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.
J.J. Hickson, F/C, CLE – Ignore Tuesday’s 55-point loss to the Lakers – every player on the Cavs’ roster had a horrible game. Instead, look at Hickson’s 23-point, 17-rebound effort against the Suns in his first game back in the starting lineup. Hickson has been inconsistent all season, but with Anderson Varejao (leg) out for the rest of the season, the Cavs will likely give Hickson significant playing time going forward. Expect Hickson to finally start approaching the preseason hype.
Rashard Lewis, F, WAS – Lewis’ production had been on a steady decline with the Magic the past two seasons, but it has seen a nice uptick since he was traded to Washington last month for Gilbert Arenas. Not only has Lewis seen his scoring (13.4) go up with the Wizards, but he’s also rebounding at a career-high clip of 8.2 boards per game, nearly twice his average in 25 games with Orlando this season. One of the biggest knocks against Lewis throughout his career has been his lack of work on the glass, but he appears more dedicated to rebounding now that he is no longer playing alongside rebound machine Dwight Howard. As long as Lewis continues crashing the boards, his fantasy value will remain high.
Nick Young, G, WAS – Young is another Wizard who has thrived since the Lewis-for-Arenas trade went down. The 25-year-old guard has started 12 consecutive games, putting together averages of 20.4 points and 2.3 three-pointers over that stretch. The most impressive game came Tuesday night, when Young exploded for 43 points and seven treys. He doesn’t help much in other categories, but now that Young is no longer in Gilbert Arenas’s shadow, he’s proving to be one of the more electric young scorers in the Association.
Tyler Hansbrough, F, IND – Hansbrough was promoted to the Pacers’ starting five on January 7. He has responded to the new gig by averaging 12.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in four starts. He doesn’t provide much help in the defensive categories, and Wednesday’s 6-point, 3-rebound effort proves his still be somewhat inconsistent, but the former college player of the year is worth a look in deeper formats as long as he holds the starting gig.
Greg Monroe, F/C, DET – The Pistons rookie big man has turned a corner recently. After failing to record a double-double in his first 32 games as a pro, Monroe has racked up four straight, with averages of 13.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals over that stretch. He has seen an increase in playing time over the past two games after Ben Wallace went down with an ankle injury. While Wallace’s ankle injury is considered minor, it seems likely the Pistons will continue giving Monroe ample playing time going forward. Run to your waiver wire and grab the rookie.
Daniel Gibson, G, CLE – Gibson has been out since January 5 with a sprained left ankle. He was originally expected to miss the Cavs’ current five-game road trip, but the guard has rejoined the team and could return to action as soon as Friday against the Jazz. Gibson has been a steady source of points and treys all season and will be worth an active roster spot as soon as he’s back to full strength. Keep tabs on his rehab.
Troy Murphy, F, NJ – Murphy has been stuck on Nets coach Avery Johnson’s bench all season, but his time in New Jersey may be coming to an end sometime soon. The three-point shooting big man will reportedly be sent to Detroit if/when the Nuggets decide to pull off a Carmelo Anthony trade. While Detroit would primarily be acquiring Murphy for his expiring contract, it’s hard to imagine he won’t have a bigger role on the Pistons than he currently does with the Nets. Owners should not expect Murphy to be handed a starting job or return to his nightly double-double ways if he switch teams, but he will be worth a look in most deeper formats if a deal goes through.
Rodrigue Beaubois, G, DAL – Here’s the player who could end up being the biggest beneficiary of Caron Butler’s season-ending knee injury. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until Beaubois (foot) returns from an injury of his own to find out. The speedy guard has missed the entire season after breaking a bone in his foot this past summer, but he appears to be only a couple of weeks away from returning. Beaubois showed off his offensive skills last season with multiple explosive outings off the Mavericks bench, including a 40-point outburst on March 27 against the Warriors. He’ll be worth a speculative add in many leagues once a target return date is revealed.
Michael Beasley, F, MIN – Beasley is expected to miss Thursday’s tilt against Washington, and could also sit out Saturday against Orlando, due to a lingering ankle injury. He has clearly been limited the past couple games, so the Timberwolves and fantasy owners would both be best served keeping the talented forward on the bench until he is back at full strength.
Anderson Varejao, C, CLE – Varejao will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn tendon in his right leg. The Brazilian big man was putting together his best season as a pro, averaging career-high marks in scoring (9.1), rebounding (9.7) and blocks (1.2). As previously mentioned, most of his playing should be headed to Hickson.
Richard Hamilton, G, DET – Hamilton received the first healthy DNP-CD of his career Wednesday night, suiting up but failing to see the court against the Grizzlies. Rip has been apart of trade rumors over the past week, and the Pistons already appear to have moved on. Owners with deep enough benches can stash Hamilton until he’s moved to a new squad, but his short-term value takes a hit.
Wes Johnson, G, MIN – After starting 33 consecutive games, Johnson was moved to a reserve role this past weekend. In his first two games off the bench, Johnson averaged 8.0 points while seeing just 21 minutes per contest. There’s still plenty of upside here, but with limited playing time he’ll have a tough time living up to his potential this season.
Jonny Flynn, G, MIN – Flynn has struggled since returning from offseason hip surgery on December 14, averaging just 4.5 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists. The Timberwolves continue to give Luke Ridnour over 30 minutes per game at the point guard position, and given the impact Flynn has failed to make, the rotation isn’t likely to change much. Barring an injury or trade, Flynn will have trouble producing enough to warrant a roster spot in most one-year formats.
Keyon Dooling, G, MIL – Despite starting 12 of the past 13 games, Dooling hasn’t been able to make much of an impact in the fantasy realm. The 30-year-old point guard has averaged 8.3 points and 5.3 assists in those 12 starts. With Brandon Jennings (ankle) expected to return within the next couple weeks, owners would be better off parting ways with Dooling now and finding someone who offers more long-term value.
Samuel Dalembert, C, SAC – With the emergence of DeMarcus Cousins over the past couple weeks, Dalembert has become an afterthought in the Kings’ rotation. The Haitian center is averaging 4.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in just 13 mpg this month. As long as Cousins can keep his head on straight, Dalembert will continue to see limited action. Look elsewhere for rebounds and blocks.