A few days ago, I wrote about prospective replacements for Mike Brown, who was recently fired by the Los Angeles Lakers. I ranted about Phl Jackson being the favorite to get the job with 11 championships gathering dust in his collection cabinet. I also spoke of Jerry Sloan having a chance to snatch it away from Jackson. I also mentioned Brian Shaw, being a former Laker and a good disciple of the Zen Master. And yes, I mentioned also of Mike D'Antoni being a wild card pick being and at the same time adept at lighting up the scoreboard with his "Seven Seconds" style, which I feel befits the Showtime Lakers perfectly.
Lo and behold, our NBA.com Philippines mafia boss Dino Maragay placed a call on this unsuspecting blogger telling me my piece will have to be scrapped and respectfully asking me to write something else because, as everybody knew by now, D'Antoni got the job. And I happily said yes. It took me four days though before I get the time to write it. So I wrote it now.
Mike D'Antoni, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul (AP)
And let's talk about D'Antoni for a bit here before I hit and daze you with my little but essential fantasy knowledge. Yes, I think D'Antoni is the logical replacement for Brown. Financially and, yes, theatrically. Moneywise, LA gets to save money by hiring the Italian because getting Jackson back will sure cost them a lot, more than what it paid Brown and it will dole out to D'Antoni combine.
And oh, wouldn't it be nice to see the Lakers score more than 100 points every game? Okay, I must admit that offense wins ONLY games and defense wins CHAMPIONSHIPS. But man, let's give the guy a chance the way the New York frigging Knicks deprived him of. And oh, did I tell you that LA is planning to get Nate McMillan to be its defensive coordinator? So that takes care of their defense.
So D'Antoni, please kill them all with your style. Miami Heat and Boston Celtics beware. Oh, you too Oklahoma Thunder and San Antonio Spurs (OUCH!!!).
Now let's talk fantasy.
The one player that will be the best beneficiary of the D'Antoni hiring is no less than...Guess who? S-T-E-V-E N-A-S-H! Nash should see his production increase tremendously after being slowed down by his injury and the Princeton system that Brown tried and miserably failed to espouse. We'll see him getting assists around 10-12 and some scoring and efficiency from the field, free throw and three-point lines.
I don't know about the rest, but man, the demand for Steve Nash in fantasy leagues increased by five-fold. I've received offers from the ridiculous and mundane to eye-popping. Like Amar'e for Nash. Or Chris Kaman and Jason Terry for Nash. Or Omer Asik and Klay Thompson for Nash. Even Kaman, Jared Dudley and Nick Young. You be the judge.
So we also expect a rehash of the old lights out scoring of the Phoenix Suns of old with an upgrade down low. From Amar'e Stoudamire to Dwight Howard. And you've got Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace instead of Joe Johnson, Quentin Richardson and Leandro Barbosa. And yes, Pau Gasol is way better than Boris Diaw during the latter's prime.
So expect the numbers of Dwight, Kobe, MWP and Pau to increase too. And watch out their bench, there will be a flux in their numbers. Imagine the Lakers scoring 100 to 120 a game and you'll get my drift.
Fantasy Top 10
I will base by top 10 on the current Yahoo! rankings and you will be surprised by the results in the first couple of weeks into the NBA season.
1. Kyle Lowry
So he played only four games after getting stymied by an ankle problem that has been hounding him even before the season has started. But he's averaging better than everyone with these mind-boggling stats: 31:15 (minutes), .545 (field goal percentage), .944 (free throw percentage), 2.0 (three-pointers made), 18.3 (points), 5.8 (rebounds), 6.3 (assists), 3.0(steals), 0.5 (blocks) and 2.5 (turnovers). If he could stay healthy, I will have to agree on this.
2. Kevin Durant
I may have erred by embracing the dark side and drafting LeBron James at No. 1 in our NBA.com Philippines fantasy league. And The Durantula is making me regret not drafting him at first with these crazy lines: 39:26 (minutes), .494 (field goal percentage), .892 (free throw percentage), 0.9 (three-pointers made), 24.2 (points), 10.3 (rebounds), 4.0 (assists), 1.6 (steals), 1.6 (blocks), 4.2 (turnovers). Notice the assists, steals and blocks and you'll see a massive improvement.
3. Kobe Bryant
I know, Kobe Bryant is still Kobe Bryant. He's the grand old man of the current NBA stars as he is succumbing to Father Time. But don't underestimate him, he has a lot to prove against his younger rivals who have started to lay claim on the throne he has held for a decade now. And he's impressive with these numbers: 36:15 (minutes), .551 (field goal percentage), .920 (free throw percentage), 1.9 (three pointers made), 26.4 (points), 5.5 (rebounds), 4.6 (assists), 1.4 (steals), 0.0 (blocks), 3.8 (turnovers).
4. Chris Paul
So CP3 is no longer the best point guard in the world now? We can't decide now because of Lowry's emergence. But I think Paul staying healthy (Knock on wood!) and Lowry (Oh No!) staying injured will make him still the No. 1 PG in the NBA! Otherwise, we'll see Lowry toying a triple-double effort each game. But here's Paul's numbers anyway: 32:30, (minutes), .478 (field goal percentage), .913 (free throw percentage), 1.0 (three-pointers made), 17.0 (points), 3.3 (rebounds), 10.3 (assists), 2.3 (steals), 0.0 (blocks) and 2.1 (turnovers).
5. J.R. Smith
You're not mistaken and reading this correctly. J.R. Smith. Yes, he is ranked fifth. He's one of the reasons why the Knicks are still unbeaten in five games now. And one of their wins came at the expense of James and the Heat. Here are the stats that will show he deserves to be here: 33:36 (minutes), .493 (field goal percentage), .889 (free throw percentage), 2.6 (three-pointers made), 18.2 (points), 4.8 (rebounds), 3.2 (assists), 2.2 (steals), 0.4 (blocks) and 1.0 (turnovers).
6. Tim Duncan
I fell off my seat learning this. My favorite player in the NBA right now and I haven't drafted him in all my six fantasy leagues considering I've drafted the most loathsome player for me (Hint: LeBron). But I'm happy for the guy. I hope he keeps it up and win us Spurs fans another championship. Here are his stats: 31:07 (minutes), .522 (field goal percentage), .750 (free throw percentage), 0.0 (three-pointers made), 18.8 (points), 9.6 (rebounds), 2.5 (assists), 1.3 (steals), 2.6 (blocks) and 1.3 (turnovers).
7. LeBron James
And finally, we talk about going to the dark side. LeBron loving James. The numbers are great but not super great as you would notice the dip in scoring and free throw shooting percentage. I pray to all the basketball gods that he rediscovers his own stats DEMON self and help me win this NBA.com Philippines fantasy league. Take a peek at his numbers: 35:19 (minutes), .546 (field goal percentage), .652 (free throw percentage), 1.4 (three-pointers made), 24.6 (points), 9.4 (rebounds), 6.2 (assists), 0.8 (steals), 0.9 (blocks) and 2.0 (turnovers). Wake up boy!
8. Brandon Jennings
The third PG in this list. And ahead of the early, pre-draft favorites like Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson and Mike Conley. The memory of him exploding for 55 points is still fresh in my mind. 34:42 (minutes), .427 (field goal percentage), .905 (free throw percentage), 1.6 (three pointers made), 16.9 (points), 3.1 (rebounds), 7.9 (assists), 3.1 (steals), 0.4 (blocks) and 2.6 (turnovers).
9. Nicolas Batum
I've been pinning on his potential since a couple of years ago and just as when I've lost the faith and got tired of waiting, here goes Batum gate-crashing the Top 10. And the Frenchman deserves it, mind you. 38:45 (minutes), .444 (field goal percentage), .758 (free throw percentage), 2.6 (three-pointers made), 18.8 (points), 6.4 (rebouds), 3.1 (assists), 2.5 (steals), 0.9 (blocks) and 2.0 (turnovers).
10. Anderson Varejao
Varejao is the only legitimate center on this ranking and the Brazilian has been putting monster games that I'm starting to believe he'll sustain the whole year. I just knock on wood that he keeps it up and beat the injury bug that has slowed him down in past seasons. 35:00 (minutes), .608 (field goal percentage), .714 (free throw percentage), 0.0 (three-pointers made), 15.9 (points), 13.7 (rebounds), 3.4 (assists), 1.4 (steals), 0.4 (blocks)and 1.4 (turnovers).
NBA postscripts: So I'm getting whacked in our NBA.com Philippines fantasy league for the second straight week. This time it’s Team Syd who's doing the whacking this time. I hope I can work my way to a good but fair trade before the week ends and get my LeBron-led team going.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar