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NBA Barometer: Durant Dinged Up

Shannon McKeown

Shannon McKeown

Shannon McKeown is the VP of Advertising Sales and Basketball Editor for Rotowire.com. He's a two-time FSWA finalist for Fantasy Basketball writer of the year. He also covers the Pistons and Tigers for the site.

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 game every now and then - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time, rotation role, or performance.

STOCK UP

Raymond Felton, G, NY - Most pundits thought Felton's move to the Big Apple would be a boon to his fantasy value, but few expected the jump to be as significant as we've seen through 19 games. Felton is putting up top-10 value with averages of 18.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.7 threes while hitting 47.1 percent of his shots from the floor and 90.5 percent of his free throws. All of those numbers are easily career-highs, so some drop-off might come, but Felton has clearly found his groove under Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni.

Jason Thompson, F, SAC - Thompson was promoted to the starting lineup Saturday, replacing Carl Landry, who overslept and missed the Kings' shootaround. In 117 career starts, Thompson has averaged 12.6 points and 8.3 rebounds. Kings coach Paul Westphal never seems happy with his starting lineup, so this move could be temporary; but Thompson is worth a look for as long as he's out on the floor for the opening tip.

Wes Matthews, G/F, POR - Matthews saw his stock rise up a couple of weeks ago after his strong play while subbing in for an injured Brandon Roy. Once Roy returned to action Matthews was moved back to the bench, but he continued his strong play and forced Blazers coach Nate McMillan into making a lineup switch. Now Matthews is starting at small forward in place of Nicolas Batum. In five starts, Matthews is averaging 23.0 points, 3.0 treys and 1.6 steals. As long as he's starting, Matthews is a must-own player.

Ersan Ilyasova, F, MIL - Ilyasova was inserted into the starting lineup last week when Drew Gooden went down with a foot injury. The Turkish forward has taken advantage of Gooden's (plantar fasciitis) absence, averaging 14.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.0 treys in three starts. Gooden returned to action Wednesday, but Ilyasova remained the starter and played over 40 minutes. Plantar faciitis doesn't just disappear, so Ilyasova should continue to see extended action while Gooden rounds into shape.

Andris Biedrins, C, GS - Biedrins turned into a rebounding monster last week, averaging 15.3 boards in four games. He has clearly benefited from Warriors coach Keith Smart's added emphasis on rebounding and defense this season. Like Reggie Evans, Biedrins doesn't help out much in other areas, but his rebounding will play in any format.

J.R. Smith, G, DEN - After his annual spell in Nuggets coach George Karl's doghouse, Smith appears to have worked his way back into the coach's good graces. In his past two games, Smith has averaged 25.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.0 threes and 2.0 steals while playing 31 minutes per game. He has always been streaky, but feel free to ride him while he is hot.

Hakim Warrick, F, PHO - Warrick was promoted to the starting lineup Sunday, replacing Hidayet Turkoglu at power forward. The Syracuse product struggled from the floor (3-of-12) in his first start, but he managed to grab nine rebounds. Warrick is a better fit at the four than Turkoglu, so the Suns will likely give their new starting five a significant look to see if the swap works. Fantasy owners should follow suit and give Warrick a look, too.

CHECK STATUS

Carlos Boozer, F/C, CHI - Boozer (hand) made his season debut Wednesday against the Magic. He finished with just five points (2-of-5 FG, 1-of-2 FT) and two rebounds in 22 minutes. The veteran big man will need a few games to shake the rust off after missing all of the preseason and the first 15 games of the regular season; but once he rounds into shape, look for Boozer to eat into the production of other members of the Bulls' frontcourt, mainly Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.

Chris Kaman, C, LAC - Kaman was originally expected to return from his sprained left ankle on Thanksgiving, but the big man remains on the sidelines. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro has yet to release a specific timetable for Kaman's return, but Kaman is expected to be about another week away from action. Those in weekly formats will want to monitor his status closely over the weekend before deciding on whether to plug him into the lineup.

Jonny Flynn, G, MIN - The Timberwolves will make a baseball-like move and send Flynn (hip) to Sioux Falls of the NBA Developmental League for a rehab start Friday. If all goes well, the sophomore point guard could return to the Timberwolves early next week. While he had trouble grasping coach Kurt Rambis' triangle offense at times last season, Flynn still managed to average 13.5 points and 4.4 assists as a rookie. He'll probably be brought along slowly, but once he gets back in shape, Flynn will put up stats that will play in almost any format.

Terrence Williams, G/F, NJ - The Nets sent Williams to Springfield of the NBA Developmental League last week as part of his punishment for violating numerous team policies. Team officials still haven't decided how long Williams will be stuck in the D-League, but it's pretty evident he doesn't factor into the any immediate plans. Williams has already been dropped in most formats, but those in deep keeper leagues will want to continue to hold onto him and see how this situation plays out long term.

Devin Harris, G, NJ - Harris missed Wednesday's game against the Thunder and will sit out Friday's matchup against the Bobcats after suffering a left knee strain. There is a chance this injury could stretch into next week, so owners in all formats will want to keep close tabs on the situation. Jordan Farmar will move into the starting lineup and provide solid value while Harris is sidelined.

Kevin Durant, F, OKC - Like Harris, Durant is out with a knee injury. Durant sat out Wednesday's thrilling triple-overtime win against the Nets and is officially listed as day-to-day going forward. The Thunder will want to be cautious with their franchise player, so don't expect Durant back on the floor until he's at full strength.

STOCK DOWN

Joe Johnson, G, ATL - Johnson is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in the next few days and will be sidelined for 4-to-6 weeks. The All-Star guard woke up with discomfort in his elbow Tuesday morning, but the injury wasn't initially considered serious. After a visit with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday, it was determined surgery was needed. Mo Evans replaced Johnson in the starting lineup Wednesday night, but most of Johnson's production will likely fall to Jamal Crawford.

Taj Gibson, F, CHI - With Boozer returning to action Wednesday, Gibson was bumped out of the starting lineup. Gibson will be the Bulls' first big man off the bench, but his playing time and production will drop significantly in a reserve role. Owners in deep leagues might still be able to find value in Gibson, but he can be dropped in shallow formats with solid options on the waiver wire.

Carl Landry, F, SAC - Landry was demoted to the bench after missing the Kings' shootaround before Saturday's loss to the Bulls. The move was originally expected to last just one game, but Kings coach Paul Westphal kept Landry in a reserve role for Tuesday's game against the Pacers as well. Westphal is constantly tinkering with his lineup and Landry has performed well off the bench in the past, so don't overreact to this news. Still, it results in a slight, and hopefully temporary, downgrade for Landry.

Nicolas Batum, F, POR - After starting the first 16 games of the season, Batum was moved to the bench in favor of Wes Matthews. In his two games off the bench, Batum is averaging 3.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in 14 minutes per tilt. Matthews has performed brilliantly in both games, but the Blazers are also 0-2 in those contests. Portland coach Nate McMillan has admitted he's just looking to "mix things up," so this could be a temporary move. Those in shallow leagues should feel free to make the swap of Batum for the likes of Matthews, but deeper formats with fewer solid options on the waiver wire should hold on to the Frenchman to see how the situation plays out.

Hidayet Turkoglu, F, PHO - The Suns finally got tired of Turkoglu's inconsistent production as the starting power forward and moved him to a reserve role this week. Turkoglu's playing time and production could hold steady even though he will come off the bench, but he still deserves a downgrade. The 31-year-old forward has been a disappointment all season and will now be in a tougher position to bounce back from his early-season woes and post any value near his draft day price tag.

O.J. Mayo, G, MEM - Like Turkoglu, Mayo is a player who has struggled this season and was recently moved to a reserve role. In six games off the bench, Mayo has averaged 11.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 threes. He'll still hold value as a sixth man, but Mayo owners shouldn't expect the type of production we saw from him in his first two seasons.