The Hoops Lab
Let's take a look at them individually.
Rookies you want on your team: Michael Beasley (F, MIA), O.J. Mayo (G, MEM), Derrick Rose (G, CHI), Rudy Fernandez (G, POR), Marc Gasol, Kevin Love (FC, MIN), Greg Oden (C, POR)
Mayo (20.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.2 3-ptrs/game, 1.3 spg) and Rose (18.8 ppg, 5.3 apg, 4.6 rpg, 1.0 spg) have each come out of the gate with a huge bang, surpassing early expectations and putting themselves in early pole position in the Rookie of the Year race. Beasley (16.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Fernandez (15.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.6 3-ptrs/game) are also definite roto starters, while Gasol (11.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Love (9.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg) are roto rotation players. Oden is the biggest enigma in the league right now, but if he stays healthy, he could still end up being the best of the crew.
Rookies to keep on the radar: Mario Chalmers (G, MIA), Jason Thompson (FC, SAC), Luc Mbah a Moute (F, MIL), Russell Westbrook (G, OKC), Darrell Arthur (F, MEM), JeVale McGee, D.J. Augustin (G, CHA), Bobby Brown (G, Sac), Brook Lopez (C, NJ), Anthony Randolph (F, GSW), Marreese Speights (F, PHI), Kosta Koufos (FC, UTA)
This second list contains players that have performed well when given the chance, but are not as entrenched in their teams' plans. Chalmers has done well as the surprise starting PG for the Heat, but his fantasy production is still hot-and-cold, and Chris Quinn could challenge him for minutes. Thompson and Arthur both were first-week surprises, but both have seen their production fall slightly due in part to playing time competition (If Brad Miller is traded from Sacramento, Thompson could easily join the first list of rookies). Mbah a Moute has been surprisingly effective in almost 27 mpg, but his upside is limited. On the other hand, players like Augustin and Speights have impact player potential but they're stuck behind established veterans in their teams' rotations. McGee, Lopez, Koufos and Randolph have shown signs in short stints of play and could be future members of the "New Additions" section of potential free agent acquisitions.
Situations to watch and Quick Hits
Ins and Outs in Utah: The good news for the Jazz is that their leader, Deron Williams, has returned to the court. The bad news is that Mehmet Okur had to leave the team to deal with family issues, and Andrei Kirilenko has injured his finger and is day-to-day. Williams is off to a slow start in his first two games back (eight ppg, eight apg), but once he gets his legs under him he should return to the nightly 20-point/10-assist threat that made him a high-round draft pick. There might still be a slim window of opportunity to trade for him, if his owner is unnerved by the slow start.
The Big Debut, take three: Greg Oden returned to action Wednesday night for his third attempt at starting his rookie season. His sprained foot is apparently healed, but Oden still has to get his game legs under him as evidenced by his modest three points and two rebounds in 16 minutes of play. He did block two shots even in that limited time period, giving a hint about how dominant he could potentially be on the defensive end when he finally gets up to speed.
And then there was one: We talked last week about San Antonio being a two-man team with Manu Ginobili hurt. Since then, Tony Parker injured his ankle and is out for the next month, leaving Tim Duncan to hold the fort all alone. Duncan is currently averaging a would-be eight-year best of 25.3 ppg on 56 percent shooting from the field as he attempts to keep the struggling Spurs afloat, but the strain is showing up on defense where his 1.0 bpg would be by far a career-low.
Kobe getting Celtic'd: Last season the Big Three of the Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen all saw their minutes and individual numbers go down because the team was so strong, and they were consistently blowing out their opposition. Kobe Bryant has been seeing a similar decrease thus far this season, down to an 11-year-low 34 minutes per game and his lowest scoring average since Shaquille O'Neal left town. If the Lakers keep it up, Bryant might not live up to his top-5 pick status.
Ankle Injuries galore: Josh Smith, Michael Redd, and Devin Harris are all missing games due to sprained ankles. Smith's is a high sprain, which is more serious than a regular sprain, and could keep him out 2 – 4 weeks. No timetable has been set for Redd, who has already missed five games due to his own high ankle sprain, but he continues to be listed as "doubtful" going into Friday's game. Harris' injury was the most minor of the group, and he is expected to be back in the Nets line-up by Friday night.
Maggette back in action: Corey Maggette returned from his hamstring injury Thursday night, but played only 28 minutes in his debut. He should recover quickly, though, and resume his role as the primary scorer for the Warriors. This is bad news for youngsters Anthony Randolph (DNP) and Anthony Morrow (15 minutes played), who were playing a larger role for the Warriors while Maggette was out.
Garnett waking up: Kevin Garnett started the season slowly, averaging only 15 points on 45 percent shooting from the field with almost three turnovers and barely more than one assist per in the first seven games. He seems to have found his stride in his last two games, though, posting more KG-like averages of 23 points, 11 boards, four assists, and two combined blocks/steals. Garnett still is playing fewer minutes in Boston, which means that his days as the number one player in rotisserie are likely over, but we should still expect his production on the whole to be more like the last two games than the first seven.
Nick Young (32% owned): Young continues to be a scoring spark off the bench for the Wizards, averaging 15.5 ppg on 51.5 percent shooting from the field. As a second year player he still has plenty of upside, especially if he can somehow break into the Wizards' starting lineup.
Anderson Varejao (32% owned): Varejao has always been a hustle player, but lately he's added enough production to get on the fantasy radar. He has averaged 12.5 points, 7.5 boards, and 2.3 combined blocks/steals over his last four games
Jeff Foster (14% owned): Foster has been an injury substitution of late, first for Rasho Nesterovic and lately for Troy Murphy. He has responded well to his extra time, with averages of 12.5 points, 6.7 boards, and 1.8 blocks per in his last four games.
Erick Dampier (12 % owned): Dampier has produced back-to-back double-doubles with a whopping 34 total rebounds in his last two games. Dampier generally has hot streaks where he teases with dominance, only to disappear again a few games later. Nevertheless, 34 rebounds in two games is hard to ignore, and he could be worth a short-term add if you need help on the glass.
Chris Quinn (11% owned): Quinn has been solidly productive off-the-bench for the Heat, averaging 12 points, 2.7 treys and 2.5 assists in his last four games. With only rookie Mario Chalmers ahead of him on the depth chart, Quinn could possibly play himself into more court time if he continues to produce.
Article first appeared 11/14/08