Hans is the NBAMate fantasy dude and resident expert of 80’s teen movies. Occasionally he looks up from his box scores and player splits and PER rankings to find time to dispense his fantasy wisdom. This is one of those times.

It’s been a tumultuous past month in Australian politics culminating in the Liberal Party leadership spill. With new leader Tony Abbott recently revealing his reshuffled front bench, I thought it would be only appropriate if I announced my own Fantasy Basketball Front Bench:

Minister for Climate Change – Stephen Jackson
As a Bob Cat: 39.8% FG, 70.8% FT, 18.1 ppg, 1.2 3pg, 4.6 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 3.2 t/o

The Bobcats have gone 6-5 in their 11 games with Jackson after starting the season at 3-6 as the former Golden State malcontent has provided much needed offensive punch to help turn Charlotte into a playoff contender. It’s unlikely Jackson will have the same effects for Fantasy teams however as the numbers remain similar to previous years. This means that despite providing valuable assists, steals and 3’s Jackson will put a hurt on your FG% and t/o categories. To add further insult, the FT% has dipped this season to an abysmal 70% and Jackson owners will have to make a call on whether they can afford to take the bad with the good.

Minister for Defence – Rajon Rondo
53.2% FG, 47.5% FT, 11.5 ppg, 0.1 3pg, 4.1 rpg, 9.3 apg, 2.6 spg, 2.3 t/o

Rondo creates havoc on defense whether hawking the opposing point guard or digging out the ball after doubling a post player. The league leader in thefts hasn’t quite lived up to the triple double of last year’s playoffs but the consistency of his high numbers in assists and steals are valuable in their own right. Like Jackson, Rondo is a conundrum for fantasy owners – PG’s who don’t hit 3’s are a pet hate of mine and the FT% is atrocious, although it’s impact is at least lessened by the fact he averages less than 2 free throws per game.

Minister for Education – Carmelo Anthony
48.7% FG, 86.9% FT, 30.3 ppg, 0.9 3pg, 5.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.4 bpg, 3.0 t/o

Carmelo has been schooling opponents all season and seems to be on a never ending offensive hot streak. After a disappointing 2008/09 the scoring efficiency has returned and is reflected in the two most underrated fantasy basketball cats: FG% and FT%. Carmelo is one of those players fantasy owners don’t need to worry about – just sit back, relax and enjoy as he gives you the jump in three categories.

Of course, since I like to nitpick over every statistic I am a touch disappointed by the continuing decrease in rebounds.

Minister for Finance and Debt Reduction – Allen Iverson
Why did the 76ers throw AI a bone? Because they needed a replacement for Lou Williams? Well, that was part of the reason, but another big factor was undoubtedly the ability of Iverson to attract paying customers. With gate receipts down across the NBA and Philadelphia amongst the bottom 5 teams in average league attendance, the return of AI was expected to have the Sixers fans flocking back. And while Iverson’s debut was a sellout, his 2nd game at the Wachovia Center only attracted 200 more fans than the paltry average team attendance as the 76ers crashed to their 11th straight defeat.

If your on-court expectations for Iverson are high, then expect the results to have a similarly deflating effect. The ceiling should be around 17 ppg at an awful % along with 0.5 threes, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals. Not too shabby, but not the AI Philly knows and loves.

Minister for Foreign Affairs – Jay Triano
The cultural melting pot that is the Toronto Raptors have underachieved this season with reports surfacing of a communication divide between the American and International players. Let’s take a look at how this has affected each side.

Americans:
Chris Bosh’s career year has continues unabated.

Jarrett Jack is starting to find form and has moved into the starting PG position for an injured Calderon, making him a good short term pickup as a multi-cat contributor.

DeMar DeRozan has stepped it up in December and can be added to your Watch List.

Patrick O’Bryant continues to be Patrick O’Bryant, meaning he’ll continue to hover at the foot of the Doubting Thomas rankings for the foreseeable future.

Internationals:
Hedo Turkoglu still cannot recapture the form of the his previous two seasons. An ongoing fantasy disappointment for owners that drafted him. Trade him if you can get some value in return.

The Andrea Bargnani rollercoaster has been in a nosedive the past 5 games but stick with him as he recovers from an ankle injury.

Jose Calderon was someone I mentioned as a buy low candidate a month ago but now the outlook isn’t so rosy. His numbers figure to stay the same for the rest of the season.

So it’s obvious that the Internationals are letting the side down. Jay Triano needs to sort out this cross-cultural mess soon or else the proverbial black and white cookie will start to make all Raptor fantasy owners become sick.

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Minister for Health and Ageing – Anyone but Greg Oden
The Oden injury is just plain sad not only for Blazers fans, but all NBA followers. That said, there is no room for sentiment in fantasy hoops and owners should now be turning their attention to the “Vanilla Gorilla”, the “Ghostface Killah”, Joel Przybilla. Like Oden he has a high rebound and shot blocking rate but don’t expect him to average any more than 30 minutes per night. Nate McMillan will instead have the Blazers playing more small-ball with Aldridge at Centre, so LaMarcus’ numbers will rise a little. Przybilla is still a handy pickup if you need the big man categories. 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks sounds about right.

Minister for Innovation – John Wall
56.2% FG, 80.4% FT, 19.0 ppg, 0.8 3pg, 3.8 rpg, 7.0 apg, 3.0 spg, 0.6 bpg, 4.8 t/o

Why is he my Minister of Innovation? Just check out what he can come up with on the fast break:

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But the kid is not just an open court assassin. His numbers are projected to translate well to the NBA…actually, I don’t know that for certain but I’m sure John Hollinger would come up with the same conclusion after plugging the data through a convoluted statistical algorithm.

It’s never too early to scout for future fantasy talent and Aussie viewers can catch college’s top Point Guard on ONE HD this Tuesday morning 7AM EST as the Kentucky WildCats WallCats take on the Indiana Hoosiers.

Minister for Resources and Energy – Gerald Wallace
42.9% FG, 75.0% FT, 16.1 ppg, 0.5 3pg, 12.4 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.8 bpg, 2.6 t/o

A quarter of the way into the season and this man is still the league’s leading rebounder with no sign of any dropoff. In fact, the addition of Stephen Jackson has seen Wallace’s energy levels go up: In the last 5 games he has been averaging 14.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while shooting at a much improved 50% from the field. He’s on a tear right now and owners need to hold tight and not let go.

Minister for Small Business – Rick Adelman
The Rockets have managed to remain one of the Western Conference’s better teams despite being undermanned and undersized. A couple of Rockets you may want to put on your fantasy radar are Shane Battier: now averaging the rare combination of 1 three, 1 steal and 1 block per game (though admittedly horrible everywhere else) and Carl Landry, a terrific offensive scorer who will help you out tremendously in the % categories. On the other hand, set your mind to ignore when it comes to Tracy McGrady and the talk of his possible return.

Treasurer – Anthony Morrow
52.6% FG, 89.3% FT, 14.1 ppg, 2.3 3pg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.5 t/o

Morrow has been money from all spots on the court. His 2.3 threes are coming at a ridiculous 51.2%. Playing for Golden State of course means that minutes and numbers will be unpredictable, however Morrow’s ratio of good games to bad games so far this season (along with the season ending injuries to Bell and Azubuike) is enough to convince me that he is player worth picking up for the long term. Check your leagues Free Agent list to make sure the league’s arguably best shooter is not available.

Quick Hitters
Time to take a quick trip around the league to see which guys have been making fantasy headlines for the right and wrong reasons:

Caron Butler – his game has entered the twilight zone this season as the points, FG%, assists and steals have all seen a significant drop. I’m not sure if it’s even worth attempting to buy low with Butler.

Mike Conley – over 30 mins in each of his last 3 games so a decent pickup for 3’s, steals and assists.

Stephen Curry – finally starting to find his feet and should not be available in your 12 team league.

Jordan Farmar – an option for very deep leagues. 11 points and over a steal and a 3 per game over his last 5.

Sam Dalembert – minutes have been up in the last 2 games with Iverson. Probably a better big man pickup than the Vanilla Gorilla.

Mike Dunleavy – playing on a minutes restriction (20 mpg) but should be worth a pickup once that restriction is lifted.

Tyreke Evans – say hello to your Rookie of the Year. 20/5/5 is extremely impressive for a first year player.

Jonny Flynn – making strides in December as the points and assists have gone up and the turnovers have gone down. A viable pickup for 12 team leagues.

Kevin Garnett – no longer seems bothered by knee problems and has averaged 20.2 ppg @ 67% over the last 5 games.

Marc Gasol – the honeymoon is finally over. But he won’t continue to as bad as his last few games. Buy low if you can.

Ryan Gomes – 19 points @ 57%, 5 rebounds plus a steal and a 3 over his last 5. Ride the hot streak if you want but Gomes has always been a 13 ppg scorer so expect his numbers to settle there once he cools off.

Danny Granger – hate to say I told you so.

Brandon Jennings – it’s been a rough month shooting wise as Jennings seems to throw up shots without discretion. He did get on track in his last game however and his contributions in other categories are still holding up.

Courtney Lee – back in the starting lineup and putting up OK numbers. Not the most reliable shooter though so I see him as more of 1 cat contributor in steals.

Brandon Rush – getting the opportunities but not capitalising. Tantalising because he has the to potential to help in 3’s, points, steals and blocks. Pick up at your own risk.

Rodney Stuckey – playing well but is he fantasy fool’s gold due to his FG% and lack of 3’s?


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