Ordinarily, in this space, I'm making recommendations about players you might want to consider claiming… not who you'd want to drop. This week, I found myself working the wire for one of my own teams, and took notes on what I was thinking.
The player to be dropped is Larry Hughes. I have nothing against Larry - seems like a decent guy, played well and helped the Knicks shake off an awful start and start winning when he was inserted into the rotation in late November. But now he's the odd man out of Mike D'Antoni's rotation, and Nate Robinson is back in. When Robinson was benched, he racked up nothing but DNPs for a solid month, so clearly, Hughes has got to go.
But who should I pick up in his stead?
My first impulse was to look for another shooting guard. Shooting guard has been a tough spot to fill in this league - I drafted poorly in that spot (Anthony Parker, D.J. Augustin, Ramon Sessions) and have been plugging in wire guys ever since. But I took a look at the guards available on the wire… and let's just say I was underwhelmed. Here's a look at my options.
As always, percent owned stats are from ESPN NBA.com Fantasy Basketball.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. (74.3% owned) - If healthy, Dunleavy is probably the best player of the group. But that's sort of like saying, "If I were eleven inches taller, I'd be a better NBA player than Chris Dudley." (I maintain this is true; at the very least, I'd have been a better free-throw shooter.)
Delonte West (5.2% owned) - Has the potential to put up solid numbers - he scored 17 points with five boards, two assists and two steals at Atlanta on December 29. But in three games since, he's scored 11 points total. I'd prefer someone who will produce on a more consistent basis.
Keith Bogans (0.2% owned) - contributes a little bit in a bunch of categories, but I really prefer my shooting guards to… y'know… shoot. Bogans hasn't scored in double figures since before Christmas, and is only playing 20-and-change minutes per game.
Devin Brown (1.4% owned) - Consistently scoring in double-figures, hitting a couple of threes per game and generating a healthy number of boards for a guard. Only major worry here is that he gets traded - the Hornets are desperate to clear salary, and Brown was headed to Minnesota last week before a last-minute snag killed the deal. On another team, he might not be nearly as valuable.
Earl Watson (1.1% owned) - A solid veteran, should be a decent source of assists now that he's been elevated to the starting spot. But he doesn't do anything else particularly well… and honestly, after seeing the Pacers' disgraceful performance against the Knicks on Sunday, I'm disinclined to claim any Indiana player.
Mickael Pietrus (4.3% owned) - Like the flexibility he'd give me, qualifying at forward as well as guard... but don't think he'll get consistent enough minutes in his new bench role (24, 9 and 20 minutes in his first three games coming off the bench).
Jerryd Bayless (2.8% owned) - Love him as a short-term pickup with Steve Blake out of the mix… but Blake is probably going to be back in about a week, and I don't much want to go through this process again that soon.
Will Bynum (5.7% owned) - Want to see him play - and how he'll be used - before adding him to any rosters. He's questionable to return on Tuesday.
After looking at my options… I decided that Luol Deng and Chris Douglas-Roberts didn't look so bad at the two… and that I'm already using a roster spot for a guard that isn't really producing enough to be a regular start - Toronto rookie DeMar DeRozan. So I went a totally different route and grabbed Jared Dudley, who gives me a little insurance should the Suns decide Dudley is a better option than Channing Frye.
For the record - just because I found these guys underwhelming doesn't mean they aren't good fits for your league. There are dozens of factors to consider - the depth of the player pool, the scoring system, individual team need and so forth. As it happens, I've been in first or second place in this league for most of the year, so I'm not particularly desperate for a big score - insurance made more sense. In another league, a high-upside guy like Bayless, or Dunleavy might have been the right play.
Also - I was going through this process on Monday afternoon, so Devin Brown's 30-spot and Will Bynum's re-injury didn't factor into the decision at the time. Brown's outburst makes him a bit more attractive, Bynum's injury obviously hurts his value.)
The most popular adds in ESPN NBA.com Leagues this week:
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who will typically 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. The third batch of players will be guys I've mentioned in previous columns that still seem to be available in a lot of leagues and worth a look.
All "percent owned" stats are taken from ESPN NBA.com Fantasy Basketball - your mileage may vary.
Roy Hibbert (22.7% owned) - We'll be seeing a lot of claims on the second-year center out of Georgetown this week. A 26-point, eight-board, four-block outing - against the Orlando Magic, no less, will do that.
Randy Foye (5.8% owned) - As with Miller - it seems reasonable to expect an opening in Washington's rotation will be coming any day now.
Matt Barnes (4.0% owned) - The new starter at small forward for Orlando.
Article first appeared on 1/6/10