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.
Jason Thompson, F, SAC - On the heels of an impressive 19-point, 14-rebound performance last Thursday, Thompson one-upped himself with Saturday's 20-20 outing. While preseason stats can always come from unexpected sources, Thompson was already expected to play a big role for the rebuilding Kings this season. He's guaranteed to log heavy minutes at power forward. Consider this a reminder not to forget about blossoming young players on bad teams.
Marreese Speights, F, PHI - Like Thompson, Speights is coming off a great preseason performance. In a win over the Suns last week, Speights poured in 32 points and grabbed 12 boards. He's behind Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert in the Sixers' frontcourt, but as the third big man, he should see plenty of minutes this season. Shallow leagues should just monitor the sophomore in the early going, but deeper ones may want to consider throwing a dart his way at the end of drafts.
Tyson Chandler, C, CHA - Chandler, who has been sidelined all of the preseason with ankle and toe injuries, is targeting a Tuesday return to the hardwood. The Bobcats traded away Emeka Okafor in exchange for Chandler this offseason, so he's primed to play a big role in the frontcourt. There's plenty of injury risk involved when considering Chandler, but he's a proven double-double threat and would be a solid late-round target.
Peja Stojakovic, F, NOR - In two recent drafts, I was able to snag Stojakovic with one of my three final picks. I understand the concerns (aging vet, diminished role, health), but this guy is still a long-range assassin. Despite missing 21 games last season, Stojakovic was one of only 20 players to hit 145 or more treys. His 2.4 three-pointers per game were good enough for fourth best in the league. Stojakovic is currently slated to come off the bench for the Hornets, but by all indications, he's healthy, and the extra rest could go along way toward keeping him out of the infirmary. No, he's not the Peja of old, but he's still a great play in leagues that award three-point shooters heavily.
Kevin Love, C, MIN - The UCLA product suffered a broken bone in his right hand and will undergo surgery on Tuesday. He's expected to miss six-to-eight weeks. That timetable puts him at a return in December, so he'll still hold value - just make sure to drop him down in your cheat sheets.
Antawn Jamison, F, WAS - Jamison suffered a sprained right shoulder last week and will miss the remainder of the preseason. He has already returned to practice in a limited capacity, and the Wizards are encouraged by his progress so far. The current timetable has Jamison returning for the start of the regular season, but that won't become certain until after he gets evaluated again later this week. Considering Jamison is right handed, this injury is worrisome, but he could end up dropping far enough in drafts to be a steal if his rehab continues smoothly.
Boris Diaw, F, CHA - Diaw has been sitting beside Chandler at all of the Bobcats preseason games this exhibition season. The versatile Frenchman suffered a sprained ankle during international play this summer, keeping him sidelined for the past five weeks. The extra time lying dormant hasn't been good to Diaw and led to coach Larry Brown labeling him "out of shape." While a player who's recovering from injury is bound to lose a bit of his athletic physique, it's especially concerning with Diaw, who has been criticized about his conditioning in the past. Following his 2005-06 breakout with the Suns, then Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni was disappointed by Diaw's offseason work ethic. Anyone who drafted Diaw following his breakout knows how disappointing he was that next season. He shouldn't be avoided, but don't be surprised if Diaw gets off to a slow start as he rounds into shape.
Tim Thomas, F, DAL - The journeyman forward is entering his first season with Dallas, but he still hasn't been able to don a Mavs jersey due to offseason arthroscopic knee surgery. With Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Josh Howard and Drew Gooden all capable of logging heavy minutes, Thomas needed a strong preseason to find his place in the rotation. Instead, he's still two weeks away from a return and will likely be nothing more than a depth player for Dallas this season.
Article first appeared on 10/20/09