By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
Around the League
Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 every now and again - unless they're extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time or role or skill level.
Toney Douglas, G, NY - Following a 19-point outburst off the bench last week, Douglas was promoted to the starting lineup. He didn't disappoint in his first two games with the new gig, putting up averages of 20.5 points, 7.5 assists, three treys and two steals. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni has changed his starting point guard multiple times this season, but it looks like Douglas will get an extended look. Any point guard running D'Antoni's fast-paced offense deserves a look, no matter the format.
Shaun Livingston, G, WAS - Livingston received his first start of the season Monday against the Jazz. He only managed to finish with six points and three rebounds, but it wouldn't be a surprise for the hapless Wizards to continue giving him a look. He has shown flashes of usefulness, including racking up 18 points and eight assists last week against the Magic, and could be worth a look in deep leagues for the stretch run. Just be prepared to deal with inconsistency.
Andrew Bogut, C, MIL - Rookie Brandon Jennings has received most of the publicity this season, but Bogut is the real reason opponents should "Fear the Deer." The former No. 1 overall pick has steadily picked up his play all season, leading to averages of 18.4 points, 12 rebounds and 3.8 blocks over the past four games. Bogut has always shown flashes of potential on the offensive end of the court, but it's his improved defensive play that has turned him into one of the better big man to own.
Luis Scola, F/C, HOU - Anytime a player drops a career-high 44 points, he's bound to find himself in the "Stock Up" department. That's exactly what Scola did last week against the Nets, connecting on an incredible 20-of-25 shots from the floor. Last week's monster game was the height of the season for Scola, but he has been working up to that level for the past few weeks. Since Feb. 26, Scola is averaging 19.8 points and 12.3 boards. With Carl Laundry now in Sacramento, Scola has become Houston's only option in the post. Roll him with confidence.
Wesley Matthews, G, UTA - Matthews was inserted into the Jazz's starting lineup back in mid-February, but he's just now starting to shine in his new role. Over the past two weeks, Matthews is averaging 12.9 points and 1.5 three pointers per game. He's not the flashiest of additions, but Matthews is worth a look in deep leagues.
Jose Calderon, G, TOR - Raptors coach Jay Triano hinted about looming changes to his starting lineup, and our best guest is Calderon will be that change. The former starter has picked up his production in the past two games, averaging 17.5 points and 9.5 assists. He logged more minutes than incumbent starter Jarrett Jack in either game and now looks poised to reclaim the starting gig. If Calderon was dumped in your league earlier this season, go snatch him up before someone else does.
Jrue Holiday, G, PHI - Holiday has joined the likes of Darren Collison, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, Johnny Flynn, Brandon Jennings and Ty Lawson among this year's elite class of point guards. In nine games this month, Holiday is averaging 13.9 points, 5.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 2.1 threes and 1.4 steals. The Sixers are well out of the playoff race, so look for Holiday to continue getting significant run the rest of the way.
Chris Paul, G, NOR - CP3 owners can finally start getting excited. He has been running without a limp and could return before the end of the week. It's still uncertain how Hornets coach Jeff Bower will divvy up minutes between Paul and rookie Darren Collison, but its hard to imagine Paul not getting 35-plus minutes per night while the Hornets are still in playoff contention.
Joe Johnson, G, ATL - Johnson has been ruled out of Tuesday's game against the Nets with a sore Achilles, and he could miss Wednesday's matchup against the Raptors, too. The Hawks are all but guaranteed a top-four seeding in the Eastern Conference, so look for them to give Johnson as much time off as he needs to be back at full strength.
Luol Deng, F, CHI - Deng is set to miss his third straight game with a calf injury on Tuesday. There's hope Deng will be able to return Friday against the Cavaliers, but we're probably looking at a game-time decision.
Andrei Kirilenko, F, UTA - AK47 is dealing with another injury. This time it's a strained left calf muscle that has sidelined him for the past two games. An MRI came back negative, and Kirilenko hopes to return by Wednesday. Double check his status before slotting him back in your lineup.
Tayshaun Prince, F, DET - Prince left Monday's game against the Celtics in the first quarter with a back injury. After falling to the ground, he took an accidental knee in the back from teammate Jason Maxiell. The injury looked serious initially, as Prince struggled to get off the floor and was helped to the locker room, but early reports are he's just experiencing a sore back. He missed 26 games with a back injury earlier this season, so owners will want to be on the lookout for an update, but it sounds like Prince may not be out too long this time.
Rodney Stuckey, G, DET - Stuckey continues to be sidelined since collapsing during a game against the Cavs on March 5. There's a possibility he'll be able to take part in a full practice on Thursday with a return to game action following shortly after.
Jarrett Jack, G, TOR - As mentioned above, Jack appears headed back to a reserve role. He has seen less playing time than Calderon in back-to-back games, averaging just seven points and four assists in those two outings. Jack's averages dip to 8.3 points and four dimes in the 22 games he has played as a reserve this season, so a demotion will take a big chunk out of his fantasy value.
Sergio Rodriguez, G, NY - "Spanish Chocolate" was the latest Knick to lose his starting job. In two games since the demotion, Rodriguez has only mustered six minutes of playing time. You can find better options on the waiver wire.
Rashard Lewis, F, ORL - Lewis is currently mired in a shooting slump, connecting on just 4-of-18 shots over the past three games. But his latest slump is only one reason he gets a mention among the dregs of fantasy this week. His scoring (14.2) and rebounding (4.5) haven't sunk this low since the 1999-00 season, when he was averaging just 19 mpg. At this point of his career, Lewis is having a tough time resembling more than a three-point specialist.
Robin Lopez, C, PHO - Lopez got off to a hot start after being promoted to the starting lineup in January, but he has cooled recently. He's averaging 6.3 points and 4.5 rebounds while only seeing the court for 21 mpg in March. Both Channing Frye and Louis Amundson are seeing time at center off the bench, so it'll be difficult for Lopez to get the necessary playing time for him to be a fantasy asset.
Chris Kaman, C, LAC - Kaman is in the midst of his toughest stretch of the season. Over the past six games, he has averaged 11.2 points, 6.8 and 0.5 blocks. Opponents have been forcing him away form the basket and forcing him to take face-up jumpers, leading to a miserable 39 percent shooting clip. Another disturbing trend is his drop in playing time - he's seen less than 30 minutes three of the past four games. With the Clippers season officially a lost cause, interim coach Kim Hughes could opt to give playing time to younger players like DeAndre Jordan down the stretch.
Article first appeared on 3/16/10