Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
If you've played fantasy basketball for any length of time, you know that Shaquille O'Neal used to be the "best of the best," the No.1 draft choice, the most expensive player in your auction draft.
But times they are a changin'.
O'Neal is no longer a superstar and in fact is a liability because of his low free throw percentage. You used to be able to ignore that fact because he was so dominant in points, field goal percentage, rebounding and blocks. Between 1992 and 2004 O'Neal averaged 28.9 ppg, 11.9 rpg, 2.54 bpg and had a .571 fg percentage. In 2008 his numbers are down to 14.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 1.5 blocks. There is good news - he's currently shooting .652 from the foul line. But his numbers can be obtained elsewhere.
Instead of being in a "class" by himself, O'Neal is now in a large group which includes the likes of Andris Biedrens (17.5 ppg, 14.5 rpg, .8 bpg), Chris Kaman (13.3 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg), Marc Gasol (13.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.8 bpg), Tyson Chandler (13.0 ppg, 16.0 rpg, 3.0 bpg) and Spencer Hawes (12.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.3 bpg). Hawes and O'Neal in the same breath...unbelievable.
Kevin Garnett was once a fantasy superstar too. Until he was traded to Boston and figured out that he could do statistically less and his team could win more. Garnett was once an automatic 22-point, 12-rebound-a-night machine, but since moving to Boston his points have dropped (18.8 to 14.5) and his winning percentage has improved.
They aren't alone.
Ray Allen was a fantasy monster in Seattle (23.5 ppg from 2000-2006), but like Garnett gave up personal glory for team glory (17.4 ppg last year and a championship). An admirable trait, unless you are his fantasy owner.
Shawn Marion was a statistical dream in Phoenix, grabbing rebounds by the bushel and receiving pinpoint passes from Steve Nash seemingly every time down the floor. But Marion's scoring is down to 12 ppg this season from a career high of 21.8 in Arizona. Combine that with his 9.7 rebounds per game and what do you have? Certainly not an elite fantasy player. His numbers are now in line with Troy Murphy and Emeka Okafor.
I'm not saying that O'Neal, Garnett, Allen and Marion are bad basketball players, just not great fantasy players anymore.