The Calderon Conundrum
Jose Calderon has been an absolute beast since joining the Raptors starting lineup on Nov. 7. Over that seven game stretch, Calderon has averaged 12.9 points, 11.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.3 treys while shooting 45.8 percent from the floor and 88.9 percent from the charity stripe.
Of course, Calderon only received those starts because Kyle Lowry was nursing an ankle injury.
Lowry made a surprise return to action Tuesday night, playing nearly 30 minutes off the bench while Calderon started and played 37 minutes. The two point guards shared the backcourt at times while pushing DeMar DeRozan to small forward something that could become a trend.
While Calderon will continue to see significant run for the Raptors, his days as the starting point guard are numbered. Calderon is currently in the final year of his contract and doesn't have a long-term future with the Raptors. That's why the team traded a first-round pick to Houston in exchange for Lowry this past offseason. Lowry is the point guard of the present and future in Toronto. It also doesn't help that the Raptors were just 2-5 during Calderon's seven starts.
Calerdon will still be a decent source of assists once his playing time starts to dwindle, but owners won't get anywhere near the value from him they saw over the past two weeks. Unless you're using Calderon as a handcuff to Lowry (and Lowry hasn't exactly been a picture of health the past two seasons), it's time to start looking for ways to unload Calderon and capitalize on his recent surge.
Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining, or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 game every now and then - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time, rotation role, or performance.
Harrison Barnes, F, GS After a slow start to the season, Barnes is starting to ramp up his production. The rookie small forward has averaged 17.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.25 treys, and 1.0 steals over the past four games. He appears energized on the court and has played with more hustle than expected, resulting in nearly 36 minutes per game during his recent hot streak. Barnes' skills as a scorer were never doubted, but he was often viewed as too one-dimensional to make a significant fantasy impact in his rookie season. Those doubts have been alleviated thanks to his improved rebounding. As long as he keeps crashing the boards hard, Barnes deserves a roster spot in most formats.
Dion Waiters, G, CLE The early indications are that Cleveland will turn to Donald Sloan to fill in at point guard with Kyrie Irving (see Stock Down) on the shelf for the next month, but it's Waiters who could end up seeing the biggest boost in fantasy value. The rookie out of Syracuse is now the Cavaliers' best offensive threat in the backcourt and will be given free reign to initiate the offense. Waiters has already impressed this season (13.7 points, 2.0 three-pointers, 1.0 steals), but he should reach new heights as the Cavaliers' primary playmaker.
Chris Kaman, C, DAL Kaman has been putting up some vintage lines since returning to the starting lineup last week. The veteran big man is averaging 16.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks over his past four starts. His impressive play has all but pushed Brandan Wright out of the rotation, and Kaman's spot as the starting center should be etched in stone going forward. Of course, we'll probably see a drop in Kaman's usage rate once Dirk Nowitzki (knee) returns, but Kaman should remain productive enough at that time to still easily outperform his price tag on draft day.
Derrick Favors, F, UTA The Jazz switched to a big starting lineup over the weekend, removing Gordan Hayward, sliding Paul Millsap to small forward and plugging in Favors at the four. The new starting gig hasn't resulted in much of an increase in production yet, as Favors is averaging just 8.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in 26 mpg, but he should remain a popular player to add or try and pry away via trade. With per-36 averages of 13.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks, Favors will be ready to erupt if/when the Jazz turn him loose for a full compliment of minutes.
Alexey Shved, G, MIN We explored Shved in this space last week, but his recent performance, and the latest injury news with Brandon Roy, made it worthwhile to touch on the rookie shooting guard again. Over the past three games, Shved has averaged 17.0 points, 4.7 assists, and 1.7 treys while playing 30 minutes per game off the Timberwolves bench. Roy is expected to miss at least four weeks with a knee injury, but there's been speculation this latest ailment could result in the former All-Star retiring again. Even if Roy makes a quick comeback, he'll be out long enough for Shved to solidify himself in Minnesota's rotation. It's worth your while to consider adding Shved if you're in a 10- or 12-team league where he's still floating around on waivers.
Kyle Singler, G/F, DET Singler was inserted into the Pistons starting lineup last week after Rodney Stuckey missed Friday's win over the Sixers due to illness. Stuckey returned for the team's next outing, but after seeing how well Singler complimented the starting unit, the veteran combo guard volunteered to move to a bench role. While Pistons coach Lawrence Frank hasn't committed to Singler long term yet, Frank has opted to go with Stuckey's urgings and has started the rookie for three straight games. Over that three-game stretch, Singler has averaged 14.7 points in 31 mpg, and more importantly, the Pistons have went 2-1 after starting the season 0-8. Singler doesn't offer much outside of scoring and threes, but he should hold the starting gig for as long as the Pistons remain competitive.
Draymond Green, F, GS Injuries to Richard Jefferson (calf) and Brandon Rush (knee) have opened the door to more playing time for Green. The 2012 second-round pick has responded by averaging 9.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 1.0 trey in 25 mpg over the past two contests. The rookie out of Michigan State probably won't carve out a big enough role to be a factor in shallower leagues, but he's an intriguing option to consider in deeper leagues that value bench players.
Anthony Davis, F, NOR Davis was a late scratch from Tuesday's game against the Knicks due to an ankle injury. He was originally expected to play through the injury after tweaking it during Monday's practice, but the Hornets opted to err on the side of caution with their franchise player. The injury is considered minor, but owners will want to keep a close eye on Davis' status over the next couple games. Ryan Anderson will see a boost in value if Davis misses any more action.
Nene Hilario, F/C, WAS Originally expected to be out another three weeks or so, it now looks like Nene will make his season debut Wednesday night against Atlanta. When healthy, Nene is a valuable fantasy commodity, averaging 12.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 0.9 blocks throughout his 10-year career. Now is the time to go scoop him up off waivers if he was dumped earlier this season.
Andrew Bogut, C, GS Bogut has been sidelined with a sore ankle for the past six games, but he could be returning to the hardwood soon. He's aiming to return to practice early next week, and if all goes well a return to game action could shortly follow. He was clearly playing at less than full strength at the start of the season, so any extra time off Bogut needs to get right will eventually pay dividends for owners.
Dirk Nowitzki, F, DAL Nowitzki's return from a knee injury has been pushed back a couple of weeks. Originally expected to be sidelined for anywhere from three-to-six weeks, Nowitzki is now looking at a return in mid-December. He's at least two weeks away from being able to participate in basketball activities and will need time to round into shape before seeing game action.
Kyrie Irving, G, CLE The Cavaliers and fantasy owners received bad news early this week when it was revealed Irving would miss the next four weeks with a fractured index finger. The reigning rookie of the year could evidently play through the ailment (it's on his non-shooting hand), but Cleveland doesn't want to risk further injury, which could then possibly lead to surgery. Donald Sloan, Daniel Gibson, and Dion Waiters will all see a boost in production while Irving is out.
Andrew Bynum, C, PHI - The news with Bynum seems to get worse by the day. After suffering a setback while bowling last week, there's now speculation that Bynum could be forced to sit out the entire season. We probably won't have a concrete timetable for his return until December, but this latest setback should nudge owners toward at least considering other options. Deep leagues with extra bench spots will want to continue stashing him, but shallower formats with quality options available should start window shopping.
Gordon Hayward, G/F, UTA Hayward was the casualty when the Jazz opted to insert Favors into the starting lineup last week. In his first two games off the bench, Hayward remained productive, averaging 15.0 points, 3.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.0 threes, but his playing time has dropped to just 22 mpg. The third-year wing has the skills to be a successful sixth man for the Jazz, but he'll be hard pressed to sustain the fantasy value we saw from him as a starter if his minutes continue to hover in that low 20s range.
Emeka Okafor, C, WAS Okafor's production has been up and down all season, but he hit his lowest point Sunday night when he finished with one point and one rebound in nine minutes of run against the Pacers. With Nene looking to make his return this week, Okafor picked a bad time to turn in a stinker. There haven't been any reports of Okafor losing his starting gig outright, but expect his minutes to drop with Nene back in the mix.