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NBA Waiver Wire: Can Jeremy Lin Keep it Up?

Charlie Zegers

Charlie Zegers

Charlie Zegers writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Jeremy Lin went from zero-percent owned to 100 percent - and the cover of Sports Illustrated - in the span of about a week. But big questions remain. Will Lin continue to post such excellent numbers when the Knicks' big guns - Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony - return to the lineup?

The answer in Stoudemire's case is probably a resounding "yes." Lin appears to be exactly the type of player that Stoudemire needs to be successful - I wouldn't be at all surprised if STAT returns to the lineup tonight and kicks off another white-hot scoring streak like the one he put together last December, tying the Knick franchise record for consecutive 30-point games. That could mean less scoring opportunities for Lin - but it probably also means some of his turnovers will become assists; Stoudemire's a pretty significant pick-and-roll partner upgrade over Jared Jeffries.

Anthony's return is a bigger concern, as some observers think he'll turn the Knicks back into an isolation-heavy halfcourt-oriented team when he's back from a groin injury. I'm not worried about that. The Knicks became far too reliant on Anthony running isolations earlier this season because that was really their only option when Toney Douglas and Iman Shumpert proved incapable of running Mike D'Antoni's offense.
That said, Anthony's return will probably impact Lin's point totals as well.

And then there's Baron Davis. His Knick debut probably won't happen until after the all-star break, but once it does, he'll probably cut into Lin's playing time. That's probably a good thing for Lin's efficiency; he has been playing very heavy minutes and has struggled late in some games as a result. But that will also impact his fantasy totals.

Once the Knicks are at full strength, Lin will probably settle in as the third - maybe even fourth - scoring option, after Stoudemire, Anthony, and maybe even a resurgent Landry Fields. I wouldn't expect him to be scoring in the 20s all that often, but 8-9 assists per game seems a reasonable target. And that sort of production from a player that was zero-percent owned in late January likely means we'll be seeing Lin's name on a lot of teams that finish in the money this year.

Also worth noting: the fact that Mike D'Antoni finally has a point guard capable of running his offense makes most of the Knicks better fantasy options. And several of them are available - see below for updated takes on Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert and Steve Novak.

Latest on JR Smith

Smith is eligible to sign with an NBA team as of tomorrow - and according to his own Twitter profile, the contenders are New York, the Lakers, the Clippers, Chicago and Indiana.

New York can offer the most money - the $2.5 million "room" exception. The Clippers and Bulls are better teams at this point, but it's not clear how Smith would be used by either of those teams. Would he supplant Randy Foye or Rip Hamilton as a starter? Worth noting - the Clippers' original plan was to use Smith as a bench scorer behind Caron Butler, but Chauncey Billups' season-ending injury may have altered their thinking quite a bit.

Indiana's interest could be an indication that George Hill isn't going to be back in uniform any time soon.

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.

I'll give percent owned stats for both Yahoo! and ESPN/NBA.com leagues with each pick - first number is Yahoo, ESPN/NBA is second. If you play some other league/format, let me know in the comments and I'll do what I can to accommodate.

Standard Leagues
Nikola Pekovic (57%/98.2%): Call him the Montenegrin Jeremy Lin. Pekovic has stepped up in a big way (actually, "big" is the only way the 6-11, 290 pound center can do anything) with Darko Milicic sidelined and will likely hang on to the starting job after Milicic returns.

Carlos Delfino (57%/11.4%): Has been red-hot from long range, averaging a cool 4.0 threes made per game over his last four.

Landry Fields (56%/44.9%): In seven February games, Fields is averaging 11.6 points, four boards and more than a steal per game, despite three-point and free-throw percentages well under last season's. If those shots start falling, his value could skyrocket.

Trevor Booker (41%/63%): Has played well enough that I suspect he'll continue to have a significant role even after Andray Blatche returns. (At this point, I suspect the Wizards would trade Blatche for just about anything, including a nice, firm handshake.) Booker had a career-best 15 boards on Friday against the Heat, and has been blocking about two shots per game.

Greivis Vasquez (33%/57.6%): Has been earning a bigger and bigger role with solid play - and will continue to have opportunites, as Eric Gordon will need surgery on his injured knee and could miss another six weeks.

Iman Shumpert (32%/27.1%): With Lin running the point, Shumpert is able to play on the wing - a more natural spot for him at this stage of his career. He's responding with improved play - he tied a season (career) high with 20 points against Minnesota on Saturday, and has been averaging more than two steals per game over his last four.

Deep Leagues

CJ Watson (17%/15.8%): Derrick Rose's back injury makes Watson a good short-term play (and a must-stash for Rose owners).

Daequan Cook (5%/3.14%): Thabo Sefolosha's return keeps getting pushed back. Until he's ready, Cook will remain in the starting lineup.

Steve Novak (5%/2.1%): Jeremy Lin's emergence as a floor leader has made Novak a much more effective three-point threat. He'll continue to get significant playing time for as long as Carmelo Anthony is sidelined and possibly beyond that.

Klay Thompson (4%/2.38%): Golden State rookie is the hottest three-point shooter in the league right now; he's in the midst of a 14-19 run and is at 50 percent from beyond the arc on the season.

Follow Charlie on Twitter - @charliezegers

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