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Tuesday August 15, 2006 3:44 pm

Dropping Dimes Draft Blog: Round 1, Pick 1

Description Leading up to the start of the 2006-2007 NBA season, Dropping Dimes will be providing fantasy basketball owners with a daily draft blog.  The premise for this draft will be for a standard nine-category scoring league, starting the following positions: PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, C, C, Util, Util.

Each owner will be supporting their selections individually, allowing readers to digest statistics and facts, with their own splash of opinion.

Check back daily to see the next player taken!

Round 1, Pick 1: LeBron James

Why? 

This can be explained by a little stat line that can be found on the back of several LeBron James t-shirts: 30-7-7.  That’s right.  30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists…a game.  That’s what this 21 year old kid averaged for an entire NBA season last year.  For good measure, James also decided to rank among the best in the league in the steals per game and free throws made categories – all while being ranked #2 in all of the NBA in Efficiency.  I would get into my MVP dissertation, but that’s a whole other story.

From a fantasy standpoint, you can’t get much better than James.  Three years in the league, and LeBron has managed to increase his points per game as well as his field goal percentage and defensive rebounds year after year.  King James is arguably the best in the league at getting to the basket at will, which can be seen in his points in the paint balanced with his free throw attempts – once James is on his way to the hoop, there is little else to do aside from fouling him.

When a game is on the line, you can be sure that LeBron will be the man at the top of the key with the ball in his hand, as the clock ticks down.  From jump ball to end whistle, the Cleveland offense runs through James, providing endless opportunities for statistical contribution.  In addition, the lack of a solid point man in the Cleveland offense only helps LBJ’s assists.  With an unbelievably keen eye for the floor, James sees through the double- and triple-teams that he faces with utmost accuracy, finding his teammates both in transition and in offensive sets.  Combine this with his leaping ability and physical mismatches that he provides, and you have yourself the best all-around statistical contributor in the game today.

Why Not?

Fantasy owners across the globe will struggle to find anything wrong with the game that LeBron James possesses.  First item pointed out would be his free throw percentage, which has decreased year after year since his rookie campaign, resulting in a 74% mark for the season.  When someone gets to the line as much as James, that 74% has more of a negative impact on your totals than it would with your average player.  The only other quarrel could be found in James’ turnover numbers.  Sixth in the NBA in turnovers per game can do some damage to any rotisserie owners turnover category. 

Those who draft James will also have to worry about the international team getting ready to play in the World Championships, and what effect it could have on his long-term durability.  Yes, he did play with the last international squad, but that was also the group that was under the Larry Brown regime that saw LeBron James buried on the bench behind guys like Richard Jefferson and Lamar Odom.  This year is a different story, and King James is leading the way.  How will this impact him during this upcoming season?

And thirdly, last season was a contract season.  Don’t players typically give it a little more when the contract is on the line?

The Verdict:

One thing I know for sure is that LeBron James is a physical specimen.  21 years old, and a chiseled 6’8”, 240 lbs.  The kid has been playing 40-plus minutes a game since the day he stepped on the hardwood in his wine and gold.  With that in mind, I would be hard-pressed to weigh the international games to the point where I would move Lebron James down my fantasy basketball rankings this year.

For every night that LeBron James gives me a 6-for-8 from the charity stripe this season, I’ll be awaiting a 17-for-18 night like he put up against the Wizards in the playoffs.  You know you’re knit-picking when 75% from the free throw line is considered a “downfall.”  While 3 turnovers a game can rack up my turover category, a few choice selections based on assist/turnover ratio later on in the draft, and I’ll be in good hands.

Oh, and regarding that whole “contract theory.”  If you think LeBron’s offer this past summer was based solely on last year’s production, you have plenty of basketball to catch up on.  This is LeBron James we’re talking about, not Jerome James.  LBJ’s offer is not only due payment for his hard work in the past, but the championship hopes that he brings in the future.

You give me the first pick of this year’s fantasy basketball draft, and I’ll be writing “LeBron James” on that draft board faster than you can say “Witness.”  I’ll take my 30-7-7 every game, and see you all during the season.  First Selection: Case Closed.

Next Up – Pick #2!

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