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.
Allen Iverson, G, PHI - Iverson made his season debut with Philly on Monday night, totaling 11 points (4-of-11 FG, 3-of-4 FT), five rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes. Most importantly, Iverson started the game. Sixers coach Eddie Jordan plans to run Iverson ragged, so we shouldn't hear any complaints about playing time from the 10-time All-Star. While he won't approach the kind of numbers he put up during his first stint with the Sixers, AI should be able to at least replicate last year's production with the Pistons.
Carlos Boozer, F, UTA - After a disappointing injury-plagued 2008-09 campaign, Boozer has re-established his status as a double-double machine through the first 20 games of the season. He's averaging 26.6 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 62 percent from the floor in the past five games. Boozer is in a contract year and will have to compete with an elite free-agent class for a new contract next offseason, so he has millions of reasons to continue playing at such a high level.
Kevin Love, C, MIN - Love returned from a broken hand over the weekend, making his season debut in Friday's loss to the Hornets. In two games since his return, Love is averaging 14.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, two steals and a surprising two three-pointers. He came off the bench in both games, but should work his way into the starting lineup eventually. If Love's newfound range from downtown sticks, he will see a significant boost in fantasy value since he doesn't offer much on the defensive end.
Courtney Lee, G, NJ - When Kiki Vandeweghe took over head coaching duties for the Nets one of his first moves was reinserting Lee into the starting lineup. In two games since his promotion, Lee has averaged 15.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and two steals. All indications are the Nets will continue giving their youngsters significant playing time, so look for Lee to start living up to the preseason hype that hailed him as a sleeper.
Carl Landry, F, HOU - Here's this year's Paul Millsap. Landry has quietly been the Rockets' best big man this season, and he only seems to be getting better. In the past eight games, Landry is averaging 18.9 points and 7.3 rebounds despite eclipsing 30 minutes just once. The Rockets don't have much depth in the frontcourt, so it wouldn't be much of a surprise if Landry's role with the team continues to grow as the season progresses. He's probably been long gone in most standard leagues, but shallower formats should give him a look if he's still available.
Joel Przybilla, C, POR - With Greg Oden out for the remainder of the season. Przybilla will take over as the starting center in Portland. Przybilla doesn't help out in the scoring, but he'll rack up plenty of boards and blocks while playing around 30 minutes per game.
Dahntay Jones, G/F, IND - After a brief demotion to the bench, Jones is back in the starting lineup. He had started each of the past three games at shooting guard in favor of Brandon Rush. With Danny Granger (foot) expected to miss at least the next month, Jones' spot in the starting lineup should be safe for a while. The Pacers will need someone to step up and score points in Granger's absence, and since Jones was thrust into a similar role earlier this season, look for his number to get called again.
Richard Hamilton, G, DET and Tayshaun Prince, F, DET - Hamilton (ankle) and Prince (back) have both been sidelined for over a month now, often without any indication of when they might return. That's about to change as the Pistons are expected to announce a timetable for both players following Tuesday's practice. All signs point to both players returning soon, so keep tabs on the situation and get ready to reinsert them into your lineup.
Andrei Kirilenko, F, UTA - Kirilenko has missed three of the past four games with a sore back, but he appears to be nearing a return. He tried to lace 'em up for Monday's game against the Spurs but opted to sit after feeling discomfort during the shootaround. Look for him to give it another shot on Wednesday.
Andrea Bargnani, F/C, TOR and Chris Bosh, F, TOR - Bargnani (ankle) and Bosh (illness) both missed Monday's practice. The Raptors are listing both players as game-time decisions for Tuesday's tilt against Minnesota, so make sure to check their status before committing them to your lineup.
Andris Biedrins, C, GS - After missing 15 consecutive games with a back injury, Biedrins appears to be closing in on a return. He joined the team on their current five-game road trip, indicating he could return at some point in the next week.
Greg Oden, C, POR - Oden will miss the rest of the season after suffering a broken left patella on Saturday. He was finally starting to live up to the hype, averaging 11.1 points, 9.1 boards and 2.3 blocks through 21 games. The Blazers expect Oden to be ready in time for training camp next season, but it'll be hard for fantasy owners to trust a player who will only have appeared in 82 out of a possible 246 games through his first three seasons.
Danny Granger, F, IND - Granger is expected to miss a minimum of four-to-six weeks after suffering a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. The All-Star forward was averaging 24.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 three-pointers and 1.6 steals on the season. Fantasy owners will be hard-pressed to replace Granger's production, but Dahntay Jones, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Brandon Rush could all be short-term options.
Nate Robinson, G, NY - Just when Robinson appeared to be finding his groove, he finds himself out of the rotation. Robinson averaged 18.8 points and 2.8 treys in the final five games of November, but he has sat out each of the past four games. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni doesn't appear to have any plans of working Robinson back into the rotation anytime soon, so it may be time to start looking in another direction.
Richard Jefferson, F, SA - Jefferson's production was expected to take a dip when he joined a talented Spurs team this past offseason, but we didn't expect him to drop this far. Through his first 18 games with San Antonio, Jefferson is averaging 12.8 points, his lowest output since his rookie season. He has reached double-digit points just once in the past five games, and with Emmanuel Ginobili now healthy, Jefferson is the Spurs' fourth scoring option. He'll still provide value in plenty of leagues, but shallow leagues may want to scour the waiver wire for a replacement.
Shaquille O'Neal, C, CLE - The good news for O'Neal owners is that he's healthy and playing again, but like Jefferson, his production has been far below what most pundits expected. In his first 14 games as a Cavalier, O'Neal is averaging just 10.9 points and 6.6 boards. The Cavs appear content on limiting Shaq's playing time, holding him under 20 minutes in each of the past two games. O'Neal was brought to Cleveland as an answer for Orlando's Dwight Howard if the teams were to meet again in the playoffs, so don't be surprised if the Cavs continue to preserve O'Neal for the postseason.
Article first appeared on 12/8/09