Under the Radar
Last week I wrote about Darren Collison, who I recommended due to Chris Paul's injury. Collison responded the way I hoped he would, averaging 16 points, 7.3 assists and four rebounds during the three games since. Injuries are an unfortunate but inevitable part of the game, which got me thinking. Who else would be an immediate, solid pickup should an injury befall their teammate ahead of them? A few came to mind.
Ty Lawson, G, DEN - Lawson has looked nothing like a rookie 14 games into the season. He's already shown flashes of brilliance with spectacular dunks and an improving outside shot. Lawson only plays about 20 minutes a night with veteran Chauncey Billups ahead of him. However, Billups is shooting a career-low 38.3 percent from the floor and is not a spring chicken at 33. Within the next few years Lawson should supplant Billups as the starter and eventually become a top-5 point guard.
DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC - Do you remember this guy from last year? The guy who had six blocked shots against Minnesota, grabbed 20 rebounds at Golden State and shot more than 63 percent from the field? He still plays for Los Angeles but scarcely sees playing time behind Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby. Neither the German citizen or Mr. Glass have a solid health history, and both are an injury away from making Jordan fantasy relevant again.
Goran Dragic, G, PHO - Last year, Dragic often looked overmatched, committing too many turnovers for a point guard. This year he looks like a completely different player as Steve Nash's backup. His per 48 minutes averages this season are impressive - 21.3 points, 9.4 assists and 7.3 rebounds. Steve Nash is still playing at a high level, but Dragic has shown he would be a capable replacement should anything happen to him.
I suggested last week that owners with weekly lineups should look at Samuel Dalembert as an option since he had four games this week. His Tuesday night line was solid - 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Some decent players to look at for next week who have four games and might be on the waiver wire include Grant Hill, Ersan Ilyasova, Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson (see below).
Now onto our weekly look at player minutes, roto categories that waiver-wire players can help with and new position eligibility.
Jrue Holiday, G, PHI - Lou Williams will be out indefinitely after suffering a fractured jaw in Tuesday night's game. Holiday should benefit the most and get a big bump in playing time while Williams is sidelined. In only 10 minutes on Tuesday night, Holiday scored 11 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two steals. Grab him if you've got an empty spot on your bench, but in standard 12-team leagues I'd take a wait-and-see approach. Holiday is only 19, so it remains to be seen if he can handle the physicality of the NBA.
J.J. Hickson, F, CLE - Hickson has taken advantage of extra playing time the last couple of weeks. With some of his teammates nursing injuries, he's played more than 30 minutes in five of his last six games. In those five games he's averaged 17.6 points and 5.8 rebounds and has shot more than 65 percent over the last three contests. Hickson is a solid pickup in keeper-leagues with a possible larger offensive role next year should Lebron James leave town.
Omri Casspi, F, SAC - Casspi has carved out a nice role for the Kings, becoming a solid contributor off the bench. He's averaged 29 minutes a night over the last week and scored a season-high 17 last Saturday. The first Israeli to play in the NBA, Casspi has great potential and has given the Kings something to think about when Francisco Garcia returns. If Garcia's option is not picked up in the offseason, expect to find Casspi on everyone's sleeper list next year.
Here are some players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Nate Robinson, G, NY - I try not to point out players who are owned more than not owned, but Robinson is available in about a third of fantasy leagues. He's no longer injured and should be refocused after trying to score for New Jersey. Chris Duhon just isn't getting the job done, which should expand Nate's role in the near future. Remember, this is the same guy who averaged more than 17 points, four assists and a steal last year. So, pick him up if he's available.
Marcus Thornton, G, NO - Thornton has excelled since given an expanded role. He's stepped up his game since the Chris Paul injury, scoring double-digits in six straight games. Over the last week he's averaged 21.3 points, three rebounds and three treys made per game. He's also shooting 53.2 percent from the floor during that span, an excellent percentage for a three-point shooter.
Jarret Jack, G, TOR - Even though he comes off the bench, Jack has put together some solid fantasy stats as of late. Over his last four games he's averaging 11.2 points, 6.2 assists, 3.7 rebounds, two three-pointers made on 51.6 percent field goal shooting. If you're desperate for assists, here's your man.
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 11/25/09