The biggest story in basketball the last week easily has been the emergence of Jeremy Lin. By now we all know his history; he's an undrafted Harvard grad of Asian descent, an unheard of combination for success in the NBA. Most impressive for the twice-cut rookie has been his ability to produce while under one of the bigger spotlights in sports, New York. After leading his team to victory over Kobe and Co., Lin silenced almost all his critics. So from a fantasy perspective, what should you do with Lin?
The answer depends on your situation. If you took a flier on him hoping for an "assists" lottery ticket, hang onto him. With Amar'e Stoudemire's return and Carmelo Anthony soon back in the fold, Lin should be a lock for eight-plus assists per night. If you are not in desperate need of assists, throw an email out to your league mates and see what offers you get. Don't be shy in letting them know what categories you're looking for. The truth is Jeremy Lin's fantasy value will not be any higher than it is now, and it could be the perfect time to take advantage. There are a few points working against the magic of Jeremy Lin. The return of Anthony and Stoudemire will reduce the shots Lin takes every night and, thus, his scoring. Defenses will begin to game plan more for Lin, making the other Knicks beat them. Eventually, Baron Davis might return to the lineup (that's becoming a big "might"). Playing 35-plus minutes of NBA basketball three to five times a week will eventually take its toll. His turnovers (more than five per game) will become more scrutinized when he has an off shooting night. You get the picture.
This has been a great story, and, for the record, I think Lin will continue to succeed, just not close to this high level, which, yes, is sort of wearing the Captian Obvious hat. Just don't let the fairy tale story cloud your fantasy judgment if you can move him now for a proven, elite commodity (elite being the key word). If you get the right offer and it benefits your team, now is the best time to move him.
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 it at least offers some players to put on the radar.
Trevor Booker, F, WAS - Booker is a repeat offender in this column and gets another mention after returning to the starting lineup. The former Clemson Tiger has averaged 38.2 minutes in his last four contests and been a productive fantasy option. He averaged 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks/assists over that span for the Wizards and has shown no reason to reduce his minutes. He's shooting a solid 57.0 percent from the floor and can help your team in both roto and scoring leagues if you need forward help.
Zaza Pachulia, C, ATL - It's easy to forget about Pachulia after Al Horford went down, and Joe Johnson and Josh Smith seem to be the only viable fantasy options from the Hawks. However, Pachulia has put up a decent stat line the last week while averaging a whopping 37 minutes. Over his last three games he's averaged nine rebounds while scoring nine points. He's shooting a career-high 53.8 percent from the floor this season, and his 75.4 percent from the charity stripe isn't going to kill you as much as other centers. The deep league-only label applies, and at least keep an eye on Pachulia's production. Revisit him before March 5 because starting that week the Hawks play four, five, four and four games the next four weeks, respectively. Take note in weekly leagues.
Daniel Gibson, G, CLE - Gibson has come off a neck injury just in time for Cleveland, getting a lot of minutes his last three games (35, 42 and 26). His extended time is likely the result of the concussion-like symptoms suffered by Kyrie Irving, who is expected to rejoin the lineup as soon as Wednesday. Gibson has fared well the last three games, averaging 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Watch for how the return of Irving affects his playing time as concussions tend to linger and Gibson's fantasy value hinges on his minutes.
Each week we'll look at players who can help your fantasy team in the standard nine categories. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a certain category, there's no guarantee he will contribute in other areas.
Kenneth Faried, F, DEN - Faried was thrust into the lineup with both Nene Hilario and Timofey Mozgov injured. The first-round pick for the Nuggets out of Morehead State is intriguing in that he's a beast on the boards but is a risk committing too many fouls on the defensive end. That said, he's going to get an extended look with his teammates out provided he can stay out of foul trouble. His offensive game is a work in progress, but his 14.5 rebounds per game last year at Morehead shows his upside on the glass.
J.R. Smith, G, TBD - Smith should make his way stateside soon enough as his soon-to-be former Chinese team is out of the playoff picture. While on the other side of the world, Smith led the CBA in scoring with 34.5 points per game. Smith scored a career-high 60 points in a game, which included hitting 14-for-18 three-pointers. The Clippers, Bulls and Knicks are rumored to be destinations for the sharpshooter, and he'll likely be eased into the rotation once he signs with a team. Just keep in mind that once acclimated, he's one of the better long-distance shooters around.
Arron Afflalo, G, DEN - Afflalo picked up the scoring pace while a slew of his teammates were sidelined with injuries, posting 23 and 26 points in his last two games while logging 30-plus minutes. His balky ankle appears completely healed, and while his teammates are on the mend he'll continue to log heavy minutes. Look for him to be a decent source of scoring, and keep in mind he's shot more than 40 percent from outside the arc the last three seasons.
Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies there.
Quincy Pondexter, MEM - Now eligible at shooting guard
Jan Vesely, WAS - Now eligible at power forward