How will this shake down in Beantown?
The draft night trade that sent shooting guard Ray Allen to the Boston Celtics from the Seattle SuperSonics is one of many changes to the fantasy basketball landscape.
The Celtics -- who at 24-58 finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference last season -- were disappointed when they failed to land one of the top two picks in the draft lottery, missing the chance to select either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. So instead, they traded for a guy who has made seven All-Star Game appearances and averaged 21.5 points per game in his 13 seasons, yet has taken only four trips to the playoffs.
That resume may fit right in with the Celtics, who have been to the playoffs four times in the last dozen seasons. But are there enough shots available for him and his new teammates, swingman Paul Pierce and forward Al Jefferson?
Allen, who averaged 26.4 points last season, took 21 field goal attempts per game, and put up one shot every 1.92 minutes. Pierce averaged 25 points, 18 field goal tries and put one up every 2.05 minutes. Jefferson scored 16 points per game, took 12.8 shots a night and hoisted one every 2.63 minutes. My guess is that the individual statistics of all three will suffer.
Not so for shooting guard Jason Richardson, who went to the Charlotte Bobcats in a trade with the Golden State Warriors. It looked like Charlotte was trying to assemble a North Carolina Tar Heels Alumni Team when it selected power forward Brandan Wright, who then went to the Warriors in the deal. Bobcats point guards Raymond Felton and Jeff McInnis, as well as oft-injured power forward Sean May, all starred as collegians in Chapel Hill.
Small forward Gerald Wallace led the Bobcats in scoring with 18.1 points per game, nearly four more than center Emeka Okafor. Richardson, who averaged 16 as the fifth-leading scorer with the Warriors, should see his numbers and shot attempts rise. He averaged a career-best 23.2 points per game in 2005-06. His departure should also provide a big boost for the statistics of Golden State's Monta Ellis, who averaged 16.5 points but started just 53 of 77 games.
When Portland dealt power forward Zach Randolph to the New York Knicks, it set the stage for the Trail Blazers to field a young starting five. With Oden at center, LaMarcus Aldridge at one forward and Brandon Roy in the backcourt, that's an average age of 21 with a total of just two years of NBA experience for that trio.
Of the three Florida Gators drafted among the top nine, only power forward Joakim Noah, who went to the Chicago Bulls, may have trouble finding big minutes. He'll have Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas and Andres Nocioni -- a restricted free agent who recently agreed to a five-year, $38 million deal -- to battle for playing time.
Forward Al Horford, drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, and guard Mike Conley, Jr., taken by the Memphis Grizzlies, appear to have few roadblocks. Horford should zoom past the Williams duo from Tobacco Road -- Marvin (North Carolina) and Shelden (Duke) -- on the Hawks' depth chart, while Damon Stoudamire doesn't figure to take many minutes away from Conley.
Torn regarding rookies
The national publications are split between Marshawn Lynch of the Buffalo Bills and Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings regarding the top fantasy football rookie back.
NFL.com's Fantasy Football Preview and The Sporting News Fantasy Football Owners Manual favor Lynch while Rotowire Fantasy Football Guide, Street & Smith's Pro Football Yearbook and Pro Football Weekly all lean toward Peterson. Fantasy Football Index ranks Peterson higher in its text portion but Lynch appears first in its rankings.
Street & Smith's predicts that the Peterson/Chester Taylor committee in Minnesota will yield results similar to the Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush combination with the New Orleans Saints last season -- 1,622 rushing yards, 940 receiving yards and 19 total touchdowns.
Sporting News says Lynch will handle most of the touches between the 20s but says Anthony Thomas might be the bigger touchdown factor.
Other rookie backs the publications tab as being immediate fantasy factors include Green Bay's Brandon Jackson, Tennessee's Chris Henry, Cincinnati's Kenny Irons and Oakland's Michael Bush. With Dominic Rhodes suspended for the first four games over a violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy, and the Raiders' pledge to lighten the workload of LaMont Jordan, Bush could be thrown right into the fire. Especially since Rhodes, who spent 2006 with the Colts, and Jordan were the NFL's only two running backs to start at least half the time last season yet average fewer than 59 total yards.
Start your engines
*Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth have enjoyed their previous six drives around Chicagoland Speedway, site of today's Sheetrock 500 (3:30 p.m.; TNT; Radio 550 AM).
Harvick, who starts 14th today, has two wins (2001 and '02), three top-fives and four top-10s with an average finish of 8.7 despite an average start of 13.2. He was fourth last year after leading 40 of the 267 laps. Kenseth, in the No. 10 starting spot, has one top-five and two top-10s with an average finish of 11.5 despite a normal starting position of 19.2. He led 112 laps last year but ended up 22nd after being bumped by Jeff Gordon.
Harvick is third in career earnings at Chicagoland with $903,131 and has led 228 of 1,604 laps. Kenseth is sixth in earnings ($766,895) and has led 292 laps there, most of any driver. Harvick and Kenseth finished 1-2 in Saturday's Busch Series USG Durock 300 at Chicagoland.
*Fantasy auto racing, barely a decade old, isn't about to unseat fantasy football in terms of popularity, but it continues to grow. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association now estimates between 15 million to 18 million players participating on sites such as nascar.com, Yahoo! sports, The Sporting News, ESPN.com and sportsline.com.