Working the Wire
By Charlie Zegers
RotoWire Hoops Editor
Let the Kids Play
As the playoff picture becomes more concrete, more teams will be looking to take an extended look at younger players or get the veterans healthy for the postseason. A quick look at the standings may offer hints on where to look for help on the waiver wire.
On the top end of the standings, the Celtics have clinched the Atlantic Division and hold a six-game lead over the Pistons for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. We're already seeing Doc Rivers give his subs some extra playing time as a result.
Detroit is more or less locked into the two seed. They've clinched the Central division and hold a five-and-a-half game cushion over the Southeast champs, the Magic. Like the Celtics, they can afford to give the younger guys some run. So can the Magic, who are locked into the three seed with a six-game lead over fourth-place Cleveland.
One game separates spots five through seven in the East, so the Wizards, Raptors and Sixers will be playing all-out through to the end, as will the Hawks, who are currently three games up on the Nets and Pacers for the last playoff position.
In the West, just six games separate the one seed from the ninth spot, and none of the divisions are set yet. No one is resting anyone.
On the bottom end of the standings, the Knicks and Heat are the only teams that have been mathematically eliminated in the East, but the Bulls, Bobcats and Bucks don't have much of a shot at this point. In the West, the Kings, Clippers, T-Wolves, Grizzlies and Sonics are out of the running, and Portland - five games behind ninth-place Denver -- is very close to being officially eliminated.
This Week's Picks:
The first set of picks is intended for players in shallow leagues. The recommendations will be players who are available in 60-80 percent of all Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner leagues on NBA.com. The second group is for deep leagues - more speculative picks, more "sleepers" - guys who are available in more than 80 percent of Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner leagues. Feedback and questions are always welcome.
Steve Blake - POR [PG]: With Brandon Roy out of action, Blake takes on a much more important role in Portland's offense. The 22-point, seven-assist line he posted on Thursday against the Warriors probably attracted some attention, but the 11-and-7 he posted against Charlotte two nights later is far more realistic.
J.R. Smith - DEN [SG]: Here's a repeat pick from last week: Smith continues to put up excellent numbers as Denver's sixth man, topping 20 points in three of his last four games. There aren't too many guys that are on the waiver wire in just over 80 percent of all Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner leagues who will score at that rate.
Josh Boone - NJN [C]: Boone seems to have a nice connection with new floor leader Devin Harris and establishing himself as part of New Jersey's core rotation. He's averaging 13.0 points and 11.4 rebounds over last five games.
Ryan Gomes - MIN [SF,PF]: With this mention, Gomes may have just surpassed Beno Udrih as the player most often recommended in Working the Wire this season. Of course, that's sort of a backhanded compliment to him - for most of the year he's played well, but not well enough to merit a roster spot in most leagues. He's still available in around 80 percent of Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner leagues, despite averaging 17.9 points and 6.6 rebounds over his last 10 games.
C.J. Miles - UTA [SG]: With Andrei Kirilenko (calf) and Ronnie Brewer (groin) hurting, Miles was in the starting lineup on Monday and poured in 26 points. He's zero-percent owned, and might make a nice short-term fill-in while the others are sidelined.
Nick Young -WAS [SG]: Gilbert Arenas still isn't back, and Antonio Daniels just aggravated a wrist injury that's been bothering him for weeks - which opens up an opportunity for Young to step in and contribute. The rookie posted a career-high 27 points in Sunday's game.
Marko Jaric - MIN [PG,SG,SF]: It's looking more and more like Sebastian Telfair won't be back this season - which would mean that Jaric will continue to start at the two spot for the T-Wolves. He's averaged 10.5 points, six assists and three steals in his last two games.
Leon Powe - BOS [SF]: We suggested Powe last week as a guy who might start getting extra playing time now that the Celtics have the top seed in the East more or less wrapped up. That's started to happen: he had 17 points and 13 boards in 27 minutes against the hapless Miami Heat on Sunday. Powe is still zero percent owned, but he won't stay that way for long if he keeps getting minutes to close out the season.
Chris Quinn - MIA [PG]: Another repeat recommendation: Quinn is averaging 12.8 points, 5.2 assists and 2.8 steals over last five games and is a very solid option as long as Jason Williams is out of action.
Article first appeared on 4/1/08