Crashing the Boards
By Derek VanRiper
Tony Allen and fans of the Celtics have to be wondering where exactly the luck of the Irish was on Wednesday night, when the 24-year-old guard tore two ligaments in his left knee following an uncontested dunk in a loss to the Pacers. A first-round pick of Boston back in 2004, Allen was playing extremely well of late with 20.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game over the last five. He'll likely miss the start of next season while recovering from upcoming surgery, and have to re-establish himself as a quality NBA player in 2007-08.
Lady luck also hasn't spent much time in Milwaukee of late, with leading scorer Michael Redd going down for the next four-to-six weeks due to a strained patellar tendon. Already without Bobby Simmons for the season, the Bucks also lost Charlie Villanueva (shoulder) and Mo Williams for the near future. To help deal with the loss, the Bucks acquired Earl Boykins and Julius Hodge from the Nuggets for point guard Steve Blake on Thursday. The interesting long-term part of the trade is Hodge, who has never really had a chance to prove himself in Denver. Keep an eye on the role he plays with the Bucks, as he's got the size and athleticism to become a legitimate contributor.
If you're in need of some help after a run of bad luck this season (or just recently), take a look at some of the options below:
Brandon Roy, G, Portland: The 22-year-old rookie has quietly scored in double figures in all but two of the Blazers' contests since returning from an early-season heel injury. A preseason favorite for the league's Rookie of the Year award, Roy has since been forgotten by the fantasy world and is available in nearly all leagues. In six January games, Roy has averaged 16.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game to open the new year.
Ruben Patterson, F, Milwaukee: Michael Redd, Charlie Villanueva and Mo Williams have all been watching games in street clothes from the Bucks' bench. Someone has to pick up that scoring load, and thus far that someone has been Patterson. Attempting about four more shots per game than his season average, Patterson has piled up 18.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game over Milwaukee's last five.
Earl Boykins, G, Milwaukee: Hurting for scorers, Boykins will join Ruben Patterson to help address the previously noted scoring issues for the Bucks. Milwaukee will likely use Boykins is a role similar to that of injured Mo Williams, as Boykins has scored 20.6 points and dished out 5.2 assists per game, over his last five. Boykins will also help out in the trey department, averaging 2.6 per game over the same period.
Stromile Swift, C/F, Memphis: Under new coach Tony Barone, Swift has been able to better utilize his athleticism, contributing more points (13.8), rebounds (6.2) and blocks (1.8) in the last five games than he has all season. The upside for big-time production has always been there, but at the very least he's a viable source of blocks with the occasional double-double.
Dikembe Mutombo, C, Houston: The 40-year-old Mutombo is in the twilight of his career, but you wouldn't know it after watching him pull down 19 boards and block five shots on Wednesday night, while moving up to second on the all-time blocked shots list. He's always going to be a decent source of a block or two, but lately it's his rebounding that's been a big part of the Rockets' 4-1 record over the last five games. During that streak, Mutombo has averaged an astounding 15.8 boards per game.
Brian Skinner, F, Milwaukee: Another recent riser due to the injury problems in Milwaukee, Skinner is playing nearly 10 minutes per game over his season average with Charlie Villanueva sidelined. He's turned out a nice 2.2 blocks per game in the last five, while supporting the rejections with 8.0 points and 7.8 boards. He's not a long-term solution, but at least for the next week or two while Villanueva is on the mend, he's worth a look.
Mikki Moore, C, New Jersey: Starting at center for the Nets and raking in 31.2 minutes per game in the last five for New Jersey, Moore has quietly put up 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds. He's an option in deeper leagues, as a center who doesn't block many shots, but he's shooting 65.5 percent from the field this season and 73.5 percent from the line, so there isn't much hurting owners in need of a warm body to start at center.
Delonte West, G, Boston: It's hard to give West a ringing endorsement as a viable option with Sebastien Telfair in the mix for the Celtics, but as an assists specialist is deeper leagues, West can get the job done. He's dinged up right now with a back injury, but performance of eight and 11 assists last week a reminders of the potential.
Ronald Murray, G, Detroit: Chauncey Billups could return to the lineup as soon as this weekend, so time may be running out to catch some production from Murray. If anything, Murray used Billups' injury to show that he can be a nice source of assists should anything happen to the Pistons' starting point guard again. With 6.6 assists over the last five games, he's a category-specialist in most formats.
Josh Childress, F/G, Atlanta: Childress is a pretty good all-around fantasy option, and with 2.0 steals per over the Hawks' last five, it's hard to believe he's still floating around in about 20 percent of fantasy leagues. It doesn't just stop with the thefts, as he's also put up 12.4 points and 7.2 rebounds during the same span.
Jose Calderon, G, Toronto: If the inconsistency isn't enough to tear your hair out, it's hard not to get excited about his two 12-assist efforts over the past week. It's frustrating when you realize he's tallied 13 assists in the other three games around the two big ones, but we're looking for upside and potential. With 1.4 steals per game over the last five, his steals alone make him an option in deeper leagues.
Shane Battier, F, Houston: Raining treys like a madman, Battier has been a good all-around option in recent weeks. 15.2 points and a steal per game over the last five, supported by 3.2 triples each night makes him rosterable. He doesn't block shots, rack up steals or pull down a lot of boards, so tread accordingly if you're in need of a boost in the three-point department.
Matt Carroll, G, Charlotte: Quite possibly the hottest offensive player that you've never heard of, Carroll has buried 19-of-32 treys in over the last five games, averaging 20.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game as well as 1.2 steals. As long as he gets quality minutes, he's a must pickup until his production tails off.
Article first appeared on 1/11/07