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Fantasy basketball

Posted by Ed Ryan December 25, 2008 05:54 AM

As my turn approached in the fifth round of my fantasy basketball draft last month, I needed a guard, and Jason Kidd was available.

Initially, I wanted no part of him.

Kidd has always been an exceptional fantasy performer in any format because he stuffs the box score in all categories. In a format like the one I use ó we have a starting five and take the average of their combined points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks over the course of a week ó Kidd has always been useful. Heís capable of scoring just seven points in a game but can easily end up with, say, a 38 when you combine all five categories.

My hesitation stemmed from the fact that itís 2008, not 1998. Kidd is a 14-year pro, played last summer in the Olympics, and, at 35, is old for the NBA. After being dealt from New Jersey to Dallas last winter, Kidd didnít come close to helping the Mavericks go deep into the playoffs, and he looked slow.

I was also leery because my other guard was Tracy McGrady. Up front, I felt I was set because I selected Amaríe Stoudemire, Caron Butler, and Zach Randolph, but McGrady concerned me. When healthy, he can be an elite fantasy performer. But thatís the rub: when healthy. McGrady has an extensive injury history, and I knew I needed depth at the position.

When the word ďdepthĒ flashed through my mind, though, thatís when I began to turn in favor of Kidd. Instead of searching out someone with the dreaded ďupsideĒ tag or an unproven rookie, I realized Kidd would likely give me everything I need as long as I keep my expectations in check. I watched every Olympic game I could this summer, and Kidd didnít score or play a lot, but he didnít look out of place. He fit in.

Kidd, I told myself, will fit in with Dallas as well. He just needs a full training camp and time to get used to new teammates. So I selected Kidd, and it paid off: Heís been steady, and the Mavericks are quietly in the Western Conference mix. The future Hall of Famer has been in my starting lineup every week while McGrady ó surprise, surprise ó has missed time with a sore left knee.

While McGradyís injury sent me scrambling to the waiver wire (hello, Russell Westbrook and Nate Robinson), I havenít had to concern myself with replacing Kidd, who, as I hoped, has made up for his lack of scoring by being strong in other areas. Heís averaging 9.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 2.4 steals, and half a block per game. Thatís a 27 in fantasy-speak, and these days thatís a number Iíll take from Kidd every time.

Ed Ryan writes about fantasy sports and betting for OT and can be reached at ed_ryan@globe.com

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