It’s that time of year again! Finally! No… not exam time or Christmas… we are on the brink of a new NBA season! *Standing Ovation* People worldwide are putting together Fantasy Teams as we speak, it is oh so exciting. You better hurry up and get your research done as there is not much time to still join a league and draft a team. But before you do, make sure you read this. I’m going to save you from making your biggest fantasy mistake of the season.

There are a few guys in this league whom upon hearing their name you immediately think ”All Star” but for some reason or another their fantasy value is about as low as Jessica Simpson’s IQ. It’s an easy trap for inexperienced fantasy ballers to fall into – these guys have the reputation, their numbers look good, and they get talked up by NBA analysts all over the world. Why wouldn’t you pick them? To help you grapple with this question I’ve compiled the Top 5 players that fit this mould – the players people will be hurrying to draft into their teams, but I wouldn’t get excited over. I call it the “Top 5 Players That Sound Great but Really Aren’t”.

#5: Boris Diaw: This one is a little tricky; he had a great season in 2005/06 where he completely broke out. He went 13ppg, 7rbpg, 6apg, 1bpg and nearly a steal while shooting great percentages. That’s a great all round effort from the French National Team captain. But last season those numbers declined to under 10ppg, 5apg, 4rbpg, half a block and half a steal. Those numbers are solid but I think when a lot of people look to pick him they will have stars in their eyes and be thinking Boris Diaw = 12ppg, 7rbp, 7aspg, a steal and a block. I’m tipping he will be in for another disappointing season. Although having said that, there is a possibility those 05/06 numbers may resurface owing to the departure of Kurt Thomas and a lift in Diaw’s minutes.

#4: Shaquille O’Neal: Don’t get me wrong, Shaq is one of the best centers of all-time and was once a fantasy BEAST. Let’s face it; he was a 27ppg, 12rbpg, 2.5bpg and 3apg stud throughout most of his career. But at this point of his career I wouldn’t go reaching for Shaq in any of the early rounds during the draft. He will probably bring in 16ppg, 7rbpg and just over 1bpg this season which is decent, but I’m predicting he will only play around 50 games. Not to mention how he drains your FT%! Many less experienced people will see the name Shaquille O’Neal and think “what a score!”… When really, it’s just going to cause a few migraines when he’s producing a lot of those DNP’s!

#3: Shane Battier: This is one great player; S-Batt (ok I made that nickname up) is a man any one would love to have on their team. He takes a lot of charges, plays fantastic defense, awesome man-to-man and he shoots the three-ball. So, now you’re thinking… “What’s your problem with S-Batt?” Well, read through all those points again, does any of it have FANTASY VALUE? NO! He may shoot the three but come on guys, last season he was 10ppg, 4rbpg, 2apg, a steal and barely two 3’s per game. Those aren’t great numbers from a fantasy perspective yet many people regard him very highly when drafting their fantasy squad. It probably has a lot to do with the huge expectations placed on the new-look Houston Rockets this season. Don’t get me wrong, S-Batt is solid, but don’t fall for the hype as much of what he does on the court does not translate in to fantasy value.

#2: Brad Miller: Like Shaq, I think a lot of people will be remembering the Brad Miller of old that used to bring in 15ppg, 10rbpg, 3.5apg, over a steal, over a block and the rare 3. But I’m sorry to tell you, if you didn’t already know… that Brad Miller is gone. Say hello to the under 10ppg, 6rbpg, 2apg, under a steal, under a block Brad Miller. These numbers still aren’t too bad to have as a back-up centre or even a third option if your league doesn’t have too many teams… but are you ready for this, the killer blow. Miller has missed an average of 16 games in the last 3 seasons; in 2006/07 he missed 19 games. I look for this trend of DNP’s to continue steadily this season. His stats aren’t too bad but those missed games will bury you if he is your first option at the C.

#1 Andrei Kirilenko: Yup, I’m sorry, but AK47, he is hardly a pistol now. We all know you have potential to be a star, we have seen you play some great ball, but where has that Andrei gone?! Some people right now are yellin’ at their monitors “But he went 2bpg, 1spg and 6rbpg last season!” Those are some good numbers, some solid numbers. Defensive stats are hard to find in today’s fantasy leagues and Kirilenko can provide some for you. He was okay last season, and I say okay because this is how much he dropped by from the season before; 7ppg, 3.3rbpg, 1bpg, and half a steal per game. That is a HUGE difference. Not to mention that he missed 12 games. AK used to be a first round pick in some leagues and there were a lot of people crying themselves to sleep last season when he just flat out stunk. After seeing his dreadful performance in the playoffs last season I predict he will slide even lower, especially considering the amount of resentment that has been brewing in that Jazz camp of late. So when you see people reaching for AK47 at the 30th, 40th or even 50th pick in the draft, let them… If you want someone that gives you a great all round game including those hard-to-get defensive stats, go for someone like Josh Smith or Gerald Wallace.

Don’t get me wrong! These guys are all pretty decent players and will get drafted. Just don’t go reaching for them too early as most people will!

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