Each week we'll look at players who have received increased minutes. An uptick in minutes doesn't always translate into improved fantasy stats but at the very least offers some players to put on the radar.
Kendrick Perkins, C, BOS – I'll admit this is an easy one this week as Perkins made an early return to the court for the Celtics on Tuesday night. Perkins finished with seven points, six rebounds and three assists in 17 minutes (albeit against the lowly Cavaliers). He won't be a significant factor in the short term; the Celtics will keep him to a strict minutes limit. Perkins could help fantasy squads down the stretch with rebounds and blocks. Next season he makes for an interesting sleeper in medium-deeper leagues. The last two seasons Kendrick has averaged about two blocks a game while increasing his scoring average (6.9, 8.5, 10.1) the last three years. While both O'Neals are signed for next year, it's tough to imagine both Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal still on the Celtics roster. Neither has been exactly healthy this year, so the opportunity (with an aging Kevin Garnett) for more production from Perkins is a legitimate possibility. For now monitor his minutes, and at the very least keep him in mind next year.
Rodrigue Beaubois, G, DAL – I honestly didn't mean to turn this into "the players returning from season-long injury" week. That's what it seems like, though, with Beaubois set to return after surgery on his broken foot. He earned the 2011 sleeper tag in this column's season finale last year:
"The guy can score, just look at his 40-point game on March 27 when he hit 9-of-11 three-pointers with eight rebounds and three blocks. A member of the French National team, Beaubois can only grow learning under the tutelage of Jason Kidd."
Of course this was before he broke his foot. Jason Kidd turns 38 in March, so it's possible Beaubois could make a solid contribution for the Mavericks, if not sooner.
Randy Foye, G, LAC – Foye stepped into the starting lineup Tuesday after it was announced that Eric Gordon will miss 3-4 weeks due to a wrist injury. Foye finished the game with 15 points and four assists in 28 minutes. He's worth a look in deep leagues since teammate Rasual Butler (two points in 20 minutes Tuesday) will also see an uptick in playing time. Foye has the better upside of the two, so for those looking for guard help, he's the better claim while Gordon is out.
Reggie Williams, G, GS – Stephen Curry might miss some time after spraining his ankle in practice Tuesday, which would open more minutes for Williams. If you can pick up Williams and give up roster a spot purely based on speculation, do it. Let's look at the seven games he played while Curry was out from Dec. 8-21. During that time Williams averaged 20 points, 3.1 three pointers made, 3.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. Expecting similar per game production isn't out of the question if Curry is sidelined.
Each week we'll look at certain players who can help your fantasy team in the nine categories most leagues use. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a certain category, there's no guarantee they will contribute in other areas.
C.J. Miles, F, UTA – Jerry Sloan seems to have taken a page from Paul Westphal's book when it comes to rotating the small-forward position. After Andre Kirilenko (remember when he was a first-round pick in drafts?) started most of the season, the Jazz turned to Gordon Hayward to start Saturday. After that experiment failed, Sloan turned Tuesday to C.J. Miles, who responded with 14 points in a blowout loss to the Lakers. Miles played 28 minutes, his highest total in January. He's averaging 2.1 made three-pointers in his last eight games and has eight steals over his last four. Until it's reported otherwise, consider him the starter in Utah and expect his minutes to be at least in the high 20s.
Rebounds and Blocks
Dante Cunningham, F, POR – With all their injuries I'm beginning to think the Trail Blazers need to look at hiring either a new athletic training staff or a better strength and conditioning coach. However, given his age (37 in March) and history, it shouldn't come as a complete shock that Portland's latest injured player is Marcus Camby. Joe Przybilla may have a lot of cool nicknames but past that he can only be counted on for mediocre rebounding and block stats. For my money, Cunningham has the higher ceiling and has more potential to put some points on the board. His last two games he's scored 18 points with 12 rebounds and six blocks. Camby won't be back for another few weeks, so grab Cunningham over the "Vanilla Gorilla" if you're looking at Portland for big-man help.
Chris Johnson, C, POR - I'll throw my long-shot, darkhorse, under-the-radar tag on Johnson, a Camby-like clone who was just called up from the D-League. He averaged 17.2, 9.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks for the Dakota Wizards before a 10-day contract with Portland. Don't necessarily rush to get the LSU product; consider this an intro if you see his name in the box score.
Anthony Morrow, G, NJ – Morrow has finally returned from a hamstring injury and was able to log 26 minutes Monday. The long ball is a major part of his game as he averaged more than two made per game last year at a 45.6 percent clip (fifth in the league). There are already reports it's a matter of time before he takes back his starting spot, and minutes shouldn't be a problem to come by. Throw in he's a great free-throw shooter who doesn't hurt your field-goal percentage and you've got a decent four-start player in weekly leagues.
Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies.
Emmanuel Ginobili, SA – Now eligible at small forward
Jason Collins, ATL – Now eligible at power forward
Sam Young, MEM – Now eligible at shooting guard