2010-11 Preview: San Antonio Spurs
Amazingly, the window remains open.
It sure didn't look like it for most of last season. At times, in fact, the Spurs looked a little desperate, spending far beyond their usual means to try to keep the Duncan-Ginobili-Parker crew's championship window open a bit longer. The most notable example came when San Antonio brought in exactly the kind of player it had spent a dozen years avoiding: Richard Jefferson, a declining second-tier star with a huge contract.
Seven other new players joined the roster, and for much of the season the result was that the Spurs never quite looked like the Spurs. Tony Parker missed 26 games and struggled with a plantar fascia injury, Tim Duncan's loss of mobility made a once-impregnable defense a bit more porous and newly arrived starters Jefferson and Antonio McDyess underwhelmed.
NBA Fantasy Preview: Centers
Hollinger's Player Profiles: Dirk Nowitzki
DIRK NOWITZKI, PF
Projection: 25.5 pts, 8.0 reb, 3.0 ast per 40 min; 22.66 PER | Player card
• Deadly midrange shooter and quick for his size. Likes to post up at foul line.
• Loves to take hard dribble left and pull up. Can handle ball, rarely turns it over.
• Improved post defender with good strip move. Poor leaper and subpar rebounder.
Nowitzki's underrated genius is that he can create so many shots with so few errors. He led all power forwards in usage rate and had the sixth-best turnover ratio, plus he was 12th at his position in TS%. While other players score more often, the cost in empty trips to produce Nowitzki's points is vastly lower than it is for virtually every other star. One wonders why Nowitzki doesn't shoot more 3s given that he's such a gifted shooter, but if you look at the numbers, he's so good on 2s that it wouldn't boost his efficiency any. Nowitzki had a 57.2 TS% and is a 38 percent career 3-point shooter so the extra point on the 3 takes him to only a 57.0 TS%. Instead, he's ridiculously effective on short and midrange shots. Nowitzki sank 47 percent of his long 2s for a second straight season, and ranked among the league leaders on in-between shots and 2s away from the basket as well. What holds him back from even higher percentages is that he shoots in the mid-50s in the basket area, which is a relatively low percentage for a 7-footer.
Starting Lineup: Oct. 13
SOUTHWEST DIVISION CHAT SCHEDULE
Fantasy Outlook: Rockets
Special to ESPN.com
Where is Yao Ming worth drafting, considering his minutes limit?
Let's start with the positive, because no one seems to be doing that with Yao Ming these days. At his best, Yao provides a combination of stats that is special for a center. He's a great scorer who can block shots and make free throws. Look at what has made Brook Lopez so good the past couple seasons, and you should be able to start to remember why Yao was such a great fantasy player when he was healthy.
More importantly, for whatever injuries he has suffered, Yao is 7-foot-6 and he still can shoot the ball better than just about any other 7-footer in the league. Those skills tend to hold up over time, so even if Yao isn't the player he used to be, he should still be useful.
Now to the negatives. Houston Rockets vice president and athletic trainer Keith Jones has already stated the team will limit Yao to no more than 24 minutes per game this season and likely hold him out of one game in back-to-back sets. Since the Rockets have 20 back-to-backs this season, Yao would likely miss 20 games, whether he is injured or not.