As the current campaign approaches the horizon, the scene in all manner of leagues is parsing out first through nth places, but certain scenarios around The L are able to swing titles one way or the other. One in particular involves the Clippers, who welcomed back J.J. Redick last Thursday from two months on the pine in order to rehabilitate from a bulging disc in his back. Although he acted as a reserve during his initial outing, coach Doc Rivers promptly placed Redick in the starting five Sunday, where he's remained in the meantime. Through three games, Redick has averaged 10.3 points (on 39.3 percent shooting), 3.7 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.3 treys in 25 minutes, which isn't exactly gangbusters but aids those in deeper formats. The primary casualty of his presence is Darren Collison, whose workload has diminished in each contest from 38 to 34 to 29 minutes, resulting in 12 points (4-11 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 3-3 FT), three dimes, and three rebounds in his most recent tilt Wednesday. Considering the downward trend to his stats across the board, owners may want to explore more fitting options in their backcourts.
Rivers' former residence, TD Garden, is enduring shuffles on a near-nightly basis among its own starting guards. Chief among them is Rajon Rondo
, who has been beholden to just one appearance in back-to-backs this season. After much commiseration, he opted to rest a bruised shin Friday, placing his availability in question for the team's remaining three games Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday. Meanwhile, Avery Bradley
has shrugged off yet another injury, a strained right Achilles, to average 23 points, four three-pointers, three rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 1.5 assists in 36.5 minutes over the past pair of contests. The development pushed Jerryd Bayless
to the reserve unit Wednesday, and after sustaining a sprained right knee Friday, his status is in question for the final week. As a result, if Rondo and Bayless are at all hampered going forward, Bradley and Phil Pressey
(10 points, 13 dimes, five rebounds, three steals, and two threes in 39 minutes Friday) are present to hold down the top of Boston's guard rotation.
With two or three outings dangling out there for each organization, there's little margin for error in pursuit of fantasy championships. Most head-to-head formats wrap up Sunday, but enough rotisserie leagues are undecided that scouring the waiver wire for any advantage can be a fruitful endeavor. Because we're embarking upon a comprehensive search of all basketball happenings, the following blurbs will occasionally be brief in nature. If you, the reader, desire further explanation, feel free to leave any questions or comments behind.
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. Note that all references to availability or ownership refers to a player's status in ESPN leagues.
Jeff Adrien, F, MIL
– Losing Ersan Ilyasova
for the season due to discomfort in his right ankle left a void in the Bucks' frontcourt, but Adrien has demonstrated an ability to contribute in all facets of the game. In nine consecutive starts, Adrien has averaged 13.1 points (on 45.7 percent shooting), nine rebounds, 1.6 assists, and one swat in 31.3 minutes. Owned in just 23 percent of leagues, expect the forward to provide reliable buckets, boards, and blocks in the three remaining outings.
Omer Asik, C, HOU
– A sprained left ankle continues to ail Dwight Howard
, while acting as a boon for Asik's prospects. Since suffering the initial injury on Mar. 16, Asik has started at center in 11 of 13 tilts, including the last eight. In the most recent stretch, he's hauled down double-digit rebounds in each one en route to five double-doubles, while averaging 11.4 points (on 56.7 percent shooting), a prodigious 15.8 boards, 1.3 swats, and 0.9 steals in 31.4 minutes. A closer look at the latest box scores reveals fellow big man Donatas Motiejunas
has matched or surpassed Asik's workload in two of the past three contests, but with irregular output, ensuring the latter's status as the Howard replacement to roster at the moment.
Aaron Brooks, G, DEN
– Even before Ty Lawson
sustained what he termed the "worst" ankle sprain of his career last Friday, Brooks consistently earned 30 minutes per night in the four games previous, which has expanded to nearly 41 minutes in the past four. With increased run, his shot didn't experience a sudden turnaround, but his line – 14 points (on 36.4 percent shooting), 7.8 dimes, 4.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and one three-pointer per outing – is valuable enough elsewhere for those in need of a stand-in point man. If you're in one of the 51 percent of formats in which he's available, don't delay in scooping him up.
Gorgui Dieng, C, MIN
– Dieng's presence is a mere reminder that the Western Conference Rookie of the Month from March inhabits the available player pool of nearly one-third of existing leagues. With no end in sight to Nikola Pekovic
's recovery from a lingering ankle concern, take full advantage of Dieng's 11.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.3 assists, and 1.1 steals in 29.8 minutes nightly since emerging on the scene on Mar. 16.
Jordan Farmar G, Kendall Marshall G, LAL
– Now that Steve Nash
(soreness) is all but out for the season after doling out five assists Tuesday, placing him third all-time in the category, Farmar and Marshall are the sole injury-free options at the point for the Lakers. In fact, Farmer returned to action in the same outing after requiring 10 games to recover from a groin strain, supplying a healthy line (15 points, eight assists, five rebounds, three steals, two threes, and two swats) in 27 minutes, versus 19 for Marshall. Friday's loss to the Warriors yielded a similar breakdown of work – 29 vs. 19 minutes – suggesting that Farmar (nine percent owned) is the better bargain, in relative terms, for the remainder of the campaign.
Jordan Hill, F/C, LAL
– In a Lakers frontcourt devoid of Pau Gasol
(vertigo) and Chris Kaman
(calf), Hill has picked up the slack, despite a seemingly capped workload. With four double-doubles in his last nine appearances, as well as nine blocks and six swipes in the past five, Hill brings a steadiness to fantasy frontcourts in need of varied production. Available in 36 percent of leagues, his three remaining tilts should aid championship quests.
Wesley Johnson F/G, Nick Young G/F, LAL
– Avoiding the minefield of ailments that has whittled down the Lakers' ranks, Johnson and Young continue on as the only wing alternatives outside of Jodie Meeks
. Johnson trumps Young in terms of minutes and more diverse output, but Young has been given the green light to bomb away, averaging a ridiculous 1.36 points per shot since returning on Mar. 21 from more than a month on the pine due to a sore left knee. If in need of trey-fueled scoring, Young is the clear winner, accruing 24.3 points and 3.8 three-pointers in 27 minutes per contest across six April outings. During the same span, though, Johnson averaged 8.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.4 triples in 31.6 minutes. Considering each baller's availability – 11.6 percent for Young, versus 90 percent for Johnson – the latter is warranted in channeling the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield's "I don't get no respect" shtick.
Ray McCallum, G, SAC
– More than any development in recent weeks, McCallum's mammoth minutes load in place of Isaiah Thomas
(quad) is a worthwhile option to ride, as long as the gravy train persists. To date, McCallum has received no less than 43 minutes in each of the past nine tilts, posting 14.4 points, 7.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.7 swipes, and 1.1 threes in 45.1 minutes per game. The rookie's introduction to the NBA hasn't been without its hitches, as he's been a disaster from the field, knocking down a measly 37.1 percent during that stretch. If one can take the hit in that category, the 15.9 shot attempts that he's afforded nightly is expected to endure due to Thomas' upcoming DNPs on Saturday and Sunday.
Anthony Morrow, G/F, NOP
– Morrow is another example of a player that's stepped into a vacuum left behind by a regular, in this case, Eric Gordon
. Sidelined since Mar. 22, the Pelicans declared Thursday that Gordon is slated for arthroscopic knee surgery next week, effectively bringing his season to a close. In the 11 contests minus Gordon, Morrow racked up 10-plus points nine times, powered by multiple treys on eight occasions, on his way to 16 points (on 49.6 percent shooting), 2.7 rebounds, 2.1 three-pointers, and 1.3 assists in 28 minutes per outing. Considering three games remain on the schedule, Morrow's ownership rate (25.6 percent) should experience a reasonable bump in the coming days.
Kyle O'Quinn, F/C, ORL
– Stuffing the stat sheet with Nikola Vucevic
again dealing with a sore Achilles, O'Quinn has been the pivot man in the post over the last four tilts, averaging 12.5 points, nine boards, 3.5 blocks, 1.3 steals, and one assist in 28.5 minutes. Vucevic didn't take the court Friday but will travel with the Magic on their upcoming two-game road trip, leaving open the possibility that a return will occur Sunday or Monday. Until that comes to pass, though, O'Quinn is a viable consideration for squads with an urgent need for blocks and rebounds.
Ramon Sessions, G, MIL
– The following is a friendly cue to regard Sessions as a near must-start in all leagues, in spite of 73 percent ownership at the moment. His last nine outings are characterized by an undeniable workload, during which he's contributed 19 points (on 45.5 percent shooting), 6.1 dimes, 3.8 rebounds, and one three-pointer in 42.2 minutes. Trust in Sessions to assist any late-season title runs.
Henry Sims, C, PHI
– Coach Brett Brown has entrusted center reps to Sims since his acquisition from Cleveland at the trade deadline, to which he's responded by accumulating four double-doubles in 22 games. Although he provides little outside of scoring and glass work, his production in the last five – 16.2 points (on 51.9 percent shooting), eight boards, and one assist in 29.6 minutes nightly – can be relied upon in the Sixers' three tilts still on the slate. Because he's out there in the vast majority of formats (84 percent), he's a feasible frontcourt character to ponder over.
Matt Barnes, F, LAC
– Barnes' scoring touch diminished in the Clippers' preceding three contests, when he tossed up a mere 7.3 points and one trey per outing, while shooting 37.5 percent from the floor. The root cause may have been strep throat, which wasn't diagnosed until Tuesday, but in any case, he was just as active on defense and the boards during that span, totaling 21 rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. With two days of rest on his side, he should be good to go for the first of the team's final three regular season matchups Saturday versus the Kings.
Wilson Chandler, F/G, DEN
– Expected to return before the regular season concludes, Chandler has nonetheless missed nine consecutive games due to a left groin strain, with no indication when (or if) he'll play again. His substitute at the three, Quincy Miller
, hasn't supplied much outside of steals (10 in all during Chandler's absence), ensuring the former's status as nothing more than a seat filler. If Chandler gains the all clear, he would likely approach his typical run, or 31.4 minutes per night.
Jamal Crawford, G, LAC
– Hope springs eternal or, in the case of Crawford, hinges upon how his calf reacts to Friday's practice. To date, he's registered five DNPs in a row, and 13 across 19 tilts, as a result of an ailing left calf. However, the fact that he participated in drills appears to intimate that he'll enter the rotation in the near future, perhaps as soon as Saturday against the Kings. His ultimate role remains to be seen, especially in a fully-loaded backcourt, but considering the rust factor, he may not gather his normal complement of minutes (30.3 this season) until he displays a modicum of health.
Tim Duncan, F/C, SAN
– Injuries have bookended Duncan's season, as a chest contusion suffered in the opener resulted in a one-game stay on the pine, while a hyperextended knee sustained Thursday held him out Friday. After clinching home-court advantage without his services Friday, the deliberate Spurs are apt to keep him sidelined in order to avoid a setback. The preceding decision would guarantee plentiful run for Boris Diaw
, with Jeff Ayres
and Austin Daye
lying in wait on the bench for their opportunity to shine in coach Gregg Popovich's system of interchangeable parts.
Rudy Gay, F, SAC
– As expected, Gay sat out Tuesday and Wednesday as a result of a minor back issue, but we're still awaiting word whether he'll miss additional time due to the imminent birth of his child. No matter, he took the practice court Friday and was cleared for action Saturday at the Clippers, with no evidence that his personal life will impede upon active status. Consequently, owners should keep a close eye on the situation to learn if Gay yields small forward to Travis Outlaw
yet again or in fact takes the floor.
Manu Ginobili, G, SAN
– With the postseason forthcoming, it's no surprise Ginobili donned street clothes Friday, the second of a back-to-back set. Doubling as the clincher for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, there is now no reason to trot the 36-year-old out there for the last two contests in order to safeguard against any malady. If common sense rules the day in San Antonio, Ginobili will yield his wing minutes to the likes of Danny Green
, Marco Belinelli
, and perhaps Austin Daye
Dwight Howard, C, HOU
– Absent 10 of the past 12 outings as his sprained left ankle recovers, Howard has yielded the five to an effective Omer Asik
and an up-and-down Donatas Motiejunas
. Howard's status is precarious for the final three tilts, and against the undermanned Pelicans on Saturday, coach Kevin McHale would shock us, if he sent out his franchise center and risked further injury. Thus, all signs point to Howard tallying his eighth consecutive DNP with the playoffs in mind.
Indiana's Starting Five
– To everyone's bewilderment, coach Frank Vogel elected to rest his entire starting lineup Wednesday night as a breather of sorts, and the Pacers' reserves proceeded to plant one more defeat in the Bucks' overflowing column. Leading up to their showdown Friday in Miami, the regulars expressed delight with, of all things, the ball movement of the second unit in Wednesday's game, but the day off didn't yield the desired result, as they were unable to contend with the two-time defending champs. Of particular concern were Roy Hibbert
(a career-worst one rebound in a contest in which he logged at least 32 minutes) and George Hill
(no shots of any variety in 33 minutes), whose post-All-Star break woes continued. It's unclear if another respite will cure what ails those darlings of the season's first four months, but down only one in the loss column, Vogel is expected to play out the string in an attempt to secure the No. 1 seed in the East.
Amir Johnson, F/C, TOR
– Johnson (ankle) returned from three straight DNPs on Friday with the intention of helping the Raptors wrap up the Atlantic Division title, which transpired despite a loss to the Knicks. How, you ask? The Nets suffered a defeat to the underwhelming Hawks, assuring Toronto a top-four seed and home court in the first round. With that in hand, Johnson can put his lackluster performance (no points on a single shot, three rebounds, two assists, and one swat in 17 minutes) behind him, with his health of utmost importance for the second season. As a result, his workload may experience incremental increases in preparation for the playoffs.
Chris Kaman, C, LAL
– Kaman's lingering right calf strain held him to the bench for a fifth outing in a row Friday, which is unfortunate due to a prime spot in the rotation vacated by Pau Gasol
(vertigo). Because Gasol is unlikely to suit up again this season, Kaman could factor into the last three tilts, if he's cleared for contact. Alas, with no inkling of Kaman getting the go-ahead, Jordan Hill
is the most consistent alternative among the Lakers' frontcourt ranks.
Ty Lawson, G, DEN
– Tending to what he considers the most severe ankle sprain of his career, Lawson has three consecutive absences already on the ledger, and in all likelihood, a fourth will ensue Saturday against the Jazz. Nevertheless, coach Brian Shaw is holding out hope that Lawson can recover in time to make an appearance before the completion of the regular season, with the final opportunities arriving in a back-to-back set Tuesday and Wednesday. If not, Aaron Brooks
will maintain a grip on point guard duties for the Nuggets.
David Lee, F/C, GS
– Putting his hamstring and back issues in the rearview mirror, Lee's return to the lineup Friday helped the Warriors seal a playoff berth. Despite coming off the bench, he posted a double-double – 10 points (4-12 FG, 2-2 FT), 10 boards, two assists, and two blocks in 25 minutes – as a cast of five rotated among the frontcourt (also, Andrew Bogut
, Draymond Green
, Harrison Barnes
, and Marreese Speights
). However, with the postseason fast approaching and Bogut, for example, also recovering from a recent ailment, a similarly balanced breakdown of minutes (from 22-to-32 in Friday's case) may rule the day as the finish line draws near.
Kevin Love, F/C, MIN
– The league is down one of their finest fours due to a hyperextended elbow sustained in Wednesday's game, which forced Love out of the lineup Friday. Instead of coach Rick Adelman tabbing, say, Ronny Turiaf
as Love's replacement, he opted for Dante Cunningham
, who responded with 20 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks, one steal, and one assist in 42 minutes. With no postseason on the horizon, the Timberwolves aren't in a rush to activate Love, appointing Cunningham to power forward once again, unless Adelman wasn't content with the latter's execution (though daily leaguers certainly were).
Tony Parker, SA, G
– After missing two contests earlier this week as a result of a sprained facet joint in his back, Parker emerged long enough Friday for the Spurs to nail down home court throughout the playoffs. One can barely argue with the outcome, namely 18 points (9-18 FG) in 24 minutes during the prototypical Popovich win, wherein eight players logged between 16 and 34 minutes, even sans Tim Duncan
(knee) and Manu Ginobili
(rest). No matter, with the big prize in their possession, strategic rest days are likely to define San Antonio's pair of remaining outings, as point guard is ceded to Patty Mills
, the scoring machine, and Cory Joseph
Josh Smith, F, DET
– On Friday, Smith registered his third straight no show due to left patella tendinitis, with no idea whether he'll suit up for the Pistons' last two tilts. If coach John Loyer travels the route of precaution, the Rodney Stuckey
show will be in full effect, as he seeks out his fourth 20-point outburst in five games Sunday against the Raptors. A wait-and-see approach at this point in the season won't aid tense championship chases, meaning owners are advised to comb waivers for comparable production.
Nikola Vucevic, C/F, ORL
– Vucevic's ongoing battle with a sore left Achilles culminated in a fourth consecutive contest on the pine Friday, pushing Dewayne Dedmon
into the starting five yet again. Dedmon cleared a season-high 10 boards but otherwise provided little of interest, outside of 25 minutes of court time. Meanwhile, Kyle O'Quinn
matched Dedmon's workload, with another intriguing line – 13 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, and one assist – to show for his effort. O'Quinn's friendly output notwithstanding, optimism arises upon learning that Vucevic is accompanying the Magic on their upcoming road back-to-back Sunday and Monday, for which he should be considered questionable until active status is clarified.
Dwyane Wade, G, MIA
– The wild card of wild cards in the Heat's hunt for a three-peat, Wade's recovery from a nagging hamstring strain is reaching its conclusion, if recent reports are any indication. Prior to Wednesday's loss at Memphis, he completed a rigorous on-court workout, which is the most evident sign that a return will come to fruition. Nonetheless, he didn't take part in Friday's dispatching of the Pacers, leaving but three chances (Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday) to make his presence felt before the postseason. Until Miami's medical staff cleanses Wade of nightly DNPs, Toney Douglas
is expected to put it all on the line in pursuit of loose balls
, while Ray Allen
actualizes fantasy relevance, at least to the degree that a 38-year-old can do so.
Kemba Walker, G, CHA
– Other than a two-and-a-half week absence midseason as a result of a second-degree sprain of his left ankle, Walker appeared in Charlotte's entire slate of games before Friday, when groin discomfort kept him sidelined. The flare-up threatens his availability Saturday versus the Sixers, the first of three outings in the race for that carrot dangling in front of the Bobcats: the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Sidestepping the Heat and Pacers is likely preferred, and an active Walker assures a steadier course, which owners should monitor closely in the interim. If he sits out, Luke Ridnour
will be charged with the majority of the ballhandling for a second tilt in a row.
Stock Down, Nay, Nonexistent
Kent Bazemore, G/F, LAL
– Out for the season due to a torn tendon in his right foot, Bazemore's workload has been assumed by Jordan Farmar
Patrick Beverley, G, HOU
– Despite a desire to take the court before the playoffs commence, Beverley's rehab from a torn meniscus in his right knee, which he suffered on Mar. 27, will have the final say. As long as he's out of commission, Jeremy Lin
will man the point.
Anthony Davis, C/F, NOP
– The Pelicans' medical staff appraised Davis' back spasms Thursday, after which it was deemed that he requires 1-to-2 weeks of rest to regain full health. In the meantime, both Greg Stiemsma
and Jeff Withey
have logged 20-plus minutes in back-to-back contests.
Pau Gasol, F/C, LAL
– Barring a sudden reversal of fortune, Gasol's bout with vertigo will keep him off the floor for the Lakers' three remaining games.
Eric Gordon, G, NOP
– Gordon is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on his left knee this coming week, ending his season a bit early. Although Anthony Morrow
was previously a viable stand-in during Gordon's absence, Morrow notched a piddling five points (1-9 FG, 1-1 3Pt, 2-2 FT), two rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 24 minutes Friday in Oklahoma City.
Kevin Martin, G, MIN
– Following five consecutive DNPs due to an injured foot and nothing to play for, other than pride, the Timberwolves wouldn't be blamed for holding the fragile Martin out for the last three outings.
Steve Nash, G, LAL
– A miraculous recovery aside, Nash's perpetually-sore body isn't expected to see the court during the final three tilts. Point guard will thus be locked down by Jordan Farmar
and Kendall Marshall
Nikola Pekovic, C, MIN
– Since receiving a diagnosis of ankle bursitis in late January, each of Pekovic's attempted comebacks has been turned aside by a subsequent setback. Consequently, the prudent path involves no game action for the rest of the prevailing campaign, leaving Gorgui Dieng
considerable room to prosper down low.
Isaiah Thomas, G, SAC
– Ruled out for Saturday's contest and slated to stay on the sideline Sunday, Thomas has nary a chance to suit up – only Wednesday against the Suns – before the Kings call it a season. In his stead, Ray McCallum
should enjoy the 45.1 minutes nightly to which he's grown accustomed.