Under the Radar
By Kevin Payne
RotoWire Staff Writer
As we embark on the NBA All-Star break, now would be a good time to sit back and look at some of the fantasy regrets from the first half of the season. I'm going to leave out the injuries that took place during the season (i.e. Carlos Boozer, Andrew Bynum, Al Jefferson) as no one could have predicted those. In no particular order, I give you "First Half Disappointments."
Gilbert Arenas, G, WAS - In all of my drafts, someone took Arenas before the eighth round, thinking he might miss a couple of months at most. Then the reports came on a monthly basis that "next month" he would be back. Here we are, at the break and he still hasn't logged a minute on the court and has no timeframe to be back for the Wizards.
Elton Brand, F, PHI - I know I said I wasn't going to look at in-season injuries, but Brand would have made this list sans the shoulder injury. Despite sitting the majority of 2007 due to a ruptured Achilles' tendon, Elton didn't fall past the second round in the majority of fantasy leagues. This year he averaged only 13.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, a far cry from the expectations an $80 million contract brings. With only 37 games played the last two seasons, he will enter the 2010 season with the dreaded injury-prone tag on him.
Shawn Marion, F, MIA - Like Brand to the second round, Marion was gone in most leagues by the third. Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire have both seen a modest drop in their fantasy stats without coach Mike D'Antoni. However, Marion is the one who has suffered the most since parting ways with his old team and coach. If you go back to his last full season with Phoenix in 2006, Marion is averaging 5.5 points and one rebound less this season with slightly lower block/steal totals. What's scarier is that he only has eight three-pointers made this year, on pace for almost 64 less than the 2006 season.
Mike Dunleavy, F, IND - Reports at the beginning of the year had Junior out a few games, a week or two at most with a right knee injury. It took him a calendar turn to 2009 before he saw game action on January 7. Even upon his return, Dunleavy didn't look like the same player from his career year in 2007. The knee injury limited him to lower minutes and thus a decline in averages across the board - four points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists and a career-low 40.1 percent field goal percentage. He aggravated the injury last week, putting him on the shelf indefinitely.
I'm sure I've overlooked a few underachievers. Feel free to comment (vent) about who has let you down since draft day. 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.
Hakim Warrick, F, MEM - The former Syracuse star has responded well to the extra playing time received with teammates Rudy Gay and Darrell Arthur out. Over his last two games, Warrick has 31 points, 22 rebounds and three blocks. No timetable has been given for Gay's hip flexor injury, so Warrick is a viable option for the short term, if not longer.
Wally Szczerbiak, F, CLE - "Wally World" has logged 39.4 minutes over the Cavs' last three games. He's gotten this bump over his normal 20 minutes a game with injuries to Sasha Pavlovic and Delonte West. He's averaged 14.3 points, seven rebounds and three three-pointers made over those three games. Until West comes back sometime after the All-Star break, Walter Robert will see plenty of minutes for Cleveland.
This is a list of players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Charlie Bell, G, MIL - With injuries running rampant in Milwaukee, Bell will be asked to pick up some of the scoring slack. He's averaged 13.4 points over his last five contests, including a 21-point effort on Monday night. Bell has done damage from behind the arc, shooting 41.6 percent on his last 10 three-pointers. Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions can't do all the scoring; look for Bell to get his share of points as the first man off the bench.
Marreese Speights, C, PHI - Now that the aforementioned Brand is out for the year, Speights will see significant minutes at center. Over his last two games, he's stepped up with 39 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. The most impressive stats are 22 and 24, the numbers of minutes he played in both those games. Speights has shot more than 53 percent from the field this year, and could post stellar "big man numbers" the second half of the season.
Earl Watson, G, OKC - Watson has turned it up a notch over the last week for the Thunder. In his last three games, he's averaging 11 points, eight assists, while shooting more than 90 percent from the charity stripe. Coach Scott Brooks has recently favored Watson (eight turnovers in the last four games) over Westbrook (17 turnovers in the last four games) at the point for Oklahoma City. Take a flier on Watson if your team needs some dimes.
The following players have received eligibility at a new position in the NBA.
Darius Songalia is now eligible at center for the Wizards, while Utah's Kyle Korver can now be listed as a forward.
Article first appeared on 2/11/09