Under the Radar
By Kevin Payne
RotoWire Staff Writer
With the end of the season only a week away, you may be one of the lucky ones who have their championship locked up. Others will be sweating it out over the next week as they try to hold off the team behind them or leapfrog the team ahead. Lastly, there are those who have given up, realizing that their center will have to channel Wilt Chamberlain and a few of his 100-point games to even give them a remote shot. In other words, we are done for the 2008-2009 season. So this brings us to next year, who should you target? Let's look at some of the "under the radar" players to target for next season.
Spencer Hawes, C, SAC - Hawes has given us a glimpse of what he's capable of since the trade of Brad Miller to the Bulls. He averaged 15.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists during March. With these impressive stats came 53 percent shooting from the field and more than 80 percent from the charity stripe. The outside shooting of Kevin Martin will keep defenses honest and continue to provide kick-out assist opportunities for the big man.
Will Bynum, G, DET - Apparently the honeymoon is over between Allen Iverson and Detroit, giving the Georgia Tech product a chance to shine. He set a franchise record by scoring 26 points in the fourth quarter Sunday while finishing with seven assists. He's only 26, and at some point the Pistons have to think about the future with an aging starting lineup.
Blake Griffin, F, OKL - Looking at this year's draft class, there are very few players who will make an immediate impact. Griffin will be one of the few rookies who will have a fantasy impact and be an immediate double-double threat every night. This year at Oklahoma, he averaged 22.7 points with 14.4 rebounds a game, good to lead the nation. Next year I'd easily take him before Al Horford, Udonis Haslem or Rasheed Wallace.
Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC - Very quietly Westbrook has put up a solid rookie campaign. He doesn't get the press as some of his other classmates (Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo or Michael Beasley) but has put up as good a season as any of them. Westbrook averages 15.5 points, 5.1 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Expect him to build on these numbers next season, playing on a team with tremendous upside.
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.
C.J. Watson, PG, GSW - Watson is back in the rotation, playing at least 30 minutes in three of his last six games. He's had a problem staying out of foul trouble, or those numbers could be even higher. Over his last two games, he's posted 29 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals. In deeper leagues he's a viable option with many of the Golden State players out with injuries.
Jared Jeffries, F, NYK - Jeffries has seen an increased role with both Larry Hughes and Quentin Richardson nursing sprained ankles. He's played an average of 38 minutes the last week and has done a little of everything for fantasy squads. During this time, he's averaged 10.3 points, six rebounds, 3.3 assists and more than a steal per game. Playing for Mike D'Antoni never hurt a player's fantasy prospects, so grab him if you need help.
Roger Mason Jr., G, SAS - With the news of Manu Ginobili out for the season with a broken leg, Mason becomes an important piece to the Spurs offense. His biggest strengths lie in three-pointers made and at the free-throw line, where he's shooting more than 88 percent on the season. He has not played more than 29 minutes in the last two weeks; expect that to change immediately.
This is a list of players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
J.R. Smith, G, DEN - Smith has been hot again lately for the Nuggets. He's hit 22 treys in his last four games, averaging 22.7 points, 3.5 assists and three rebounds. Unfortunately, he can turn cold just as quickly, but he's a solid play for the next week if you need three-pointers.
Rebounds and Blocks
DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC - With Zach Randolph choosing a negative method of coping with a losing season and Chris Kaman battling the flu, the door of opportunity opens for Jordan. He's played great when given the minutes this season and has shot more than 90 percent from the field (11-for-12) his last two games. As long as he stays out of foul trouble, he's an excellent option in the final week.
Javaris Crittenton, PG, WAS - The Wizards are taking a long look at another Georgia Tech product as the season winds down. Crittenton has played 38 and 43 minutes his last two games. He's put up 22 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists during that span. Javaris should continue to produce as long as Washington continues to sit Gilbert Arenas.
The following player has received eligibility at a new position in the NBA.
Fred Jones is now eligible at small forward for the Clippers.
Article first appeared on 4/8/09