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Thursday, January 24, 2008
Lake: Trading D. Howard for Kaman

By Guy Lake
Special to ESPN.com

I made a big trade in one of my main head-to-head leagues Wednesday, and it was met with a lot of scoffing on the message boards when it went through. The guys in this weekly league are pretty liberal with the libel, so I wasn't shocked. I have been in this league for a few years now and catch my share of smack talk because I write about fantasy. Still, the following message, posted by a team whose name cannot be printed in this family-friendly format, was a little galling:

"Guy Lake gave up Dwight Howard for [Chris] Kaman … and I'm supposed to take his ESPN articles seriously?

"Really?"

Yes, it was Dwight (not Josh) Howard for Chris Kaman. So, why did I do it? Here's my riposte to my tormentor's jab:

OK, clearly, a defense is in order.

I made the trade not based on the per-game value of Kaman versus Howard, although I think there is a strong argument there as well. I did it because of the remaining schedule. At the start of next week, Kaman and the Clippers will have 42 games left on their schedule; Howard and the Magic will have 36. That's a six-game difference. There are five weeks in which I will have a one-game advantage with Kaman over Howard, and one week in which I will have a two-game advantage. Howard has just one more week in which he will play more games than Kaman. That was the key to the deal, from my perspective.

You might ask: What about Howard's utter dominance in rebounding? The six-game difference erases that. Assuming their averages remain the same, Howard (36 games at 14.9 per game) will have 536 rebounds, rounding down. Kaman (42 games at 13.9 per game) will have 584. Advantage Kaman, especially during all those four-game weeks when Howard will be playing three.

Blocks? Kaman owns this one. He (3.1 per game) will have 129 blocks for the rest of the year, while Howard (2.57 per game) will have 92.

Points, I will lose a bit on, since Kaman is projected to score 731 and Howard 791. But if you divide the difference (60) by the number of weeks remaining (12), you get five points per week. I think there is a good chance I can make that up with other players.

Turnovers are very close: Kaman 132, Howard 116.

Steals, I will lose on: Kaman 23, Howard 38.

A big difference will be in free-throw percentage, where Howard's 11.8 attempts per game made his 60 percent unbearable. It was nearly impossible to win that category with him on board. Yes, I still have Eddy Curry, but his 60.2 percent is almost tolerable because he attempts only 5.3 free throws a game. Now I will at least be competitive in this category, because my better free-throw shooters will comprise a higher percentage of my team's total free-throw attempts.

I will take the biggest hit in field goal percentage, where Howard is godly (59.6 percent), but Kaman (48.2 percent) isn't awful, and I will remain competitive in the category because I have other decent shooters on the team.

In terms of name value, I was killed in this trade, but in terms of quantifiable value, I think I came out ahead. I needed to make a move to ensure a spot in the playoffs. I am more confident of reaching that goal than I would have been had I sat on Howard. Of all the players out there, Kaman represented the biggest gain in games played. Furthermore, his strengths are similar to Howard's (except in field goal percentage), and that was why I targeted him.

In a head-to-head format, if you could magically trade to get six more games from a key player on your squad, wouldn't you do it? That is close to what I pulled off with this trade. I addressed an area of weakness (free-throw shooting) without sacrificing my strengths and in fact improved some of my strengths because of the extra games.

Keep an eye on the schedule the rest of the way and target players on teams with more games remaining. The Clippers, who have the most games left, unfortunately do not have that many great fantasy players. Kaman would be a sweet catch, however.

Guy Lake is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him at guylake@talentedmrroto.com.