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.
Chris Bosh, F, TOR Bosh has been an absolute beast out of the gates, averaging 29 points and 11.6 rebounds through his first seven games. He's taking an unsustainable 14.6 free-throw attempts per game, so his scoring average will likely take a dip, but he still looks primed for a career year.
Anthony Randolph, F, GS The ongoing headaches that stem from Warriors coach Don Nelson's constant rotation juggling are sure to continue, but injuries have opened up playing time for Randolph in the short term. He went off for 23 points, seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks on Monday night and should continue to see plenty of playing time with Andris Biedrins (see below) and Ronny Turiaf both sidelined. The window to buy low on Randolph will close quickly.
Kelenna Azubuikee, G/F, GS Here's another player who has to deal with Nellie's frustrating lineup changes. Unlike Randolph, Azubuike was already seeing significant playing time, but Nelson's declaration that the fourth-year forward out of Kentucky will stick as a starter for a while bumps his value. That could mean two days for the fickle coach, but Azubuike's performance on Monday (31 points) shows what he's capable of when given playing time.
Tyreke Evans, G, SAC With Kevin Martin expected to miss at least eight weeks following wrist surgery, Evans is primed to see time at shooting guard -- his natural position. In the two games since Martin went down, Evans has erupted for 32 and 23 points. Evans will still have trouble with field-goal percentage and turnovers, but he'll be one of the Kings' primary scoring options the entire time Martin is shelved.
Beno Udrih, G, SAC Udrih is another King benefiting from Martin's absence. Martin's injury pushed Udrih into the starting backcourt alongside of Evans. He's averaging 17.5 points and five assists in two outings since rejoining the starting unit. Udrih's value will take a significant dip once Martin returns, but he'll be a solid play in most formats for the next two months.
Marreese Speights, F/C, PHI The most impressive big man in Philly through the first two weeks of the season has been Speights. Despite playing a reserve role, Speights is leading the team in rebounds (6.9) and chipping in 14.4 ppg with great percentages. He has shown the ability to stretch the floor with his jump shot and has solid hands for a post player. Don't be surprised if he eventually joins the starting unit at power forward or center.
Devin Brown, G, NOR After seeing nothing but mop-up duty through the first six games of the season, Brown was inserted into the starting lineup to take over for the struggling Morris Peterson at shooting guard. Brown has responded by averaging 17.5 points and 3.5 treys in two starts. Those numbers will be hard to sustain for a player with a career 7.1 scoring average, but he should be a decent source of points and threes in deep leagues while starting.
Quentin Richardson, G/F, MIA Richardson has been on a tear over the past three games, averaging 16.7 points, 9.3 boards and 3.3 treys. He's currently locked in as the Heat's starting small forward, priming him to have his most productive since 2006-07, which was the last time he averaged over 30 minutes per game.
Eric Gordon, G, LAC Gordon missed Monday's loss to Hornets the after suffering a groin injury. His return is uncertain at the moment, but more should be known following a scheduled visit to the doctor on Tuesday. Bench him until more details are released.
Courtney Lee, G, NJ Lee missed the Nets' loss to the Celtics on Saturday with a groin injury and hasn't returned to practice yet. He doesn't consider the injury serious and hopes to return to action on Wednesday. Monitor the situation before putting him back in your lineup.
Richard Hamilton, G, DET Rip has been listed as day-to-day since suffering an ankle injury in the season opener, but he's still at least a week away from returning to the hardwood, according to Pistons coach John Kuester. Until Rip is able to remove his walking boot and start running, he should stay on your bench.
Mike Dunleavy Jr., G/F, IND The chronically injured Dunleavy (knee) hopes to return to practice in a "week or so." He's been prone to setbacks throughout his recovery, but it's worth keeping an eye on him as he (hopefully) nears his return.
Tracy McGrady, G/F, HOU On Monday, McGrady targeted Nov. 18 as his return date from a knee injury, but that notion was later shot down by Rockets management who won't set a timetable for T-Mac's return until he participates in the team's next full practice on Nov. 23. Needless to say, the team will likely win this battle. It's good to hear McGrady is nearing a return, but don't get too excited about the oft-injured All-Star until results come from the team practice.
Andrew Bynum, C, LAL Bynum has missed the past two games with an elbow injury. His return is uncertain, but the 22-year-old center expects to be back soon. Be on the lookout for an update on his status before the Lakers' next game on Thursday.
Tim Duncan, F/C, SAN Duncan sat out Monday's win over the Raptors because of a swollen left ankle. An MRI showed no structural damage, so owners can breath easy, but it's still uncertain how long the Spurs will hold him out.
Tony Parker, G, SAN Parker missed Monday's game because of ankle problems, too. He suffered the injury in Friday's loss to the Blazers and is considered day-to-day, making a return later this week possible.
Elton Brand, F, PHI With averages of 10.1 points and 5.6 boards, Brand has been one of the biggest early season disappointments. He's playing a career-low 27 minutes per game, often sitting out during the fourth quarter. Many pundits claim he is a shell of his former self and that his numerous injuries throughout the years are finally catching up to him, but he has shown flashes of his old ability. His struggles seem to be stemming from the Sixers' new Princeton-style offense more than anything else. The struggles within the offense even led to a stare down between Brand and Andre Iguodala on Monday night when Iggy failed numerous times to get Brand the ball in the post. Unless Brand's teammates start feeding him the rock, he'll continue to be ineffective. If coach Eddie Jordan doesn't find out a better way to integrate Brand within the offense soon, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him get shopped around.
Paul Millsap, F, UTA When Carlos Boozer opted to return to Utah for another season this past summer, Millsap's value took a hit, but he was still expected to play a big role of the Jazz's bench. That hasn't been the case as Millsap is averaging just 8.3 points and 5.6 boards in 23 mpg. Coach Jerry Sloan said he would play Millsap at small forward to open up more playing time, but that hasn't been the case. Unless the Jazz suffer an injury to their frontcourt or decide to ship Boozer out of town, it doesn't look like Millsap will be able to recapture last year's magic.
Tyrus Thomas, F, CHI Thomas suffered a broken left arm last week and will miss the next four-to-six weeks. He was struggling before the injury and could have to fight his way back into the rotation upon his return if one of the Bulls' rookies (Taj Gibson, James Johnson) breaks out.
Kevin Martin, G, SAC Martin was off to an explosive start, averaging 30.6 points through his first five games, but a hairline fracture in his left wrist will sideline him for at least the next eight weeks. This will be the third consecutive season Martin has missed significant time with an injury, something you may want to consider if you're planning on targeting him early in drafts going forward.
Andris Biedrins, C, GS Biedrins has been ruled out of the Warriors upcoming five-game road trip due to back problems. The Warriors are hoping the extra time off will be enough to get Biedrins back at full strength. Don't cut ties with him, but make sure to monitor his progress over the next two weeks.
Tayshaun Prince, F, DET The former Iron Man has now missed four consecutive games with a ruptured disk in his lower back. The Pistons are hoping extended rest will suffice, but surgery hasn't been ruled out. If Prince opts to forgo surgery, this is the type of injury that could linger and affect his play. Shallow leagues should start looking for replacements, while deep leagues will want to keep him stashed to see how he progresses during rehab.
Allen Iverson, G, MEM Did you really expect anything less than a circus with AI this year? The Answer is currently away from the Grizzlies for personal reasons. Reports have varied, but Iverson could be contemplating retirement. At this point of his career, he's not worth the headache for fantasy owners unless he lands with a new team willing to give him a guaranteed starting spot.
Article first appeared on 11/10/09