Under the Radar
I really never addressed the Danny Granger injury (though I recommended Tyler Hansbrough last week in related news), but I'm not very optimistic. I once had an inflammation, not a tear of the plantar fascia in my foot, and could have sworn it was broken. Granger has a tear, so that makes my so-called injury look like a hangnail. Initial estimates last week put him out 4-6 weeks, which sidelines him until sometime in mid-January at best. My guess is it's longer and he won't be pushed for 30-plus minutes a game when he initially returns. What to do? Trade, immediately if possible, especially for those leagues that require a small forward spot. My guess is that he's out much longer than expected and will take some time to get back to full speed. He will likely be handled with white gloves the rest of the season with the Pacers not challenging for a playoff spot. If you can deal him for someone like Trevor Ariza, Wilson Chandler or Charlie Villanueva, do it. Whatever replacement you have for Granger plus his time once he returns won't equal the production of an above average small forward from here on.
If you visit NBA.com and click on the D-League, you can find a link to the top prospects for call-ups to the NBA. The top D-League players currently listed for call-up include: Michael Harris, Anthony Tolliver, Sundiata Gaines, Alonzo Gee and Mustafa Shakur. Obviously none of these players warrant bench spots and probably will not be fantasy relevant this year. However, D-League alums include Aaron Brooks, Andray Blatche, Chris Andersen, Matt Barnes, Will Bynum and J.J. Barea. So don't be afraid to take a look at the happenings in the D-League from time to time.
If you have an open bench spot and need help in scoring, pick up Nate Robinson. Yes, he doesn't play. Yes, when he does he scores for the other team. I have a hard time believing he won't be logging significant minutes for some team this year, it just probably won't be the Knicks. They would be very wise to dangle Nate as trade bait, even if only to try and recoup some of the $4 million he's owed this year. I have nothing to back this up other than my own hunch, but would it be that crazy to think he could end up on the Celtics, a la Stephon Marbury?
Now onto our weekly look at player minutes, roto categories that waiver-wire players can help with and new position eligibility.
Brad Miller, C, CHI - Miller started his fifth straight game on Tuesday night and responded with his best game of the season. He scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out six assists and added two blocks and two steals. It would be surprising to see him continue to get 36 minutes a night, especially with Tyrus Thomas' return in the near future. In the meantime, Miller should continue to receive decent playing time so take a flier on him if you need help at the No. 2 center spot.
Dorrell Wright, F, MIA - Wright's carved himself a nice reserve role for the Heat after being a non-factor for most of the season. Over the last six games, he's played at least 19 minutes in every game. He's scored at least 16 points in three of his last four games, and is shooting 54.8 percent from the floor and 100 percent (7-for-7) from the free-throw line for the year. Grab him in deeper leagues as a speculative pick as a guy who can contribute in every roto category.
Chase Budinger, F, HOU - Budinger is one of the rookies who has been under the radar this year and finally got a chance to showcase his talents on Tuesday night filling in for a suspended Trevor Ariza. He put up 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes of court time. Surprisingly, he only made one three-pointer after posting 11 games throughout the season with at least two made in less playing time. Unfortunately for Budinger, Ariza was serving only a one-game suspension, and Tracy McGrady is back in the fold for playing time. That said, Budinger showed what he could do with significant playing time and could see an increased role if McGrady is traded, an injury occurs or the Rockets fall out of playoff contention (which isn't a sure thing at this point).
Here are some players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Jared Jeffries, F, NY - Jeffries should be up for larceny charges the way he's been playing lately. Bad jokes aside, he's got a whopping 14 steals over his last six games. He's also seen a significant bump in playing time, averaging 32.2 minutes a night over his last four games. Throw in two blocks in each of his last three games, and you've got enough stats to make the former Hoosier a solid pickup if you need help in these categories.
Beno Udrih, G, SAC - Lately Udrih has done an admirable job playing second fiddle to Tyreke Evans, providing both solid scoring and assist numbers. Over his last three games, he's averaged 16 points and six assists. He's on a bit of a hot streak, shooting more than 55 percent from the field during this span, but pick him up and ride him out if you need assists.
Rebounds and Blocks
Josh Boone, C, NJ - Do not pick up Boone if your league counts free-throw shooting percentage. A make for Boone at the free-throw line is a coin toss, well if the coin had three sides and two of them said "miss" (he's 1-for-7 this month). On the positive side, Boone has been cleaning the glass and blocking shots for the hapless Nets. He's averaged 7.6 rebounds over his last five games and until Tuesday night's game against Cleveland had recorded at least one block in six straight games. If your league doesn't count free-throw percentage, take a look Boone's way for "big man" stats.
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.
Brad Miller, C, Chi - Now eligible at small forward
Article first appeared on 12/17/09