Crashing the Boards
By Derek VanRiper
The injury bug finally took a vacation this past week, with only a handful of fantasy contributors ending up on the sidelines. Instead, we're hearing the hum of trade rumors, with Pau Gasol being the biggest name tossed around. The Memphis front office has adamantly maintained that they're not considering moving Gasol, but that may only mean that nobody has made a good enough offer yet. Having returned to practice last Friday, it's only a matter of time before one of the league's most overlooked players is back in action for the league's worst team (4-13).
Word out of Milwaukee is that swingman Bobby Simmons is considering season-ending surgery on his lingering heel issues (take note that Simmons was bit by the injury bug long ago, having missed the entire season to this point). The 6-11 Bucks are far from buried in the extremely weak Eastern Conference, playing in the "loaded" Central Division. Despite the expected loss of Simmons, the slow start should be attributed more to the absence of Charlie Villanueva, who may return as soon as Wednesday night against Portland. His return will undoubtedly help take the some of the scoring load off of Michael Redd, while giving Andrew Bogut some help on the glass.
If your squad needs some help in a particular category or two, check out some of these options:
Eddy Curry, C, New York Knicks: If he didn't play in New York, Curry would likely be available in even more than the 20 percent of leagues who are currently disregarding his 16.6 points and 7.1 boards per game. Over his last seven, Curry has picked it up to the tune of 23.7 points and 8.7 rebounds, giving him must-start status in nearly all formats. If it weren't for Curry, David Lee and Quentin Richardson, the Knicks would be a fantasy wasteland.
Kenny Thomas, F, Sacramento: Much like Reggie Evans from last week's Crashing the Boards, Thomas is a pure rebounder. He'll occasionally break into double-digits with his scoring, but as evident by his 7.8 points and 9.2 rebounds over the last six games, consistent contributions from the eight-year veteran will be made on the glass. Thomas also gives owners a nice bonus in the steals department, as he showed with a five-steal performance in Monday's game against the Magic.
Morris Peterson, F/G, Toronto: Peterson is on the mend after tearing a tendon in his left (non-shooting) elbow two weeks ago and there is word that the Raptors want to move him into the starting shooting guard role. Regardless of where he plays, Toronto will give Peterson the minutes to be offensively productive. Before the injury, Peterson was connecting on two triples per game and upon his return, which could come as soon as Wednesday against Cleveland, expect him to give the Raptors 28th-ranked three-point shooting a lift.
Charlie Bell, G, Milwaukee: Another Flintstone continues to make his mark in Milwaukee. Over the last six games, Bell has dropped 16.6 points on the opposition while connecting on 2.3 three-pointers per game during that span. Like his former teammate Peterson, Bell isn't going to fill up the entire stat sheet, but the perimeter scoring and one steal per game are helpful to most owners. Bell is available in about two-thirds of all fantasy leagues.
Devin Harris, G, Dallas: A playoff darling for the Western Conference Champions last spring, a slow start generated impatience from some Devin Harris owners, landing him on the waiver wire in nearly one-quarter of fantasy leagues. Great assists guys are hard to come by, but Harris is at least a good one, with 12.7 points and 4.6 assists over his last 10 games. Scoring in double figures in all but one of those games, Harris found some consistency with his shooting during the latter portion of the Mavs' 12-game winning streak.
Chucky Atkins, G, Memphis: Atkins has seized the opportunity to produce with more playing time in the absence of Damon Stoudamire. Over his last five games, Atkins has averaged 14.8 points and 6.0 assists per contest, while dropping in 2.6 treys per night over the span. Once Stoudamire returns to the lineup, his distribution will likely drop, but his season averages of 15.1 points and 3.7 assists are nothing to sneeze at.
Sean May, F, Charlotte: Inconsistency has likely kept May from being a prospective pickup in many leagues, but his upside remains apparent and he's slowly being gobbled up by fantasy owners looking for a big man. Over his last four games, May has played 26.5 minutes per, while turning out 16.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Unlike many of the shot-blockers on the waiver wire, May is both a good scorer and free-throw shooter, so he's very unlikely to hurt in leagues that count shooting percentages.
Al Jefferson, F, Boston: An emergency appendectomy prompted many owners to cut bait on Jefferson, who was regarded by some as a nice early-season bet to be a breakout candidate. A trip to the operating table isn't going to make anyone feel good about one of their sleepers, but in limited minutes (20.3 over his last four games) Jefferson has been able to quietly average 1.25 blocks, on top of 10.0 points and 6.5 rebounds. If roster space for him right now is an issue, be sure to monitor his minutes as he could close in on double-double averages with increased minutes.
Article first appeared on 12/5/06