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.
Mike Taylor (LAC) – An afterthought for most of the season, Taylor has burst onto the fantasy scene the past week by averaging 23 points in the past three games. The Clippers' second-round draft pick did little but rack up Coach's Decision-DNPs before a 35-point breakout on March 25. Now, he's starting in place of Baron Davis, who's dealing with an ulcer. Like Ramon Sessions last year, Taylor is the type of player who comes out of nowhere to help your team claim a championship. If he's still available, go grab him.
Jeff Foster (IND) – Foster isn't the flashiest player to own, but anyone who's pulling down 14.3 boards per over the past three games is worth a roster spot. He's been filling in as the starting power forward for Troy Murphy, who's out with a knee injury. As long as Murphy's sidelined, Foster will be a solid option for teams in need of glass cleaning.
Anthony Randolph (GS) – Randolph is the newest face to appear in the revolving door known as the Warriors starting lineup. He's started back-to-back games, averaging 10 points, 10 boards, 2.5 steals and two blocks in those contests. It's anyone’s guess what coach Don Nelson will do on a night-to-night basis, but Randolph has played well enough to stick in the starting lineup for the rest of the season.
Anthony Morrow (GS) – Here's another Warrior who has been playing well and should see plenty of action for the remainder of the season. We've seen flashes of what Morrow can do when his stroke is clicking, and right now it is. The rookie swingman knocked down six treys against Dallas last week, and followed that performance up with a solid 18-point performance off the pine. With Stephen Jackson (toe) out for the season, Morrow should continue to see plenty of action.
Gilbert Arenas (WAS) – Agent Zero lived up to his promise and returned to the court Saturday against the Pistons. He managed 15 points and 10 dimes in his first game of the season, proving that he's still a fantasy contributor despite the numerous injury problems the past two years. Owners can't just plug Arenas into the lineup and be worry free though, as he'll sit out the back end of back-to-back games and might not play in many games away from Washington. Regardless of the lineup management headaches he may cause the rest of the way, adding an All-Star to your lineup this late in the game is the type of boost needed for a championship run.
Courtney Lee (ORL) – It looks like all the Magic's first- round pick out of Western Kentucky needed was a return of March Madness to start finding his groove. Much like last season when he led the Hilltoppers to a Sweet 16 berth, Lee is playing his best ball of the season in March. In the past six games, Lee is averaging 15.7 points and two 3-pointers. Lee's game fits the Magic's inside/outside attack perfectly, so look for his surge to continue.
Thaddeus Young (PHI) – Young is one of the better players in the Association who rarely gets his due. Since the first of March, the second-year forward is leading the 76ers in scoring with 21.5 points per game. It should be considered a crime if he's sitting among the free-agent heap in your league.
Andrew Bynum (LAL) – There hasn't been any report of Bynum (knee) returning to practice yet, but he has been running on the court and doing some basketball drills. Once he logs a practice or two, a timetable for his return should be made available. Keep tabs on the situation, as the Lakers may want their young big man to shake off some of his rust before the playoffs tip off.
Corey Maggette (GS) – After going 2-for-18 from the floor over a two-game stretch last week, Maggette missed back-to-back contests with a head contusion. At least that explains why he was throwing up so many bricks, but owners are now left with a player who's bound to be a game-time decision in the short-term. If he doesn't return to the court soon, you may want to cut bait.
Baron Davis (LAC) – That pained look on Davis's face surprisingly doesn’t have anything to do with the Clippers horrid play, but is probably due to stomach ulcers. Davis has missed back-to-back games with the ulcer problem and is also dealing with a strained calf. Make sure he's over both ailments before putting him back in your lineup.
Samuel Dalembert (PHI) – Dalembert left in the first quarter of Sunday's loss to the Pistons with a leg injury, leaving his status uncertain in the short-term. Owners should be rejoicing, as they now can cut ties with the frustrating Dalembert and not have to worry about him posting a 20-rebound effort on the heels of being discarded. He's had a roller-coaster campaign and was currently in the midst of his 1,087th cold streak of the season, so don't shed any tears when you kick him to the curb.
Troy Murphy (IND) – Despite recent news that coach Jim O'Brien is "optimistic" Murphy (knee) will return this season, we find that prospect far-fetched at best. The knee injury Murphy suffered has been described as an "excruciatingly-painful sprain", which doesn't make us too optimistic. Plus, the Pacers really don't have anything left to play for but lottery balls.
Stephen Jackson (GS) – Jackson was determined to tough it out this season and play his hardest down the stretch, but his turf toe got the best of him, and he succumbed to surgery. He'll have to avoid basketball activities for four weeks following the procedure, effectively ending his season.
Marcus Camby (LAC) – "Cambyman" is likely down for the count after suffering a sprained ankle on Friday. No one should really be that surprised by Camby's struggles to stay healthy this season - after all, this is the same man who averaged 56 games played during his first 10 seasons in the NBA.
Andris Biedrins (GS) – With news surfacing that Biedrins (ankle) is out for another week, his season's now in jeopardy. Coach Don Nelson already told Biedrins not to rush back, so we're not expecting the big Latvian to make much of an impact down the stretch.
Article first appeared on 3/30/09