Commentary

Fantasy Forecaster: Great youngsters abound

Updated: November 3, 2008, 11:20 AM ET
By Neil Tardy | Special to ESPN.com

Through Thursday, every NBA team has played one game. A handful of clubs -- the Cavs, Bucks, Rockets, Hornets, Lakers and Suns -- have played twice.

Oh yeah, the World Series ended this week, too. This entered my mind now because of the term baseball sabermetricians use: small sample size. Those words certainly apply to the first three days of the 2008-09 NBA season.

Hey, and today is Halloween. Trick-or-treating is all about sugary goodies. You know, the fun sizes. That kind of fits here, too.

What's happened so far tells us nothing about the NBA season, or our fantasy hoops teams. Flat nothing. Our sample size is way too small. Still, any taste is a fun size. So if the last spot on your roster is occupied by someone you weren't keen on drafting anyway, sure, take a flyer on a Mario Chalmers, Jason Thompson or Darrell Arthur. Sometimes the greatest rewards come in low-risk situations. Just don't do something rash, like, say, dumping Greg Oden. That is crazy-impulsive, as the 1.2 percent of owners in ESPN leagues who've actually cut ties with Oden over the past couple days will eventually learn.

Quick click by section:

Week 2 schedule | Weekly Lineup Recommendations | Daily Lineup Recommendations

On tap: Those rookies I just mentioned? We might learn a bit more about them this week. The Kings, with Thompson, and the Grizzlies, with Arthur, are two of 13 NBA teams headed for four-game weeks. Meanwhile, Chalmers and the Heat have a tough three-game set.

Check the grid for Week 2 schedules of each NBA team. Teams with the most games in the upcoming week are listed first.

Team Mon. 11/3 Tue. 11/4 Wed. 11/5 Thu. 11/6 Fri. 11/7 Sat. 11/8 Sun. 11/9 Total games Next Week
Pistons @CHA   @TOR   @NJ   BOS 4 4
Celtics   @HOU @OKC   MIL   @DET 4 4
Jazz @LAC   POR   OKC   @NY 4 4
Kings @PHI   MEM   MIN   GS 4 4
Suns   @NJ @IND   @CHI @MIL   4 4
Mavericks CLE @SA    @DEN   @LAC 4 4
Warriors @MEM   DEN   MEM   @SAC 4 3
Bobcats DET   @NY   NO   TOR 4 3
Bulls @ORL   @CLE   PHO CLE   4 3
Grizzlies GS   @SAC   @GS   @DEN 4 3
Cavaliers @DAL   CHI   IND @CHI   4 3
Rockets   BOS   @POR @LAC   @LAL 4 3
Clippers Utah   @LAL   HOU   DAL 4 2
Knicks    CHA   @WAS   Utah 3 4
76ers SAC   @MIA @ORL     3 4
Bucks    WAS   @BOS PHO   3 4
Heat    PHI   @SA @NO   3 4
Trail Blazers    @Utah HOU   MIN   3 4
Nuggets    @GS   DAL   MEM 3 4
Thunder    BOS   @Utah   ATL 3 4
Magic CHI    PHI   WAS   3 4
Spurs   DAL @MIN   MIA    3 4
Hawks    @NO   TOR   @OKC 3 4
Pacers    PHO   @CLE NJ   3 4
Nets   PHO    DET @IND   3 4
Hornets    ATL   @CHA MIA   3 3
Timberwolves    SA   @SAC @POR   3 3
Raptors    DET   @ATL   @CHA 3 3
Wizards    @MIL   NY @ORL   3 2
Lakers    LAC     HOU 2 3

Memphis Grizzlies (GS, @SAC, @GS, @DEN): O.J. Mayo was a miserable 5-for-20 in his NBA debut against the Rockets, but let's see how he responds in Week 2. Golden State, Denver and Sacramento were 30th, 29th and 24th in scoring defense in 2007-08. As for fellow rookie Arthur, who collected 15 boards in just 27 minutes in the season opener against Houston, more serious glass-cleaning could be in order. Warriors opponents led the league in total rebounds last season, while Nuggets opponents were third.

Sacramento Kings (@PHI, MEM, MIN, GS): Spencer Hawes is a shot-blocker, but don't get too excited about the 7-footer's six swats in the season opener against Minnesota. The Wolves don't really have a center. Al Jefferson is a terrific offensive player and a double-digit rebounder, but he's more of a power forward. And Kevin Love -- another rookie -- was huge when the Wolves edged Hawes' Kings in the opener. But again, Love probably isn't a true post player at the pro level. Another reason not to make too much of Hawes is that the Golden State game marks Brad Miller's return from his five-game suspension. But for this week, especially with another tilt against Minnesota, Hawes should be an excellent play. And yes, first-round draft pick Thompson, with only journeyman Mikki Moore ahead of him, is a good bet to get more playing time.

Golden State Warriors (@MEM, DEN, MEM, @SAC): As vigorously as I disagree with those owners who've dropped Oden, I have an even bigger beef with the 95 percent of ESPN leagues that don't have Kelenna Azubuike rostered. In case you haven't noticed, Baron Davis is back home in L.A., and Monta Ellis is out until December. At 30 minutes a night, Azubuike has 1.0 3s, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block potential. And the 24-year-old played 43 minutes in the first game. Definitely get him for this week, what with the Nuggets, Grizzlies and Kings all allowing more than 104 points per game in 2007-08.

Miami Heat (PHI, @SA, @NO): Chalmers had a nice opener, with 17 points, 8 assists, 7 boards and a couple of 3-pointers. But this was against the Knicks and Mike D'Antoni. Clearly, Miami will let him learn on the job, but that job gets way tougher this week. San Antonio D, you know -- but remember that New Orleans was fifth and Philadelphia was seventh in scoring defense in 2007-08.

Some quick tips for owners in daily leagues to get through those days when the NBA schedule is full. For Week 2, 13 games apiece are scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 5, and Friday, Nov. 7. These suggestions are made with those dates in mind.

Matt Barnes, SF, Suns (Nov. 5 @ Pacers): It hasn't been a great start for Barnes. He played just 19 minutes in the opener against the Spurs. With more time in game two against the Hornets -- 26 minutes -- Barnes managed just one rebound. More encouragingly, however, he knocked down a couple of 3s against New Orleans. That's why you should consider him against Indiana, which yielded 7.4 treys per game in 2007-08.

Brandon Bass, PF, Mavericks (Nov. 7 @ Nuggets): I mentioned him last week, and I'll pitch him again. Bass had 9 points, 6 boards and 2 steals in his season debut against Houston, and he's a handy option for deep leagues. Denver opponents, as noted, collected a ton of boards last season -- and that was with Marcus Camby still on the team.

Roger Mason, PG/SG, Spurs (Nov. 7 vs. Heat): As long as Manu Ginobili is sidelined, the former Wizard is a viable fantasy option for teams seeking 3-pointers. And as I noted last week, Miami, given its holes at center and its reliance on rookies, could be the league's worst defensive team this season. You'll want all your players active against the Heat.

Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

Neil Tardy | email

Fantasy Basketball
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com