By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
Two weeks have passed, and things are becoming a bit clearer - rotations are being set, roles are being defined and injuries are mounting. Let's dive into this week's edition of the Barometer.
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.
Andris Biedrins (GS) – In years past, Biedrins had to rely on grabbing offensive boards in order to rack up any offensive stats. This year, coach Don Nelson has loosened the reins on his 22-year-old big man and is calling Biedrins' number frequently down on the block. Biedrins has responded by putting up career-highs in points (17.3), rebounds (14.1) and shot attempts (12.4). If Biedrins continues to log over 34 mpg, his production should hold, but be wary of his propensity to get into foul trouble.
Tayshaun Prince (DET) – "The Long Arm of the Law" is currently tied with Richard Hamilton for the team lead in scoring. It's highly unlikely that will continue with Allen Iverson in the fold, but with first-year coach Michael Curry planning to run Prince as the featured scorer with the second unit, his current average of 17.5 ppg seems sustainable.
Ben Gordon (CHI) – Fantasy prognosticators were down on the Bulls' crowded backcourt entering the season as it looked like Gordon, Derek Rose, Larry Hughes and Kirk Hinrich would battle for playing time all season. Injuries to Hughes (shoulder) and Hinrich (thumb) have cleared the way for Gordon. He has seized the opportunity by averaging 27.7 points, 4.7 assists and 3.3 treys in the past three games. Gordon is currently starting in place of the injured Hinrich, but could be relegated back to the bench when Hughes returns. Starter or sixth-man, it looks like Gordon is going to lead the Bulls in scoring for the fourth straight season.
O.J. Mayo (MEM) – The former USC standout is proving he was well worth the third-overall pick in the NBA draft, averaging 21 points and three triples per game. He has great range and the ability to create his own shot, so expect the scoring to continue. One problem that may arise is Mayo's reliance on the jump shot, meaning he could go through some slumps.
Nate Robinson (NYK) – It looks like Robinson is taking on the role of Leandro Barbosa in coach Mike D'Antoni's offense. The diminutive guard has come off the bench in all six games, but it hasn't stopped him from reaching double-digits in points each time.
Wilson Chandler (NYK) – A recent promotion to the starting lineup has made it clear that Chandler is a favorite of coach Mike D'Antoni. Chandler has returned the favor by posting 14.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 three-pointers in the past three games.
Sebastian Telfair (MIN) – After missing the first three games of the season due to suspension, Telfair needed only one appearance to play his way into the starting lineup. While his stay with the starting unit may be short-lived, Telfair's strong play (10 ppg and 7.0 apg in three games) should be enough to get him close to 30 mpg.
Tony Allen (BOS) – Gone is the strong defense and clutch shooting James Posey provided as the Celtics sixth-man last season, but it looks like Allen will be used to fill the void. His minutes and production have been on a steady climb, resulting in a season-high 23 points against the Pistons on Sunday. Boston doesn't have much fire-power off the bench, so Allen should continue to be the go-to man with the second unit.
Manu Ginobili (SA) – The original timetable for Ginobili's return from offseason ankle surgery was mid-December, but he took part in a shooting drill on Sunday and was seen sprinting and dunking. Now might be the time to grab him from the free-agent pool or steal him from another owner.
Larry Hughes (CHI) – Bulls general manager John Paxson said Hughes (shoulder) could return to practice this week. It's a possibility that Hughes will slide into the starting lineup as soon as he returns, so he could hold value while Hinrich is sidelined.
Devin Harris (NJ) – A turned ankle put a damper on a career-high 38-point performance that Harris threw up against the Pistons last week. He missed Monday's game against the Heat and is doubtful for Wednesday's tilt versus the Pacers. The injury doesn't appear to be too serious, but Harris should probably be on your bench for this week.
Greg Oden (POR) – The Blazers' big man is traveling with the team and has participated in recent team shootarounds. He's expected to be on the floor by this weekend.
Corey Maggette (GS) – He has missed three straight games with a strained left hamstring and a return date is still uncertain. Coach Don Nelson wants Maggette to be near "100 percent" before reinserting him into the lineup.
Shawn Marion (MIA) – The Matrix has been dealing with groin issues, and it has resulted in his lowest scoring average (10.5) since his rookie campaign. Marion could bounce back once he gets healthy, but after averaging only 14.3 ppg with the Heat last season, it doesn't appear he'll be worth the first-round pick it cost most owners to acquire the roto-star.
Kirk Hinrich (CHI) – The former Jayhawk suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb and is expected to miss three months. Owners might want to look in Larry Hughes's direction to help fill the void.
Josh Smith (ATL) – Smith sprained his left ankle on Friday and will be sidelined for the next two to four weeks. While he will continue racking up plenty of steals and blocks when he returns, don't be surprised if the Hawks reliance on Joe Johnson for offense takes away from Smith's scoring average this season.
Andre Igudola (PHI) – The 76ers' offense is in shambles during the early going as teams double-team Elton Brand and force Andre Miller and Igudola to make jump shots. Iggy appears tentative while trying to adjust to Brand's presence. Look for Igudola to improve on his current 11-point average, but it doesn't look like he will approach his 19 ppg output from the past two seasons.
Jason Thompson (SAC) – The return of Brad Miller from a five-game suspension figured to have an effect on Spencer Hawes, but instead, Thompson has seen the most drastic drop off in production. In two games since Miller's return, Thompson is averaging 4.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 15 mpg. He still holds plenty of upside, but Mikki Moore, Hawes or Miller will probably have to miss time for Thompson to regain his early season success.
Article first appeared on 11/11/08