As the stretch run is upon us, I can't recall another season when the waiver wire was so critical in determining the final standings for fantasy basketball leagues. Of the first-round picks, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose are sitting on the sidelines when their fantasy teams need them most. A'Mare Stoudemire, Stephen Curry, Brook Lopez, Kevin Martin, Al Horford, Eric Gordon and Kyle Lowry were second-to-fourth-round picks who have missed time at this critical point of the season. Late-round sleepers such as Ricky Rubio are done for the season and waiver claim of the year Jeremy Lin has let down fantasy teams as quickly as he burst onto the scene. As a result, the last few weeks the players mentioned in this column - Kevin Seraphin, Terrance Williams, Byron Mullens, Kenneth Faried, Chandler Parsons, Tristan Thompson, Derrick Favors and Jordan Crawford - have had their moments of fantasy relevance. This week I'll look at a few more players who can help those in a race for a fantasy title.
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.
Glen Davis, F, ORL - Dwight Howard in the midst of controversy as well as fighting a balky back, Davis has seen a jump in minutes the last 10 days. Over his last five games he's averaged 35.4 minutes, 20.6 points and 12.2 rebounds, making him fantasy relevant in almost any format. Obviously Davis' value lies with Howard and teammate Ryan Anderson's status as his minutes are dependent on the health of those two. At minimum, Davis should be rostered in daily formats as he is worth plugging in when there's confirmation either Howard or Anderson is out.
Lester Hudson, G, CLE - Hudson was one of the lesser known player "stuck" in China after signing a contract in November to play for the Guandong Southern Tigers in the CBA. Hudson found success as he led his team to the finals and was second only to J.R. Smith with 33.6 points per game. Hudson signed a 10-day contract with the Cavaliers on March 20 and has paid nice dividends since joining the team. With at least 28 minutes in each of his last three games he's averaged 19.3 points, 5.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds, two three-pointers and 1.6 steals. The Cavaliers would be wise to see what they have in him down the stretch as they look toward next season.
Gerald Green, G, NJ - Green has increased his scoring averaging to 30.8 points over the Nets' first four contests in April, getting 7.5 more minutes per game than he had in March. Green hasn't disappointed this season, averaging 18.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, two assists and 1.8 three-pointers. What's impressive about Green is that despite attempting 3.3 threes per game, he's shooting 50.5 percent from the floor. At 6-foot-8, he's one of the bigger guards in the league and entering his prime at only 26. The Nets have a logjam at guard/small forward with MarShon Brooks, Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson and Gerald Wallace, but Green has the most upside. If nothing else, watch how the logjam plays out during the offseason and use a late-round flier to nab Green next season.
Greivis Vasquez, G, NOR - With the news that Jarrett Jack is out for the season with a foot injury, Vasquez instantly has a ton of fantasy value. Vasquez has scored double-digits in the last four games and had double-digit assists in three of his last four games. His 32:8 assist:turnover ratio during those games demonstrates his ability to be an effective point guard with Jack out. New Orleans isn't playing for much, but it looks like Vasquez should average about 30 minutes a night the rest of the season, which bodes well for his fantasy prospects. Grab him if you need assists or are looking for some depth at point guard.
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.
Donald Sloan, G, CLE - Sloan has tried to fill the void left by Kyrie Irving and his ailing shoulder. He's logged at least 34 minutes in each of his last three games and recorded a total of 24 assists during that span. Unfortunately, his shot is a work in progress as he's only shooting 34.7 percent from the floor and has made only one three-pointer this season. That said, he's shown the ability to dish the ball while protecting it (24:4 assist:turnover ratio) during those three games. He can award you with some dimes while Irving is out, just temper your expectations in the other categories.
Iman Shumpert, G, NYK - Would it surprise you to know that Shumpert is fifth in the association in steals with 1.82 per game? I'm breaking my rule about only suggesting players owned in less than 50 percent of fantasy leagues as Shumpert is owned in 61 percent according to one of my leagues. However, in that league I was able to pick him up, which is critical as I'm one of four teams within three points of first place. The good news (and why I grabbed Shumpert) is I have a good chance to make up the 1.5 points I'm behind by gaining some ground in the steals category. Shumpert's mark is especially impressive considering the four players ahead of him on the steals list (Chris Paul, Mike Conley, Ricky Rubio and Lebron James) average at least 5.5 more minutes per game. Only a rookie, Shumpert has the upside to make a jump in this category and become its top player in the next 2-3 years in a similar fashion to what Serge Ibaka has done in the blocks category.
Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies there.
Byron Mullens, CHA - Now eligible at power forward
James Singleton, WAS - Now eligible at small and power forward
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