- Josh Whitling, Fantasy Basketball
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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.
Depth is typically a positive attribute. Depth of thought aids when engaged in an existential debate. Depth of water is a cliff diver's best friend. And roster depth is something for which NBA general managers strive. But in the fantasy world, players from deep teams take a hit in value. More minutes for bench players means fewer minutes for the starters, especially when a team has at least 10 players who necessitate minutes like the Sonics do this season. Yes, the Sonics boast impressive depth despite their grim playoff hopes. Which brings us to the question:
Does Jeff Green deserve a spot on your fantasy team?
Green's basketball acumen is well documented, and he's a born leader and winner. He led his high school team to the Maryland state championship and in March, took Georgetown to the Final Four. He jelled with his teammates and mastered the teamwork-oriented Princeton offense while a Hoya. He's versatile, poised, and will be the ideal complement to Kevin Durant for the long term. It's hard to find an article about him that doesn't mention the word "glue." On top of that, his college nickname was "The Predator." But will he put up the stats -- which is all we care about in our fantasy world -- this season?
Here are some key factors:
Unlikely he'll play power forward: P.J. Carlesimo has stated he'd like Durant to start at shooting guard, but it's hard to believe there won't be stretches when some combination of Delonte West, Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson mans the Sonics' backcourt. This will slide Durant to the 3 for stretches of the game, which means Green will have to prove he can handle playing power forward if he wants to play during those stints. At 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, Green lacks the bulk to bang against larger lineups this early in his career. Additionally, the Sonics' frontcourt is already deep with Chris Wilcox, Nick Collison, Robert Swift, Johan Petro and Kurt Thomas all vying for minutes.
Damien Wilkins: Wilkins is a well-rounded, hardworking player who has had a nice preseason and possesses a more polished offensive game than Green right now. His outside shot has steadily improved, he plays solid perimeter defense, didn't miss a game last season and hasn't missed a free throw all preseason. Wilkins will not only hurt Green's value, he makes a nice late-round sleeper who will benefit from the absence of Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen.
Wally Szczerbiak: If he can stay healthy this season, Wally will be the Sonics' second-best offensive player. He's averaged at least 15 points per game in six of the past seven seasons, including last season, even though he played in only 32 games before having ankle surgery. With the departure of Allen and Lewis, the Supes will be looking for a scoring punch from Szczerbiak, and in the games that he does play Green's minutes could be very limited.
Mickael Gelabale: The Frenchman with springs for legs won't be a crucial part of the Sonics' rotation, but a strong preseason and high-energy style of play warrant more PT. There's a good chance that will come straight out of the minutes many thought would go to Green.
Shooting: Green's midrange game is sound, but his shot has looked flat in the preseason and he won't be a threat from the NBA 3-point line yet. As of Friday, Green was shooting 35 percent from the floor, 12 percent from downtown and 45 percent from the stripe in the preseason. His free-throw percentage at Georgetown was 69 percent as freshman, 62 percent as a sophomore and 78 percent as a junior. It'll likely be in the mid-70s this season, which makes him a wash from the line. His shot will improve as his career progresses, but the fact that it's inconsistent and still developing isn't a good sign for this season.
Other: Even though he's an adept passer, that won't translate into enough assists to make a difference in that category. He leads the Sonics in turnovers in the preseason. His field goal percentage should take a hit since he'll have trouble exploiting his post-up game against the big bodies in the league like he did in college. He's not incredible at creating off the dribble, and his first step isn't jaw-dropping.
My thesis? It's sad, but Green won't have fantasy impact this season. His versatility, potential for future multicategorical awesomeness and long-term prospects are unquestioned. He can jump, is athletic and possesses superior basketball intellect. But he's a rookie with stiff veteran competition and a developing but unpolished jumper who will be playing a completely different role for the Sonics than he did for the Hoyas.
Green does, however, have the chance to be my second-favorite player in the world in a year or two, but that's an entirely different article.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
Josh Whitling discusses whether Sonics rookie Jeff Green is worth having on your roster this season.