The most important stat in fantasy hoops is playing time; even LeBron can't generate numbers from the bench. That makes seemingly changes to rotations and substitution patterns crucial when looking for waiver-wire values.
This week, Stan Van Gundy made a tweak to his starting lineup, while Lionel Hollins and Tom Thibodeau altered their substitution patterns. Those moves could have an impact on several players' fantasy values -- and those players could be available in your league.
Picks for the Week
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who may be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers.
All "percent owned" stats are taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball - your mileage may vary.
Lou Williams (69% owned) - Seems to be thriving as an "instant offense" player off the bench for Philly. Could see a bump in playing time if Andre Iguodala (Achilles' tendon) is sidelined for any length of time.
J.R. Smith (67% owned) - Arron Afflalo's production has fallen off significantly, and Smith seems to be stepping up in his place. We always worry about Smith butting heads with his coach, but for now he seems like a good option in just about any format.
Eric Bledsoe (33% owned) - Putting up nice numbers starting in place of Baron Davis (knee). Should continue to have a role even after Davis returns.
Jonny Flynn (22% owned) - The estimates for Flynn's return range from one to three weeks at this point.
Ronnie Brewer (12% owned) - Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is adjusting his rotation, making Brewer the primary wing player off the bench and pushing James Johnson to DNP-CD obscurity.
Kyle Lowry (8% owned) - Lowry's return to the lineup can't come soon enough for the Rockets, who lost Aaron Brooks (ankle) for four-to-six weeks.
Ryan Anderson (6% owned) - Stan Van Gundy's latest lineup reconfiguration has Anderson taking over the starting power forward spot.
Brandon Rush (4% owned) - Rush makes his season debut this week after sitting out a league-imposed five-game substance abuse suspension. Coach Jim O'Brien reportedly toyed with the idea of starting Rush, but has decided for now to keep Mike Dunleavy Jr., in the starting lineup and using Rush as a shooter off the bench.
Xavier Henry (1% owned) - The rookie from Kansas has become the first guard off the bench for Lionel Hollins, replacing veteran Tony Allen.
Gary Neal (1% owned) - Meet the Spurs' latest free-agent find. Plucked from obscurity by Gregg Popovic and company, Neal is rapidly emerging as one of San Antonio's key bench scorers. (Of course, the fact that Popovic favorite George Hill is mired in an awful shooting slump has helped.)
Semih Erden (0% owned) - File it away… Erden has actually put up decent numbers when given the opportunity (nine points and four rebounds in 14 minutes against the Thunder on Sunday). An injury to one of Boston's centers could put Erden in a position to contribute - and when your centers are Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal, an injury is a fairly likely scenario.
Note: This column was published on Thursdays for the first two weeks of the season, but will be a regular Tuesday feature from now on.