Working the Wire
By Charlie Zegers
RotoWire Hoops Editor
By the time you're reading this article, we'll be one day shy of the trading deadline, in a year when we've had more high-profile players changing teams than any in recent memory. And there are still tons of potential trades to be made – with no clear favorite to win this year's title, even second or third-tier teams like the Hawks are willing to make bold moves and take on salary.
Of course, that so many teams are still in the hunt makes the trade market all the more unpredictable. Everyone thought Mike Bibby stood a good chance to be traded; no one thought he'd go to Atlanta.
Rather than tempt fate and discuss potential trades and their potential impact, we'll concentrate on moves that have actually happened, and leave the next round of surprises for next week's column.
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.
Beno Udrih – SAC [PG]: With Bibby in Atlanta, Udrih is an excellent fantasy option once again. Don't expect Anthony Johnson or Tyronn Lue to take much of his playing time; both have expiring contracts and shouldn't be part of the Kings' long-term plans. Udrih is available in just over 60 percent of all Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner leagues.
Zaza Pachulia – ATL [C]: One of Atlanta's biggest problems this season has been perimeter scoring. With Joe Johnson as the only real outside threat, teams have been free to play zones or junk defenses against the Hawks, making things very difficult for the frontcourt. Bibby should help that situation immediately – he's a major threat to shoot the three or score off the dribble, which should spread out opposing defenses and give Atlanta's inside players more room to operate. You won't be able to get guys like Al Horford (88% owned) or Marvin Williams (96% owned) in most leagues, but you can make a claim on Pachulia in a lot of leagues – he's under 40 percent owned.
Josh Childress – ATL [SF]: Childress is one of the more valuable bench players in fantasy, and like the rest of the Hawks, he should benefit from Bibby's arrival. He's the only other key Hawk that's available in most leagues, at 47% owned.
Shelden Williams – SAC [PF]: Williams' career-to-date has to be considered a disappointment, but he'll have an opportunity to start fresh in Sacramento. Bear in mind, Atlanta had tons of options at the four spot – Marvin Williams, Al Horford – while Sacramento only has Mikki Moore and a bunch of guys they're desperately trying to unload (Kenny Thomas, Shareef Abdur-Rahim). Williams will start right away and be given every opportunity to succeed. He's under two percent owned.
Luis Scola – HOU [PF]: Scola was a bit slow out of the gate, but he has really picked up the pace over the last few weeks. In his last eight games – all starts – Scola has averaged 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 22.6 minutes and shot 62 percent from the floor, and is putting some serious distance between himself and competitors Chuck Hayes and Carl Landry for minutes at the four-spot. He's available in 94 percent of Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner leagues.
Thabo Sefolosha – CHI [SG,SF]: Luol Deng still has "no idea" when he'll be ready to play again, and Bulls coach Jim Boylan has announced that injured players will be worked back into the starting lineup gradually. That means Sefolosha -- averaging 16 points, seven boards, four assists, two steals and a block per over his last five games – is a very viable fantasy option, and he's available in 94 percent of Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner leagues.
Dorrell Wright – MIA [SF]: Wright seems to be settled in as Miami's starting small forward and seems a good fit for the faster-paced offense the Heat have run with Shawn Marion on board. Wright's averaging 14 points, nearly eight boards and three assists per game over his last five, but is only 22.9 percent owned.
Earl Watson – SEA [PG]: Watson has been excellent this month, averaging better than 11 points per game with nine assists, 3.8 boards and 1.2 steals. He posted his first career triple-double (23 points, 10 boards, 10 dimes) on February 6 against the Kings – which certainly helps his February stats. He's 7.2 percent owned.
Marcus Williams – NJ [PG]: The Jason Kidd trade seems to be a "go" again, which means Williams will step into J-Kidd's starting spot, at least until Devin Harris is healthy. Williams scored 11 points and dished out five assists in his only start this season.
Article first appeared on 2/19/08