Czar’s Playoff Preview

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Czar’s Playoff Preview

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Czar’s Season Preview

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Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Kenneth Faried

Copyright 2012 NBAE - Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty ImagesNBA teams have one to three contests remaining before the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season comes to a close on Thursday. Many Fantasy hoops leagues have determined a winner by this point. But for Fantasy GM’s who are still sweating it out, this last week of ball could be make or break for bragging rights and prizes.

Rookie Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets is the type of player you want to have on your fantasy roster at this late juncture. He has come on like gangbusters, regularly putting up double-doubles. Faried’s production has risen steadily in his first season, and coach George Karl has so much faith in the 6’8” Morehead State product that Denver swapped starting forward Nene to the Wizards at the trading deadline. In fact, the Nuggets have won ten consecutive games when Faried has double-digit rebounds.

Faried has averaged 11.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg and 1 spg in 26 minutes per game so far in the month of April. He has five double-doubles in the last eight games. On April 9th Faried scored 27 points and grabbed 17 boards in just 24 minutes.

This cramped season of back-to-backs and 3 games in 3 nights has taken its toll on all the players. However, down the stretch, when veterans are beat up and coaches are resting older guys gearing up for the postseason, it’s good to have a young, athletic, level-10+ energy player like Faried on your roster to produce and contribute.

Czar Star: Ty Lawson

The Denver Nuggets’ third-year PG Ty Lawson might be the fastest player in the NBA with the ball in his hands. He is literally and figuratively the Nuggets’ on-court engine. Lawson can shoot the three, blow past defenders in the open court as well as half-court sets and dish the rock with few turnovers in coach George Karl’s speedy, high-scoring offense. The Nuggets lead the league in points per game at 103.5 in large part thanks to the former Tar Heel, 2009 ACC Player of the Year and 2009 NCAA champion.

Lawson leads Denver in points, assists and steals per game with averages of 15.6, 6.7 and 1.3 respectively. And even with his engine running in the red zone, Lawson is able to stay on the court and execute coach Karl’s game plan from the 1-spot. He also leads the Nuggets in minutes played with 35 and averages a mere 1.6 fouls per game.

With Denver perched perilously at the eighth spot in the tough Western Conference at 31-26, Lawson has stepped up his game. In the past eight contests for The Rocky Mountain Ballers, #3 has put up 18.4 ppg, 6.6 apg and 3.4 rpg. On March 26th against the NBA-leading Chicago Bulls, Lawson tied his season high with 27 points in the Nuggets’ 108-91 win.

In each of 24-year-old Lawson’s three seasons in the pros he’s bettered his stats and now competes with a comfort of ability that only the elite players posses. The Nuggets have nine games remaining in this shortened schedule, and each successive contest will increase in importance with regard to postseason participation. Lawson will be Denver’s most important player down the backstretch, and I expect him to rise to the occasion.