Davis a risk worth taking
By Neil Tardy
I'm the first to admit drafting Baron Davis is risky. But considering this Clippers team, this season's fantasy hoops landscape and the stage of his career, I believe Davis is a risk worth taking.
If you had Davis on your team last season, you're probably still steaming. I don't blame you. (And, for what it's worth, Davis doesn't blame you, either.) Never an iron man, Davis missed 17 games in 2008-09. Never a great shooter, Davis shot an atrocious 37 percent from the field last season. Even his steals (1.7 per game) and 3-pointers made (1.5 per game) were less than his career averages.
So why am I reminding you of these sorry numbers and then telling you to forget about them come draft day? Three reasons:
1. The players around Davis. Yes, coach Mike Dunleavy's half-court offense doesn't really maximize Davis' abilities, but I think he'll mesh with his teammates. Davis can kick it out to second-year man Eric Gordon or newcomer Rasual Butler. He can dump it inside to Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby and rookie Blake Griffin (who, despite my instincts, I'm liking more by the day). Basically, the Clippers have solid vets, decent role players and good young guys who get it. I view this group as a plus for Davis.
2. The fantasy universe and its cluster of point guard stars. Here's a list of fantasy's top point guards, according to the ESPN.com Live Draft Results tool. I'm not as interested in Davis' 42.1 average draft position as I am in the fact that the Live Draft Results' top 50 includes 14 point guards. From this, you can logically expect that, in a standard 10-team league, Davis will be available to you as your second point guard. Pair him with any one of the top 10 point guards available in the first three rounds or so, and in the best case, you'll have a huge leg up on your league in assists and possibly steals, two of the toughest categories to fill. But even if Davis falters, you should still have one very productive point guard on your roster.
3. Faith. I just believe he'll be that sort of player this season. I think he'll be among the best in assists and steals while giving you a reasonable number of 3s. I'm hoping his field goal percentage will come in at least slightly better than his .410 career rate. And, of course, I'm betting he'll stay healthy and motivated. Davis supposedly is in much better shape than he was a year ago. Maybe he was embarrassed enough by last season to rededicate himself, or maybe he realizes that, as a 30-year-old, nothing is a given.
Well, maybe there's this given with Baron Davis: If he plays up to his capabilities, he's easily a top-30 player in fantasy. And I think it's the right time to take the risk.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
Ellis is safe, with upside
By John Cregan
Monta Ellis is the anomaly near the bay, the rare player assured of steady minutes within the confines of a Don Nelson rotation. I find it odd, pushing a Warrior as a stabilizing influence for your fantasy team, but that's what Ellis has to offer: solid, moped-free backcourt production.
What doesn't he have to offer? Well, he won't single-handedly destroy your field goal percentage. He won't take games -- and sometimes entire weeks -- off. Most importantly, he won't make you regret you drafted him.
Which basically makes Ellis everything Baron Davis isn't. Davis is tantalizing, especially this season, when you'll be able to snare him in the fourth or fifth round. And, yes, there will be nights when Davis goes 9-for-12 from the field for 25 points, 15 assists and five 3-pointers. But there will be as many nights when he goes 4-for-17 or 3-for-12 or 1-for-13.
I know Davis will get you 3s and Ellis won't. The irony? Ellis was actually the better 3-point shooter last season (30.8 percent to 30.2 percent). The fact that Davis averages 1.5 3s per game does not excuse his torching your field goal percentage. At least Ellis has the decency to get his points in other ways, ways that make him one of the most efficient guards in the game.
And it's not as if Ellis doesn't have upside. He's still only 23 years old. Despite the fact that he's producing like a vet, Ellis still hasn't hit his ceiling, something Davis smacked his head against the moment he fled Golden State for Los Angeles. You can draft Ellis, bank his 19 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals a night (not to mention solid percentages), and still hope for more.
But what's the factor that really pushes him over the top in this debate? Let's see do you know how many of the top 15 fantasy point guards are also eligible at shooting guard? Monta Ellis. That's the list.
There are lots of combo guards who play the point but only one you can slide over to the 2 at a moment's notice. Ellis gives you that most precious attribute smart fantasy owners crave: dual eligibility.
What does that mean? Well, if you're in a head-to-head league, that means greater flexibility in your weekly matchups. It means you have an insurance policy should injury strike. It means you have more options when you need to hit the waiver wire. It means you have more options when you're talking trade.
Which makes it no contest when contrasting Ellis with Davis. Trust me, Davis will break your heart when you need him most. He's fantasy pyrite.
If you want to roll the dice at point guard, do it in the later rounds, where the reward isn't so overshadowed by the risk. After you've drafted someone you can count on like Monta Ellis.
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com./