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.
DeJuan Blair, F/C, SAN - Blair has started 15 of the past 16 games for the Spurs, but he didn't really blow up until last week. In his past four games, the rookie out of Pittsburgh is averaging 13.8 points and 14.5 rebounds. The increase in production can be attributed to a spike in playing time, as three of the four games Blair has logged over 30 minutes this season have come in the past week. The Spurs are notorious for resting their veteran stars to keep them fresh for the playoffs, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see extra playing time for Blair become a trend.
Corey Maggette, F, GS - The Warriors have become a three-man offensive unit this month, relying heavily on Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and Maggette for scoring production. All three have shown improvements, but Maggette has seen the biggest statistical jump. In eight January games, Maggette is averaging 28.8 points while posting great percentages from the floor (58.6) and free-throw line (90.3). With a career-high scoring average of 22.2 points, it's unlikely Maggette can keep up at such high a clip, but the injury-plagued Warriors will continue to give him plenty of opportunities in the short term.
Andris Biedrins, C, GS - Biedrins owners have been waiting for the seven-foot Latvian to show signs of life since returning from a lengthy injury, and he finally did on Monday. In what was easily his best performance of the season, Biedrins nearly got a triple-double, finishing with nine points, 19 rebounds and eight blocks. The Warriors are without Anthony Randolph (ankle) for the next couple months, so Biedrins should see plenty of chances to reclaim his spot as the team's best big man.
Robin Lopez, C, PHO - Suns coach Alvin Gentry tweaked his starting lineup on Monday, inserting Lopez in place of Channing Frye. Lopez responded with a career-high 19 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Gentry stated that the move wasn't necessarily permanent, but Lopez should get at least another couple looks as the starter after his strong debut with the first unit. He'll never be as good as his brother Brook, but Robin should be a decent source of big man stats as long as he continues to see around 30 minutes per game.
Corey Brewer, G/F, MIN - Is it possible Brewer has finally developed a reliable three-point shot? Over the past six games, Brewer has hit 11 treys on 47.8-percent shooting from downtown. He's averaging 14.8 points, four rebounds and one steal over that stretch. Brewer has been a solid producer in mid-to-deep sized leagues this year, but the addition of a three-point shot would make him worth a look in shallower formats.
Martell Webster, F, POR - Webster has been on a tear this month, averaging 18.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 threes through eight games. His boost in production at the start of the month could be due to the Blazers being shorthanded due to injuries, but he has continued producing at a high clip even after Steve Blake and Rudy Fernandez returned to the lineup. Give him a look if he's still available in your shallower leagues, especially if you need help with threes.
Kris Humphries, F, NJ - Not much was made of the Nets' acquisition of Humphries on Jan. 9, but it appears there will be some fantasy fallout. After toiling on the Mavs' pine for the first couple months of the season, Humphries has been the Nets primary big man off the bench the past two games. He has averaged 18 points, 7.5 boards, a steal and a block in those two outings. The 24-year old had an impressive preseason for the Mavs, but he never got much of a chance to show off his skills during the regular season. Expectations should be tempered, but he's a former first-round pick who excelled in college and should be able to post respectable numbers if given the playing time.
Brandon Roy, G, POR - Roy has missed the past two games with a strained right hamstring. He wanted to return for Monday's game against the Wizards, but was overruled by Blazers coach Nate McMillan. Roy has been adamant about returning for Wednesday's game against the Sixers, but keep an eye on the situation in case McMillan decides once again that his star player isn't ready.
Kevin Garnett, F, BOS - After three weeks on the sidelines with a hyperextended right knee, Garnett finally appears to be nearing a return. He has been targeting Friday's game against the Blazers for over a week, and all indications are he'll be back on the hardwood that night.
Richard Jefferson, F, SAN - Jefferson missed his first game of the season on Monday, sitting out with lower back pain. He has been ailing from the injury for the past few days, and it could be seen in the box score with his 5.5 scoring average in his previous two games. He's listed as day-to-day and probably won't be out long, but the ever-cautious Spurs won't rush him back if he needs extra rest.
Gerald Wallace, F, CHA - Wallace left Monday's win over the Kings with a sprained ankle, but he was able to return for the final four minutes of the game after the Kings cut the lead to one. "Crash" received treatment on his ankle for 30 minutes after the game and voiced concern about the injury. The severity of the injury is still unknown, so Wallace owners will want to keep a close eye on the situation before committing him to lineups.
Anthony Morrow, G/F, GS - Morrow underwent an MRI on Saturday that confirmed he has a sprained right knee. He's only expected to miss one-to-two weeks, so deep leaguers can stash him and wait out a return, but shallower formats may want to consider finding a replacement for the inconsistent swingman.
Vince Carter, G, ORL - Carter returned from a three-game absence due to a shoulder injury on Friday, but he sure doesn't look like he's at full strength. In seven games this month, Carter is averaging just 7.9 points on 22.4-percent shooting. He's been off from the floor all year, but this current stretch of futility leads us to believe his shoulder is bothering him more than he's letting on. Owners can't give up on the eight-time All-Star, but he should be moved to the bench until he rounds into shape.
Channing Frye, C, PHO - As previously mentioned, Frye was moved to a reserve role as a result of Lopez being named the new starting center. Frye has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, averaging 12 points and 2.3 threes in 31 minutes per game, but his production will take a big hit if his minutes are cut drastically. He's shown in past seasons that he can't help much in fantasy while playing limited minutes, so don't be shy about cutting him loose if he doesn't see significant run off the bench.
Jason Richardson, G, PHO - Richardson was another Sun moved to the bench in the latest lineup juggling down in Phoenix. He was replaced at shooting guard by Leandro Barbosa. Gentry has stated that he will still give Richardson starter-like minutes, but the former Spartan saw just 24 minutes of action in his first game off the bench. Given the inconsistency of Barbosa this season, there's a good chance Richardson still sees plenty of run or eventually reclaims his gig, but his value takes a hit in the short term.
Blake Griffin, F, LAC - Like Greg Oden, Griffin will miss his entire rookie season due to knee injuries. It was announced last week the No.1 overall pick will undergo season-ending surgery on his broken left kneecap. He could still warrant a roster spot in some deep keeper leagues, but all one-year formats should be on the hunt for a permanent replacement.
Beno Udrih, G, SAC - With Kevin Martin now back in the lineup, Udrih's value has taken a sizable hit. In three games since Martin's return, Udrih has averaged eight points and 3.3 assists in 24 minutes. He's clearly the No. 3 guard behind Martin and Tyreke Evans and that won't change unless another injury hits the Kings' backcourt.
Article first appeared on 1/19/10