Working the Wire
By Charlie Zegers
RotoWire Hoops Editor
Looks like the change in general manager – from Billy King to Ed Stefanski – was the first of several to hit the Sixers this season. Philly's new boss gave his rebuilding program a jump-start over the holiday vacation by trading swingman Kyle Korver to the Jazz for the expiring contract of Gordan Giricek and a future first-rounder.
The departure of Korver will yield immediate dividends for Philly's young-but-unproven players like Rodney Carney, Thaddeus Young, Jason Smith and Louis Williams. Carney, in particular, has played well in both games since the trade, playing 25-plus minutes on average (up from his season number of 14.1) and scoring 11 points, grabbing four boards and 1.5 steals.
And Korver wasn't even the most obvious candidate to be shipped out of Philly. That honor, of course, falls to Andre Miller, who could provide a big boost to the sagging playoff hopes of the Miami Heat or a veteran backcourt presence and leader for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The big beneficiary of such a move would be Williams, who has been inconsistent but occasionally brilliant (19 points in just 21 minutes – including 12-of-14 from the free throw line – in a win over the Sonics on New Year's Eve). With that sort of potential and the Sixers' clear focus on the future, the 22-year-old Williams is probably worth owning now, particularly in deeper leagues.
Carney, Smith and Young are all “zero percent” owned in Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner and should be available in all leagues. Williams is available in over 98 percent.
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 40-70 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 70 percent of Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner leagues. Feedback and questions are always welcome – look me up over on The Opening Tip blog and give me a shout.
Tony Allen – BOS [SG]: Rajon Rondo's hamstring injury moved Tony Allen into the starting lineup on Sunday, and Allen responded with 16 points and four dimes. Hamstring issues can linger, which might mean Allen will get a boost in minutes for a couple of weeks even if Rondo is available; that makes Allen a very promising short-term pickup. He's available in around 60 percent of NBA.com leagues.
Antonio Daniels – WAS [PG]: From the Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner statistics, it appears that a lot of owners gave up on Daniels when he suffered a sprained ligament in his knee. He's available in over 90 percent of all leagues, and he's expected back in Washington's starting lineup on January 2nd – much sooner than initially expected. The point guard spot in Washington tends to be a fantasy owner's paradise… Daniels has averaged 11 points, 6.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds in 14 games as a starter since replacing the injured Gilbert Arenas in the Wizards' lineup, and even third-stringer Roger Mason was a short-term fantasy star in that spot.
Bonzi Wells – HOU [SG]: With the news that Tracy McGrady may be sidelined for the better part of January, Wells gets a real value boost as one of the guys who may pick up the scoring slack. (For a deeper sleeper, check out Luther Head, for the same reasons.) Wells is available in around 90 percent of Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner leagues, Head in 99 percent.
Chris Webber – Free Agent [PF,C]: Webber hasn't laced up his high-tops this season, but according to his agent, that will change soon. Webber's representative Aaron Goodwin told the Sacramento Bee that his client is "definitely playing. It's just going to be a matter of where. He'll definitely play, and he'll definitely make a decision within the next few weeks." In the right situation, Webber has the potential to alter the fortunes of a fantasy team more than just about any other player that's likely to become available. He's well worth a roster spot on potential alone. Of course, lots of owners already know that – Webber is already owned in a remarkable 64 percent of all Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner leagues.
Trevor Ariza – LAL [SF]: We've liked Ariza for a while now – and we still consider the “Ariza for Steve Francis” trade to be one of Isiah Thomas' greatest transgressions against Knick fans. But we didn't think he'd play enough for the Lakers to be fantasy-relevant… not initially, anyway. But an injury to Luke Walton has given Ariza an opportunity to get starter's minutes of late, and he seems like a surprisingly good fit with Kobe and Lamar Odom. Don't be surprised if he earns a more-or-less even share of the small forward minutes, even after Walton's ankle is fully healed.
Kyle Lowry – MEM [PG,SG]: This is pure speculation, but with the Grizzlies at 8-22 and clearly going nowhere, it may be time to stop giving minutes to guys like Damon Stoudamire and let the kids play. That could mean big minutes, soon, for rookie Mike Conley Jr., but he's already 73 percent owned. Second-year man Lowry, who showed a ton of promise before injuries ended his rookie season, is only 1.1 percent owned, and he stands to gain from a Stoudamire demotion nearly as much as Conley.
Andre Owens – IND [PG]: As with Tony Allen, Owens became a fantasy option when another guard – in his case, Jamaal Tinsley – pulled a hamstring. A journeyman who spent the entire 2006-07 season in the D-League, Owens seems right at home running the Pacers' offense. In two starts since Tinsley's injury he's averaged 12.5 points, three boards, two assists and a steal per game. He's “zero percent” owned.
Matt Bonner – SAS [PF,C]: Another valuable injury replacement, Bonner has been the primary beneficiary of Manu Ginobili's finger injury. Bonner has played 20-plus minutes and scored in double figures in the Spurs' last three games. He gets an additional value boost from his center eligibility and the fact that the Spurs are expected to be very conservative with Ginobili's rehabilitation.
Article first appeared on 1/1/08