First off, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who was hurt by the California fires. My family was incredibly lucky and made it out without losing their homes. I was a wreck all of last week, not knowing whether or not my loved ones still had someplace to live. I can only imagine how hard it is for those who lost everything.
With that being said, let’s take a look at what we have learned about the Lakers in terms of fantasy value over the course of the preseason.
Kobe Bryant: I know a lot of fantasy experts are probably telling you to drop Kobe a few spots on your draft lists, and it’s easy to see why they would recommend such a move. He has looked lethargic. He has looked disinterested. His own coach is questioning whether his mental state is impacting his game. So why not drop him down to the bottom of the first round? Because he is still Kobe Bryant, and that’s what really matters. Yes, the trade rumors could impact his game, but remember this is the guy who plays BETTER when faced with adversity. It seems that every year someone finds fault with Kobe’s fantasy game, whether it be his Field goal percentage, legal troubles, or trade status. And every year Kobe has stepped up and been one of the top fantasy performers anyway.
Lamar Odom: We got the unfortunate news that LO will miss the first week or two of the season, which obviously can’t help his fantasy value. We have yet to see how Kobe taking over the “initiator” role in the triangle offense will impact Odom, but historically he has put up pretty solid numbers regardless of his role. At this point though he has to be considered a major injury risk, so if you aren’t the sort to take chances on your squad you may want to avoid him.
Luke Walton: With Odom out Luuuuuuuuuke will have some value. Once Odom gets back though that will probably change, assuming Ronny Turiaf still has his starting spot and Odom is manning the three. Luke has looked pretty good with his passing in the second unit, so he may still have some value coming off the bench after LO comes back, but only in deep leagues.
Ronny Turiaf: The Energy Man is looking like a solid fantasy option these days. Very few players have picked up on him, but once the regular season starts if he gets 30+ minutes per game he will be worthy of taking a spot on your roster. Great to see the big guy doing so well.
Andrew Bynum: Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like Andrew Bynum will be one of the big disappointments in the fantasy game this year. Andrew showed during the preseason that he can be a force when given the minutes. However, his impact on the defensive end isn’t quite what Phil Jackson wants it to be, so it’s looking like he will lose minutes to the offensively challenged Kwame Brown. Add Chris Mihm to the center mix as well and it just doesn’t look like there will be enough minutes for Andrew to become the fantasy stud that he could (and should) be.
The rest of the gang: Sadly, preseason showed us that no one else on the Lakers will be fantasy relevant. Someday Farmar will be a solid point guard someday, but with Fisher getting his share of the minutes at the PG spot it won’t be this year.
Now, here is a quick disclaimer: Sometimes the preseason can be deceiving, so on opening night be flexible and ready to adjust. For example, if it turns out that Walton will be starting and not Turiaf then adjust as needed. This is where no real expert will be able to help you. There are always surprises on opening night, so pay attention and don’t hesitate when you see an opportunity. Remember, the players that picked up Kevin Martin before their league mates last year were the ones who had the most success.
Till next time…
PS: A spot of good news for me. I was selected to be one of the two Fantasy Fan Bloggers for NBA.com this season, so that means that in addition to my Laker blogs here at CL I will be covering the entire league for the NBA. Check those out soon at NBA.com!