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San Antonio Spurs Fantasy Basketball Options

Guest columnist Phil Naessens of The Phil Naessens Show answers a listener's question regarding Fantasy Basketball and the San Antonio Spurs.

Kevin C. Cox

I really enjoy playing fantasy sports, specifically baseball and basketball. I suppose what makes it most enjoyable for me is that it helps prepare me to talk basketball on my daily show. It also affords me the opportunity to compete against others as well as pretend to be smarter than the GM’s I sometimes like to criticize on my show.

I also enjoy talking about fantasy sports on my show, so when a listener asked me the following, I thought I would share my thoughts and hopefully get some feedback from the people who know the Spurs the best. My fellow Pounders, here’s the question:

"I play in a 10-team head-to-head ESPN league. What San Antonio Spurs would you look to draft and why?"

Good question. I suppose the best way to answer it would be to decide which players finished last season in the top 20 of their position and go from there.

Tim Duncan

The obvious choice at power forward (PF’s) would be to draft Tim Duncan; the question is where? Last season he finished second among all PF’s behind Serge Ibaka and is always a good choice. Besides the fact that he averages more than 16 points and 9 rebounds per game, Duncan is an across-the-board performer and a fantasy dream come true--or at least he has been for many years. What I especially like about him is his 50% shooting from the field and his 81% free throw (FT) percentage. Those last two categories are something I value as I have lost leagues due to poor performances from players with terrible marks in both columns.

The drawbacks, if there are any, would be his age (37), missed games (13) and minutes played (30 last year). His age doesn’t bother me as much as his missed games and minutes played do. Personally I don’t see Duncan averaging 30 minutes this year, and in fantasy basketball more court time means more opportunity to rack up points. I also believe Coach Greg Popovich will give him even more days off this season in order to keep him fresh and healthy for the playoffs so you want to keep that in mind when drafting.

So, what to do with Tim Duncan? In a 10-team league, Duncan should be a dual position guy finishing in the top 5 amongst PF’s as well as centers. He probably won’t go first in either position as there are better options out there but if it were me I wouldn’t let more than either 3 PF’s or C’s go by without drafting him, otherwise he will be gone.

Kawhi Leonard

Last season I was so high on this kid that, if memory serves, I drafted him in the second round. After a very hot start he wound up getting injured and fell off the beaten path, finishing #30 among shooting guards (SG’s) and #34 among Small Forwards (SF’s). Those numbers are deceiving and there is plenty of upside here for Fantasy Owners. His 49% from the field, 37% from behind the arch and 82% from the charity stripe are very appealing for the Fantasy owner looking for depth from a dual position player. Add in the nearly 2 steals per game and the 11.9 ppg and Leonard is a very appealing option for the owner looking for dependable across the board performer coming off their bench.

The drawback, if there is any, is the lack of plays being called his way. From all accounts the Spurs are going to feature him more on the offensive end of the floor, but until they do I would be awfully careful with him. Bear in mind that he missed over 20 games due to injury so that should also factor into any decision a fantasy owner should make before drafting him.

So, what to do with Kawhi Leonard? In a 10-team league such as yours Leonard won’t get drafted, if he even gets drafted at all, until the late rounds of the draft. There are just far too many options at both positions he qualifies for to be anything but a late-round pick. If it were me I would just let him pass hoping no one drafts him and just watch him closely in order to pick him up off the waiver wire if necessary.

Danny Green

Last year at this time no one within my fantasy circles was talking about this guy. In fact I had forgotten he was even in the league. Green turned out to be a waiver wire steal who not only won a roster spot on the Spurs but wound up being on some fantasy rosters in just about every league ESPN hosts. Green’s 42% from behind the arc, 44% from the floor and 84% from the line were extremely good but his 2.2 makes per game from behind the arc are what fantasy owners loved about him. Not bad for someone who used to be more known for dancing on the sidelines with Lebron James during their Cavalier days.

The drawback, as far as I can see, would be his low rebounds per game (RPG), 3.1 but in all honesty that isn’t why he’s on the court. His dual positions make him an attractive option in the mid to later rounds for owners looking for a dependable 3 point shooter in their lineup who will score in most categories.

So, what to do with Danny Green? He’s another one who should go in the mid to later rounds. Green’s in the same boat as Leonard in that there are many options to consider before drafting Green but I would definitely look to him if I needed a legit 3 point shooter off of my bench.

Tony Parker

Last season Tony Parker finished as the 12th rated Point Guard (PG) in Fantasy basketball. He had career highs in nearly every category which tells you just how deep the pool is at this position. Fantasy owners should take note of his 52% shooting from the floor and 84% from the line plus he wasn’t too shabby from behind the arc hitting 35% of the treys he attempted. Add in his 20 ppg and 7.6 Assists Per Game (APG) and you have an amazing option at PG. Fans of the Spurs would be surprised to discover that PG’s like Kemba Walker, Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague and Brandon Jennings actually were more valuable to Fantasy owners than Parker was but such is the nature of Fantasy Basketball.

As far as drawbacks with Parker are concerned, there aren’t any that I can think of other than during the end of the regular season unfortunately coincides with the Fantasy Basketball playoffs and Coach Popovich likes to rest his players so you will most likely lose Parker at a crucial moment. Otherwise look for Parker to be one of the top 10 PG’s selected and if he’s still around after those guys grab him because he’s an ace.

So, what to do with Tony Parker? Draft him, that’s what. He’s in the perfect position to go late in a top round of PG’s and early in the second go around. If it were me and an elite point guard is still available in a late round I take him and then take Parker with my next pick and not worry about PG for the rest of the draft.

Tiago Splitter

People usually laugh when I mention the name Tiago Splitter as a viable Fantasy Basketball option but the reality is that he actually is -- more than just an option and depending on his eligibility (currently ESPN has him listed only as a PF) Splitter will probably be a great addition to any Fantasy team. He posted career numbers in MPG, RPG and his 56% shooting from the field was also well above his career average.

The drawback with Splitter would be his PF-only status. There are just too many options out there for an owner to draft him in a 10 team league. Otherwise he is as good as gold.

So, what to do about Splitter? Nothing unless you are someone that likes to carry 3 PF’s on your roster and if you are one of those rare birds take him last because he will most likely still be around.

The Rest of the Spurs

There are a couple of additional options on the Spurs to keep your eye on. One would be Marco Belinelli and the other is Manu Ginobili. I don’t see either of these fellas getting drafted in a 10 team ESPN league but they are worth keeping an eye on, especially Belinelli and how many MPG he receives. The more he plays the higher his value. In the type of league like your league I don’t think Ginobili has much value. He probably won't play more than 20 minutes a night and has spent quite a bit of time these past two seasons injured so I would look somewhere else.

I hope this answers your question and as always I look forward to what my fellow Pounders have to say!

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