Under the Radar
By Kevin Payne
RotoWire Staff Writer
Another week brought on more injuries in the NBA. All-star Carmelo Anthony found out the good news on his broken hand on Tuesday; he won't need surgery. However, he will miss the next 3-4 weeks for the Denver Nuggets. The Nets' leading scorer, Devin Harris, missed a game last week with a tweaked hamstring and had to leave Monday night's game early after aggravating the same injury. Both Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest missed games for the Houston Rockets, while Jermaine O'Neal continues to have knee problems for the Toronto Raptors.
While it's never good to hear about an injured player, this means an opportunity for another guy on the team. Here's the list of players likely to benefit from these injuries, or who survived a long plane ride from the former Soviet Union.
Here is the list of players who have seen an increase in playing time over the last few games.
Andrea Bargnani, F, TOR - Andrea has seen more court time recently, thanks to Jermaine O'Neal's injured knee. "II Mago" (the Magician) has seen his playing time spike to 36.7 minutes over his last four games. During these four games, Bargnani has averaged 21 points, three three-pointers made, 6.2 rebounds and 1.75 blocks. He qualifies at center, a tough position from which to get three-pointers, unless your last name is Okur. Andrea is also shooting a lofty 86.8 percent on the season from the free throw line. O'Neal missed 42 games last season with a knee injury, so expect the Raptors to be patient with his return.
Keyon Dooling, G, NJN - Devin Harris is nursing a hamstring injury the last week, which got bad enough for him to leave Monday's game. Expect Harris to rest his injury the next few games for the Nets, and Dooling to pick up the playing time. Averaging only 25.2 minutes on the season, Dooling has averaged 38.6 minutes over his last three games (including an overtime loss in Miami). In that span, he's averaged 13 points, 4.3 assists, four rebounds and 1.6 three-pointers made. Hamstring injuries typically take time to heal, so expect Dooling to see this kind of minutes while Harris is out.
Nenad Krstic, C, OKL - An easy pick for this section when you haven't played any minutes in the NBA yet this season. Krstic proved he was past knee issues, playing in seven games for the Russian professional team, Lyubertsy. The Serbian is expected to join Oklahoma City and play immediately now that his visa problems have been solved. He fits perfectly into the Thunder's plans, being only 25 years old on a young team who features Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook. The 7-footer should eventually move into the starting lineup, as the team has lacked an inside presence for quite some time. He's only two seasons removed from averaging 16.4 points and 6.8 rebounds a game, so take a flier if you're in need of help from the center position.
This is a list of players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
J. R. Smith, G, DEN - The news came out on Tuesday that Carmelo Anthony fractured a metacarpal in his shooting hand. The break will keep him out for at least the next three weeks. In the meantime, Smith will be asked to pick up the scoring for the Nuggets. He is already averaging a career-high 13.5 points per game, which will only increase over the next few weeks. J.R. has always been known as a prolific three-point shooter, and has made at least one over his last seven games, averaging 2.57 per game over that span. Smith is a good play over the next month until Anthony returns. Just realize he's shooting less than 45 percent from the field on the season, and never saw a shot he didn't think he could make.
Von Wafer, G, HOU - The former Florida State Seminole has stepped up his game over the last three for the Rockets. Wafer has taken advantage of the playing time given to him due to injuries to Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest. In his last three games, Vakeaton has scored 49 points, including seven three-pointers with five steals. This includes an 18-point performance in Toronto, even though he played only 12 minutes. While Artest is expected back soon, both T-Mac and him are not known as being the healthiest players in the NBA. Keep an eye on the injury situation in Houston, as Wafer will benefit from any time missed by these starters.
Joakim Noah, C, CHI - The player who learned via a fine not to eat in the locker room before a game has cleaned the glass effectively as of late for Chicago. Despite playing only 14 minutes on Saturday, due to foul trouble, Noah still pulled down eight rebounds. In fact, over his last four contests, he's averaged nine rebounds and two blocks. Pretty crazy to think he played on the same college team at Florida with Al Horford, Marreese Speights and Corey Brewer. Expect the former collegiate national champion to continue to produce these numbers if he sees 24-28 minutes a night for the Bulls.
The following players have received new eligibility regarding positions over the last week.