Under the Radar
Two teams made very curious moves in the offseason attempting to solidify the point-guard position. The Portland Trail Blazers signed Andre Miller ($21 million, 3 years) and the Minnesota Timberwolves signed Ramon Sessions ($16 million, 4 years) to lucrative contracts. Portland signed Miller even though Steve Blake was still in town, and the Wolves signed Sessions after drafting Jonny Flynn to run the point in Minnesota.
In Portland, Blake has remained the starter with Miller coming off the bench. Miller is far from happy with the situation, expecting to be the starter after signing the hefty contract. Through the first five games, Miller is recording career lows across the board, including averaging only 25 minutes a game. Blake isn't doing much better, averaging only 6.3 points and 3.4 assists. From a fantasy perspective, Blake isn't worth owning in any format, and it's hard to recommend Miller with the limited minutes he's getting. If you have the room and needs assists, stash Miller on you bench and hope Nate McMillan realizes sooner rather than later that Miller should be getting the bulk of minutes at point guard in Portland.
Jonny Flynn has been the starter for coach Kurt Rambis, but has seen his minutes steadily decrease since their first game. Flynn hasn't racked up the assists, averaging only 3.3 per game, but has shot the ball well, averaging 14.8 points per game. Sessions has gotten off to a slow start averaging six points, 5.8 rebounds and only 2.8 assists per game while getting used to his new teammates. Rambis stated he doesn't want to play both players at the same time, but it would be logical for that to happen. Both players have fantasy relevance in deeper leagues; expect more scoring from Flynn and more assists from Sessions.
Now onto our weekly look at player minutes, different roto categories that players on your waiver wire can help you in, and new position eligibility.
Chris Douglas-Roberts, G, NJ - The injury bug has hit New Jersey, opening the door for CDR. In 79 minutes over his last two games he's scored 45 points, grabbed 10 boards and handed out four assists. Next to Brook Lopez, he's probably the second-best scoring option for the Nets right now. He averaged 18.1 points per game at Memphis his junior year and should take the "next step" in his second professional year.
Udonis Haslem, F, MIA - Haslem has gotten off to a good start, averaging 32.5 minutes a night for the Heat. He has responded well to coming off the bench, scoring 11.75 points and grabbing 10.75 rebounds through the first four games. He'll continue to be a nightly double-double threat on a regular basis as long as he continues to get 30 plus minutes a game.
Charlie Bell, G, MIL - Bell will see a significant uptick in minutes with Michael Redd sidelined with a knee injury. He played 34 minutes on Tuesday night in Chicago, scoring 11 points, grabbing five boards and handing out three dimes. It's hard to recommend Bell in standard 12-team leagues, but he'll get a lot of time the next two weeks with Redd sidelined. Remember that Redd injured the same knee that cost him the season last year, so Bell's role could be bigger for the rest of the schedule.
Here are some players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Peja Stojakovic, F, NO - This spot was reserved for J.J. Redick, but Vince Carter's ankle injury should not keep him out long. This brings us to Peja, who can still knock down shots from beyond the arc. He's averaging three treys a game through the first four contests and remains an excellent free-throw shooter. If you're desperate for threes pick up Peja, who plays four games next week.
Rafer Alston, G, NJ - With Devin Harris nursing a groin injury, Alston becomes the starting point guard. He's handed out 13 assists over his last two games and will log plenty of court time with Harris out (45 minutes on Monday night). It's tough to find decent assist guys on the waiver wire so roll the dice with Alston until Harris makes his return.
DeJuan Blair, F, SA - A big space eater under the hoop, Blair has registered double-digit rebounds in two of his first three NBA games. He'll play 24-28 minutes a night backing up Tim Duncan, who will be rested more this year according to Greg Popovich. Blair was a monster his last year at Pittsburgh, averaging 15.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Blair has shown a penchant for getting into foul trouble (four fouls in each of his first three games) which could impact his minutes. Temper your scoring expectations, but grab Blair if you need help with rebounds.
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 11/5/09