By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
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 or role or skill level.
Devin Harris (NJ) - A 38-point outburst against the Pistons on Nov. 7 was bittersweet for Harris owners as he suffered an ankle injury. After missing three games, Harris has come back just as strong, averaging 31.5 points, nine assists, 4.5 boards and two treys in two games. The area where he has excelled the most is at getting to the charity stripe, attempting 10 free throws per game at an 89 percent clip. The Nets are a two-man show with Harris and Vince Carter, so look for Harris to continue putting up monster lines.
Anthony Morrow (GS) - The undrafted rookie made front offices across the Association look silly in his first career start, scoring 37 points while grabbing 11 rebounds and sinking four treys against the Clippers on Nov. 15. Coach Don Nelson changes lineups like pairs of pants, but Morrow's performance should give him a prolonged look with the starting unit. Pick him up if he is available in your league, but keep in mind that he could be relegated back to the pine at a moment's notice.
Ryan Anderson (NJ) - Coach Lawrence Frank has given Anderson extended run in back-to-back games, and the rookie has rewarded his coach with solid play, averaging 16 points, five boards and three treys. Anderson is shooting a ridiculous 75 percent from the floor while hitting a perfect 6-for-6 from beyond the arc, so expectations should be tempered. But with the extra playing time, Anderson could be an unexpected source of threes.
Kwame Brown (DET) - The former first-overall pick has worked his way into Detroit's starting lineup and is starting to become fantasy relevant for the first time this season. In his two starts, Brown is averaging 10 points, 6.5 boards and one block. The Pistons are desperate for size down low, so Brown should hold onto the starting gig unless the team makes any roster changes.
George Hill (SA) - Ankle injuries to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have opened the door for Hill. He has started four consecutive games since Parker went down and is averaging 9.3 points, four rebounds and three assists. Hill was the Spurs first-round pick this year out of IUPUI, where he led the team with a 21.5 scoring average. Like most rookies, his play will be sporadic, but the minutes should be there until the Spurs get healthy.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (MIL) - The second-round pick out of UCLA has been making a surprising impact for the Bucks all season and now he is their starting power forward. In three starts, Mbah a Moute is averaging 14.7 points and 11 rebounds. Coach Scott Skiles has always been fickle with his rotations, but Mbah a Moute's hustle and efficiency should keep him on the court.
Andres Nocioni (CHI) - The Argentinean gunslinger has been the unlikely beneficiary of Kirk Hinrich's finger injury. In the four games following Hinrich's injury, Nocioni has averaged 15 points, six boards and 3.3 treys in 32 mpg. Nocioni was an effective fantasy player last season despite playing less than 25 mpg. With Hinrich slated to miss three months and Nocioni's ability to play three positions, he should continue to post fantasy worthy lines.
Brook Lopez (NJ) - With Josh Boone nursing an ankle injury, Lopez stepped into the starting lineup on Nov. 14 and posted a career-best night with 25 point, nine boards and four blocks. Boone isn't expected to be out long, but look Lopez's way if Boone misses an extended period.
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) - The return of Greg Oden has caused a slight hit on Aldridge's production. Since Oden's rejoined the rotation, Aldridge is averaging 11.6 points and seven boards. Aldridge should be able to still put up nice fantasy totals, but if the first three games with Oden are any indication, expectations should be tempered.
Russell Westbrook (OKC) - Despite shooting a miserable 31 percent from the floor the Thunder's fourth-overall draft choice is averaging 12 points in 24 mpg. Coach P.J. Carlesimo is slowly easing Westbrook into a heavier workload. Once the shooting woes are figured out, more minutes should follow. Keep an eye on Westbrook's situation in Oklahoma City.
Jose Calderon (TOR) - Toronto's most famous Spaniard missed Sunday's tilt against the Heat with a mild hamstring strain. The injury is said to be mild, but check on his status before committing him to your lineup.
Dwayne Wade (MIA) - Wade rolled his left ankle in Sunday's game against the Raptors, but he is hopeful the injury won't cause him to miss anytime. He is expected to be a game-time decision for Tuesday's tilt against the Wizards.
Jason Richardson (CHA) - The Bobcats starting shooting guard underwent an arthroscopic knee procedure last week and has missed back-to-back games. The test revealed no structural damage, but Richardson is still describing his knee as "stiff" and "sore". No timetable has been made for his return, so keep him on your bench for the time being.
Tracy McGrady (HOU) - T-Mac left Monday's game against the Thunder in the third quarter with a right knee injury. He already has four single-digit scoring efforts this season and is as fragile as NBA superstars come. There is little doubt that McGrady would be a fantasy asset when healthy, but his days challenging for scoring titles are clearly behind him.
Amir Johnson (DET) - When first-year coach Michael Curry dubbed Johnson the starting power forward during training camp, he became a fantasy sleeper. It only took seven games for Johnson to lose his starting spot. Even when Johnson does see playing time, he has too much difficulty steering clear of foul trouble to post any useful numbers.
Joel Przybilla (POR) - The Blazers are still starting Przybilla at center, but his minutes have been drastically cut since Oden's return. As Oden continues to round into shape, Przybilla's numbers will decrease. It's time to look another direction for cheap rebounds and blocks.
Mike Conley (MEM) - After finishing off his rookie campaign on a high note, many fantasy prognosticators expected Conley to breakout out this season, but instead he is battling through a sophomore slump. He is still starting for the Grizzlies at point guard, but with averages of 5.5 points, 3.5 boards and 3.8 assists, he could be in danger of losing the gig to Kyle Lowry.
Rashad McCants (MIN) - As the Timberwolves sixth man last season, McCants poured in 14.9 ppg. The offseason acquisition of Mike Miller has cut into McCants playing time and his production - he is averaging 10.8 points in 19 mpg.
Article first appeared on 11/18/08