Let's say you're one of many fantasy owners left without a center due to DeMarcus Cousins' temper tantrum. (And as an aside, wouldn't it be awesome if the box scores listed Cousins as DNP - knucklehead or something similar?)
Don't fret. There are productive fantasy center options popping up every day, in the least likely places. The D-League, for example. One time D-League defensive player of the year Greg Stiemsma stepped into the Celtics' starting lineup on Monday, in place of an injured Jermaine O'Neal, and racked up 13 points, seven boards, two blocks and two assists in just 21 minutes against the Wizards. With O'Neal's injury history, one could make a pretty compelling case that Stiemsma will log a lot of minutes in that spot, and possibly take the starting job before too long. On that potential alone, he should probably be owned in more than, uh, zero percent of all Yahoo! leagues and 1.1 percent on ESPN.
Another surprisingly-productive big man - New York's Josh Harrellson - arrived as a largely unheralded second-round pick out of Kentucky. But when Amar'e Stoudemire went down with an ankle injury, Harrellson got an opportunity and, against the Kings on New Year's Eve posted his first career double-double in his first career start (14 points, 12 boards, 4-8 3pt). A three-point shooter on the offensive end and a banger on defense, Harrellson could emerge as a poor man's Troy Murphy as the season progresses. And though he won't be in the starting lineup for long - Stoudemire should be back this week - there will be plenty of minutes available in New York's frontcourt; both Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler have extensive injury histories.
Dallas' Ian Mahinmi is also worth a look in some leagues, as it seems Rick Carlisle is splitting playing time between him and Brendan Haywood more or less evenly this season. Mahinmi has logged 20 or more minutes in four straight games and just missed a double-double (10 points, 9 boards) against Oklahoma City on Monday.
Early Season Injury Notes
Manu Ginobili is out indefinitely after breaking the fifth metacarpal in his left hand. With Gary Neal temporarily consigned to the D-League, James Anderson figures to be the biggest beneficiary. Kris Humphries is day-to-day with a shoulder problem, which moves Shelden Williams back into the Nets' starting lineup temporarily. And Chauncey Billups is dealing with a groin injury - the sort of thing that could linger for a while. The Clippers will start Randy Foye in Billups' spot, with Mo Williams staying in the sixth man role.
Picks for the Week
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who may be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers.
All "percent owned" stats are taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball - your mileage may vary.
Lamar Odom (86% owned) - It seems clear that Odom is still adjusting to his new address, but he showed some signs of life in Monday's win over the Thunder. He might be a very interesting "buy low" target in leagues with impatient owners.
Spencer Hawes (75% owned) - Hawes is averaging a double-double thus far, and shooting an excellent percentage from the floor (.676) with 1.75 blocks per game.
Paul George (78% owned) - So what did you work on over the summer, Paul? George has been red-hot from long range to start the season, shooting .632 from three. He had 41 made threes in 61 games last season - he's got 12 through Indiana's first five.
Al Harrington (72% owned) - Harrington is off to a very hot start and seems to be thriving in a bench role for the Nuggets. He could get a playing time boost in the short term, as Nene is dealing with a foot injury.
JJ Redick (70% owned) - Jason Richardson is off to a horrid start, which opens the door for Redick to take on a more important role in Orlando's rotation.
Mario Chalmers (25% owned) - Chalmers continues to be maddeningly inconsistent, but when he's on he puts up excellent fantasy numbers. Case in point - he had nine steals through Miami's first two games, but just two in four games since then. And he scored 16 points with four made threes on New Year's Day, but followed up that performance with six points and five turnovers against the Hawks. Look at his averages, and try not to let his day-to-day stat lines drive you crazy.
Marvin Williams (44% owned) - Another amnesty candidate that got off to a hot start, Williams posted near double-doubles in Atlanta's first two games. He's cooled off some since then, but is still worth a look, especially as a spot-starter against weaker opponents.
MarShon Brooks (26% owned) - Expect inconsistency from Brooks, who sandwiched a scoreless game against the Cavs on New Year's Day with two 21-point performances. But with the Nets reeling and struggling to score points, look for the rookie to get lots of opportunities to play.
Norris Cole (19% owned) - The rookie flashed his considerable potential with a 16-point, nine-assist performance - in just 20 minutes - against the Bobcats on Sunday… and his three-point shot hasn't even started falling yet (.222 on the season, a number likely to improve significantly).
Iman Shumpert (3% owned) - Shumpert scored 11 points despite poor shooting (3-13) in the Knicks' season opener before getting sidelined by a third quarter knee injury. He could be back for Wednesday's game, and with Mike D'Antoni's bench struggling badly, is likely to have a very prominent role.
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