Under the Radar
By Kevin Payne
RotoWire Staff Writer
When researching this article every week, it's odd to come across a player who has a string of good games in a row, with one stinker thrown in the middle. Was it an off night? Did he go up against a particularly good defensive team, like the Boston Celtics? Many times it's neither -- the proverbial blowout has some along, leading to less minutes and fantasy stats for a player. Take Michael Finley for example. Over his last six games, he has scored double digits in all except the game against the Sacramento Kings. The Spurs were up 17 at half, won by 16 and Finley saw only 19 minutes for the game. Conversely, seeing teams like Golden State and Indiana, who tend to be involved in high-scoring affairs, on your schedule should make your eyes light up.
This week I came across some players who should be dusted and claimed off the waiver wire. These players (Brook Lopez, Sebastian Telfair) were highlighted earlier in the year and should at least be back on your radar due to their recent contributions.
Here is the list of players who have seen a spike in playing time over the last few games.
Derek Fisher, G, LAL - The steady point guard for the Lakers will see an increased role until the All-Star Break. That's when L.A. expects backup point guard Jordan Farmar, who is recovering from meniscus surgery, to return. Fisher has seen his minutes rise to an average of 35.2 over his last six games, which includes scoring a season-high 27 points on Dec. 20. He's averaged four assists per game over those six games and shooting more than 89 percent from the charity stripe for the year. Consider picking up the "0.4 second shot man" in deeper leagues, as he should continue to average about 35 minutes a night for the next six weeks.
Sebastian Telfair, PG, MIN - The changing of the head coach in Minnesota did not initially help Telfair. New coach Kevin McHale only gave him 10 minutes of playing time in his first game as head coach. Things went from bad to worse as Telfair didn't even see the floor in games on Dec. 17 and 20. However, McHale was instrumental in bringing Sebastian to Minnesota, so the benching could have been a message of sorts. Apparently that message was heard loud and clear, and Telfair has responded positively on the court the last five games. During this latest run, he's averaged 28 minutes, 13 points and two steals per game. He's also gotten more time than starter Kevin Ollie during this span. Keep an eye on Stephon Marbury's cousin, especially if his playing time continues.
Paul Davis, C, LAL - On a team with a plethora of big men, Davis will get a chance to show what he can do the next week or two. With center Chris Kaman already on the shelf with a sore foot and Zach Randolph battling a bruised knee, Davis got the call Tuesday night. He responded with 18 points (10-10 from the free throw line), five rebounds, three assists and three blocks, while playing a team-high 39 minutes. Davis is worth a gamble in the short term, but may earn himself consistent playing time for the rest of the season with a few more performances like Tuesday night's.
This is a list of players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Brook Lopez, C, NJN - The rookie out of Stanford continues to impress for the Nets. For starters, he has a ridiculous pedigree of athleticism. His mother, Deborah Ledford, was ranked second in the world in the individual swimming medley in 1966. Besides his twin brother Robin (who plays for the Phoenix Suns), his older brother Alex played college hoops at Santa Clara and Washington.
Lopez has now recorded six straight games with at least two blocks, including a five-block performance against Miami. Over his last six games, he averaged 10.1 points and, more impressively, 9.7 rebounds per game. Players who flirt with double-doubles on a nightly basis are tough to come by, especially when you throw in the blocks. Lopez took advantage of Josh Boone's injury and has parlayed it into consistent playing time, even with Boone back now. Look for Lopez to continue to improve, especially with defenses focusing on Vince Carter and Devin Harris.
Jarrett Jack, PG, IND - Jack has benefitted from injuries to teammates T.J. Ford and Marquis Daniels. He's logged an average of 36.1 minutes over his last seven games. In this seven-game period, he's averaged 14.5 points, 5.7 assists and 1.4 steals. Guys who average more than five assists per game are hard to come by on the waiver wire, and Jack is still available in the majority of fantasy leagues. Ford returned to action after missing two games on Tuesday night (11 minutes played), but look for Jack to continue to see a lot of minutes until Ford's back spasms completely calm down.
Michael Finley, F, SA - Finley has stepped up his game as of late for the Spurs. During his last six games, Finley has averaged 13 points, 2.3 three-pointers made and 4.8 rebounds. Finley has both guard and forward eligibility in most leagues, so take a look at him if you could use the boards, especially from the guard position. Finley's played at least 30 minutes over his four games, which is in part due to the foot injury to center Fabricio Oberto. Remember, Finley is on the wrong side of 30, but he remains a viable option while Oberto is out.
The following players have received new eligibility regarding positions over the last week.