This article is part of our Category Strategy series.
Under the Radar
By Kevin Payne
RotoWire Staff Writer
The close of Week 1 saw a blockbuster trade with Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb all expected to change zip codes. This deal had been rumored since the preseason and came to fruition after the Pistons locked up both Rip Hamilton and Jason Maxiell. It has the potential for tremendous fantasy impact, especially for a few players who may be sitting on your waiver wire.
Let's look at players who will receive an increase in minutes, potential free agents who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories and potential new eligibility for players.
The following players saw an increase in minutes during Week 1 or an increase over their minutes per game last year.
J.R. Smith, SG, DEN -Other than the players actually involved in the trade, this deal has the biggest impact on Smith. Look for him to snag the majority of minutes at shooting guard and be a valuable source of three-pointers, points and steals.
Rodney Stuckey, PG, DET -The trade of Billups will mean a bump in minutes for Stuckey. The question remains, how many? Iverson should start at the point with Hamilton playing shooting guard, but Stuckey should be on the floor when either is on the bench.
Nene Hilario, C, DEN -The beneficiary of Marcus Camby's move to the Clippers, Hilario's value rises even more with the passing and outside shooting of Chauncey Billups. Denver attempted to acquire Antonio McDyess who could have eaten into Hilario's minutes, but a buyout and return to Detroit is the more likely scenario. The man formerly known as Maybyner Rodney Hilario averaged more than 31 minutes through the first three games and should continue to see that much court time. The 26-year-old could easily average 14 points, eight rebounds, a steal and a block per game while shooting more than 50 percent from the field.
Tyrus Thomas, PF, CHI -Thomas, the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft, is starting to live up to the hype he had after leaving LSU. After averaging 18 minutes per game last year, he has averaged 28 in his first four games for the Bulls. While he's been a mason from the field so far this year (25% FG), expect that he'll shoot 44 percent or better the rest of the season, which is more in line with his last two years' averages. Thomas isn't going to be spectacular in scoring (think 10-12 points per game), but eight boards and two blocks per game are reasonable expectations.
Joel Przybilla, C, POR-Is there a guy with better nicknames, which include "The Vanilla Gorilla," "Ghostface Przybilla," and "Joel Dolla-Dolla-Billa"? With the injury to Greg Oden, look for Przybilla to pick up some extra minutes at center. Don't expect a ton of scoring, but he can clean the glass (25 rebounds against the Clippers last March) and block shots.
The following players might be free agents, waiting to help your team in specific categories. The percentages indicate ownership rates in Yahoo! fantasy basketball leagues.
Kelenna Azubuike, (25%), SG, G.S. -The Kentucky product has seen an increase of playing time this season, including a 43-minute, 17-point effort last Wednesday. Expect him to continue to see 29 minutes per game and sustain his scoring (12-15 PPG) for the next 25 games until Monta Ellis returns.
Josh Boone, (23%), C, N.J. -Highlighted in last week's article as a player to watch, Boone has started at center for the first two games for the Nets. Although a small sample size, Boone went for 21 points, 17 boards and 5 blocks in these first two games.
Ramon Sessions, (49%), PG, MIL -If this guy is available in your league, happy birthday. After Sessions sat the first two games due to DNP-coach's decision, many fantasy owners panicked and dropped him after drafting him as a trendy sleeper. However, a back injury to starting PG Luke Ridnour opened the door for Sessions. While playing 37 and 43 minutes in his last two games, Sessions averaged 15 points, 8.5 assists, 4.5 boards and two steals. Look for him to see significant, if not the majority of, minutes even when Ridnour returns from injury.
Marc Gasol, (62%), C, MEM -The 7-footer exploded with a 27-point, 16-rebound and three-block game Monday night against the Warriors. Through four games he averaged 13 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. A rookie with a ton of international experience, look for him to flirt with a double-double on a nightly basis.
James Posey, (61%), SF, NO -The Chicago Bulls worst nightmare jumped from the world champs to a nice four-year, $25-million dollar deal with the Hornets. In his first three games he has been on fire, averaging more than 62 percent from beyond the arc while hitting for 10 threes. If he continues to average more than five attempts per game, look for him to drain two per night.
Article first appeared on 11/5/08