Under the Radar
In case you haven’t heard, Gilbert Arenas has been suspended indefinitely for bringing guns into the Wizards locker room and may have brandished them to a teammate under less-than-friendly circumstances. If the reports are true, he deserves nothing less than a suspension for the rest of the season. Randy Foye is the logical choice to take over a significant portion of Arenas’ playing time, but the under-the-radar fantasy player to keep an eye on is Nick Young.
Call Nick Young basketball’s Jack Bauer. His magic number is 24, as in minutes played. Last year when getting at least 24 minutes, Young scored double digits in 33 of 40 games. Using the same criteria for this season, it’s six of seven. The problem for Young has been playing time, which has been sporadic. Last season he played on and off, averaging 25.6 minutes per game in November, 17 minutes in December and then back up to 25.1 a couple of months later in February. This year, he’s trending the way fantasy owners would hope -- 12.5 minutes per night in October, 16.1 in November, and 19.2 in December. On Tuesday night, Young responded with 21 points in 31 minutes. The Arenas suspension just opened 36.5 extra minutes of playing time for Washington. If that pushes Young to 24-plus minutes a night, look for him to be a viable source of points, three-pointers and free throw percentage for fantasy teams.
Now onto our weekly look at player minutes, roto categories that waiver-wire players can help with and new position eligibility.
Ty Lawson, PG, DEN - Lawson was the subject of this article earlier this year, listing him as a prime backup who would be a serviceable option if the starter ahead of him went down to injury. Well, a strained groin has kept Chauncey Billups sidelined, and Lawson has taken full advantage of his opportunity. He’s tallied more than 34 minutes per game over his last five, averaging 19 points, 7.2 assists and 1.6 steals. The bad news is he rolled his ankle Tuesday night, and his status is up in the air for the rest of the week. Billups is expected back soon, but groin injuries tend to linger and Lawson has earned himself a bigger role if he’s healthy. When I talked about Lawson earlier this year, I recommended watching or rostering two other players in deeper leagues if you have the room: Goran Dragic and DeAndre Jordan.
Rasheed Wallace, C, BOS - A slew of injuries has hit the Celtics, forcing them to call upon the master of the technical foul. Wallace has played more than 31 minutes in four of his last six games, averaging 10.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.2 steal and a block. The Celtics are expecting the wounded back soon, so only take a look at ‘Sheed if you need help in the steals/blocks categories.
Brandon Rush, F, IND - Rush has played his way out of the doghouse in Indiana, averaging 30.8 minutes over his last four games. This is a stark contrast from the 22 minutes per game he averaged in his previous five before that. He’s only worth a look in deeper leagues if you need help with three-pointers.
Here are some players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Devin Brown, G, NO - I was surprised to find Brown sitting on the waiver-wire in almost all of my leagues. Brown has scored double digits in eight of his last nine games. He’s averaged 19.3 points and fours rebounds with seven made three-pointers over his last three games. This is probably the ceiling on Brown, but he should continue to get plenty of open looks playing alongside the best point guard in the league, Chris Paul.
Earl Boykins, PG, WAS - Somewhat surprisingly it was Boykins, and not Randy Foye, that got the first start in the Arenas-suspension era. Boykins probably makes a better fit with the starting unit where there are plenty of scorers who need to be fed the ball. Foye, a better scorer than Boykins, can provide an extra shooter to the second unit with Nick Young getting promoted into the starting lineup. That said, Boykins will be counted on to distribute the ball and instantly becomes a solid source of assists. Don’t expect a lot of scoring from him but assist guys are hard to come by on the waiver-wire, so grab him if you need dimes.
Drew Gooden, F, DAL - Gooden has done a superb job cleaning the glass since returning from a back injury. The former Jayhawk grabbed 18 rebounds on Tuesday night and is averaging both 10.6 points and 10.6 rebounds over his last five games. He has taken advantage of extra playing time due to the knee injury Erick Dampier is battling and is a good play until Dampier is 100 percent.
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.
Article first appeared on 1/7/10