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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Team Game

(Originally published on

Fantasy scoring is all about individual achievements... but sometimes, it pays to remember that basketball is a team game.

Case in point: Joe Johnson of the Hawks. Johnson is an elite fantasy contributor, due in large part for his ability to knock down the three. But Johnson plays for a very young, inexperienced Atlanta Hawks squad. That can be a benefit – Johnson is the unquestioned star of the show in Atlanta, and he gets as many minutes and shots as he can handle. But there's a down side that can manifest itself in very subtle ways. For example: on the season, he's shooting 30.9 percent from downtown – well off his career mark of 37 percent. What's the problem?

In Monday's game, Johnson shot 1-of-6 from three. Maybe he just wasn't "feeling it." But reports from the game indicate that several of Johnson's attempts came late in the shot clock – not set, open, stable jumpers -- desperation heaves.

Why are the Hawks getting so deep into the 24-second clock without a good look? Youth. Inexperience. Poor shot-clock management. And a revolving door at point guard, which certainly isn't helping them establish a rhythm in the half-court offense.

This is the sort of insight that can really help a fantasy owner. It indicates that there's nothing physically wrong with Johnson. It also indicates that his numbers should return to his established career norms if and when Atlanta gets some stability at the point, a healthy Tyronn Lue, or a more mature and experienced Acie Law. Keep an eye on this situation as it develops, and if the Hawks start getting better play from the point, consider making a buy-low offer on a guy like Johnson.

Read the full article, and all of this week's upgrades and downgrades, on (subscription required).


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