Under the Radar
The upcoming weeks have some interesting scheduling notes for teams in weekly leagues. First, the week of Feb. 8 leads into the All-Star break, and while many teams only have one game, Orlando has three - the only team with that many. Teams needing assists should take a chance on Jason Williams, and for scoring look at Mickael Pietrus/J.J. Redick over players with only one game. The week of Feb. 22 has the Bucks tallying five games, the only team from here on with that many in a week. Take a look at Hakim Warrick, Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino (see below) and possibly Jerry Stackhouse (see below) over a mediocre three-game player.
As of this Monday, every team in the NBA has played at least half of their games, most playing more than half. While you should evaluate your team on an ongoing basis, now is the time to make a serious assessment of your needs and surpluses. Look at your team and figure out what two or three categories you're lagging behind in and which categories you can't lose many points in. For example, if you need assists and are doing fine in scoring, don't go overboard trying to get Chris Paul, look at a more attainable player like Jason Kidd. In any trade be aware of the potential costs, not just the benefits. For example, most centers will help you with blocks and steals, just be ready for the hit you'll likely take in free-throw percentage.
The trade deadline is less than a month away (Feb. 18); pay attention to trade rumors. Nate Robinson and Tracy McGrady will both return to fantasy-relevance once dealt; the Blazers will likely upgrade the center position. Don't necessarily look at who that is but rather who will get their minutes on their current team. The time to take players is before they are dealt, not after. Finally, if you're in fifth place or lower, you need to take chances via trade or the waiver wire. If your team is that low, something is not working. Teams in the upper-third of the league shouldn't make too many radical changes outside of addressing obvious needs.
Now onto our weekly look at player minutes, roto categories that waiver-wire players can help with and new position eligibility.
Carlos Delfino, G, MIL - Delfino has made the most of his increased playing time, filling the stat sheet over his last four games. During that time he's averaged 18.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals. He's now played at least 37 minutes three games in a row and should still see significant court time with newcomer Jerry Stackhouse joining the team. Grab him if you need scoring, rebound or three-pointers.
Jerry Stackhouse, G, MIL - Stack was signed to pick up some of the slack incurred from the Michael Redd injury. Don't have lofty expectations for the 35-year-old; he should only be considered in deep leagues where he can contribute with scoring, threes and free-throw percentage.
Cartier Martin, F, GS - Martin signed a second 10-day contract with the Warriors, who are dealing with a number of injuries. This has thrust Martin into an important role over his last three games, playing at least 34 minutes in each. Any player in Don Nelson's system getting this amount of time becomes a blip on the fantasy radar. He doesn't do anything in particular that great; but he contributes a little across the board. Over those three games he's averaging 7.6 points, seven rebounds, one three-pointer made and 1.3 steals. His long-term prospects aren't great, and he should only be considered in deep leagues for teams needing help in the short-term.
Jordan Hill, F, NY - It's not tough to make the minutes section when you go from DNPs to any amount of court time. Hill has only logged 28 total minutes the last two games, a big increase from zero. Right now there's not much to like here, the only stat he's shown the ability to consistently record is fouls. Down the road (as noted, we are getting close to the trade deadline), there's a strong possibility Hill gets a long look with the Knicks likely to be an active trading partner.
Here are some players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Robin Lopez, C, PHO - Lopez took over the starting spot of Channing Frye on Monday and took advantage of the chance. Sporting his usual Sideshow Bob hair, Robin has scored in double-digits for the fourth straight game on Wednesday night. The block total for him now stands at 13 in his last four games and expecting two a night if he continues to get 24 minutes a night is safe bet. His brother Brook is still the better player, but Robin will probably become the main man-in-the-middle next year in Phoenix with Amar'e Stoudemire likely headed for greener pastures, literally. He can also help your team with field-goal percentage, as evidenced by his 58.8 percent shooting from the floor this year. If he's available take a flier on him for a solid No. 2 center.
Kris Humphries, F, NJ - Humphries has had the hot hand for the lowly Nets lately, putting in four straight solid scoring efforts. He's averaged 13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and one block over those four games despite averaging just less than 25 minutes a contest. With New Jersey in rebuilding mode, Humphries could be in line for even more minutes going forward given his recent production. Keep an eye on him to see if he starts to see more court time.
Ben Wallace, F, DET - I mentioned Wallace a couple of weeks ago, yet he remains un-owned in more leagues than not. He's putting up numbers reminiscent of his prime lately - 11.3 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks over the last week. Chip in more than 60 percent from the floor and you've got a great option in just about any league. Keep in mind the free-throw shooting is dismal (44.7 percent for the season), though he does not attempt many per game (2.1 attempts per game). Grab him if you need help on the glass.
Every league has different rules regarding eligibility. Always check your rules to make sure your league recognizes the new position a player may be eligible to play.
Jason Thompson, SAC - Now eligible at center
Article first appeared on 1/21/10