The Hoops Lab
Situations to watch and Quick Hits
Kevin McHale's (almost) draft picks going nuts: Four years ago most Timberwolves fans wanted the team to draft Danny Granger when he was available at the 14th pick, but McHale passed on him. Three years ago McHale drafted Brandon Roy, only to trade him. Last summer McHale drafted O.J. Mayo, only to trade him. Umm, bad moves. Granger has been on fire of late, averaging 31 points, 7.3 boards, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 treys per over the last week. Roy has been even hotter, fresh off a scintillating week where he averaged 39.7 points, 6.7 assists, 3.7 boards, 2.0 treys, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks, 52% FG shooting, 95% free throw shooting and a partridge in a pear tree. And Mayo has been the hottest rookie in the league, averaging 20.7 points, 4.0 boards, 3.7 assists and 1.7 treys in the last week.
Two seasons ago, McHale chose Corey Brewer (now out for the season with a knee injury) over the likes of Thaddeus Young, Rodney Stuckey, Spencer Hawes and Al Thornton. Based on Mchale's results from the other three drafts, I suggest trading for any of this group of players as soon as possible since at least one of them seems guaranteed to make a superstar leap.
Zach Randolph on fire: Randolph has settled in beautifully with the Clippers. In the words of Coach Mike Dunleavy, they simply plug Randolph into all of the plays they used to run for Elton Brand. Randolph has responded by averaging 30 points, 11.3 boards, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals over the last week.
Superman's return: In the last week, Dwight Howard (sore knee) missed the first two games of his NBA career. He returned to the court Thursday night and helped lead the Magic past Tim Duncan and the Spurs, so it appears safe to get Howard back into your line-ups.
Dwyane Wade wearing down? Wade has been producing inhuman numbers all season, but over the last week he's had three poor games in a row. While this could just be a blip on the radar, pay attention. Wade is playing an extremely high number of minutes, his playing style is hard on his body, he already has some extra wear and tear from the Olympics and he has a history of injuries.
Boozer vs. Millsap: Paul Millsap is 13-for-13 producing double-doubles in recent games that he's started in place of the injured Carlos Boozer. Boozer's injury was initially supposed to keep him out for only 10 days, but a month later he's still out, and Millsap just keeps producing (18.4 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.1 combined steals/blocks in December). Now, with Boozer sticking his foot in his mouth with an ill timed opt-out comment, there's some speculation that Millsap could maintain a larger role even after Boozer gets healthy.
McGrady's return: McGrady's been strong since his return to the court after resting his sore knee, averaging 21 points, 9.7 boards, 7.3 assists, 2.3 treys, a steal and a block over the last three games. McGrady's market is likely cool right now due to injury concerns, but if you can trade him for decent value you should think about it. You'll sleep better at night if you don't have to worry about McGrady going down and wrecking your team at the worst possible time.
Iverson's Answer? Rodney Stuckey moved into the starting line-up for the Pistons last week, and since then he's averaging 17.3 points, 9.7 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game. His assist totals are particularly impressive, and if he keeps it up he may finally be the type of guard that can thrive next to Allen Iverson: big enough to defend shooting guards, but still a good enough floor general for Iverson to concentrate on scoring.
Under the Radar: Jameer Nelson just keeps quietly producing, and the market never seems to adjust to his solid numbers. He is averaging 20.8 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.3 boards per over his last six games.
Tyrus Thomas (26% owned): Thomas was playing very well in recent games before being felled by a concussion on Wednesday. He had averaged 19 points, seven boards, two steals and two blocks in the two games previous to the injury. He's expected back soon, and with his upside makes a solid pick-up.
Darko Milicic (10% owned): We have a Darko sighting, as Milicic has averaged 10.7 points, 7.0 boards, and 2.7 blocks over the past week. He has been "freed" into the starting line-up for the past couple weeks, and his numbers make him worth a look in deeper leagues.
Marco Belinelli (9%): Nellieball strikes again, as Belinelli finally has begun to live up to the hype he generated with a great summer league performance in 2007. Belinelli has averaged 15.5 points, 3.8 assists, 3.3 boards and 2.3 treys over his last week of action. His production could be short lived, though, if Monta Ellis returns to the court soon.
Jarrett Jack (6 % owned): Jack is temporarily filling in for T.J. Ford (groin), and in his first game he produced a strong 24-point/6-rebound effort. Ford could be back any day, making Jack a short-term spot-start option, but he's worth a look if your need is great.
Marreese Speights (3%): As mentioned above, Speights has an increased opportunity now with Elton Brand (shoulder) injured. Speights is an impressive rookie prospect and worth keeping an eye on.
Article first appeared 12/19/08