By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
Good Ole Don
Warriors coach Don Nelson is long known for frustrating fantasy owners with his inconsistent rotations.
Well, he's back at it.
Nelson has recently started giving some of his established starters nights off in order to give some of his younger players extra minutes.
His first victim was Jamal Crawford, who received a DNP-Coach's Decision against the Bobcats on Friday. C.J. Watson, making his first start in over a month, replaced Crawford in the lineup.
The second victim was Stephen Jackson, as he was benched in favor of Anthony Randolph in Sunday's loss to the Jazz.
Andris Biedrins will be the next player to see a night of rest, when he sits out against the Pistons later this week.
These roster tweaks are sure to keep owners on their toes, as constant monitoring will be the only way to know if your Warriors are playing on a given night.
This happens on other teams too, but when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich benches players theres some logic behind it – he wants to keep his veterans well rested for the playoffs.
Nelson doesn't have to worry about the playoffs. All he has to fret over is which way the ping-pong balls bounce come April. The C.J. Watson's and Jermareo Davidson's of the world aren't likely to develop into franchise cornerstones, so it's pretty obvious that Nelson has gone into tank mode.
Be wary of any and all Warriors going forward.
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.
Richard Hamilton (DET) – After an eight-game losing streak and a back injury to Allen Iverson, Rip has finally made his way back into the starting lineup. Coach Michael Curry has already committed to Hamilton as the starting two guard after AI returns, so his spot in the starting five appears secure. In two starts since the promotion, Rip's averaging 28 points. Iverson's return will cut down on Rip's shot totals, but Hamilton should be a reliable source of scoring for the remainder of the season, regardless of AI's presence.
Larry Hughes (NY) – Ignore Hughes' first three games as a Knick, as he was struggling to find floor time and had over a month's worth of rust to shake off. He's played over 33 minutes in back-to-back games and is now the starting shooting guard for coach Mike D'Antoni. In his lone start, Hughes scored 19 points, handed out five assists, hit four 3-pointers and picked two pockets. Hughes has always been a better producer when given a high-volume of shots, and in D'Antoni's up-temp offense he should have a constant green light.
Russell Westbrook (OKC) – Injuries to Kevin Durant (ankle) and Jeff Green (back) have opened the door for Westbrook to carry the offensive load for the Thunder. Westbrook has improved with each passing month this season, resulting in a 20/6/6 line for February. Look for him to build on that production over the next couple weeks while his teammates are on the mend.
Jarrett Jack (IND) – Jack's play picked up once he rejoined the starting lineup on Feb. 6, but he's taken his game to another level since Danny Granger (foot) and Mike Dunleavy Jr. (knee) both were sidelined with injuries. Over the past nine games, Jack is averaging 20 points, 4.9 assists and 1.7 treys. He'll have to defer to Granger once he returns, but Jack should be a solid producer for the injury-riddled Pacers for the remainder.
Drew Gooden (FA) – The "FA" next to Gooden's name is the reason he falls under the "Check Status" header. Sacramento bought out Gooden's contract on Sunday, opening the door for him to sign with a playoff contender. San Antonio and Cleveland have both been bandied about as possible landing spots for Gooden. Make sure you keep a close eye on the situation, as Gooden could land with a team that has abundant minutes available at the four.
Jeff Green (OKC) – The aforementioned Green is dealing with a sore lower back that's expected to sideline him for Monday's tilt against the Mavericks. Not much else is known about the injury, but back problems tend to linger and the Thunder don't have much to play for outside of a high lottery pick, so keep tabs on Green going forward.
Carmelo Anthony (DEN) – Melo might have to travel back to Denver to deal with a personal issue, likely causing him to miss Tuesday's matchup in Detroit. The only details known about the situation is that it doesn't involve a legal matter. At this time, there's no telling how much time Anthony might miss. Keep your eyes peeled for future updates before committing him to your lineup this week.
Allen Iverson (DET) – AI's fall from grace is complete. Owners have been frustrated with his lack of production all season, now a demotion to the bench and a lingering back problem have his value plummeting. He has missed back-to-back games with back spasms and has already been ruled out of Tuesday's game against the Nuggets. Whispers out of Detroit are claiming Iverson's injury could be connected to his recent benching. Hopefully that's not the case, and he comes back healthy and willing to play the role of sixth man.
Greg Oden (POR) – Oden, who has missed seven consecutive games with a chipped bone in his left kneecap, might be out for a bit longer. He's labeled himself unfit for action and said he's "not even 85 percent". Coach Nate McMillan doesn't expect Oden back in the next few days and usually forces his players to be 100-percent healthy before putting them back into game action. Owners should start looking for healthier options, as it looks like Oden may have trouble regaining full strength this season.
Kevin Durant (OKC) – The only circumstance that could place a player who's averaging over 30 points per game in the past month in the "Stock Down" section is an injury. Sadly, Durant suffered a Grade II ankle sprain over the weekend and will be sidelined for the next couple weeks. As previously mentioned, the Thunder don't have a whole lot to play for and might not risk rushing back the future of their franchise. Don't be surprised if they give him extra time to heal.
Article first appeared on 3/2/08