Count me among the many NBA fans who werenâ€™t too disappointed that San Antonio nor the Detroit Pistons made it to the NBA finals.Â Still, their loss to the flashier Dallas Mavericks didnâ€™t mean that the Spurs were going to go into panic mode.Â A little tinkering here and there (so long Rasho Nesterovic and Nazr Mohammed, hello Matt Bonner, Jackie Butler and Francisco Elson!), and the Spurs should be about the same in â€™07 as they were in â€™06.Â Boring.Â But sometimes, boring is good, especially when youâ€™re looking for dependable fantasy options in the mid-roundsâ€¦
The Stud: Tim Duncan, FC
Duncan had a pretty unusual year last year, at least as unusual it gets for a guy as dependable as the Big Fundamental.Â He decided to play through his injuries rather than sit out and let them get better, and the results were mixed.Â While he did play in 80 games for the first time in three years, his stats suffered, particularly in the second half of the season.Â His scoring dipped under 20 for the first time in his career, and he also set career-lows in blocks and rebounds.Â But you know what?Â He still was plenty valuable, coming in at 22/25 on the total/average player rater, and he gets a little bonus for being a center â€“ Iâ€™d say heâ€™s a fine mid-second rounder, after Yao Ming but maybe before Chris Bosh.
The Support: Tony Parker, PG
Hereâ€™s what I donâ€™t understand with Tony Parker.Â Heâ€™s always zipping past some defender who for some reason doesnâ€™t realize that TP canâ€™t shoot from 20+ feet out and stinks from the line as well.Â I dunno why that defender doesnâ€™t a) give him that jumper and defend the drive or b) just foul him to death and let him go shoot him 70% from the line.Â Regardless, I think Parker is in for a down year.Â Thereâ€™s just no reason to think heâ€™ll continue to shoot that absurd 55% from the field that he did last year, and he should clock in closer to 50% (still great for a PG) and 15 ppg.Â Parker can often be taken in the 4th or 5th because someone needs â€œa point guard,â€ but Parker is really a square peg for a round hole in that scenario.Â I am generally down on Parker because heâ€™s really not what I look for in a fantasy PG.Â He contributes nothing in threes, and is really average in steals and assists.Â He derived almost all of his fantasy value last year from his high FG%, and doesnâ€™t do enough of anything else to make me want to consider him before the sixth round.Â Heâ€™s a nice pick a bit earlier but only if you have a bunch of poor FG% guys on your team â€“ heâ€™ll do nicely offsetting a Kobe Bryant or Vince Carter.Â Other than that, youâ€™re better going a different direction.
The Supporting Support: Manu Ginobili, SG
Manu was a popular guy this time last year after exploding in the â€™05 playoffs.Â We here at FBB, however, were not fooled (except for DM who took him in the third round of our mock draft).Â Perhaps upset by our lack of faith, Manu had a down year last year, missing 17 games and dropping a little in each statistical category.Â This year Manu should return to his true draft position, which is as a 6th or 7th round pick.Â He contributes nicely in steals and threes, but doesnâ€™t do much in any other category.Â Someone may take him earlier because of his â€œnameâ€ status, but Ginobili isnâ€™t really worth it until youâ€™ve already got a couple solid guards on your roster.
The Sleeper: Jackie Butler, C
John Hollinger loves Jackie Butler.Â We love John Hollinger.Â Therefore vicariously we love Jackie Butler.Â Butlerâ€™s per-35 minute stats last year were something like 13.8/8.6 with 1.5 blocks, and that was playing in crazy Larry Brownâ€™s offense.Â The Spurs often went small last year and played Duncan at center, but that was more because of Nazr Mohammad and Rasho Nesterovicâ€™s ineffectiveness than anything else.Â Butler will be battling Francisco Elson and Matt Bonner for playing time, which basically means that minutes are there for the taking at C.Â Butler is one to watch closely in training camp.
The Slacker: Bruce Bowen, SF
Make no mistake, Bowen is an integral part of this team, and he deserves (most of) the 30+ minutes he gets.Â And yes, he hits threes.Â But thatâ€™s it.Â He canâ€™t shoot from the stripe, may be a defensive â€œstopperâ€ but doesnâ€™t have the numbers to prove it, and just isnâ€™t counted on for scoring.Â Heâ€™s also 35.Â Avoid.
Double Dribbles: Elson and Bonner will each contribute at C but neither have shown any reason to believe that theyâ€™ll â€œbreak outâ€ with the Spurs â€¦ Michael Finley, Robert Horry and Brent Barry may provide nice veteran leadership, but thatâ€™s not a fantasy category, and none of them play enough to have value â€¦Beno Udrih might be a nice player but heâ€™ll need some injuries (i.e. to Tony Parker) before heâ€™ll be useful.
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