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.
Randy Foye, G, WAS - In the aftermath of the Gilbert Arenas saga, Foye has emerged as a breakout player. In the past three games, Foye is averaging 20.3 points, 5.3 assists and 1.7 threes. He has started back-to-back games at point guard and should be locked into that position for as long as Arenas is suspended, which could be the rest of the season. Foye showed flashes of All-Star potential in his first three seasons with Minnesota, but his progress was often hindered by injuries. Health hasn't been a problem this season, and if he manages to stay off the trainer's table, Foye could finally start living up to his draft pedigree.
Samuel Dalembert, C, PHI - Dalembert's up-and-down season is in direct correlation with his playing time. When he sees 30-plus minutes, he's a stud. When he doesn't, owners contemplate dropping him. Well, Dalembert is seeing plenty of run lately. Over the past four contests, Dalembert has played over 35 minutes per game, leading to averages of 13 points, 13.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks. After plenty of early-season tweaking, Sixers coach Eddie Jordan's rotation is finally starting to stabilize a bit, and Dalembert appears to be earning Jordan's trust. Elton Brand is firmly entrenched as sixth man, and Marreese Speights' role has shrunk significantly, so Dalembert has a decent shot to continue seeing plenty of playing time.
Troy Murphy, F, IND - Owners who believed in Murphy's breakout last season are finally starting to get the type of production from him that was expected. In three games since returning from an ankle injury, Murphy is averaging 18.7 points, 12 rebounds, 3.7 treys and 2.3 steals. His rare ability to hit threes while grabbing double-digit rebounds on a nightly basis makes him invaluable in standard nine-category leagues, and as long as he stays healthy, he'll be a boon to owners who drafted him.
Chris Wilcox, F, DET - Monday night marked Wilcox's turn in the revolving door that is the Pistons starting power forward gig. Wilcox didn't exactly have a breakout performance (10 points, six boards), but he has been playing much-improved ball of late and could get a handful of starts to see if he deserves the job. He doesn't offer much defense, but career averages of 13 points and seven boards as a starter make him worthy of monitoring in case he sticks with the starting five.
Rasual Butler, F, LAC - Butler moved back into the Clippers starting lineup four games ago. During that stretch, he's averaging 13.5 points 2.5 threes and 1.5 blocks. More importantly, the Clippers have won all four games, including impressive victories over the Heat, Trailblazers and Lakers. The Clippers actually have an outside shot at the playoffs this year, and if Butler continues to play at a high level while helping the team win, he'll keep the starting job over Al Thornton.
Vladimir Radmanovic, F, GS - With Anthony Randolph (see below) sidelined by an ankle injury, Ramanovic has returned to the starting lineup. He immediately took advantage of the promotion with 18 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three three-pointers. Radmanovic has been maddeningly inconsistent throughout his career, but his averages of 10.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 treys in 201 starts make him worth a look in deep leagues.
Rafer Alston, G, MIA - Alston went from fringe player for the Nets to starting point guard for the Heat last week. He hasn't really impressed in his three starts (8.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists) with the Heat, but Alston proved last season that he can join a contending squad and post fantasy worthy numbers.
Kendrick Perkins, C, BOS - The Celtics frontcourt has been shorthanded, and Perkins is the man who has filled the void. He's averaging 15.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while shooting 61 percent from the floor in five January contests. Rasheed Wallace was a surprise scratch Monday night with a foot injury and Kevin Garnett (knee) is still at least 10 days away from returning, so Perkins should continue to post quality lines for at least the next week or two.
Dwyane Wade, G, MIA - Wade sustained a wrist injury that caused him to leave Monday's loss to the Jazz in the first quarter. Thankfully, Wade was able to return, but he finished with a season-low scoring total of 13 points. The injury isn't expected to be serious, but owners should be on the lookout for confirmation following Wednesday's re-evaluation.
Kobe Bryant, G, LAL - Bryant is well known for playing through his injuries, but that's because he still usually plays at a high level even when hurt. The broken finger he suffered last month didn't originally hurt his performance, but a recent 37-of-111 shooting slump indicates he's starting to be bothered by the injury. Thanks to a high volume of shots, his scoring hasn't dipped, but that also leads to a big hit in the shooting-percentage department for fantasy squads. As long as he's on the court, Bryant should be in your starting lineup, but owners should monitor the situation in case the Lakers opt to rest their star player at some point to get him healthy for the playoffs.
Vince Carter, G, ORL - Carter missed Saturday's game against the Hawks with a shoulder injury. He's hoping to make a quick return, but the way Vinsanity has played this month (8.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 22.5 field-goal percentage), Orlando might be better off keeping him on the sidelines and letting him return to full strength.
Rasheed Wallace, F, BOS - As previously mentioned, Wallace was a late scratch from Monday's game against the Hawks with a foot injury. He's officially listed as day-to-day, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers has already said 'Sheed will miss a week's worth of action. The Celtics have been patient with Garnett's return from a hyperextended knee, so it wouldn't come as much of a surprise to see the same approach with Wallace.
Ben Gordon, G, DET - Gordon left Monday's 33-point blowout loss to the Bulls with a strained groin. Add this to a lingering ankle injury, and Gordon's status for the remainder of the week is in doubt. He's optimistic to make a quick recovery, but owners may want to move him to the bench instead of dealing with what will likely be a string of game-time decisions.
Brandon Jennings, G, MIL - It's hard to complain about a rookie who's averaging 18.2 points and six assists on the season, but Jennings' prolonged shooting slump has put a significant damper on his early-season success. Since Dec. 1, Jennings is shooting just 34.5 percent from the floor. With solid contributions in threes (1.9) and steals (1.1) to go along with his point and assist totals, Jennings remains a good fantasy play, but his early season success shooting from the floor was clearly a mirage. If Jennings is locked into your lineup for the remainder of the season, make sure to offset his disastrous field-goal percentage with a players who shoot at a high clip.
Michael Redd, G, MIL - The Bucks received some bad news on Monday when it was announced Redd would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee. This is the second January in a row that Redd's season has come to an end with this injury. Hopefully he'll be able to make a full recovery and play a full season next year, but it will be hard for owners to trust a player who will have missed 113 of 164 games in the past two seasons.
Tayshaun Prince, F, DET - Following his 26-game absence with a back injury, Prince managed to appear in just five games before returning to the sidelines. This time he's out with a sore left knee. Prince is averaging a disappointing 8.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in the nine games he has played this season. The Pistons are in the midst of a 13-game losing streak and the team may opt to start leaning heavily on its youngsters. So even after Prince returns, his role could be smaller than what we're accustomed to seeing.
Anthony Randolph, F, GS - Randolph went down with a severely sprained left ankle in Friday's win over the Kings. He'll be in a walking boot for the next three weeks and could need four weeks of rehab after that. Deep leagues that have room to stash him will want to explore that option, but shallower leagues should start scouring available free agents immediately.
Mario Chalmers, G, MIA - With Alston's return to Miami, Chalmers is all but locked into a reserve role for the rest of the season. In the three contests since Alston joined the Heat, Chalmers has averaged just 15 minutes per game. Heat coach Eric Spoelstra has committed to Chalmers over Carlos Arroyo as the backup point guard, but it'll be hard for Chalmers to hold much fantasy value with such little playing time.
Article first appeared on 1/12/10