Under the Radar
By Kevin Payne
RotoWire Staff Writer
One of the league's biggest surprises this season, Kevin Durant, went down to a grade II ankle sprain last Friday. Durant was unstoppable before the injury, averaging 30.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.45 steals and 1.7 three-pointers made in February. Those stats included lofty shooting percentages - 53 percent from the field and 87 percent from the free-throw line. What's even more unbelievable, every month has seen his field goal percentage increase since he shot only 46 percent in November. A couple of week's ago I mentioned that Durant may be a top-five pick next season and I was wrong; I'm now thinking top-three.
The injury to Durant has given the opportunity to other players on the Thunder to step up and contribute. Two of the players highlighted in this week's article, Thabo Sefolosha and Nenad Krstic, were not even on Thunder's roster to open the season. The irony? The Thunder as a team have stepped up since Durant's injury; they are 2-0 since he went down.
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 over the last few games or expect to see an increase in the upcoming schedule.
Thabo Sefolosha, G, OKC - Sefolosha has been the main beneficiary of Kevin Durant's sprained ankle. In the two games since the injury, Thabo has scored 30 points, grabbed nine boards, and recorded five assists. He's also played 41 minutes in each of the last two, a significant increase from the 18.6 he was averaging this season.
Nenad Krstic, F, OKC - Another player playing more with Durant sidelined, Krstic scored a season-high 26 points on Monday night. He's averaged 32.2 minutes, 12.7 points and 7.2 rebounds over his last four games. Krstic is also averaging over a block a game on the year and will continue to see plenty of court time even after Durant returns because he recently moved into the starting lineup.
Bobby Jackson, G, SAC - Jackson has picked up playing time for the Kings with the foot injury to Beno Udrih. He's played over 31 minutes in each of the last three games, averaging 12.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals. He's worth a look in deeper leagues as long as Udrih is on the shelf.
James Singleton, F, DAL - Since recording two straight DNPs-coach's decision, Singleton has made the most of his playing time in the last six games. He's averaged 26.5 minutes a night, thanks to coach Rick Carlisle's decision to go to a smaller, quicker lineup. He's averaged a double-double (11.1 points and 10.6 rebounds) during those six games and has become a force off of the bench for Dirk Nowitzki's crew.
This is a list of players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Larry Hughes, G, NYK - Hughes has quickly acclimated himself to coach Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo style of basketball in New York. After scoring only 10 total points in 46 minutes over his first three games, Hughes has exploded over his last two. In those two games he's scored 46 points, made seven three-pointers, handed out seven dimes and had six steals. He's not going to keep up this pace the rest of the season, but even with a modest drop in stats he still deserves a roster spot. Hughes may have more bounce in his step right now; the only player in the league more rested is Stephon Marbury.
Rebound and Blocks
Joakim Noah, F, CHI - The addition of Brad Miller if anything has motivated Noah to play harder. He's only owned in 58 percent of fantasy basketball leagues despite being a nightly double-double threat. Over his last four games, he's averaged 9.7 points and 10 rebounds. On the season, he's blocking 1.4 shots a game and is the Bulls leading rebounder with seven boards per contest. Brad Miller has not supplanted him as the starter yet in Chicago, so expect the inspired play to continue.
Kyle Korver, F, UTA - Very quietly Korver has played himself into an important role in Utah. Mostly known for his outside shooting, Korver has been cleaning the glass as of late. Over his last four contests, he's averaged 12.2 points (56 percent shooting from the field), 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 three-pointers made. Jerry Sloan has placed his faith in Korver, giving him at least 28 minutes a game over those last four. Give Korver a look while he's on this hot streak, especially if you need three-pointers.
Kyle Weaver, G, OKC - Thievery is the category rarely highlighted in this column. This week is an exception because Weaver is contributing to other categories as well. He's got eight steals in his last five games to go along with averages of 13 points, 3.2 rebounds and one three-pointer made. He's taken the place of Durant in the starting lineup and will continue to see playing time even after he returns.
The following players have received eligibility at a new position in the NBA.