Under the Radar
By Kevin Payne
RotoWire Staff Writer
Saturday I attended a dinner party and missed most of the NBA action. Getting home rather late, I didn't get a chance to check the box scores until Sunday morning over waffles and coffee. I wasn't surprised to see Lebron drop 38, but shocked to see a guy named Anthony Morrow from Golden State drop 37 on the Clippers. The name sounded familiar but I couldn't remember why. Then it hit me, this was the same guy who hit 16-of-19 three-pointers in the summer league. This led me to do a little more research on the former Yellow Jacket.
Like John Starks, who went on to have a successful NBA career with New York Knicks, Morrow was undrafted last year and signed with the Warriors. In practice, he often frustrates his teammates. According to the San Jose Mercury News, teammate Marcus Williams vented his frustration after guarding Morrow in practice. "He never misses. It's so frustrating. He doesn't even give you a chance to win." Morrow holds the Georgia Tech career free-throw mark at 86.7 percent. Like Starks, he is also deadly from long range, hitting more than 44 percent from three-point land last year in college (81-of-181).
Last year almost to the day (Nov. 16, 2007) Damien Wilkins (son of Gerald, nephew of Dominique) of the then-Seattle SuperSonics scored 41 against the Atlanta Hawks. This came from a player who had averaged only 8.8 points the season before. Wilkins eventually lost time after that game to rookie Jeff Green. This year, Damien has been hurt by a logjam of guards in Oklahoma City, averaging 9.4 minutes and two points per game.
It is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison, Starks/Wilkins to Morrow. Starks already had professional experience in the CBA. Wilkins was not a rookie when he had he 41 point game; he was in his fourth season. What was Morrow's encore to his 37 point effort last Saturday night? On Tuesday, he score 25 points (8-of-12 shooting), including four three-pointers, grabbed four rebounds and had a steal. He's not going to win ROY honors, but Anthony Morrow may end up as the best free-agent pickup in fantasy this year.
Now on to our weekly look at players receiving an increase in playing time, players who can help you in specific categories, and new position eligibility for players.
Anthony Morrow, G, GSW - Averaging only 13 minutes over the previous three games before Saturday night, Morrow's success shouldn't be a complete surprise. Morrow was impressive during six summer league games, averaging 18.6 points. Don't expect a scoring title this year, but he's got upside galore as he sees an increase in minutes for the Warriors.
Brook Lopez, C, NJ - With starting center Josh Boone nursing a sprained ankle, Lopez has seen a spike in minutes. The former Stanford Cardinal has taken advantage of the playing time, averaging 15 points, eight rebounds, 3.5 blocks and a steal over these two games. The jury is out as to how long Boone will be sidelined, but Lopez has earned more playing time even when he returns. Don't be surprised to see Boone traded later this year, giving Lopez the starting spot and majority of minutes at center.
JaVale McGee, C, WAS - The 18th overall pick in the 2008 draft has seen his minutes rise in the nation's capital. After being inactive the first two games of the regular season, McGee has averaged more than 25 minutes a game over his last five. He has shown potential, hitting a double-double in two of those five games. The 7-footer out of Nevada has emerged as the main big man in Washington and should maintain that status over Andray Blatche and Etan Thomas.
Daequan Cook, G, MIA - Cook has seen a dramatic spike in his playing time over the last five games, averaging 31 minutes. He started off the season seeing only 21 minutes of court time through the first four games. During the last five games, Cook has averaged 12.8 points, including 15 three-pointers. Still only 21, expect the stats to keep getting better from the guard from "The Ohio State University."
Delonte West, G, CLE - Since signing a new three-year, $12.7 million contract in September, West has seen significant minutes on a nightly basis for the Cavs. He's averaging more than 34 minutes while hitting more than two treys per game, including four on Tuesday night. West has seen an increase in his overall stats since his move to Cleveland. No longer having to worry about ball handling with Mo Williams at the point, you can expect 12 points, seven total rebounds and assists, two three-pointers and a steal per night.
Anthony Parker, G, TOR - Parker started the season averaging 1.67 steals a game, while playing 35 minutes a night. The brother of Candace Parker, the No. 1 pick of the 2008 WNBA draft, the Bradley product has shot more than 81 percent from the charity stripe the last two seasons.
Matt Barnes, F, PHO - Barnes is available in about half of all fantasy leagues. Fresh off of a two-game suspension, Barnes logged 39 minutes scoring 19 points and grabbing five boards. Averaging a career-high 28 minutes per game, expect Barnes to score 12-15 points a night and grab more than five boards running with Steve Nash and co.
Erick Dampier, C, DAL - Dampier has seen erratic playing time this season, playing as much as 30 minutes a game and as little as four. The four-minute game resulted from coach Rick Carlisle's decision to go with a small lineup against the run-and-gun Knicks. Take that game out as a mulligan, and Dampier's averaging more than 9.5 rebounds a game. Luckily for Dampier the Mavs only see New York one more time this season, and that's not until 2009.