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Waiver Wire: All-Star Questions

My biggest questions for All-Star Weekend are simple:

“Is there an average NBA fan that can name – without prompting – more than one participant in the Slam Dunk Contest? And if so, does he or she win a prize?”

And …

“Will the notoriously long-winded Alicia Keys finish her halftime performance in less than 60 minutes? Because I sort of suspect that she’ll still be singing in the middle of the third quarter.”

My questions for the second half of the season are a bit more complex, starting with …

Which NBA superstar is fading fastest?

For years, I’ve been avoiding Dwyane Wade in the first round of fantasy drafts, reasoning that, given his injury history, his production will inevitably drop off a cliff. It seems I’ve been fading the wrong All-Star guard.It wasn’t long ago that Deron Williams was just a hair behind Chris Paul in the fantasy point guard rankings. But we haven’t seen him produce at that level for years now. There have been plenty of plausible reasons for his sub-par numbers. He was unhappy in Utah, and then he was playing for an awful Nets team. This year he’s surrounded by talent, but didn’t like Avery Johnson’s offense … and he has dealt with a variety of injuries.

The injuries are most concerning, as they’re really starting to add up. Williams received platelet-rich plasma treatments on both ankles last week, which could indicate that his leg problems are both worse than we thought and not really getting better.

It will be very interesting to see how he plays for the rest of this season and in the playoffs, but as things stand, I won’t be in any rush to draft Williams next year.

How long does an ACL take to heal fully?

Adrian Peterson’s remarkable season – just months removed from a torn ACL – may have given us some funny ideas about how long it takes to recover from that injury. Iman Shumpert’s unimpressive return, and Derrick Rose’s struggles in rehab – should be major reality checks.

As a rookie, Shumpert impressed NBA fans with his quickness, perimeter defense, and ability to get to the rack off the dribble. Since his return from injury, though, he’s been more tentative on both ends of the floor. I’d argue that Mike Woodson’s awkward three-guard lineup, which puts Shump on the floor with both Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, is part of the problem, but that’s an argument for another column. Is he completely healthy? Is he having trouble trusting the knee? Or did we overrate him based on an impressive debut in a big media market?

I know, that never happens with Knicks players. Hang on, I have to go get my Landry Fields jersey out of the dryer.

Of course, Shump is a marginal fantasy prospect in most formats, unlike Derrick Rose.Like Shumpert, Rose tore an ACL during the first round of the playoffs, but the Bulls’ All-Star guard has yet to make an appearance this season, and recently told reporters that he isn’t close to a return.Rose has even suggested that he’ll sit out the entire season to get the knee back to full strength.

What does this tell us?

1. If you’re one of the players holding on to Rose in a non-keeper league – Rose is 83% owned, so there are a lot of you out there – you might want to consider the possibility of using that roster spot more productively.

2. You’ll also want to be very conservative when considering players like Rajon Rondo or likely lottery pick Nerlens Noel in next year’s drafts.

via Waiver Wire: All-Star Questions – RotoWire.com.

Doc Rivers: Overrated?

I think we’re all agreed that Phil Jackson is not overrated as a coach, no matter what Scot Pollard may think. Besides, given some of the haircuts Pollard has sported over the years, his judgment is very much in question.

But what about Doc Rivers?

After last night’s 97-87 loss to Miami, the Celtics are done for the season. And while Rivers may not agree, most NBA observers believe the Celtics’ run as a championship contender – at least with the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce/Ray Allen core – is over. And as I’m writing the eulogy for Boston’s “Big Three” era, I can’t help wondering… did this team really accomplish as much as it should have? And how much credit should Rivers get?

To Rivers’ credit, he did an excellent job molding three future hall-of-famers and an incredibly talented but deeply flawed youngster into a perennial contender. He got Garnett, Allen and Pierce to sacrifice individual numbers in pursuit of a team goal. He won one title with that squad. Some would argue Kendrick Perkins’ injury cost him a second. Some would also argue that Shaquille O’Neal’s injury troubles, compounded by a short-sighted decision to trade Perkins at February’s deadline, closed the Celtics’ championship window prematurely. (Rajon Rondo may be part of that last group.)

On the other hand… he did have three future hall-of-famers. Pierce, Garnett and Allen deserve at least some of the credit for that title, no? And unlike other superstar combinations (Jordan/Pippen… LeBron/Wade/Bosh) the Celtics’ Big Three came together when all were on the down side of their careers – sacrificing individual numbers at that stage of the game isn’t quite as shocking.

And about the now-legendary Celtic defense that keyed that championship? Don’t forget, Rivers had Tom Thibodeau on his bench as a D coordinator. Thibs has since gone on to build the NBA’s top defense in Chicago, and win NBA Coach of the Year honors in the process.

I can’t help wondering how many other coaches would have been as – or more – successful in a similar situation. Does Jeff Van Gundy win a title with Garnett/Pierce/Allen/Rondo? What about his brother Stan? Or Rick Adelman? Rick Carlisle?

Does it matter? Only when considering Rivers’ next potential job. Let’s say he does walk away from the Celtics after this season, as was expected before last night’s press conference. Would you want Doc taking over your favorite team?

LeBron’s “Retarded” Comment

LeBron James took exception to a question posed to teammate Dwyane Wade after Saturday night’s loss to the Celtics. But he could have chosen a better way to express that. Wade was being questioned about the play that ended with Rajon Rondo hitting the court and dislocating his elbow. Some were accusing Wade of a dirty play, though the replays clearly showed Rondo making as much, if not more, contact. James wasn’t the only one displeased with the question.

He was the only one to call it “retarded.”

via About Basketball – LeBron’s “Retarded” Comment.