Whether your fantasy playoffs have begun in earnest or not – those in rotisserie leagues can still take heed – most coaches throughout the Association are maintaining their fiddling ways, helping to paint a picture for specific workloads as the season draws to a close. In Boston, the division of minutes in the frontcourt has always been of interest due to Brad Stevens' noted affinity for Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk. Unfortunately for owners, Kris Humphries is holding down the fort at center, and in an effective manner, notching two double-doubles in the past three outings en route to five-game averages of 12.4 points (on 52.1 percent shooting), 10.6 boards, 1.4 assists, and one block in 26.4 minutes. Meanwhile, Sullinger and Olynyk are living with roles of 26 and 21.8 minutes per tilt, respectively, in March, which are showing no signs of forthcoming change. Daily leaguers should observe that Sullinger has fallen one or two rebounds shy of a double-double in five of six contests, but the status quo has seemingly taken hold among the Celtics' bigs.
Across the country, the Celtics' lottery-bound, long-time rival, the Lakers, have endured a mind-boggling 241 games lost due to injury in 2013-14 (as of last Friday). While the first practice of the week included the return of Nick Young and Jordan Hill from recovering knee injuries, albeit on a limited basis, yet another ailment struck the snake-bitten squad. Jordan Farmar, who previously sat out 30 outings due to various hamstring issues earlier this season, sustained a right groin strain during Monday's practice and will be out of commission for at least two weeks. Consequently, the clear winner, in terms of fantasy value, is fellow point man Kendall Marshall. Despite boasting horrid post-break shooting splits (30/34/30), Marshall is nonetheless handing out helpers with regularity to the tune of 13.1 assists per 36 minutes. Because an uptick in court time from his 25.2 minutes per night during that stretch is expected, Marshall's remaining line (4.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.9 three-pointers, and 0.8 swipes) may get a similar surge, redeeming his worth in standard leagues.
One player who has done just that is Eric Bledsoe
, who hasn't missed a beat following two-plus months of rehab from a procedure to remove the meniscus in his right knee. Achieving double-digit points in each of the last four tilts, Bledsoe's output – 14 points (on 39.5 percent shooting), 5.5 rebounds, 5.3 dimes, one steal, and 0.5 three pointers in 28.3 minutes nightly – hasn't deviated much from the production he put up in his first two months of this season, and he even pushed Gerald Green
to the bench in his second game back. Predictably, Green's production took a hit with a move to the bench, but he's logged at least 27 minutes three times, averaging 14.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, one steal, and 0.8 assists in 27.5 minutes. Although Green was well off the mark from deep in the first two contests, failing to hit any of his 11 attempts, he rebounded with 8-for-14 shooting from three-point range in his most recent pair. As a result, Bledsoe is the consistent play, while Green adheres to his volatile but occasionally rewarding stat lines.
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.
Pero Antic, F/C, ATL
– Antic has all but wiped away Elton Brand
's flirtation with relevance since his Mar. 5 return from a six-week absence due to a stress fracture in his right ankle. Now the Hawks' starting center for five games in a row, Antic has averaged 12.6 points (on 46.9 percent shooting), 5.4 boards, 2.4 threes, 1.8 assists, and 0.8 steals in 26 minutes during that span. More importantly, his prowess from beyond the arc hasn't eluded him, as evidenced by multiple successes in six of seven outings since his reintroduction to the lineup. With a season-high 33 minutes on the ledger, he's unlikely to garner universal attention, but ownership in a mere 6.6 percent of ESPN leagues is unacceptable for such a unique presence.
Taj Gibson, F, CHI
– A bout with the flu was the likely root of Gibson's stagnant play last week, but he bounced back in the past two tilts, totaling 35 points (12-23 FG, 11-15 FT), 16 rebounds, five swats, one assist, and one steal in 57 minutes. Moreover, he's managed to block two-plus shots in four consecutive contests, the aforementioned hindrance notwithstanding. If Gibson managed to land on the waiver wire in your league, which occurred in approximately nine percent of ESPN formats in recent days, swoop in and profit from the hasty maneuver.
Amir Johnson, F/C, TOR
– Prospering as a result of Patrick Patterson
's five games on the pine (and counting) due to a sprained right UCL, Johnson has contributed across the board, averaging 16.6 points (on 64.4 percent shooting), 5.4 boards, two assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.2 steals in 33.8 minutes. With double-digit scoring efforts in each outing, Johnson has in hand his second-longest such streak of the season, cultivating renewed interest from the fantasy community. Following Patterson's evaluation Monday, he'll rehabilitate for at least another week, allowing the Raptors will forge ahead with Johnson as the primary power forward.
Enes Kanter, C, UTA
– Dialed in since the calendar flipped to March, Kanter's contributions include four double-doubles scattered across 10 contests, despite falling short of 30 minutes on seven occasions. He's averaging a double-double nightly during that stretch – 12.9 points (on 43.7 percent shooting) and 10.3 rebounds in 28.6 minutes – and even received a pair of nods in the last three games for an ailing Marvin Williams
, who is enduring a lower back strain at the moment. Kanter picked up 25 minutes to Williams' 20 on Monday, when the latter returned to the starting lineup, but the nature of Williams' injury provides a sunny forecast for Kanter in the short term, at the very least.
Tony Wroten, G, PHI
– Since the All-Star break, coach Brett Brown has confined Wroten to a reserve gig in all but two outings, but the dearth of talent on the Sixers has afforded the guard enough run to post 15.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 steals in 26.5 minutes per game. The boost in scoring – Wroten averaged 12.7 points in the first half – has been fueled by 45.8 percent from the field and 73 percent from the line, signifying healthy bumps from beforehand. If James Anderson
is sidelined beyond his current 3-to-4 day timetable due to a thigh contusion, Wroten is expected to shoulder a workload in the neighborhood of the 36 minutes that he captured Monday, which should aid those in daily and weekly leagues alike.
Randy Foye, G, DEN
– When Foye has collected 32 or more minutes in the new year, which happened in 25 of 36 tilts, he more often than not furnished a fantasy-friendly line. However, he hasn't trumped 29 minutes in four consecutive contests, resulting in a discouraging 8.0 points (on 31 percent shooting), 2.5 assists, two rebounds, 1.3 threes, and 1.3 steals in 25.5 minutes per night. He may turn it around as the regular season nears its completion, but considering how coach Brian Shaw has allotted the backcourt minutes during an admittedly small sample size – 36.3 for Ty Lawson
, 21.8 for Evan Fournier
, and 19.5 for Aaron Brooks
– it remains to be seen if Foye will retain standard-league viability again.
Manu Ginobili, G, SAN
– Ginobili's recent five-game run is a perfect display of his maddeningly fluctuating stat lines. While he supplied at least 21 points and two treys in three of those contests, the blowout nature of last Friday's victory versus the Lakers only required 14 minutes of his time. Nonetheless, he's recorded nearly a point per minute (17.4 points in 21 minutes nightly) on the back of extraordinary efficiency, including 60.7 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from three-point land. Enjoy the boom as long as it lasts, though the bust may be delayed until the discomfort in Danny Green
's wrist subsides and allows for typical work for both parties.
Tim Hardaway Jr., G, NYK
– At least Ginobili has a lengthy track record, which owners can generally rely upon. When pondering over a roster spot for the rookie Hardaway, his offerings reside solely in the scoring department. In 15 post-break outings, he's poured in 20-plus points five times, including the past three, en route to averages of 13.6 points (on 41 percent shooting), 2.3 three-pointers, and 1.7 rebounds in 29.8 minutes. The critical element to consider is the minutes load, which appears to be consistent, no matter the health of the backcourt. However, the fact that only 11 percent of owners on ESPN are enjoying his services hints at his tenuous situation.
Terrence Jones, F, HOU
– Prior to a 30-point outburst Monday versus the Jazz, Jones was embroiled in a five-game slump characterized by tentativeness and meager output – 6.2 points, 4.8 boards, and 1.2 steals in 22 minutes per contest. The preceding tilt comes with a caveat, though, as it coincided with a DNP from Dwight Howard
, who was sidelined due to a mild left ankle strain. Howard's absence guaranteed a tremendous offensive void in the frontcourt, which Jones adequately covered by matching his most shot attempts (15) since tossing up a season-best 20 on Jan. 18. There has been no specific timetable for Howard's return to the court, but as long as he's deemed inactive, Jones should put up admirable point totals.
Jeremy Lin, G, HOU
– Lin has been a fantasy non-entity for most of the second half, but his shot has come together in the past six outings, which consisted of four shooting performances of 50 percent or better from the floor. During that span, his line – 14.8 points (on 51.7 percent shooting), 3.8 assists, 2.3 rebounds, one trey, and 0.7 steals in 25.5 minutes – has justified standard-league relevance and could be sustained due to a backcourt that has avoided injuries of late. On the other hand, Lin will have to meet similar benchmarks going forward in order to warrant his present level of ownership (71 percent in ESPN formats).
P.J. Tucker, F/G, PHO
– His one-game suspension aside for swiping an elbow at everyone's favorite target, Blake Griffin
, Tucker has actually operated as a capable dual threat in March, averaging 11.3 points (on 59.6 percent shooting), 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 2.1 assists, and 0.9 threes in 34.4 minutes. The ample workload won't subside anytime soon, but his efficiency from the field this month should revert to a more typical mark, which currently sits at 43.3 percent on the season. Although he is vastly underowned on the Worldwide Leader at 32.4 percent, more steady options may exist on waivers.
Andray Blatche, F/C, BKN
– There was a widely-held belief that Blatche would prosper with Kevin Garnett
away from the court due to back spasms, but during the latter's nine-game absence, Blatche has tallied only one double-double on his way to 10.3 points (on 45.8 percent shooting), five boards, two dimes, one steal, and 0.8 blocks in 24.9 minutes per outing. In the meantime, coach Jason Kidd has handed every nod to Mason Plumlee
, who has amassed most of the remaining run at the five. Clearly, the breakdown of work hasn't been conducive for either player's value, which is reflected in Blatche's sparse ownership (17.7 percent) on ESPN.
Kevin Garnett, F/C, BKN
– Already in possession of nine straight DNPs as a result of back spasms, Garnett is showing no signs of an imminent appearance for the Nets and will miss at least two additional tilts. His health could receive more clarity once Saturday's evaluation comes to pass, and the outcome will determine his availability for the team's subsequent three-game road trip. Nevertheless, if one takes a gander at his 2013-14 log, there exists scant evidence that he'll realize feasibility in anything but very deep leagues before season's end. Among the active alternatives in Brooklyn, the most preferable player is Blatche, who should be controlled on more ESPN rosters than the 30.8 percent with Garnett acting as window dressing.
Tristan Thompson, F, CLE
– Thompson's bearing in fantasy has waned since the Mar. 8 return of Anderson Varejao
from a sore back. With each passing game, the former's workload decreased from 37 to 31 to 26 to, finally, 20 minutes Sunday, a worrisome stretch that contains a rather desolate line: 6.8 points (on 28.6 percent shooting), 4.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 swats in 28.5 minutes nightly. Alas, the preceding is a far cry from Thompson's seven double-doubles in nine contests to conclude February, leaving owners in a precarious position. Until an inkling of a turnaround is apparent, more gratifying choices are unquestionably free in many formats.
Evan Turner, G/F, IND
– Other than a pair of 20-point eruptions, Turner's stay in Indiana has been relatively silent, including eight single-digit scoring performances across 12 outings. Overall, he's accrued just nine points, 3.5 boards, and 2.2 assists in 23.2 minutes per tilt since his arrival at the trade deadline, ensuring his status as a prime candidate for release. Of course, he holds indisputable talent, but significance in standard formats is exclusive to the Pacers' starting five.