The Hoops Lab
Situations to watch and Quick Hits
Fantasy friendly Pacers: Like the Nuggets, who we discussed last week, the Pacers are a good team for fantasy owners to be aware of down the stretch. They are technically still in the playoff hunt, and they are just good and bad enough to have close games with any opponent. In the past week they have lost to the West-leading Hornets by eight and beaten the West-straggling Timberwolves by only 11. The Pacers also have a good offense and a poor defense, which has contributed to four consecutive games where both the Pacers and their opponents have scored more than 100 points. If a starter on the Pacers is on your free agency wire he's likely worth a pickup, and if you have a lineup dilemma and one of the players in question is facing the Pacers, that could be a good tiebreaker.
Fantasy MVPs?: Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul are both legitimate NBA MVP candidates, but over the last week they have been challenged for fantasy supremacy on their own teams by teammates Lamar Odom and David West. Odom, ranked third overall by average in the Yahoo! fantasy rater over the past week, is averaging 18.8 points, 15.2 boards, 4.4 assists, and 3.6 steals/blocks in his last five games. West, eighth overall in the last week, is putting up 30.7 points and 8.7 boards per over the same stretch.
Star of the Nets/Mavs trade?: Jason Kidd vs. Devin Harris: When the Nets and the Mavericks swapped point guards it was supposed to be a trade of present production (Jason Kidd) for future potential (Devin Harris). Instead, Harris has been putting up better fantasy numbers than Kidd in recent games. While Kidd is struggling with averages of only 8.0 points, 7.3 assists, 6.3 boards and a paltry 24 percent field goal percentage over the last week, Harris has produced recent games with 15 and 13 assists and is averaging 15 points, 9.3 assists, 4.5 boards and 46 percent field goal shooting over the same stretch.
Jermaine O'Neal update: O'Neal (knee) has been practicing recently without any significant problems other than conditioning, and has suggested that he could return to the lineup over the next week. If so, he could be available in time for the last couple weeks of the fantasy playoffs.
Weekly Gilbert Arenas update: Arenas almost returned for last Sunday's game against the Pistons, but team doctors would not clear him to play and he was expected to miss at least another week. That means that he could conceivably be cleared by next week's games, but that's not certain. Since every game counts in the fantasy playoffs, and Arenas is such a question mark, in some cases it might be worth it to let him go for more dependable current production that could help your team get to the next round.
Weekly Elton Brand update: Brand participated in his first sanctioned full-court scrimmage Monday, and now looks more likely to see some action before the regular season ends. Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy suggested that Brand is likely to play the final six games of the season. Keeping in mind that when he comes back he's unlikely to handle a full workload, and also that a return for the last six-games would prevent him from contributing anything until the championship game in most head-to-head leagues, Brand is a luxury that most teams probably can't afford.
Troy Murphy: Murphy missed Wednesday's game with strep throat, so make sure he is back before you pick him up. But he was averaging 18.8 points and 11 boards per game in the four games leading up to Wednesday, so he's worth a look once he's healthy again.
Kenyon Martin: Martin is in this space for the second week in a row, showing that he's producing at a high level consistently. He is averaging 15.8 points, 6.4 boards, and 3.6 combined steals/blocks over his last five games.
Ronny Turiaf: Turiaf is a hustle/role player, which generally doesn't get you on this list. But he's scored double-figures four games in a row, and is even dishing the rock with two surprising six-assist games in the last week. He is averaging 12.4 points, 5.6 boards, 3.4 assists and 1.2 blocks over his last five games.
Joel Przybilla: Przybilla has 56 boards and six blocked shots over his last three games, numbers that would make even Marcus Camby proud.
Article first appeared 3/27/08