By Charlie Zegers
RotoWire Staff Writer
My apologies, good readers. For the second time since Christmas, I've been infected by the massive quantity of germs my son brings home from preschool. I'm on so many antibiotics, decongestants and analgesics right now, I could swear I saw the Knicks blow out the Pistons last night.
S'gotta be the medicine talking, right?
What a Difference a Point Guard Makes
We've discussed – here and in other columns – the brilliant play of Toronto's Jose Calderon, and how he's become a fantasy god in the wake of T.J. Ford's latest injury. But an interesting trend has developed in Toronto. With Calderon elevated to the starting lineup, suddenly the rest of Toronto's bench players aren't worth a damn.
We like to call this the "Mikki Moore" phenomenon – in honor of the New Jersey power forward who led the league in field goal percentage last season, thanks to a whole lot of really sweet feeds from Jason Kidd. Moore left Jersey to sign with Sacramento in the offseason. Separated from Kidd, he's faded back into obscurity.
Guys like Jason Kapono and Kris Humphries might be decent plays in deeper leagues when Calderon (or Ford) is running the second-unit. With Darrick Martin in charge, they aren't even worth a roster spot. Even Toronto management knows this – in Sunday's double-overtime win over Portland, Calderon played a herculean 58 minutes. Martin played four, Kapono and Humphries eight each. Juan Dixon was a DNP.
Look for those guys to get a substantial boost if and when Toronto gets Ford back or makes a deal for another credible point guard.
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 are 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. Comments and questions are always welcome - just post 'em on the message board at the bottom of this page.
Kevin Martin (SAC) – This guy could roll out of bed and score. Back on the floor for the first time after missing 17 games, Martin scored 25 points in just 28 minutes of the Kings' loss to Indiana. Guess there's no reason to wait and see if he's rusty.
Nate Robinson (NY) – With Stephon Marbury (see below) out of the picture, Robinson should have a much clearer – and bigger – role in the Knicks' backcourt.
Joe Smith (CHI) – We're not sure why, but the Jim Boylin regime really seems to agree with Smith. In his last 10 games, Smith is averaging 16.3 points, 7.5 boards and 1.6 blocks and put a great deal of distance between himself and second-stringer Tyrus Thomas.
Anthony Parker (TOR) – Parker has scored 20-plus points in three of four games, and is starting to approach the season averages he established for himself last year.
Mike Conley Jr. (MEM) – Conley's hold on the point-guard role has slipped a bit – from 30-plus minutes a night to a pretty even split with Kyle Lowry. But even in 10 fewer minutes, he's producing at about the same level – low double-figures in scoring and six or seven assists.
Luol Deng (CHI) – After missing three games with an Achilles injury, Deng returned to action on Sunday and led Chicago with 28 points.
Andre Iguodala (PHI) – Iguodala suffered a hip-pointer in Friday's loss and was limited in practice on Sunday. It's not clear if he'll miss any games, but it seems reasonable to expect that his productivity will be a bit off until he heals.
Ron Artest (SAC) – Artest is telling reporters he'll be back "very very soon." Artest had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow on January 2nd, but he's already returned to practice on a limited basis and appears to be shooting comfortably with his off (left) hand.
Raymond Felton and Jeff McInnis (CHA) – Both of Charlotte's point guards are expected to return to the lineup on Monday night. We'll wait to see how minutes are split before making any recommendations – we've been burned by Sam Vincent several times this season.
Josh Boone (NJ): Boone has been a pleasant surprise this season, but his free-throw shooting (30.5 percent on the season) makes Shaquille O'Neal look like Reggie Miller. Help may be on the way, as Boone is getting special tutoring from new Net exec Kiki Vanderweghe. Vanderweghe shot 87 percent from the line during his playing career.
Shaquille O'Neal (MIA): Contrary to some reports that have been circulating, Miami coach Pat Riley insists that the big fella is not considering shutting things down for the season. In fact, O'Neal is expected to play this Wednesday against the Bulls.
Jamaal Tinsley (IND): Tinsley played only 19 minutes in Sunday's game; Travis Diener led the offense for the fourth quarter. We don't know at this point if the playing time split is Jim O'Brien's new rotation or if he was riding the hot hand or if Tinsley's recently-healed hamstring was acting up. This bears a closer look.
Shawn Marion (PHO): The Matrix was back in the Suns' lineup on Saturday after missing a game with shoulder and elbow injuries. We don't know if the injuries were the reason, but his shot was off badly; he scored just five points on 2-of-7 shooting.
Stephon Marbury (NY) – Marbury reportedly thinks his latest bout of ankle problems were brought on by bone spurs. If he's right, the repair job would likely sideline him for as much as two months.
Andrew Bynum (LAL) - Bynum left Sunday's game with a knee injury and did not return. He'll miss Monday's game at least, and his status for the Lakers' next scheduled game – Thursday, against the Suns – is in question.
C.J. Miles (UTA) – Miles had the opportunity to really step up with Andrei Kirilenko sidelined. Instead, it appears Miles took several steps backwards. With AK-47 back in the lineup Saturday, Miles got the dreaded DNP-CD tag.
Article first appeared on 1/14/08