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.
Darren Collison, G, NOH - Open up a new tab on your browser and go see if Collison is still available in your league. If so, pick him up immediately. The rookie out of UCLA has taken over starting point guard duties for the Hornets after Chris Paul suffered a knee injury last week. In the past two games as a starter, Collison has averaged 16.5 points and 16 assists. Collison had success as a starter earlier in the season, and with CP3 possibly missing two months, he'll be a great play for an extended period.
Marcus Thornton, G, NOH - Thornton is another young Hornet who has seen his production spike recently. Since his promotion to the starting lineup on Jan. 25 the slick-shooting rookie is averaging 19.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 threes. He'll be counted on to pick up some of the scoring slack left behind by Paul, so look for Thornton's recent surge to become a trend.
Paul Millsap, F, UTA - After his breakout last season, no one should really be surprised by Millsap's jump in value now that Carlos Boozer is out of the lineup with a calf injury. In his two starts subbing for Boozer, Millsap is averaging 28.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and two blocks. He had reached double-digit points in five straight games prior to his promotion to the starting five, so Millsap had already showed signs of regaining last year's form. Sure Millsap will take a hit in value once Boozer returns, but there's a chance the Jazz decide to ship Boozer's expiring contract out of town before the trade deadline. And even if Boozer sticks around for the remainder of the season, Millsap's recent surge proves he'll be a great keeper once Boozer makes his inevitable exit from Utah.
Andrei Kirilenko, F, UTA - Kirilenko has benefited from Boozer's absence as well. In the two games without Boozer, AK47 has averaged 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.5 blocks in 38 minutes. Like Millsap's situation, Kirilenko's long-term outlook will be determined by whether or not Boozer leaves town. We'll have to wait and see how that situation plays out, but Kirilenko will make a great play for at least another couple of games.
Anthony Tolliver, F, GS - Who? Every year a player or two comes out of nowhere to have a short-term fantasy impact. One of this year's surprise players is Tolliver. An undrafted second-year big man out of Creighton, Tolliver has turned a couple 10-day contracts with the Warriors into an unexpected splash onto the fantasy scene. He's snuck into the Warriors' starting lineup in four of the past six games, averaging 10.7 points and 6.5 boards over that span. Most of his minutes can be attributed to the rash of injuries to hit the Warriors' frontcourt. With players like Anthony Randolph (ankle) not expected to return anytime soon, Tolliver could catch on for the remainder of the season and provide some value in deep leagues.
Nicolas Batum, F, POR - Batum, who suffered a shoulder injury during training camp, made his season debut last week. With just five games under his belt, he's already starting to make an impact, averaging 10.2 points and 5.2 rebounds. The French swingman is known most for his on-the-ball defense, but he has the ability to knock down shots from long range and makes for a decent dart in deep leagues that value role players.
Kenyon Martin, F, DEN - Martin has quietly put together his best campaign since 2004-05 thanks to a strong stretch of play since the calendar flipped to 2010. In 16 games since Jan. 1, Martin is averaging 15.5 points, 11.3 boards, one steal and 0.9 blocks. Some of his success over the past week can be attributed to Carmelo Anthony's (ankle) absence, but K-Mart was performing at a high level even when Melo was in the lineup earlier in the month. As long as the Nuggets don't pick up any frontcourt help between now and the trade deadline, Martin will continue to play a career-high 35 minutes per game and post numbers that would help in even the shallowest of formats.
Carlos Boozer, F, UTA - As previously mentioned, Boozer is dealing with a calf injury. He has missed the past two games, but his rehab has been ramped up recently, and a return is on the horizon. Boozer hopes to practice on Thursday and Friday followed by a return to game action Saturday night against the Nuggets. Keep tabs on his status before re-inserting him into your lineup, and it probably won't hurt to monitor him for a few games afterwards.
Charlie Villanueva, F, DET - Villanueva was a late scratch for Sunday's game against the Magic after waking up with back spasms. For a player who has dealt with hamstring problems, a broken nose, plantar fasciitis and now a sore back, it's hard to believe Villanueva has missed just two games this season. As of Monday, he was still dealing with discomfort in his back. He'll be a game-time decision for Tuesday's tilt against the Nets, so make sure to check on him before tip-off.
Chris Kaman, C, LAC - Kaman has missed each of the past two games with a sprained left ankle. He's listed as questionable for Tuesday's game against the Bulls, but that he's having trouble jumping off the ankle puts serious doubt into his prospects for returning that night. Look for DeAndre Jordan to see a nice boost in playing time while Kaman is out.
Brandon Roy, G, POR - Roy continues to be hampered by a strained right hamstring. He's already been ruled out of Wednesday's matchup against the Jazz, but he could be returning later in the week. The Blazers will re-evaluate their All-Star guard prior to Thursday's tilt against the Spurs, but a return on Saturday is more likely, especially since Roy suffered a setback the last time he tried to return. Portland's smart enough to be cautious with its franchise player.
Paul Pierce, F, BOS - Pierce is scheduled to undergo X-rays on his bruised left foot Wednesday. He suffered the injury in the first quarter of Monday's win over the Wizards but was able to return to the game before halftime. The injury doesn't appear serious, but owners will want to be on the lookout for results from the X-rays just in case.
Chris Paul, G, NOH - It's never easy to lose a player to a long-term injury, but it bites quite a bit more when the player in question is arguably the best in fantasy. That's the pill Paul owners had to swallow over the weekend after what seemed like a minor knee injury turned into the All-Star point guard missing up to two months. The Hornets still haven't confirmed the severity of the injury, so owners will want to wait for more details to surface before deciding what to do with Paul.
Gilbert Arenas, G, WAS - The news that Arenas is suspended for the season became official last week. He should be back in the NBA next season, but no one has any clue what team he'll be playing for or what role he'll have with that team. Keeper league owners have a tough decision to make. If you have him priced at a significant discount, it wouldn't hurt to stash him, but owners who paid for a superstar should cut their losses.
Martell Webster, F, POR - After a hot streak in early January, Webster's play has tailed off recently. He's still in the starting lineup, but he has averaged just 5.3 points, 3.7 boards and 0.7 threes in the past three games. More alarming, he has failed to play more than 24 minutes in any of those contests. With Batum and Rudy Fernandez now healthy, the Blazers don't have to rely as heavily on Webster. His ability to hit three-pointers still gives him value, but it's a long shot he goes on another run like he did the first couple of weeks of the January.
Jason Richardson, G, PHO - Despite a promotion back into the starting lineup, Richardson is having trouble helping out his fantasy owners. In six games since regaining the starting gig, Richardson is averaging just 9.3 points. He's shooting an uncharacteristic 36.8 percent from the floor over that span, leaving room for things to improve slightly, but owners need to stop holding their breath that Richardson makes a return to the form he showcased in previous seasons.
Jason Thompson, F, SAC - What happened to the double-double machine we all fawned over at the beginning of the season? Over his past 10 games, Thompson has averaged just 8.9 points and 7.8 rebounds. While those numbers are still respectable, they're not evening sniffing the 16/9 numbers he was posting through the first two months of the season. His biggest problem has been a prolonged shooting slump, hitting just 39.1 percent of his shots from the floor since Jan. 15 - which just so happens to be the same date Kevin Martin returned from a wrist injury. Go back and look at the handful of games Martin and Thompson played together at the beginning of the season, and you'll see Thompson wasn't featured as prominently in the offense as he was during Martin's absence. We'll have to see if Thompson can learn how to establish himself on the offensive end with most of the Kings' offense running through Martin and Tyreke Evans, but so far the outlook isn't very encouraging.
Article first appeared on 2/2/10