Working the Wire
By Charlie Zegers
RotoWire Hoops Editor
In fantasy baseball, there are always a couple of players who have a chance of qualifying at an alternate position and increasing their value tenfold. There's a chance, however slight, that Brandon Inge will get in enough games to slot in at catcher...
The fantasy basketball equivalent: anyone on the Golden State roster. Our latest example: in a game on March 30, swingman Kelenna Azubuike was officially listed as the Warriors' starting center, as coach Don Nelson went with an ultra-small lineup in an attempt to match up with the Nuggets.
Depending on how liberal your league's position requirements are, Azubuike might qualify now at shooting guard – and in the middle. At this time of year, that sort of roster quirk could be very useful, especially if Azubuike contributes more lines like his output on April 4 against Memphis: 40 minutes, 15 points, 10 boards, 6-12 from the field, 2-2 from three.
How many centers can give you numbers like that?
Kidding aside, some players might need to start using shooting guards in the frontcourt, with more and more players ending their seasons early every day. The latest casualties: Yi Jianlian, Drew Gooden, Chris Kaman and Joel Przybilla… and the jury is still very much out on Brad Miller, Gerald Wallace, Tim Thomas and Corey Maggette.
With just a week left in the regular season, avoid any player listed on the injury reports – "day to day" and "out 'till November" are essentially the same thing right now.
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.
Earl Watson – SEA [PG]: Watson has told reporters that he doesn't expect to miss any more games despite finger and calf injuries. So long as he can stay in the lineup, he has the potential for nice fantasy numbers – he's topped double figures in scoring in five of six games and double-digits in assists in two of his last four.
Andray Blatche – WAS [PF]: Blatche has played three straight productive games, scoring in double-digits twice and grabbing 10 boards in the third game. Antawn Jamison is expected back for Wednesday's game, but it's not at all clear if he'll be at 100 percent productivity, which could mean Blatche will get more run than usual.
Tyrus Thomas – CHI [PF]: With Drew Gooden sidelined for what will likely be the remainder of the season, Thomas will have another chance to show what he can do as a starter. He's painfully inconsistent – scoring 24, then 2, then 12 points in his last three games – but has the capacity to put up big numbers when he's "on."
Jeff Foster – IND [C]: Foster has been on an absolute rebounding tear, grabbing 12.5 boards per game in Indiana's last four – a stretch which coincides with Jermaine O'Neal's return to limited duty. He's worth a roster spot if you have a chance to move up in your league's rebounding standings, especially if he'd be replacing someone like Gooden or Jianlian. He's available in just under 80 percent of Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner leagues.
Josh Powell – LAC [PF]: With Chris Kaman on the shelf for the remainder of the season, Powell becomes the Clippers' starting center. He's averaged a double-double in three games in that role to date, including a career-high 22 point performance on Sunday – and he's "zero percent" owned.
Spencer Hawes – SAC [C]: As with Powell, a potentially season-ending injury to a starter has opened up an opportunity for Hawes to get some minutes during the last week of the season. And as with Powell, Hawes has produced consistent double-doubles when given starter's minutes.
Wilson Chandler – NYK [SF]: One of very few Knicks who seems interested in making a good first impression on new team president Donnie Walsh, Chandler is averaging 10.5 points and 4.7 boards in his last ten games – with seven starts in that span.
Aaron Brooks – HOU [PG]: With Rafer Alston sidelined, Brooks is a very capable fill-in. He's scored in double figures in three straight games, with an average of three assists and 2.6 boards in that span.
Article first appeared on 4/8/08