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.
Carmelo Anthony, F, DEN - Melo has jumped out the gate this season, averaging 37.7 points and seven boards while taking home Western Conference Player of the Week honors. His scoring averaged dipped to 22.8 points last year, but that could be linked to elbow problems that plagued him for much of the season. Anthony is healthy again and should challenge for the scoring title.
Chris Kaman, C, LAC
- After back-to-back injury-riddled seasons, Kaman was an afterthought in many fantasy drafts this year. He was expected to loss some playing time to Blake Griffin
, but with the highly touted rookie sidelined, Kaman has seen 40-plus minutes per night while being the Clippers' best player. Through five games, Kaman is averaging a career-high 22.8 points with 10.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. With 77 games missed the past two seasons, he'll be an injury risk going forward, but it's pretty clear the Clippers are looking to get him more involved in the offense this year.
Trevor Ariza, G/F, HOU
- Ariza was one of the most popular sleepers this offseason, and so far he's living up to the billing. Due to injuries to Tracy McGrady
and Yao Ming
, Ariza has taken over the role of primary scorer for the Rockets. As a result, Ariza's game has flourished to the tune of 21.3 points and 3.3 treys per game. It'll be hard for a player who has never averaged double-digits to keep up such a high scoring average, but Ariza should remain a solid source of points, threes and steals.
Aaron Brooks, G, HOU
- Like Ariza, Brooks is benefiting from injuries that have hit the Rockets. Through three games, the third-year point guard is averaging 21 points, 8.5 assists and 2.3 treys. Those numbers are likely to decline a bit, but Brooks will continue to see the majority of run at point guard in Houston, making his late-round selection an absolute steal.
Brandon Jennings, G, MIL
- In just two games, Jennings has pushed his name into the running for Rookie of the Year. After nearly racking up a triple-double in his NBA debut, Jennings put the Bucks on his back, scoring 16 points in the third quarter of a comeback win over the Pistons on Saturday. His jumper was thought to be suspect entering his rookie campaign, but Jennings is shooting 51.6 percent from the floor and 55.6 percent from downtown. As a rookie, he'll have his ups and downs, but Jennings looks legit.
Marc Gasol, C, MEM
- Here's another big man who came at a discount on draft day. After Memphis drafted Hasheem Thabeet
and traded for Zach Randolph
this past offseason, Gasol's value took a hit. After four games, Gasol has changed that line of thinking. The Grizzlies starting center is doing his best impersonation of his brother Pau, averaging 19 points, 12.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. With Thabeet looking more and more like a long-term project, Gasol should continue rolling along as a nightly double-double threat.
Danilo Gallinari, F, NY
- Gallinari tipped off the season with a hot hand from beyond the arc. In his first four games, he averaged 19.3 points while hitting 19 three-pointers. The hot shooting has landed Gallinari in the starting lineup, and anyone starting for coach Mike D'Antoni is worth a look in fantasy. Like most long-range assassins, Gallinari will go through the occasional dry spell, but he already looks like one of the better three-point options in the league.
Channing Frye, C, PHO
- Here's another gunner from downtown. In Frye's first three games as a Sun, he has hit 13 threes. He's shooting an unsustainable 65 percent from beyond the arc, but he'll continue to get plenty of attempts now that the Suns have reverted to their fast-paced offense. Don't be fooled by Frye's lack of three-pointers prior to this season - he transformed his game to be more perimeter-oriented this offseason and is locked in as the Suns starting center.
Louis Williams, G, PHI
- As soon as Andre Miller
left town for Portland, Williams was named the starting point guard. While he was expected to break out, Williams is exceeding expectations through the first three games, averaging a team-high 20.3 points. He's sharing ball-handling duties with Andre Iguodola, so his assists totals might not be as plentiful as those of other point guards, but Williams will continue to be a scoring machine while also helping out with threes and steals.
Vince Carter, G, ORL - Carter sat out Sunday's win over the Raptors after suffering an ankle injury last week. X-rays were negative, and he doesn't expect to miss much time' He'll be a game-time decision heading into Tuesday's matchup against Detroit. Make sure to check on his status before committing him to your lineup.
Richard Hamilton, G, DET
- Rip suffered an ankle injury in the Pistons' season-opening win over the Grizzlies. He has already missed two games and won't play in Tuesday's tilt against the Magic. The Pistons are labeling Hamilton as "day-to-day" following Tuesday's game, so make sure he returns to the hardwood before putting him back in your lineup.
Charlie Villanueva, F, DET
- Villanueva has started off slowly in his first season with the Pistons, averaging just nine points and four rebounds in 24 mpg. He missed most of the preseason due to a hamstring injury and doesn't appear to be at full strength yet. The Pistons haven't mentioned any problems with Villanueva's health, but it may be best to move him to your bench until he proves that he's 100 percent.
LaMarcus Aldridge, F, POR
- Aldridge sustained a knee injury in Sunday's win over the Thunder. X-rays came back negative, so it appears the Blazers have dodged a bullet. He'll be a game-time decision for Tuesday's game against the Hawks. Even if he's unable to go on Tuesday, the Blazers expect Aldridge back soon.
Yi Jianlian, F, NJ
- Yi is scheduled to undergo an MRI after suffering a knee injury in Monday's loss to the Bobcats. A timetable for his return won't be known until the results come in. The safest route is to place him on the bench for the time being.
Nate Robinson, G, NY
- Robinson missed Monday's win over the Hornets with an ankle injury. He was on crutches at the game and could miss up to two weeks. With Robinson out, Larry Hughes
is expected to have a bigger role.
Pau Gasol, C, LAL
- Gasol has been sidelined through the first three games of the season with a hamstring injury. He recently underwent a sonogram, which showed a possible tear. The Lakers big man will undergo further tests on Tuesday and could be sidelined for a significant period if a tear is confirmed.
Devin Harris, G, NJ
- Harris suffered a strained groin and will miss at least the next week. The injury doesn't appear to be of the long-term sort, but it's still unsettling due to Harris' injury history. He has missed 31 games over the past two seasons due to various ailments and often has lingering bumps and bruises. If this trend continues, Harris may become too risky to invest an early-round pick in next year.
Ron Artest, F, LAL
- The move to La-La Land hasn't been good for Artest's fantasy prospects. Through three games, Artest is averaging 8.3 points and six rebounds. Yes, it's a small sample, but alarming nonetheless. The Lakers brought Artest to town for his defensive prowess, so don't be surprised if his production on the other end of the court continues to be well below his career norms.
Michael Redd, G, MIL
- Another season, another injury for Redd, who suffered a strained tendon in his left knee Saturday. He's expected to miss at least the next two weeks. Redd is averaging just 53 games played the past three seasons, so missed time shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
Ramon Sessions, G, MIN
- When the Timberwolves signed Sessions this offseason, he was expected to have a significant role with the team, likely seeing time at both guard positions. That hasn't been the case as he's averaging just 24 mpg through the first four games. Coach Kurt Rambis doesn't like playing Sessions and rookie Jonny Flynn
together in the same backcourt. Flynn will likely stick as the starter all season, so the majority of Sessions' minutes will have to come while playing backup point guard. Unless Rambis decides to play the two point guards together, Sessions will have a hard time putting up quality stats.
Nick Young, G, WAS
- Young was one of the breakout performers for the injury-depleted Wizards last season, but that success hasn't carried over to this year. With the team now healthy and the offseason acquisitions of Mike Miller
and Randy Foye
, Young has been pushed to the end of the rotation. The USC product showed promise last season, but he'll likely need injuries to hit once again to play a significant role with the Wizards this season.
Article first appeared on 11/3/09