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Category Strategy: Bynum's Breakout Season

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

How good has Andrew Bynum been?

Heading into this season it was hard to rank Bynum. First, his suspension stemming from last year's playoffs was to cost him the first five games of the season. Considering the lockout-shortened schedule, that meant a lot as it amounted to 7.5 percent of the games in a 66-game season. The suspension was reduced to four games only a few days before the season started, but that was likely after most drafts and thus something owners didn't get to consider.

Then there's Bynum's injury history. He's had an extensive history of knee problems, which you never want to hear about a man of Bynum's size, especially at such an early point in his career. Throw in that while it's a shortened NBA season, it's also more compressed, forcing the big man to play more games in a shorter periods. Entering this season, Bynum averaged only 55 games per season and had only played 54 games once over the previous four seasons. Is there a lot of risk here? You might say so.

But there is also a lot of reward. Bynum has long been the subject of trade rumors, yet the Lakers have never appeared even close to letting him go. He worked out with renowned trainer Freddie Roach in the offseason and has worked throughout the years with Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Coach Mike Brown said Bynum would not be held back and would receive 34 minutes per game, something that has held true (34.2 to be exact). Even though he plays alongside another great rebounder, Pau Gasol, Bynum leads the league in rebounds with 15.7 per game. Add 18.8 points per game and 1.7 blocks (a stat that should rise) and you're watching a breakout season.

Yes, slow down, he's played in a whopping six games. He came down awkwardly a few games ago and limped off the court. That proved to be just an ankle twist, but is it a matter of time before something more significant happens? Maybe, but I get the feeling Bynum could end up on a lot of championship teams by season's end.

MINUTES

Each week we'll look at players who have received increased minutes. An uptick in minutes doesn't always translate into improved fantasy stats but at the very least offers some players to put on the radar.

Matt Barnes, F, LAL -
Barnes has supplanted World Metta Peace as the starting small forward in Los Angeles and is an intriguing player to add given his skill set. On any given night, Barnes, provided he gets the minutes, can fill the stat sheet across the board. Case in point, the last two games he totaled 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, three steals, three blocks and two three-pointers made. It's hard to find many players who have that ability, let alone who are sitting on your waiver wire. Keep an eye on the situation for the Lakers as a cold run could change his playing time. For now, though, Barnes is getting the majority of minutes at small forward.

B.J. Mullens, C, NO -
Mullen has quietly put together some impressive stats for the Bobcats despite seeing limited playing time. He's in the "increased minutes" section this week because he averaged only 6.5 minutes in the 13 games last season for Oklahoma City. One of those gifted athletes from an early age, Mullens was offered a scholarship to Ohio State the summer before his ninth grade year in high school. While he's not a totally familiar name to most, he only played one season in college before declaring for the NBA draft. Only 22 and at a behemoth 7-foot, 275, Mullens has the size and youth to still develop into a starting NBA center. He's made the most of his opportunity off the bench this season, averaging 10.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. While those numbers don't jump off the page, they're impressive considering he only averages 18.6 minutes per game. While it's been a small sample size, he's also been a perfect 15-for-15 from the free-throw line, which is unusual for a center. At the least, watch if his playing time increases over the course of the season; he would be a viable option in most formats if he continues to develop.

Marreese Speights, C, MEM -
The Zach Randolph injury was the best thing that could have happened for Speights' fantasy value this season as he was buried on the bench for the 76ers. After seeing only six minutes his first game in a Grizzlies uniform, Speights put up 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in his second game with Memphis. Speights will benefit from playing alongside Marc Gasol, whose defensive presence should make up for any of Speights' shortcomings in that department. There's some decent upside here if Speights continues to see 24-plus minutes a contest with some of his teammates on the mend.

CATEGORIES

Each week we'll look at certain players who can help your fantasy team in the nine categories most leagues use. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a certain category, there's no guarantee they will contribute in other areas.

Three-Pointers

Anthony Morrow, G, NJ -
By now you should know the book on Morrow. He's a streaky shooter who can hit from downtown (more than 45.0 percent each of the last three seasons), and he recently has retaken the starting guard role from Sundiata Gaines. In his last three games, he averaged 18.3 points and totaled 13 threes. If he continues to see about 30 minutes a night he'll throw in a few rebounds and assists, making him worth a look in scoring leagues. Just watch to see if he can produce consistently and stay healthy.

Scoring

Nate Robinson, G, GS -
The news on Stephen Curry's ankle is puzzling in that there doesn't seem to be anything structurally wrong yet he's in enough pain to keep him sidelined. A visit to the doctor who performed the offseason surgery appeared to go well, but there is no timetable for his return. Enter the newly signed Robinson who has played 27 and 31 minutes in each of his first two games for Golden State. While Robinson totaled only 20 points between those two contests, the minutes and 20 shots taken indicate he will have an impact on the Warriors offense while Curry is out. Nate also had nine assists in those two games and should be good for a handful each night. Playing time is key here; the last time Robinson averaged at least 29 minutes per game was three years ago when he averaged 17.1 points and 4.1 assists.

Rebounds and Blocks

Trevor Booker, F, WAS -
It'll be interesting to see how things pan out for Washington as there are reports that Andray Blatche will come off the bench and that Booker will enter the starting lineup. It shouldn't be a complete surprise that the Wizards are shaking up their lineup after their 0-8 start, and outside of JaVale McGee they'll need Booker to play tough defense. Booker got a good run toward the end of last season, averaging 10.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks during 12 games in February before a broken foot ended his season. Keep an eye on the former Clemson Tiger to see if he can produce and keep the starting role.

ELIGIBILITY

Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies.

Chris Kaman, NO -
Now eligible at power forward
Drew Gooden, MIL - Now eligible at center

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