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.
Brandon Roy, G, POR - With the Blazers suffering through a multitude of injuries, Roy has shouldered the load. In 13 games this month, Roy has averaged 27.4 points, five rebounds and 4.8 assists. The Blazers aren't expected to get help until late January at the earliest, so look for Roy to keep on dominating.
Juwan Howard, F, POR - Howard is another player benefiting from the Blazers' injury woes. Since Joel Przybilla went down with a season-ending knee injury, Howard has averaged eight points and eight boards in four games. At 36, Howard won't be asked to provide much more production than that, but deep leagues could find him useful for the time being.
Corey Maggette, F, GS - Maggette was reinserted into the starting lineup on Dec. 16, and Warriors coach Don Nelson plans to keep him there. Since the promotion, Maggette has averaged 22.8 points and 6.8 rebounds. It's never easy to trust Nellie, but if Maggette continues to produce at such a high clip, the whimsical coach will have to keep him with the starting five.
Yi Jianlian, F, NJ - Yi has been on an absolute tear since returning from a knee injury last week. In three games, he has averaged 22.7 points, seven rebounds and 1.3 treys in 36 minutes per. Interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe has given Yi the green light to keep firing away, putting the third-year forward in a great position to excel for the remainder of the year.
Kirk Hinrich, G, CHI - Hinrich was promoted to the starting lineup Saturday and took advantage of the opportunity with 14 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three treys. He continues to struggle from the floor (36.3 percent), but his overall contribution will make him a solid overall play with the increased role. Go grab him if he's available in your league.
Jonas Jerebko, F, DET - Jerebko filled in for the injured Tayshaun Prince at small forward for 26 games and was expected to move back to the bench upon Prince's return, but that wasn't the case. Instead, Pistons coach John Kuester opted keep Jerebko in the starting lineup by sliding him over to power forward, his natural position. The young Swede has averaged 11.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in December and should be able to come close to maintaining those numbers despite many of his teammates rounding back into shape.
Tracy McGrady, G/F, HOU - McGrady's stay in Houston appears to be nearing a close. After complaining about his limited playing time and being sent home over the holiday weekend, McGrady has been given permission by the team to pursue a trade. He wasn't contributing while playing a limited role with the Rockets, but he could regain fantasy value on a new squad. Watch the situation closely and be ready to pounce on McGrady if lands with a team that's willing to give him a significant role.
Ron Artest, F, LAL - Artest suffered a concussion on Christmas Day when he tripped over a box and fell down a set of stairs at his home. He has steadily made progress, but wasn't cleared to play as of Monday night. Lakers coach Phil Jackson is hopeful that Artest can return Tuesday, but make sure to check his status before reinserting him into your lineup.
Rudy Gay, F, MEM - Gay was a late scratch for Monday's win over the Wizards with a sprained left ankle. He originally sustained the injury on Dec. 16, but he was able to play four games before sitting out Monday. The Grizzlies are hoping he returns on Wednesday, so it doesn't look like the injury is too significant, but it's still a situation to keep an eye on.
Tyson Chandler, C, CHR - Chandler has missed back-to-back games because of a stress reaction in his left foot. X-rays confirmed there isn't a fracture, but Chandler was seen on crutches during Monday's practice, and he's expected to miss at least another week of action.
Marcus Camby, C, LAC - It was only a matter of time. Camby missed his first game of the season on Sunday with a hyperextended left knee. An MRI came back negative, so owners can breathe a little easier. Still, even minor bumps and bruises need to be watched with the utmost attention when Mr. Glass is involved.
Tyreke Evans, G, SAC - Evans sat out Monday's game against the Nuggets after tweaking his ankle in Saturday's double-overtime loss to the Lakers. He was close to returning on Monday, but the Kings decided to err on the side of caution with their young star. Look for him to make a return later this week.
Charlie Villanueva, F, DET - Villanueva has had trouble staying healthy in his first season with the Pistons, dealing with a hamstring injury throughout the preseason, breaking his nose last month and now suffering through a bout of plantar fasciitis. His latest ailment has limited him on the court, leading to his recent 12-of-48 slump from the floor. He'll bounce back once healthy, but Villanueva's play is clearly hindered too much by his plantar fasciitis for him to contribute in the short term.
Thaddeus Young, F, PHI - The Sixers are finally healthy, and someone's production is bound to drop. So far that person has been Young. In his past five games, Young has averaged 12.2 points and 3.6 rebounds, including Monday's four-point, one-rebound performance in 20 minutes. With Allen Iverson, Louis Williams and Marreese Speights all healthy, Young will have trouble producing like he did while the lineup was shorthanded.
John Salmons, G, CHI - Struggling to produce since mid-December, Salmons was demoted to a reserve role last week. He has averaged just 9.4 points over the past six games. The Bulls' backcourt lacks depth, so Salmons can still get plenty of run as a reserve, but his struggles from the floor (37.9 percent), coupled with his replacement (Hinrich) playing well, will make it hard for him to rejoin the starting five any time soon.
Emeka Okafor, C, NOR - Despite maintaining his status as a nightly double-double threat, Okafor has seen his stats drop in his first year with the Hornets. The fifth-year center is averaging a career-low 10.7 points and 9.9 rebounds through 28 games. He's seeing four less minutes per game with the Hornets than he did in his four seasons with the Bobcats, and that number is trending downward with the big man failing to eclipse 30 minutes seven straight games. Unless Hornets coach Jeff Bower decides to stop running out small lineups on a regular basis, it will be hard for Okafor to rediscover the 14-10 lines we became accustomed to while he was in Charlotte.
Josh Howard, G/F, DAL - Now that Howard has appeared in seven straight games, we can say with confidence he won't be as productive as he has been in years past. After averaging 18 or more points each of the past three seasons, Howard is scoring 13.2 ppg this season. With Shawn Marion locked into the starting five, Howard has been relegated to a bench role since returning from injury, and it appears he'll stay there. Because Dallas already has Jason Terry as its primary scoring option off the bench, it's hard to envision Howard improving much on his production as the season progresses.
Article first appeared on 12/29/09