Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Following on the heels of the NFL lockout, fantasy owners should have learned a couple of lessons which they can apply to the 2011-12 NBA fantasy season.
Many NBA players will not have done their off season work and will come into the abbreviated camps and preseason schedule out of shape. This situation will cause two problems which you must be aware of; 1) below-average production to start the season as they work their way into playing shape, 2) increase in injuries.
If you have watched any games, you can see which players were ready to go and which ones might have thought the whole season was going to be canceled and didn't do their training and shooting work.
Did you notice that David Lee averaged 23 points-per-game, 10.5 rpg while playing 36.8 minutes in his team's two exhibition games. Obviously he's ready to go. The same with Indiana's Tyler Hansbrough, who came on at the end of last season. Hansbrough averaged 21.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and played 35.3 minutes-per-game in two preseason games. He might be a nice sleeper selection this year.
They're the good news.
Zach Randolph was a fantasy stud last year, averaging 20.1 ppg and 12.2 rpg, but he hasn't seen much court time in the preseason. In fact, he's played just eight minutes. Is that enough for him to be ready for the regular season which starts for Memphis on Monday?
Sure, Jason Terry is a veteran and a member of the World Champion Dallas Mavericks, but he's played just nine minutes and has taken two shots - missing them both.
Beware of the slow starter. The best strategy to survive him is to have depth on this year's roster. While you slow starter is building up his "cardio" and working on his shooting touch early in the season, you can have him sitting on your bench.
The "good-depth strategy" will also work if you suffer injuries. We've seen in this NFL season more injuries than normal. In particular, the pulled hamstring which can be directly related to the lack of training camp.
Expect to see more missed games than in past NBA seasons due to injury.
There's another reason that some of your starters, particularly the veterans, will miss a higher percentage of games in 2012 - the NBA schedule.
Because of the delay is starting the season, the NBA schedule has teams playing 66 games in just 113 days including a four-day break for the All-Star game in late February. The increased incidence of three games in three days and four games in five days is going to take its toll on older players.
Let's look at the Los Angeles Lakers for an example. The Lakers start the season on Christmas Day with a marque matchup against Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. They play Sacramento the next night, Utah on Tuesday and the New York Knicks on Thursday. Three games in three days and four games in five nights. That's not an isolated incident.
How will 33-year-old Kobe Bryant deal with this schedule? Or 37-year-old Derek Fisher? Around the NBA think about Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Tim Duncan?
Most likely coaches will shorten the minutes of their older players. For the fantasy owner the strategy is to avoid the older player for a younger one with similar talent. Instead of picking Bryant, choose 26-year-old Chris Paul or 23-year-old Rose.
In some cases they may simply give a veteran player a night off. This will require the fantasy owner to have a deeper bench to substitute for his older player. And it will also require the fantasy owner to be on top of things every night. You will have to make sure your guys are actually playing each night.
No set it and forget it strategies in 2012! You can thank the NBA owners for the extra work.
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