Around the League
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 every now and again - unless they're extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time or role or skill level.
Stephen Curry, G, GS - After a somewhat slow start to the season, Curry is beginning to find his place in the NBA. He's finding his own shot on a more regular basis, and his overall game has improved because of his aggressiveness. In the past 10 games, Curry is averaging 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 treys and a ridiculous 2.8 steals per game.
Zach Randolph, F, MEM - Memphis took a lot of flack this offseason for acquiring Randolph, but he has been a double-double machine for them so far. In nine December contests, the former Spartan is averaging 21.8 points and 13.4 rebounds. More importantly, the Grizzlies have won six of those games. As long as Randolph brings the team success, the Grizzlies will continue giving the big man an opportunity to post huge lines.
Jameer Nelson, G, ORL - Nelson returned to the court on Monday, just five weeks after undergoing knee surgery. He was limited to 14 minutes in his return, but his role should gradually expand over the next few games.
Michael Redd, G, MIL - Redd returned from his knee injury last week, but it's his recent move back into the starting lineup that gives his stock a bump this week. He started on Monday, logging over 40 minutes of floor time for the first time this season. He will have to split scoring duties with rookie point guard Brandon Jennings this year, but Redd will still hold plenty of value while seeing significant run.
Jason Thompson, F, SAC - Kings coach Paul Westphal has made some roster changes the past couple weeks, and one of them was bumping Thompson to the center position. Thompson has already been living up to his promise this season, and eligibility at center will only make him more valuable going forward.
Anthony Randolph, F, GS - Warriors coach Don Nelson said on Monday that he plans to get Randolph more involved in the offense, letting the second-year forward handle the ball more and initiate the offense. You never know what you're going to get with Nellie, but the promise of Randolph is too enticing. The window to buy-low on Randolph will shut quickly if Nellie lives up to his word, so making a speculative move on the promising sophomore is probably the only way to get him on your roster.
Tony Allen, G, BOS - Allen has slowly been rounding into shape and appears to be finding his niche providing offense off of the Celtics' bench. In his past two games, Allen has averaged 12.5 points while eclipsing 20 minutes in each outing. He'll never be a star with the depth on Boston's roster, but he could be serviceable in deep leagues.
Dirk Nowitzki, F, DAL - Nowitzki sustained a deep laceration on his right elbow when he collided with Carl Landry's grill in Friday's game against the Rockets. Surgery has already been ruled out, but Nowitzki's return remains uncertain. He'll try to test out the injury prior to Tuesday's game, but a return on Saturday seems more likely.
Chauncey Billups, G, DEN - Billups has missed back-to-back games with a groin injury, and his status for this week is still up in the air. The All-Star point guard originally planned to make a return on Wednesday, but he was limited at Monday's practice and may need some extra time off. Keep tabs on the situation before reinserting him into your lineup.
Andris Biedrins, C, GS - After six weeks on the sidelines, Biedrins finally appears to be nearing a return from his back/abdomen injury. He returned to practice on Monday and could return to game action shortly after Christmas.
Stephen Jackson, G/F, CHA - Jackson left Sunday's game in the third quarter after suffering from lower back spasms. He has received treatment and has vowed to play through the pain, but back injuries can linger so the situation should still be monitored in the short term.
Allen Iverson, G, PHI - Iverson was diagnosed with arthritis in his left knee that will keep him out until Dec. 28. He could have decided to play through the injury, but he ultimately decided that a week of rest would allow him time to improve his health and conditioning for the rest of the season. The Sixers only play two games this week, limiting the impact his time off will have on fantasy teams.
Luol Deng, F, CHI - Deng revealed on Monday that he has been playing with a fractured left thumb. The injury is on his non-shooting hand and hasn't affected his play at all, but owners will want to keep an eye on the situation in case he suffers a setback.
Boris Diaw, F, CHA - Diaw's production over the past five games has been abysmal - 6.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Scoring has never been his strong suit, but the versatile forward always made up for his lack of point totals by averaging a high number of assists. With Stephen Jackson now the secondary ball handler behind whichever point guard is on the floor, Diaw will have trouble rediscovering his knack to rack up dimes.
Spencer Hawes, C, SAC - Hawes spent a two-game stint in a reserve role last week, but he was moved back to the starting lineup on Friday. Despite the move back to the starting five, Hawes hasn't eclipsed 30 minutes of floor time since Dec. 8. Kings coach Paul Westphal hasn't been shy tinkering with his rotation this season, so inconsistency in Hawes' playing time could continue if the second-year big man doesn't show improvement on the court.
Andrew Bynum, C, LAL - Bynum's fantasy impact is tied to the depth of the Lakers' lineup. Since Pau Gasol has returned to the lineup on Nov. 19, Bynum has averaged 13.6 points and 6.1 rebounds. Those are still respectable numbers, but with a full lineup intact, it's evident Bynum won't be able to post the 20-10 lines we became accustomed to earlier in the season.
Samuel Dalembert, C, PHI - With Marreese Speights making a quick recovery from his knee injury, Dalembert has seen his stock drop quicker than expected. The seven-footer is still starting for the Sixers, but his playing time has dipped to just 15 minutes per over the past three games. During that stretch, Dalembert has averaged 2.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. He'll carry value in rebounds and blocks even in limited playing time, but Dalembert clearly isn't the same fantasy player when Speights and Elton Brand are both in the lineup.
Jason Richardson, G, PHO - Richardson has been dealing with a sprained right wrist, and the injury seems to be affecting his shot. Excluding his 10-for-18 performance on Friday, Richardson has went just 13-for-41 from the floor since Dec. 11. Over that span, he also missed one game due to the injury. He should be able to bounce back with some rest, but the Suns' heavy schedule - five games in eight days starting Wednesday - could make him a risky play in the short term.
Mehmet Okur, C, UTA - The Jazz created a logjam in their frontcourt this offseason when Paul Millsap was re-signed, and the team decided not to ship Carlos Boozer out of town, and up to this point of the season, Okur is the player most affected by the surplus of big men. Through 24 games, the Turkish center is averaging 12.5 points and 6.5 boards, both his lowest since joining the Jazz in 2004. He could see a bounce back to statistical norm if the Jazz's frontcourt suffers an injury, but if that doesn't happen, Okur will have trouble rediscovering the success he has had the past few seasons.
Article first appeared on 12/22/09