By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
Dunleavy Jr. Nears Return
It's a rare occurrence in fantasy basketball when you are able to pick up a popular preseason mid-round pick off the waiver wire in the middle of the season. But that will be the case for many owners this week, who have a chance to pickup Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Dunleavy was a stud last season, setting career-highs in points (19.1), assists (3.5), steals (1.1), field-goal percentage (47.6), free-throw percentage (83.4), 3-point percentage (42.4) and 3-pointers made (2.0). The career-best campaign caused Dunleavy to rocket up preseason cheat sheets. And the high draft slot was warranted, as he probably helped many writers of said cheat sheets win leagues.
Then training camp rolls around, and word gets out that Dunleavy is dealing with a sore knee. No big deal - this is a player who has suited up for 481 of 492 games the past six seasons. Owners still drafted Dunleavy with confidence. News continued to pour in that he was only a week away from seeing the court; little did we know that a week would turn into all of the preseason and the first two months of the regular season.
Well, good news has finally come for Dunleavy owners, as he is expected to make a return in the next week. Coach Jim O'Brien plans to limit Dunleavy's minutes and ease him back into the rotation, so the production might not be up to par right off the bat. But there's little doubt Dunleavy will have trouble reclaiming his place as a fantasy asset. Barring his balky knee doesn't act up again, of course.
So, if you own him, congrats. The wait is finally over. And if he's available in your league, go snag him up quickly. Around the League
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.
Deron Williams (UTA) - Here's another high draft pick that missed time with an early season injury. Williams missed 13 of the fist 15 games this season with an ankle injury. His absence in those games, and struggles upon his return resulted in stats that didn't compare to Williams' high cost on draft day. That's all about to change. In the past three games, Williams has averaged 20.7 points and 11 assists. Throw in the fact that Carlos Boozer (more below) is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, and Williams should continue his climb back towards the stats owners expected when selecting him in the second round. If the Williams' owner in your league is fed up with their star point guard, go steal him.
Corey Maggette (GS) - The Warriors received a boost on Monday, when Maggette returned from a 15-game absence due to a hamstring injury. He came off the bench for coach Don Nelson, but still managed to pour in 23 points in a loss to the Jazz. Nelson's rotations can be maddening, but if he stays healthy, Maggette will be a part of the Warriors' attack. Same deal as Dunleavy - if an impatient owner dropped Maggette, go scoop him up.
Anthony Parker (TOR) - While it may just be so Toronto can showcase him for a trade, Parker has found himself back in the starting lineup. He has taken advantage of the newfound opportunity, averaging 14.5 points and 2.5 steals in four starts. Parker will never blow your socks off with his numbers, but if you are looking for a solid contributor across the board, ala Shane Battier, Parker is your man.
Andrea Bargnani (TOR) - Another north of the border pick. The former No. 1 overall pick has found himself the beneficiary of the latest Jermaine O'Neal injury, moving into the starting lineup while O'Neal sits with knee issues. Bargnani has been spectacular since the promotion, averaging 21 points, 6.3 boards, 1.8 blocks and 3.0 treys. He has put together streaks like this in the past, but would often fall into ex-coach Sam Mitchell's doghouse. If he can continue to see 35+ minutes per game, Bargnani should start to fulfill some of his promise Toronto saw in him on draft day in 2006.
J. R. Smith (DEN) - A favorite of the Barometer, but there is actually reason to pimp Smith this week. Due to a hand injury to Carmelo Anthony (more below), Smith should slide into Denver's starting lineup. He filled in for Anthony for three games last month, including a 27-point, seven-trey barrage against Philadelphia on Dec. 26. Smith will frustrate owners with his inconsistent shooting, but he still remains one of the most electric scorers in the Association when his threes are falling.
Carmelo Anthony (DEN) - The aforementioned Anthony suffered a fractured right hand in Monday's win over the Pacers. The initial reports don't sound too good, as the injury was on his shooting hand. Factor in that Anthony relies heavily on his mid-range game and it makes the news more worrisome. Cross your fingers and pray his visit to the hand specialist on Tuesday goes better than expected.
Gilbert Arenas (WAS) - Agent Zero still doesn't have a timetable for his return, but coach Ed Tapscott reported his would-be star point guard is showing signs of progress. Arenas burned owners who held out for him last season, but it looks like he may be able to string together more than 13 games this season. He's not worth risking your season on, but if you can get Arenas without sacrificing your playoff hopes, do it.
Devin Harris (NJ) - Harris missed Saturday's loss to Miami with a sore left hamstring and was expected to sit out Monday against the Kings, but he made a surprise start. Unfortunately for Harris owners, he didn't last long on Monday, sitting out the second half after his hamstring started to act up. Word out of New Jersey is that the injury isn't too serious, and Harris just needs rest. Let's hope that's the case.
Carlos Boozer (UTA) - The mystery behind Boozer's knee injury has finally been revealed and it's not going to make owners happy. Boozer is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery on Friday. His return is up in the air, as the extent of the damage won't be made apparent until after the surgery takes place. The best-case scenario has Boozer returning in a month, but he could be out twice that long.
Marquis Daniels (IND) - If the return of Dunleavy wasn't enough to drop Daniels' stock, the groin injury he suffered Monday against the Nuggets should help. Coach Jim O'Brien labeled Daniels as doubtful before the game, but he still managed to suit up for tip-off. He left after 11 minutes of action and will probably have to rest the groin for a game or two. After that, Dunleavy may be back and Daniels will probably see a cut in minutes.
Article first appeared on 1/6/08