheRock.com
To fully understand how LeBron’s move to Miami will affect his fantasy production, it’s important to look at what his fantasy production was before the move. It’s generally accepted that LeBron was the #1 (or at the very least #2) fantasy player in 2009-10. But he and Durant weren’t just the number 1 and 2 fantasy guys by a little bit. No, if you calculate the difference in performance between those two guys and the third best player last year (say Dirk or Chris Paul on a per game basis), it comes out that LeBron was about 30%-35% better than them. Let that soak in. LeBron was better than Dirk or Chris Paul or whoever by at least 30% last year.
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In Miami, it’s almost assured that LeBron will see a small decline on the offensive end of the court. He averaged 20 shots per game in Cleveland last year, while Wade and Bosh averaged 19.6 and 16.5, respectively. That’s over 56 shots between the three of them, which would account for 65-70% of a team’s total shots. We’ve never seen a trio quite like these three guys, but for comparison purposes, the Boston Celtics’ big 3 took only 54% of their team’s shots in 2007.
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It’s a similar story across the other counting stats, including rebounds and assists. This means that one or more of the three are going to see at least a small drop in production when it comes to the bread and butter fantasy stats (points, rebounds, assists). However, if LeBron is going to be responsible for a lot of the team’s ball handling, it’s possible that his assists remain fairly steady while Wade takes the big hit. Also, expect LeBron to see better and more open looks on this team than he did with the Cavs, so a dip in scoring should be nicely offset by an increase in FG%.
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On the defensive end, all three guys should be fine as long as the Heat don’t start blowing out every team they face by the second quarter of games. They’ll still be playing their guys one-on-one and as long as they have their athleticism, the blocks and steals will be there.
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So, overall I would not be surprised if LeBron saw a 10% decrease in production due to a decrease in shots, rebounds and possibly threes. But he was so much better than everyone not named Kevin Durant last season, even a small decrease still makes him the #2 pick by a large margin in 2010.
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