Crashing the Boards
By Stuart Schommer
As the season wraps up, injuries have paved the way for some younger bench players to see significant minutes and some have been very productive with their number getting called. This is a great time to watch young players' production to plan your steals in drafts for next season, as well as to find late-season numbers from unexpected sources.
Nate Robinson, G, New York: Robinson is a must-grab player in nearly all formats to close out the season. He has simply been on fire over the last four games, averaging 25.8 points, 3.8 boards, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals. His biggest contribution is in three-point shooting, as he's gone 18-for-35 (51.0 percent) from beyond the arc during this stretch. If he is available in your league, pick him up before your competition does.
Randy Foye, G, Minnesota: Foye is the biggest question mark of this entire group; his stats aren't overly impressive, averaging 15.0 points, 2.5 boards and 4.5 assists over his last four games. Over this span, Foye shot 58 percent from the field (19-for-33) and 53 percent from beyond the arc (9-for-17). The key to his value is that with Minnesota out of the playoff mix, Foye will get every opportunity to be productive.
Jason Kapono, G/F, Miami: Kapono has averaged 11.0 points, 3.4 boards and 1.8 treys over the last five games after missing four weeks with a sprained left ankle. He was 9-for-15 from beyond the arc over these five games and he leads the NBA in three-point shooting percentage at 52 percent this season. As Dwyane Wade returns to full strength, Kapono will get more and more open looks and his three-point production should increase. He'll also see a few more minutes of action each night with Wade sliding to point guard to backup Jason Williams while Gary Payton (calf) is out.
Damien Wilkins, G/F, Seattle: Wilkins might be a stretch as a fantasy pick-up if it weren't for his ability to score from the outside. He has the ability to knock down a bunch of treys and over the last four games, he has averaged 15.8 points, 2.0 treys, 2.0 boards, 2.3 assists, and 1.0 steals. Wilkins went off against the Lakers last Friday, going 4-for-8 from three-point land. If you can guess right, he might give your team a boost in threes since's shooting more than five of them per game during this recent stretch.
Mardy Collins, G, New York: Collins is excelling for the same reason Nate Robinson is -- no one else on the Knicks is healthy. The rookie has filled in admirably; averaging 15.0 points, 5.8 boards, 6.0 assists and 2.5 steals over the past four games. If he continues to get minutes he can be very productive, but watch out for his tendency to rack up turnovers (averaging 6.3 turnovers over the past three games).
Tyronn Lue, G, Atlanta: Lue has had starter's numbers over the last three games, averaging 22.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 9.6 assists. With the Hawks well out of the playoff hunt, expect more of the same to close out the season, as Lue will get plenty of playing time at the point in the remaining contests this season and should deliver plenty in the assists and steals departments.
Shelden Williams, F, Atlanta: Williams has made the most of his opportunities over the last four games, averaging 9.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. His production has been on the rise with increased minutes of late. Over this span, Williams played more than 26 minutes in each game, something he only did 12 times all season. The Hawks are looking at their future so expect to see a heavy dose of Williams from here on out.
Jamaal Magloire, C, Portland: Magloire has had a great April so far including going for a season-high 19.0 points Monday against the Spurs. Over the last four games, he is averaging 11.5 points, 10.0 boards, 0.75 steals and 1.0 block. With LaMarcus Aldridge and Zach Randolph out for the season, Portland's frontcourt is very depleted, so there are plenty of minutes available for him.
Justin Williams, F/C, Sacramento: Williams has done a nice job filling in for the Kings' injured big men. Kenny Thomas and Corliss Williamson are both out with foot injuries, while Williams has been a solid presence, averaging 10.5 points, 8.5 boards and 1.8 blocks over the past four games. If you need a spot start, Williams could be a nice pick up as few owners have caught on to his expanded role.
Ronny Turiaf, F, Los Angeles Lakers: Turiaf has averaged 9.8 points, 7.8 boards and 2.0 blocks over the last four games. If blocks are what you're looking for, he is probably your best bet on the ever-thin waiver wire. Turiaf's biggest problem over the past five games has been foul trouble, but if he stays on the floor, he could very well have himself a block party.
Article first appeared on 4/11/07