Sam Cassell to start in Los Angeles
Some call Sam Cassell an alien; Charles Barkley calls him Gollum--I call him a starting point guard, and a damn good one when he's healthy.
After missing 52 games of his rookie season due to various knee and shoulder injuries, Clippers "point guard of the future" Shaun Livingston is going to miss the first month of the season with lower back irritation. It's becoming increasingly clear that no matter how smooth he might be, Livingston's body cannot stand up to the rigors of an NBA season.
This opens the door for Cassell to cement a job as starting point guard which, to be honest, he probably would have done even if Livingston had been healthy. The simple truth is that Cassell is not only better than Livingston: he's much better. After his last season in Minnesota, which was marred by injury and discontent, it is easy to forget how good Cassell really is, and has recently been.
Cassell had his career year only two seasons ago. In 2003, he played 81 games for the Wolves and averaged 19.8 points, 7.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.7 turnovers while shooting 48.8% from the field and 87.3% from the line. For a guard--any guard--those shooting percentages are incredible, and when they go with over 7 assists, they're downright mouth-watering.
Cassell is getting older--he'll be 36 in November--but he still has some gas in the tank. In 30+ minutes, expect him to perform around his career averages of about 16 points, 6 assists, and 1.2 steals on 45% FG and 85% FT. Granted, Cassell doesn't hit many threes (about .7 per game), and he tends to look for his own shot first. But if you can't use numbers like those, you're going to be fielding a much better fantasy squad than I am.
Do yourself a favor and DON'T read Brandon Funston's idiotic PG rankings that put Shaun Livingston at #24 and leave Cassell off the list entirely. If he's still hanging around your draft by the time you approach the 10th round, Cassell will be an incredible pick. Get ready to field generous offers from teams with three PGs shooting 40%.