Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 every now and again - unless they're extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time or role or skill level.
Ty Lawson, G, DEN – With a double-double in three of his past four games, Lawson has ended the debate over which Denver point would hold the most fantasy value over the remainder of the season. Over that four-game stretch, Lawson has put up All-Star caliber numbers, averaging 16.8 points, 10.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 treys and 3.3 steals. Raymond Felton is still putting up quality lines, too, but if you’re in a league shallow enough to roster just one Nuggets’ point guard, go with Lawson.
Nenad Krstic, C, BOS – Krstic has seen a surprise boost in production since his trade to the Celtics. Through his first nine games in Boston, Krstic is averaging 12.7 points and 7.1 rebounds while shooting an efficient 55.3 percent from the floor. He has started all nine of those games and should continue see significant time at the pivot as the Celtics try to get veterans like Jermaine and Shaquille O’Neal healthy for the playoffs.
Richard Hamilton, G, DET – This time two weeks ago it looked like Hamilton might be done for the season. The veteran guard was in Pistons coach John Kuester’s doghouse after numerous feuds and had appeared in just one game between Jan. 12 and the end of February. Now Rip is back in the rotation, and looks to be heading for an increased role after being promoted back to the starting five over the weekend. Hamilton has averaged 14.3 points through six games since his return. He doesn’t offer much help in other categories, but teams in need of scoring should give Rip a look.
Andrew Bynum, C, LAL – After missing the first 24 games of the season with a knee injury, Bynum finally appears to be at full strength. The 23-year-old center is averaging 12.3 points, 15.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks over his past six games. He has dominated the boards against the likes of Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan and Tyson Chandler the past two weeks and looks primed for a strong finish to the regular season.
Brook Lopez, C, NJ – Lopez is another young big man who has upped his production over the past two weeks. Through five March contests, Lopez is averaging 25.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks. The biggest leap for Lopez has been his newfound aggression on the glass. After managing just two double-digit rebounding efforts in his first 53 games, Lopez has grabbed 10 or more boards in five of the past 12 games. If he can continue trending upwards on his rebounding production, Lopez will re-establish himself as one of the most intriguing young fantasy options at the center position.
C.J. Miles, G, UTA – Miles has been a decent source of points and threes all season, but he has upped his all-around production in March. The 24-year-old swingman is averaging 19.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.9 threes and 1.1 steals through eight games this month. He erupted for 40 points Wednesday night and the Jazz will continue to lean on Miles to help offset the scoring that was lost when Deron Williams was shipped to New Jersey. Go grab him.
Channing Frye, F/C, PHO – Frye, who was expected to miss 2-to-3 weeks with a dislocated shoulder suffered on March 6, is already nearing a return to the hardwood. The three-point assassin was able to hoist about 100 mid-range shots earlier this week and could return to game action Friday against the Warriors. Owners who decided to be patient with Frye are about to be rewarded.
Steve Nash, G, PHO – Nash was able to return to action Wednesday night after sitting out the two previous games with pelvic injury. The two-time MVP played nearly 35 minutes Wednesday against the Hornets, but owners will want to keep on close on eye him for the remainder of the season. The Suns are currently sitting three games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. If the team falls out of contention and Nash isn’t at 100 percent, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get some time off at the end of the season.
Baron Davis, G, CLE – Davis has missed the past three games to join his family after the passing away of his grandmother. He could rejoin the team before Thursday’s tilt against the Trailblazers, but his official status probably won’t surface until closer to tip-off. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 5.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 treys since joining the Cavs, so make sure he’s in your lineup once he returns to action.
Tyreke Evans, G, SAC – Evans, who has been out with plantar fasciitis since Feb. 13, has been cleared to return to practice. The Kings will likely want Evans to take a week or two to get back into game shape, but owners can start getting excited about being able to plug the 2009 Rookie of the Year back into their lineups soon.
Gerald Wallace, G/F, POR – Wallace made his first appearance in the Blazers’ starting lineup Tuesday, getting the nod at center. It’s unclear if the Blazers will continue to run Wallace at the pivot, but owners should keep a close eye on the situation to see if he can earn the extra position eligibility.
Amir Johnson, F, TOR – Johnson has missed three straight games with a sprained ankle. He’s officially listed as day-to-day with his next chance to return to the lineup being Friday against the Wizards. His injury coincided with Reggie Evans’ return to action. Once Johnson returns to action, Raptors coach Jay Triano will have a tough time juggling minutes between him, Evans and rookie Ed Davis. Owners shouldn’t be shy about shopping around for a replacement.
Nicolas Batum, F, POR – After averaging over 37 minutes per game in January and February, Batum has seen his playing time drop to 26 mpg this month. With Wallace, Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez all vying for minutes now, Batum will likely continue to see less than 30 mpg. The 22-year-old small forward remains an extremely versatile player and an important rotation piece for the Blazers on both ends of the court, but with the team as healthy now as they’ve been all year, Batum won’t be relied upon as much.
Mehmet Okur, F/C, UTA – The Jazz finally decided to shutdown Okur (back, Achilles) down for the remainder of the season. Okur missed the first 26 games of the regular season while recovering from offseason surgery on his Achilles. He has dealt with lingering back issues since returning to action, limiting him to 13 appearances on the season. At 31, Okur is still young enough to come back and have a couple of productive seasons, but fantasy owners will want to stay away until he proves he can reclaim some of the success we saw earlier in his career.
Blake Griffin, F, LAC – Griffin has put together a monster first season with averages of 22.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists, but the slam dunk champ appears to have hit a rookie wall. He has failed to reach double-digit rebounds in five straight games, averaging 16.6 points and 7.6 rebounds over that stretch. Those numbers still hold value in nearly any format, but Griffin’s lack of defensive statistics (0.7 steals, 0.6 blocks) and struggles from the charity stripe (64.1 percent) do make him a less appealing play when he’s not putting up 20 and 10 every night. This is probably just a small bump in the road for Griffin, but owners in extremely shallow leagues might want to consider benching him until he gets past this mini-slump.