Under the Radar
By Kevin Payne
RotoWire Staff Writer
Last Week's Article
Last week, a reader inquired as to my thoughts about the Washington Wizard's Dominic McGuire and JaVale McGee. I replied that while I thought both players had good upside, I was higher on teammate Andray Blatche. Unfortunately, Andray bumped knees with Shaquille O'Neal (which is probably the equivalent of taking a sledgehammer to the knee) on Monday night and will be out the next 2-4 weeks. The injury allows McGuire to keep seeing big minutes and give McGee a shot at some extra time off the bench.
Dominic McGuire was the 47th pick in the 2007 NBA draft. He was considered a steal due to how athletic he was for his size (6-foot-9, 220). McGuire rode the pine most of last season, averaging less than 10 minutes a game. However, this year has been different with McGuire averaging more than 20 minutes a game. He's seen even more time lately, averaging more than 35 minutes in his last five games. During those five games he's averaged only five points but has had 6.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.4 blocks a game.
So what is McGuire's biggest hurdle to becoming a fantasy star? The dreaded 15-foot jump shot. Most of McGuire's points come from layups or dunks. He struggles from the free-throw line (67 percent on the season) and rarely attempts anything outside of 10 feet. Most beneficial to McGuire would be to take a page out of teammate Antawn Jamison's book and develop a jump shot. Jamison is a threat from anywhere on the court, including three-point land, which helps keep opposing defenses honest when guarding him.
The injury to Blatche means McGuire will continue to see consistent minutes the next few weeks. Next week, Washington has four games, which makes him an attractive pickup for teams in weekly leagues looking for help in rebounds, steals and blocks.
Now onto our weekly look at minutes, categories and player eligibility.
Here is the list of players who have seen an increase in playing time the last few games.
Luke Ridnour, G, MIL - Chances are Ramon Sessions has been snagged in almost every league after the injury to Michael Redd. Sessions isn't the only one whose fantasy stats will spike due to Redd's injury, though. Redd's injury also helps Ridnour's fantasy prospects as he no longer has to give up any of his minutes to Sessions. On Monday night, the first game without Redd, Ridnour played 39 minutes, scoring only eight points but handing out nine dimes and collecting two steals. Ridnour is more likely than Sessions to be sitting on your waiver wire, owned in only 60 percent of all leagues. Take a flier on him, especially if you need assists.
C.J. Miles, G, UTA - Forward Andrei Kirilenko will be out for the foreseeable future dealing with an ankle injury that could require surgery. Miles should pick up the extra minutes while Kirilenko's out for the Jazz. In Tuesday's night's game against the Spurs, Miles played 43 minutes, far more than his season average of 23.3 minutes. In that game Miles scored 16 points, grabbed five boards, hit two three-pointers and had a block and a steal. Expect him to grab the majority of Kirilenko's minutes.
Joakim Noah, F, CHI - Noah has been mentioned here before, and this time it's due to Drew Gooden's groin injury. Other than Noah fouling out quickly against Toronto, he's been a monster on the boards. He's had at least 10 rebounds in three of the last four games, including a seven-block effort against the Timberwolves on Sunday. Expect the Bulls to be more cautious with Gooden's return this time and Noah to see a majority of minutes at center for Chicago until the All-Star break.
Jordan Farmar, G, LAL - Farmar returned from a knee injury on Sunday night and scored 14 points in only 17 minutes for the Lakers. A torn lateral meniscus in his left knee had kept him out of the previous 18 games. Farmar doesn't do too much for the Lakers, but if starting point guard Derek Fisher gets hurt he would immediately warrant a roster spot on your fantasy team.
This is a list of players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Rebounds and Blocks
Samuel Dalembert, C, PHI - The big man with a wingspan wider than 7.5 feet has been one of the biggest disappointments this season for fantasy owners. The "Haitian Sensation" may have turned it around, though, with extra playing time from Elton Brand's injury. Over his last five games he's averaged 11.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. Rumors in Philadelphia now say Brand could be traded before the trade deadline, which would only help Dalembert's numbers. For now, Brand is slowly working his way back from injury, but Dalembert's done enough in his absence to continue to see 25-plus minutes a night.
Steve Novak, F, LAC - I first saw Novak play when Marquette upset my beloved Kentucky Wildcats in the Elite Eight of the 2003 NCAA basketball tournament. Of course teammates Dwayne Wade and Travis Diener had more to do with the upset than Novak. Novak went on to set records at Marquette for three-pointers made (354) and consecutive free throws made (68). The rash of injuries to Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, et al., has allowed Novak to see significant court time the last five games. He's averaged 15.2 points and made 17 three-pointers. Novak is also shooting more than 92 percent from the charity stripe on the season. Realize that his teammates are returning to health, but ride him while he's hot.
Ronald Murray, G, ATL - "Flip" has been on fire the last five games for the Hawks. Over that time he's averaged more than 28 minutes per game as opposed to the 21 minutes he's seen this season. The pride of Shaw University responded by averaging 16 points and 1.8 steals in those games. Just don't expect too much in the other fantasy categories.
The following player has received new eligibility regarding positions over the last week.
Ron Artest has received shooting guard status for the Houston Rockets.
Article first appeared on 1/28/09