Hey everyone. I'm having a great time in Stamford, CT covering Olympic hoops for NBCOlympics.com. I'm doing live commentary on both men's and women's games and it's been a good learning experience. I've got the U.S. women in the morning at 8 AM and am currently in my hotel room watching Team USA vs. Greece on Thursday morning.
Mike McCollow, a former Raptors' assistant coach and current analyst covering the Bucks and Wolves for Fox Sports, is covering the U.S. vs. Greece game. Meeting some of the other commentators for the live, on-line action has been great. Daria Schneider is covering women's fencing and just missed a trip to Beijing this year. She was the 2007 NCAA fencing champion and is currently 7th in the world. I fully expect her to be in the 2012 Olympics.
Imitiaz Anees is covering the equestrian commentary and was in the Sydney Olympics and is planning on making several more Olympic appearances in upcoming years.
Rotoworld's own Matt Pouliot is covering the men's baseball and we're going to see the batman movie tonight.
Lones Wigger is covering the shooting competition and is a four-time Olympian and a gold medal winner. He is in the U.S. shooting hall of fame and holds several world records.
And Bill Endicott is covering rafting, and has an incredible Olympic resume, including as a participant and coach for the U.S. team.
And me? Well, I was cut from my seventh-grade hoops team. Oh well.
Anyway, as for fantasy hoops, the return of Dwyane Wade has inspired me to tackle 10 topics to think about as the fantasy season approaches. Let's get to it.
1. The Return of D-Wade
Wade looks fantastic throughout the Olympics thus far. Through the first half of Game 3, Wade has hit 17-of-21 shots and is clearly a leader of this team as the sixth man. In addition, he looks to be at full speed, and it's hard to believe there were questions as to whether or not he was ready to go to Beijing. He's also been hitting the weight room and says he's stronger than ever. Watching him in these three games gives me no reason to doubt him.
Wade has a chip on his shoulder and is not happy with how quickly he's been dismissed as a superstar due to injuries. He's going to come back with a vengeance this season and should be a beast. Go ahead and put Wade back near the top of your fantasy cheat sheets. I wouldn't take him in front of Kobe, LeBron or CP3, but after they're off the board, it's Wade time. He could easily finish as the No. 1 fantasy player this season if he can stay healthy. And I hope he does.
2. LeBron Has a New Friend
LeBron James finally has some help in Cleveland. Mo Williams was traded in a three-team deal that will finally give LeBron a second scoring threat, a point guard and an outside shooting presence all in one player. Mo-Will caught some flack for having the ball in his hand too much last season in Milwaukee, but should be a perfect fit in Cleveland. The offense will still run through LeBron, but Williams will usually bring the ball up the court. Williams' numbers shouldn't take too much of a hit in Cleveland, if any, and he will be a pretty popular point guard pick. I'm thinking he'll go in the fourth or fifth round in most leagues, and should offer value in that range. Great move for Cleveland, although we still have to figure out who will start at shooting guard. Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, Sasha Pavlovic and Daniel Gibson will all see minutes there, so I wouldn't count on much fantasy value from the 2 in Cleveland this season.
Who in the world is going to play center for the Nuggets? Marcus Camby is gone, leaving Nene, Chris Andersen and Steven Hunter as the big men left on the roster. And given Nene's health concerns, George Karl is probably starting to freak out a bit. I really have no idea if any of these guys will have fantasy value, but Nene is obviously the best bet. But with such a lack of depth and star power in the middle, the Nuggets have a huge problem. Don't count on Denver's starting center helping you too much in fantasy this year.
4. What's the Point?
With the Mo Williams trade, the point guard job in Milwaukee now appears to be a two-man race between Ramon Sessions and Luke Ridnour, while Tyronn Lue could also win some minutes. Sessions was a beast at the end of the season, averaging 11.5 points, 11.3 assists and 1.5 steals over the final 10 games of the season when Williams was out with thumb surgery. Ridnour came over in the Williams trade and will battle with Sessions for the job. At this point, I'm going with Sessions, although an inside source has told me that Sessions isn't exactly a coach's dream. The reality will probably be that Ridnour remains in a timeshare, just as he has for most of his career. Both Ridnour and Sessions are worth a draft pick at this point, but I wouldn't target them until the later rounds of your draft roll around. But it will be very important to watch the position battle throughout training camp.
5. King-sized Problem?
With Ron Artest heading to Houston we are left wondering how the lineup will shake out in Sacramento. You have to think John Salmons and Francisco Garcia will share the small forward duties for Reggie Theus, but it's impossible to figure out who is going to start this early. We know Beno Udrih is the point guard and that Kevin Martin is the shooting guard, but every other position is a question mark. Mikki Moore, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Kenny Thomas and rookie Jason Thompson will all share power forward minutes, Garcia and Salmons will probably split SF down the middle and Spence Hawes and Brad Miller will split time in the middle. Hawes needs to get off to a hot start while Miller serves a five-game drug suspension, but a timeshare should end up being the end result once Miller returns. I would plan on drafting Salmons in front of Garcia, as Salmons has more upside and contributes in more categories. But it probably all depends on which guy Theus gets along with better.
6. Sixth Hawk?
Maurice Evans was looking like a strong sleeper pick until Wednesday, when Atlanta signed free agent Flip Murray. Both Evans and Murray have solid offensive skills, but have never been given a chance to show them on a full-time basis. They'll compete for the sixth-man job, with Evans as the early favorite to win it. But Murray started several games at point guard for the Pacers last year and the fact he can play three positions makes him an intriguing player as well. Put both guys on your sleeper list and don't be afraid to grab them at the end of your draft. Just don't expect any miracles.
7. Roy's Knee Surgery
Brandon Roy will have arthroscopic knee surgery today to repair a torn meniscus. He recovered in three weeks the last time he had similar surgery on his right knee, but we also have to worry about doctors finding something else wrong when they're in there. He should be ready to go by the start of the season and I'm not dropping his value at this point. But it's a situation worth monitoring closely over the next month or so.
8. Can I Calderon You?
I've yet to run the final projections for the Draft Guide yet, but Jose Calderon is looking like a Top 5 point guard. And given Jason Kidd's disappearing act in Dallas and Beijing, Calderon might be the fourth point guard taken in your draft. And he probably should be. In case you missed it, T.J. Ford was traded to the Pacers and Calderon is now a full-time starting point guard. And the sky's the limit.
9. No, Don't Gallinari Me
Danilo Gallinari is fool's gold, just like Adam Morrison was. The only person I've been able to locate who knows anything about the guy is Mike D'Antoni. He was a bad draft pick for the Knicks, he's already hurt and he's going to make no impact this season. Stay away. On the other hand, Jerryd Bayless is a super-rookie sleeper candidate. Love him.
10. A Message For You, Rudy
I was a little thrown off at the start of the Spain vs. Germany game last night when I failed to initially realize that Rodolfo Fernandez was Rudy. He's going to play for the Blazers this season and is widely regarded as the best European player never to suit up in the NBA. He's got a tremendous game and can contribute in all categories, but it's still unknown how many minutes he'll get for Nate McMillan. Target him late and hope he's a steal. In addition, Marc Gasol will be competing for the starting center job in Memphis, possibly sending Darko Milicic to the bench. Gasol is a Bigfoot look-alike and has some skills, but I'm guessing that Darko will have a little more value, even if coming off the bench. Just like in Denver, there's not much to get excited about regarding the Grizzlies' centers this year. And speaking of Bigfoot, look at what they supposedly found in my backyard!!