Fantasy Basketball, Week 20
Difficult decisions to be made regarding injured stars.
by Charles Peach / @Charles_Peach
Will Chris Paul return this season? It’s anyone’s guess. But a lot of fantasy player’s championship hopes hinge on the decision. Paul was initially scheduled to be out four to six weeks following the knee surgery and this Thursday will mark five weeks. The Hornets are 6-11 since Paul has been out and have lost four straight. They trail the Blazers, who hold the 8th seed in the West, by five games. Is it a smart move to rush along the healing process of the best, young point guard in the league to play for a team that has a minute chance of even making the playoffs, much less competing for a title? No, it just doesn’t make sense. If you are scraping and clawing your way to a playoff berth and absolutely need to win this week, Paul won’t be there for you. Does that mean you let him go? If you drop him and make the playoffs, then what? Is your team going anywhere without him?
Similar circumstances surround a number of other players such as Joakim Noah. He hasn’t yet been dropped in either of my leagues but he’s due to miss the next three weeks to rest his ailing foot. I suppose if you own him and have one of the top seeds in your league locked up, you can afford to wait it out and hope he’s there for you in the later rounds of the playoffs. He was having a phenomenal season, averaging a double-double, but hasn’t recorded one since January 29. If you’ve been holding on this long, I’m sorry but it’s probably time for most of you to let go.
Coach Rick Adelman expected Trevor Ariza to return last weekend but he didn’t play on Saturday or Sunday. His diagnosis is ‘a severe hip flexor’ and the Rockets play only twice this week. He’s listed as day-to-day but the Rockets are slowly slipping out of contention, as they now trail the Blazers (no pun intended) by 4.5 games. I don’t really know how aggravating Ariza’s injury is but he’s definitely not worth owning this week even if he were to play in both games. The Rockets have a favorable playoff schedule but if Ariza’s ailment lingers there’s a chance he would be shut down. Hang on to him for now, but be prepared to drop him at the hint of more bad news.
According to The Denver Post’s Benjamin Hochman, Kenyon Martin will return at some point this season. But there’s a chance it won’t be until the regular season is over. I reluctantly dropped KMart yesterday because the knee problem was too discouraging. Apparently the condition is ‘left knee patella tendonitis’ which I assume requires a good amount of rest. The Nuggets are obviously going to make the playoffs and will need Martin to have a shot at taking down the Lakers.
George Hill – This should be a no-brainer by now, especially with Tony Parker scheduled to be out for six weeks with a broken bone in his shooting hand. Unless you’re in an 8-team league where you have LeBron, Melo, Bosh, and Durant on the same team, George should be owned in your league. I love Spurs and Wizards at this point of the season because they play more games than any other team.
Jonas Jerebko – His minutes have fluctuated quite a bit this season, but when he plays a bunch there is no denying his value. Recently the minutes have been there for him as he’s played 30 or more in the past four games. He can do it all; score, hit threes, steal, block shots, and rebound while rarely turning the ball over. In the past four games he averaged 11.7 points and 10.7 rebounds.
Rodrigue Beaubois – Jason Terry is scheduled to miss 10-14 days because of a facial fracture; devastating news to Terry-owners fighting to reach the playoffs. Beaubois averaged 23 points in the two games Terry missed already. He’s a good three-point shooter so if you can’t afford to hold on to Terry while he sits the next couple weeks, Beaubois would be a similar replacement. He is only going to be worth owning while Terry is out, so be prepared to find a new option in two weeks.
Will Bynum – The Rodney Stuckey collapse was scary. Even though everything appeared to be fine in the following days, there has to be some concern regarding his future. The Pistons are playing for absolutely nothing right now so there is no need to rush him back. Bynum is a great addition as long as Stuckey sits. He started on Sunday, playing 41 minutes, and finished with 12 points, 11 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a victory over the Rockets.
Jason Maxiell – As previously mentioned, the Pistons are playing for nothing right now! So, Ben Wallace should be sitting the rest of the season and Maxiell should be the starter the rest of the way! Like Coach Kuester said, Big Ben has been a ‘true warrior’ this season but he’s missed the last three games with a sore right knee. If your team is in need of rebounding, Maxiell could be your guy. In the last seven games he averaged 8.7 rebounds to go along with 9.3 points. For Big Ben’s owners, I suggest you prepare for the worst. It makes no sense to have an ailing big man put more mileage on his knees for a losing team.
DeJuan Blair – Have I mentioned I’m in love with Spurs for the rest of this season? They play the maximum number of games from here on out and Blair should be a solid contributor. If you have room for him, I definitely recommend grabbing him off the wire especially if you have players who don’t play nearly as many games as him down the stretch. For instance, he’ll play 5 more games than these similar waiver wire candidates: Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum, and Grant Hill.
Quentin Richardson – Desperate times call for desperate measures. I hate advising you to pickup Q, as he defines ‘inconsistent’ but if he can keep up his hot shooting this week he’d give you a huge boost. The Heat won their last three games as Richardson averaged 20.7 points and 4.7 threes per game. The three games before that however, the Heat went 0-3 as Richardson averaged 3.7 points and didn’t make a three-pointer. He was four games this week. I wish you luck if you take this risk.
Brad Miller – The Bulls are in danger of losing their playoff spot mostly because they’ve been without Joakim Noah. Since trading away John Salmons and Tyrus Thomas, they’re really missing a lot of athleticism. They’ve lost four straight and they’ve had to heavily rely on Miller. In the last three games he averaged 15.3 points and 7 rebounds. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think he can continue this while Noah continues to sit because the Bulls just don’t have many other options. Additionally, as I’ve said the past few weeks, Taj Gibson should definitely be owned as the rookie is also being heavily depended upon.
Kris Humphries – Yi Jianlian sprained his ankle and will miss, at least, the Nets next four games. If the Nets choose to move Humphries to the starting lineup in place of Yi, you could have a nice sleeper on your hands.
ON THE RADAR
Matt Barnes – He frustrated Kobe in the Magic’s win on Sunday and received a lot of recognition afterward for his defensive effort. He’s doing a solid job lately on the offensive end as well, though. In his last four games he’s averaging 13.5 points and 1.5 threes. If you need help this week he’s a good option because he plays four games. Drop him at the end of the week though, because the Magic only play two games next week.
Nenad Krstic – He’ll always have a game that makes you shake your head. You know, like 6 points and 3 rebounds. Then you’re sitting there wondering, ‘Why the hell did I pick him up?’ I only recommend him if you’re in desperate need of rebounds, as he averaged 10.5 in his last two games.
Hakim Warrick – As is the case with Miller, Warrick is one of the Bulls few options at this time. He might be a better option for the Bulls than Miller depending on the match-up. Keep your eyes Chicago’s upcoming box scores because they’re in the midst of a heated playoff race and searching for answers during this four-game slide.
James Harden – Been sharp in his last three games, averaging 16.7 points, 2.3 threes, and 2 steals. But he won’t be very reliable because he just doesn’t get enough minutes.
Jrue Holiday – He put together a splendid all-around performance on Sunday in a win against Toronto. He played 35 minutes, shot 8 for 12 from the field, including 3 of 4 from behind the arc and finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal. He has a lot of potential but sparingly displays it in the box score. Keep your eye on him as the Sixers could really focus on developing him in their remaining 20 games.
Chris Hunter – This could be potentially another nice sleeper if Ronny Turiaf’s knee injury is substantial. Turiaf left Saturday’s game after only eight minutes due to pain in his left knee. With Andris Biedrins potentially being shut down for the season because he needs surgery, Hunter could emerge as the Warriors only remaining big man. As we know, if you play enough minutes for Golden State you’re going to put up numbers no matter who you are. In Saturday’s game, Hunter filled in for Turiaf and finished with 9 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal.
Bill Walker – The latest, greatest Knickerbocker. Yup, Walker came out of pretty much nowhere to score 21 and 22 points in consecutive games for the New York. Wilson Chandler was out for both of those games, so that’s where the opportunity came from, because when he returned Walker didn’t do much. He’s only worth a look in deep leagues and is just someone to keep your eye on because, like the Warriors, if you play enough minutes for the Knicks you’ll get your numbers.
FANTASY LINE OF THE WEEK
LeBron James (3/5 vs DET) 40 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 3 threes, 2 blocks