Points in the Paint

Fantasy Basketball Opinions, Strategy & Tips

The Suns Loom Larger… and Slower

Posted by Riccardo on February 4, 2008

I read the rumors yesterday, but didn’t believe it. Now it’s done. Suns GM Steve Kerr just traded the #1 fantasy player of the past three seasons to Miami for The Big Aristotle, who hasn’t been fantasy-relevant in five years.

Extremely curious. Shaq still has two years at $20m per on his contract. Marion is in his walk year. Was there really nothing better out there?

The thinking might be that Shaq’s been a winner in every city he’s played. Finals in Orlando, three rings in LA, one ring in Miami. This Phoenix team is arguably the best collection of players he’s ever had around him. He still has the elite guard, and Nash is every bit as good a player as Hardaway, Bryant and Wade. O’Neal is older and slower, but he’s quite possibly going to be the FIFTH option on the floor, behind Stoudemire (who shifts to PF), Nash, Hill/Diaw, and Bell.

But is he going to be healthy? That’s the big gamble. The Suns will be good enough to make the playoffs without Shaq, so they can sit him and let him heal, then bring him back three weeks before the playoffs. And then they pray that Nash can make it all work on the floor.

Call me crazy, but I think that this will work. The NBA is wide open at the top right now. The Spurs are vulnerable if Parker’s out for the rest of the season. The Celtics aren’t as good as everyone seems to think they are. The Rockets are underaciheving again. Dallas is always an adventure in the playoffs. That leaves the Lakers in the West, and then the Pistons in the Finals. That’s doable, because neither will have a solution for a healthy Shaq even at his advancing age.

BUT, we’re here for the fantasy.

Shaq (SELL): He’s hurt, and I don’t think they’ll put him out there a whole lot before the playoffs. If there’s a big Phoenix fan in your league, sell him for what you can get.

Marion (BUY): Are you kidding me? No more Nash, so expect his FG% to fall and his TO to rise, but he’s now option 1b on a very bad team with an injury-prone superstar. I don’t expect him to sign long-term with the Heat. He wants to be The Man, and the Heat are Wade’s team. If Wade goes down, and he probably will, look for a bunch of monster games.

Nash (HOLD): He loses a huge weapon, but that’s never really stopped him. I don’t see any downside, and he may actually score a bit more

Wade (HOLD): Look, if you have him, you’re not scared of his injuries, and having another threat will at least free him up a little more. Personally, I wouldn’t touch this guy with a 10′ pole. If he goes down, Marion’s gonna be a monster.

Stoudemire (BUY): Oh, look, no more other guy who rebounds and dunks. Amare’s now Nash target #1, and his points and boards should experience a slight uptick. But he still can’t play a lick of defense.

Marcus Banks (WHO?): Oh yeah, the Heat got Marcus Banks in the deal. Banks isn’t very good, but he’s better than anyone else the Heat have to run the point. He’ll play, and if he does anything positive, he just might stick (see Telfair, Sebastian) and can be a handhold for the truly desparate.

Me, I wanna see the first Suns-Heat game where Shaq suits up. That should be entertaining.

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