Around the League
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, role or skill level.
Jared Dudley, F, PHO – Dudley was promoted to the Suns’ starting lineup last week. In his first three starts, Dudley has averaged 19.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 steals. He has struggled from long distance since moving to the starting five, hitting just 2-of-10 shots from beyond the arc. Normally a 40-percent shooter from downtown, Dudley’s value will only go up once his shots start falling. Go pick him up if you need help for the stretch run.
Ron Artest, F, LAL – Artest is quietly having one of his best stretches of the season. Over the past three games, he has averaged 14.7 points, 3.0 steals, 2.3 treys and 1.3 blocks. He has followed suit with the rest of the Lakers’ lineup by playing with a newfound focus as the playoffs near. His numbers this season are at a career worst, but Ron Ron is playing more like the defensive stalwart from years past. He’s worth adding if you need help in the defensive categories and three-point shooting.
Maurice Evans, G/F, WAS – Each year a random veteran backup player emerges late in the season as a fantasy force. This year it’s Evans. With Rashard Lewis still nursing a knee injury, Evans has stepped into the Wizards’ starting lineup to give the team surprising production. In his first two starts, Evans is averaging 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 threes, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks. The 32-year-old veteran has never been a consistent option, but he’s worth a look while he’s starting at small forward in Washington.
Jordan Crawford, G, WAS – Crawford is another Wizard seeing more playing time because of all the injuries that have struck the team. The 22-year-old rookie has seized the opportunity, averaging 21.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.7 three-pointers and 1.5 steals in nine consecutive starts. He’s a more complete player than regular starting shooting guard Nick Young while not giving up any production in the scoring department, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Washington stick with Crawford once Young returns from a knee injury.
Spencer Hawes, C, PHI – Hawes has been a disappointment in his first season with the Sixers, but the 22-year-old center is finally starting to show some consistency. He has reached double digits in scoring each of the past five games, averaging 13.0 points over that stretch. He’s helping out in the big-man categories, too, with averages of 7.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. Inconsistency has been Hawes’ problem all season, so there is some risk here, but he’s worth a look as a streaming option for leagues currently in the playoffs.
Carl Landry, F, NOR – Landry was promoted to the Hornets’ starting lineup after David West went down with a season-ending knee injury last week. In three starts, Landry has averaged 21.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals. We saw what Landry could do with starter’s minutes when he was in Houston last season. He should be owned in nearly all formats.
Reggie Williams, G, GS – Following Monte Ellis’ ankle injury Wednesday night, Williams is in line for a spike in playing time. In seven starts this season, Williams has averaged 16.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 threes. We still don’t know how long Ellis will be sidelined, but Williams will be a good streaming option at the very least if Ellis misses any games.
All Spurs Veterans – Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is notorious for resting his star players down the stretch. Even with the Lakers closing the gap on the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, Pop will worry more about making sure his veterans are at full strength for the playoffs. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobilli, Tony Parker and Antonio McDyess will still play in games over the final two weeks of the season, but don’t be surprised if any of them get the occasional night off.
Devin Harris, G, UTA – Harris was upgraded to questionable for Friday’s tilt against the Lakers, which is the first sign we’ve seen that he’s nearing a return in over a week. Keep a close eye n the situation before Friday’s tip.
Joakim Noah, C, CHI – Noah sat out Wednesday’s win over the Timberwolves with an ankle injury. The injury isn’t considered very serious, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau can be somewhat cautious with his team holding a 2.5-game lead atop the Eastern Conference standings. Noah’s next chance to return to the lineup will be Friday against the Pistons. Given the opponent, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Noah get another night off.
Stephen Jackson, G/F, CHR – Jackson (hamstring) is expected to sit out Friday’s game against the Magic. The veteran swingman has dealt with a bad hamstring all month, but with the Bobcats still in range for a playoff spot, he has played hurt. He remains a candidate to get shut down if the Bobcats fall out of the playoff race and should be monitored daily.
David West, F, NOR – West suffered a season-ending torn ACL last week. While he doesn’t often put up the type of lines that wow you, he remained one of the most consistent power forwards in all of fantasy this year. He finished the season averaging 18.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 0.9 blocks in 70 games.
Monta Ellis, G, GS – The aforementioned Ellis went down with an ankle injury Wednesday night. X-rays came back negative, but any time a player from a non-playoff team suffers an injury this late in the season, there’s a chance he’ll be shut down. The Warriors are officially listing Ellis as day-to-day, so owners should wait to make a roster decision until we hear more, but don’t hesitate to start looking at other options on the waiver wire.
Brandon Roy, G/F, POR – Roy put up couple of solid performances earlier this month, but his play has dropped off of late. Over the past eight games, Roy has reached double digits in scoring just once. With averages of 8.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the month, you’re better off finding a replacement for the stretch run.
Andrea Bargnani, F/C, TOR – Bargnani has never been much of a rebounder, but his recent stretch of ineptitude grabbing boards is concerning. Since grabbing a season-high 12 rebounds on March 5, Bargnani has averaged just 3.0 boards in 10 games. The Raptors have seen increased rebounding from the forward spot this month, with Reggie Evans, Ed Davis and James Johnson all chipping in. Since those three players aren’t going anywhere, expect more light rebounding totals from Bargnani. He’s still a great scorer and three-point shooter, but owners may want to get some additional rebounding help if plugging Bargnani into the lineup.