30 Questions: Is anyone outside of Big 3 worthy of attention?
Thirty teams, 30 burning fantasy questions. Throughout the preseason, we put one of these questions to an ESPN.com analyst for an in-depth look at the most interesting, perplexing or dumbfounding fantasy facet of each NBA team. Be sure to check out the 30 Questions Index to see them all.
The best NBA franchises strategically build around their centerpieces, just like mom at Thanksgiving dinner. Take a look at the Spurs' success from building around Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Bruce Bowen is one of the best defensive specialists in the league, Brent Barry is wily and knocks down almost any open shot and Michael Finley provides veteran grit and scoring. They make role players look sexy.
In the fantasy hoops realm, however, role players are typically far from sexy. So one must ask:
Brent Barry: Bones is the only player other than the big three averaging double-digit points this preseason (11.2, including 2.5 3-pointers in 20 minutes per game), and he's garnered the praise of coaches with his aggressiveness. He's ideal filler for deep leagues, although he's fighting Michael Finley and Ime Udoka for the backup minutes at the 2 and 3 spots. Barry's ability to play some point guard could get him extra minutes if the injuries to backups Jacque Vaughn and Beno Udrih persist, and although he's not worth drafting in a standard league, he'll likely find himself on fantasy teams on an as-needed basis throughout the season.
Michael Finley: Finley can still ball, but he averaged just 22.2 minutes per game last season while healthy, and with the addition of Udoka that number won't increase. Expect more than a 3-pointer per game and near-perfect free-throw shooting, but not much else. He started off frigid last season, shooting 32 percent from the floor in November, and his post-All-Star field goal percentage was 45.3 versus 38.5 beforehand. He's played well this preseason, so he should be playing closer to the level he was at in the latter part of the season, which will mean a slight uptick in overall stats, but the minutes aren't there for him to be draftable.
Bruce Bowen: At least he's honed that corner 3 over the past few seasons, which gives him a dab of fantasy value. But he's simply not on the floor to score, can't get to the line and when he does, he's awful. Invaluable to the Spurs? Undoubtedly. Valuable to you? Nope.
Beno Udrih: He's got a fractured index finger and will miss the first part of the season, but even if he didn't there's not much here fantasy-wise. He'd average more than a 3-pointer per game if he got starter's minutes, but that's about it. Plus, he's not an exceptional defender and isn't physical, traits that won't earn more time from Gregg Popovich.
Jacque Vaughn: Nah&
Ime Udoka: I was shocked that Udoka went so unnoticed in the free-agent class and the Spurs were able to quietly sign him for cheap. I was also surprised to see that he's 30. Either way, he gives you some 3's and steals, and if you play in a turnover league is about as sure-handed as they come. Just know he'll get fewer minutes than he did in Portland last season.
Francisco Elson: Popovich demanded that he shoot more to exploit his ability to hit the midrange jumper, but he'll only be good enough to start if Fabricio Oberto gets injured. In that case, though, he would be roster-worthy in most formats. Which leads me to&
Fabricio Oberto: Oberto has started in each of the five preseason games he's played, although he's averaging 16 minutes per game to Elson's 22. Either way, it's the same with Oberto: He needs Elson out of the way because this'll be a classic time-share. But if you could combine them into one player and called him Fabrisco Obelson, now you're talking. I'd definitely draft Obelson.
Darius Washington: He wasn't expected to make the roster, but with both backup point guards injured, he stepped in and claimed a spot due to impressive preseason play. He'll have to explode during the regular season, because as soon as both Udrih and Vaughn return, he becomes expendable, unless his play proves that he isn't, um, expendable. My bet is he's on another team in the near future.
Matt Bonner: He gets you a handful of 3-pointers from the power forward position (and even center in some leagues), but not enough to make him valuable, especially if your league doesn't count turnovers.
There you have it. Barry, Finley and Udoka (all of whom see their value increase in turnover leagues since they all averaged fewer than one per game) could all produce if they weren't fighting for minutes; same with Elson and Oberto. Unless injuries occur, in which all of these guys would be worth a look, steer clear of everybody on this team other than the big three. If I had to draft one of them, it'd be Barry, mostly because he won the dunk contest and C-Walked during the 3-point shootout. Now that's gangster.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
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