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.
Tracy McGrady, G/F, NY T-Mac is officially back. In his first game as a Knick, McGrady totaled 26 points (10-of-17 FG, 1-of-3 3Pt, 5-of-7 FT), four rebounds, five assists and a steal in 32 minutes. He's locked in as the team's starting shooting guard, and coach Mike D'Antoni has hinted at giving him some run at the point, which will only give him more playing time. It's hard to imagine McGrady returning to his glory days, but if healthy, he could post stats similar to his 2007-08 line of 21.6/5.1/5.9.
Sergio Rodriguez, G, NY - Rodriguez is another player the Knicks acquired before the trade deadline that could make a big fantasy impact in the second half of the season. "Spanish Chocolate" has never received much playing time throughout his career, but his career 8.3 assist average per 36 minutes played has always hinted at his fantasy potential. He had a poor outing in his first start on Monday, but chalk that up to an off night for the whole team.
Jason Thompson, F/C, SAC - Following the big three-team trade the Kings were a part of last week, Thompson found himself back in the starting five. He has averaged 12.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in his past four games. His best play of the season came when Kevin Martin was sidelined with a wrist injury, pushing Thompson to the clear-cut No. 2 option behind Tyreke Evans. With Martin now in Houston, look for Thompson to resume the role of Evans' sidekick.
C.J. Watson, G, GS - Watson has turned into the latest flavor of the week in Golden State. Due to a roster decimated by injuries, Watson has averaged 37 minutes the past five games. He has taken advantage of the extra playing time by averaging 21.6 points, five assists, 2.2 steals and one three. Corey Maggette is expected to be sidelined for another couple of weeks with a hamstring injury, so Watson should hold at least short-term value for owners seeking a plug-and-play option.
Taj Gibson, F, CHI - When the Bulls parted ways with Tyrus Thomas just before last week's trade deadline, it opened up more playing time for Gibson. So far it looks like a great decision by the Bulls' brass. In his past four games, Gibson is averaging 13.5 points, 12 boards and 2.3 blocks. The rookie out of USC has been a pleasant surprise all season, but his production should only grow now that he's in line to play over 30 minutes every night.
Tyrus Thomas, F, CHA - It's not only his ex-teammate who's seeing a boost in fantasy value following the Bulls/Bobcats swap last week. After receiving inconsistent minutes in Chicago, Thomas should see a regular role with his new squad. He has averaged 10.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and five blocks in his first two outings with the Bobcats. Thomas has also flashed the ability to post ridiculous stats, but he often suffered from mental mistakes that limited his game. It's only been two games, but he looks more focused in Charlotte, and hungrier than he was at any point with the Bulls this season. We'd role the dice on him being a solid fantasy contributor the rest of the season.
John Salmons, G/F, MIL - Salmons is another player who was dealt out of Chicago to greener pastures. After coming off the bench for his first two games as a Buck, Salmons was inserted into the starting lineup Monday. Alongside Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings, Salmons will be one of the main offensive contributors for the Bucks for the remainder of the season. If an owner dumped him while he was coming off the bench for the Bulls, make sure you go scoop him up immediately.
Dwyane Wade, G, MIA - Wade sat out the past two games with a strained left calf. He ditched the walking boot he sported Sunday, but he remains listed day-to-day. After a Tuesday matchup against the Timberwolves, Miami is off until Saturday, so Wade could make an appearance before week's end.
Andrei Kirilenko, F, UTA - Kirilenko left Sunday's overtime win against the Blazers in the first half with a sore lower back. This is the same injury that sidelined AK47 earlier this season, and he has already admitted he'll need a couple days off. Make sure to keep tabs on his status before returning him to your lineup.
Deron Williams, G, UTA - Williams was a surprise late scratch for Monday's tilt against the Hawks with a right quad contusion. The Jazz have three more games this week, so he could still provide plenty of fantasy punch if he heals quickly.
Steve Nash, G, PHO - The Suns opted to give Nash Tuesday night off to rest his ailing abdomen and sore back. Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry doesn't want his 36-year-old point guard to be sidelined for an extended period later this season, so he's giving him time to heal now. Tuesday marks Nash's first missed game of the season, and his track record of durability suggests he'll be back on the court in short order.
Tony Parker, G, SA - Parker underwent an MRI on Monday that revealed a mild strain of his left hip flexor. He's officially listed as day-to-day, but since this injury has been lingering for a while, look for the Spurs to give him enough rest to get back to full strength.
Chris Bosh, F/C, TOR - Bosh continues to be hindered by the sprained ankle that has sidelined him the past two games. He sat out Monday's practice, and now his status for Wednesday's matchup against the Blazers is in doubt. Owners will have to continue dealing with the situation on a day-to-day basis, so keep a close tabs on things.
Antawn Jamison, F, CLE - Will Jamison's move to Cleveland squash his fantasy value? Of course not, but it's hard to imagine it being as high as it was when he was the primary option in Washington. With Gilbert Areanas constantly on the sidelines the past three seasons, Jamison was asked to handle most of the scoring load for the Wizards. In Cleveland, he'll be the clear-cut No. 2 option behind LeBron James, but he'll also have to fight for shots with the likes of Maurice Williams, Delonte West, Shaquille O'Neal and others. Jamison will still be a great fantasy play, but owners who can get someone to pay for a 20/10 guy should strongly consider doing so.
Corey Maggette, F, GS - The Warriors put Maggette on the shelf with a stiff left hamstring on Monday. He's expected to miss at least the team's next eight games. Maggette dealt with hamstring issues last season as well, and with the Warriors already out of playoff contention, he could be a shutdown candidate. Shallow leagues should already be looking for a suitable replacement.
Kevin Martin, G, HOU - As previously mentioned, Martin was traded to Houston before last week's trade deadline. He was the primary scoring option in Sacramento the past few season before injuries and the arrival of Tyreke Evans made him expendable. The Rockets will also give Martin plenty of chances to fill it up, but it's unlikely he'll be given enough shots to average the 22.5 points he poured in nightly from 2006-2009.
Nate Robinson, G, BOS - Robinson got his wish last week when he was sent to Boston in exchange for scraps. The Celtics will use Robinson similar to the way New York did -- as a scoring threat off the bench -- but he won't get nearly as many minutes with his new squad. The three-time dunk champ was playing more than 33 minutes per game in his final four contests with the Knicks. Look for his minutes and production to dip once he suits up for the Celtics.
Allen Iverson, G, PHI - Iverson made a brief three-game appearance following the All-Star break, but he's once again out indefinitely to take care of his ill daughter. There are whispers that Iverson and the Sixers may permanently part ways, and given the way this season has gone for both sides, that's probably for the best. If he leaves Philadelphia, it wouldn't surprise us to have a retirement announcement follow shortly thereafter. Lou Williams figures to be the main beneficiary if Iverson permanently leaves the team.
Ronnie Brewer, G, MEM - Brewer's trade to Memphis last week put a dent in his fantasy value, but it was his hamstring injury in his first game with his new squad that really did him in. He's expected to miss at least three weeks, and since there's nothing more than a reserve role waiting for him in Memphis, it's safe to cut him loose.
Article first appeared on 2/23/10