Under the Radar
By Kevin Payne
RotoWire Staff Writer
Last week I speculated on next season's top five fantasy players. This week, I'm going the other direction to list the top five players I will avoid at all cost next season.
1. Allen Iverson - A trade to Detroit didn't help his fantasy value, and AI's numbers are down drastically across the board. He's averaging eight points and two assists less than last year, while shooting a dismal 41 percent from the field. His future in Detroit is cloudy at best, and he'll be 34-years-old when next season tips off.
2. Carlos Boozer - Boozer has only played more than 51 games twice in the last five seasons and is the poster boy for the phrase "injury-prone." When he's healthy, he's a dominant force in the paint, but he's too risky to take in the early rounds. The emergence of Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur should reduce Boozer's role on offense next season even if he avoids the injury bug.
3. Tracy McGrady - Another who has missed significant time, TMac has played more than 70 games just once in the last four seasons. For the third straight season he posted declining numbers in every category and was shooting a career-low 38 percent from the field. McGrady also isn't a sure thing to be completely recovered from microfracture surgery when the season begins.
4. Shawn Marion - I'm not sure who Marion owes more of his contract money to -- Steve Nash or Mike D'Antoni. To say Marion is not the same player he was in Phoenix is a huge understatement. No one would have believed at the season's start that he'd be averaging 12.3 points per game in mid-March. He's also no longer a threat from three-point land, shooting 8-for-48 on the year.
5. Elton Brand - The former Duke star has now played 37 games the last two seasons. Perhaps even more discouraging was the 13 points per game he averaged with his new team even when he was healthy. He may also not be 100 percent at the start of next season. I'll pass.
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.
Jason Thompson, F, SAC - Thompson has played 36 and 33 minutes over the Kings last two games. During these two games he has 33 points, 20 rebounds, six assists and five blocks. With the Kings playing for lottery position, expect Thompson to play a lot of minutes the rest of the season.
Hakim Warrick, F, MEM - Warrick immediately becomes fantasy relevant with the injuries to teammates Darrell Arthur and Darko Milicic. On Monday, he scored 15 points in only 25 minutes. He should be in line for even more minutes than that with both players out indefinitely.
Mickeal Pietrus, G, ORL - Pietrus filled in admirably last week while Hedo Turkoglu dealt with a foot injury. During the two games Turkoglu was out, Pietrus scored 30 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, blocked five shots and made eight three-pointers. Turkoglu returned Monday night, but Pietrus still drained three three-pointers for the Magic. With a playoff berth already clinched, Pietrus could see more playing time if Orlando decides to rest Turkoglu.
Marcin Gortat, C, ORL - The Magic have started to rest superstar Dwight Howard, opening up some minutes for Gortat. Against the Bulls last week he scored 13 points and pulled down 15 boards, giving a glimpse of his potential. He's really a darkhorse at this point, but he's 7-foot and could help teams needing rebounds if he gets 20-plus minutes a night.
This is a list of players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Keyon Dooling, G, NJN - Dooling becomes the starting point guard for the Nets while Devin Harris is sidelined with a shoulder injury. Starting Monday night, Dooling scored 17 points and dished out six assists in 35 minutes of playing time. Expect the Nets to be cautious with Harris's shoulder injury and count on Dooling to produce stellar stats in the interim.
Michael Finley, F, SA - Finley has been hot lately, scoring double-digits in five of his last six games. That includes a season-high 25 points last Thursday night against the Lakers. He's drained 11 three-pointers his last three games and will continue to play a big offensive role for the Spurs with Manu Ginobli out.
Renaldo Balkman, F, DEN - Death, taxes and Kenyon Martin's hurt. His loss is Balkman's gain as the former Gamecock has filled in nicely for Martin. Over his last three games, Balkman is averaging 14.6 points, 11 rebounds and one block. He tweaked his groin on Monday night, but is not expected to miss much, if any time. Denver may also choose to rest their starters once a playoff berth is clinched, giving Balkman even more playing time.
The following players have received eligibility at a new position in the NBA.
Dominic McGuire is eligible at shooting guard for the Washington Wizards.
Article first appeared on 3/18/09