Under the Radar
By Kevin Payne
RotoWire Staff Writer
Last week saw the injury bug bite several of the point guards in the league, including the two best, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Paul suffered what is being labeled as a mild groin strain, while Williams went down with a quad contusion. Paul isn't expected back until next week, at the earliest. Williams is listed as questionable for Thursday night's game against Dallas. Expect both teams to exercise caution with their respective stars with the All-Star break (and some extra rest) lurking around the corner.
Jameer Nelson suffered the most severe point guard injury, tearing the labrum in his right shoulder. He might opt for rehab, which translates to me as "this is the only hope for him returning this year." It's unfortunate, as Nelson was an integral part of the Magic and a potential run at a title as one of the big three teams in the East. He was on his way to setting career highs in points per game, minutes, steals and all of his shooting percentages.
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 or expect to see an increase in the upcoming schedule.
Mike Conley, PG, MEM - Since new coach Lionel Hollins anointed Conley the team's starting point guard, Conley has done nothing to disappoint. Over his last three games, he's averaged 14 points, seven assists, two steals, while sinking five three-pointers. Don't forget his father/agent was a world class athlete in the triple jump and long jump, so the pedigree is there. Memphis will keep giving 30-plus minutes a night; grab him if you need point guard help.
D. J. Augustin, PG, CHR - I realize he hasn't played a game in more than three weeks, but Augustin is expected to make his return to the Bobcats this weekend. The winner of the 2008 Bob Cousy award, D.J. will contribute mainly to the points, three-pointers and free-throw percentage categories. He's available in most leagues, but probably won't be when fantasy owners mull over their teams during the All-Star break.
Roger Mason, Jr., G, SA - Mason has seen his playing time rise to an average of 34.6 minutes over his last five games. He's scored in double digits in four of those five games and can be counted on for three-pointers and a couple of assists and rebounds. Mason is also valuable from the charity stripe and has shot more than 87 percent for the year.
Anthony Johnson, PG, ORL - With Nelson's injury, Johnson will see an immediate increase in playing time. Orlando will probably make a trade before the deadline to shore up the position, but until then it's Johnson's show to run from the point.
Mickael Pietrus, G, ORL - Pietrus hit the ground running upon returning from a broken right wrist. Since coming back, he's played in four games and averaged 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, two assists and a three-pointer made. Expect the native of Guadaloupe to make his way back into the starting lineup over Courtney Lee and be asked to pick up some of the scoring lost to the Nelson injury.
This is a list of players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Ronnie Brewer, G, UTA - He's only available in about a third of the leagues out there, but if he is available in yours he warrants an immediate pickup. With the injuries to Deron Willams and Andrei Kirilenko, Brewer has been asked pick up the scoring slack. He's played at least 35 minutes in each of his last four games, including a 43-minute effort Monday night. Brewer has lit up the score sheet, averaging 19 points in those four games. Expect this to continue for a player who could be another Gerald Wallace in the making.
Antonio McDyess, F, DET - Coach Michael Curry finally figured that Kwame Brown is not going to be a star in the NBA. This resulted in inserting Amir Johnson into the starting lineup and making McDyess the first player off the bench. McDyess has responded with 10.6 rebounds and 7.6 points per game over his last three. He's also averaged 32.7 minutes per game in that time. Expect the rebounding to continue with this kind of minutes, just don't expect much else.
Ronnie Price, Brevin Knight, PG, UTA - These two will man the point while Deron Williams is on the mend. Each played 24 minutes in Monday night's game, which was the first Williams sat out. Price had 12 points and three assists, while Knight had four points and seven assists. Both are good for a couple of steals with Price scoring more and Knight handing out more dimes. Williams isn't expected out too long, but in deeper leagues with daily transactions, you might want to roll the dice with either Price or Knight.
Ronny Turiaf, C, GS - Turiaf has been a boost off of the bench for the Warriors all season. Recently, Don Nelson has turned to the multi-lingual (he knows five languages) center to help the Warriors in the paint with Andris Biedrins dealing with a left wrist injury. Over his last three games, he's averaged 28 minutes, 9.3 rebounds and 3.6 blocked shots. If he sees this playing time continue, expect the defensive fantasy stats to be there.
The following players have received new positional eligibility in the NBA: