This article is part of our NBA Barometer series.
By Charlie Zegers
RotoWire Staff Writer
So Far, So Good
As much as we love the trade deadline, it's sort of refreshing to stop dealing in conjecture and start dealing in facts.
That said, let's take a look at some of the early returns on last week's flurry of trades.
The Cavaliers wasted no time getting new arrivals Ben Wallace, Delonte West, Joe Smith and Wally Szczerbiak involved. Wallace and West started Sunday's game against the Grizzlies, and all four played 25-plus minutes.
Wallace put up a "Big Ben in Detroit" type line, with 12 points, 10 boards, two steals and a block. West scored five points and dropped six dimes. Smith scored 14 points with six boards off the bench, and Szczerbiak scored 10 and hit two threes.
In terms of fantasy value, Szczerbiak might be the best play; the Cavaliers have wanted to add a lights-out shooter to their rotation for forever, and LeBron should have an easy time finding Wally World on the perimeter. We'd rate West – who gets a value boost due to Daniel Gibson's ankle injury – ahead of Smith or Wallace, who might have to compete with Anderson Varejao for minutes very soon.
Bulls head coach Jim Boylan believes in working his players into the starting lineup gradually when they're returning from injury – it wouldn't be surprising if he takes the same tack with new arrivals Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes. On the other hand, the decision to bring Gooden and Hughes off the bench could relate to the fact that Chicago had better players in Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, Ben Gordon and Thabo Sefolosha on the roster already.
Thomas had a great outing in the Bulls' first game with the new arrivals. He started and played 26 minutes, scoring 18 points with six boards, five assists, two blocks and a steal. Noah managed just two points on three attempts in 25 minutes, but going up against Yao Ming can be difficult, especially for younger guys who've never really needed to deal with a height disadvantage.
Gooden, meanwhile, played 25 minutes off the bench, scoring 12 points with eight boards, and Hughes scored 12 in 22 minutes.
This is already a lost season for the Bulls, so it would seem prudent to use the rest of the year to take an extended look at guys like Thomas, Noah and Sefolosha – but Hughes could be a sleeper. Chicago has reportedly been looking for a guard with skill and size; if Hughes can play at something approximating the level he displayed in Washington, he could free Chicago to deal Ben Gordon in the offseason.
Is Shaquille O'Neal deferring to his new teammates? Sure seems that way. In three games for the Suns, the big fella is averaging a hair under 30 minutes – but he's cracked double-digits in scoring just once and has a three-game ppg of just 8.7. He had just five attempts from the floor against Boston on Friday, and just eight in Sunday's loss to the Pistons.
He's rebounding well – 11.3 per game as a Sun – but his free-throw shooting is even worse than usual (6-22).
And the Suns have lost two of three.
As with the Bulls, Seattle's trades of Kurt Thomas, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West really just opened up playing time for guys already on the roster. The departure of West solidifies Earl Watson as the starting point guard – Watson has been playing very well recently and should be on your fantasy radar.
Things are less clear at the other spots. P.J. Carlesimo used Kevin Durant at shooting guard, Jeff Green at small forward and Nick Collison at power forward on Sunday – but the Sonics were playing without Chris Wilcox (upper respiratory infection), Damien Wilkins (wrist) and Donyell Marshall. We'll reserve judgment on Seattle's frontcourt until we see how Carlesimo doles out the minutes.
It doesn't really matter which uniform Jason Kidd is wearing – you know he's going to rack up some dimes. The newest Mav had 17 in a win over the T-Wolves on Sunday.
Kidd's replacement in New Jersey, Devin Harris, might still be a week away from suiting up. No rush. Marcus Williams has been impressive in the interim – scoring 25 against Chicago on February 25, dishing out 13 assists, eight points and seven boards against Indiana on Saturday. You have to figure the Nets will find a way to get him some run, even when Harris is ready to play.
With Bonzi Wells out of the picture, Luther Head and Bobby Jackson each played significant minutes off the bench on Sunday, with impressive results. Head scored 11 points with four assists, four boards and a steal in 21 minutes, while Jackson scored 14 points with two assists in 19. Rookie Aaron Brooks appears to be the odd man out of the guard rotation – he played just two minutes on Sunday.
Bonzi Wells had an opportunity to contribute on Saturday, playing 19 minutes in his Hornets debut. Unfortunately, he was held to just two points on 1-7 shooting. But that was against the Spurs – we'll reserve judgment until we see him in a game that doesn't involve Bruce Bowen or Manu Ginobili.
Around the League:
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 every now and again - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time or role or skill level. Comments and questions are always welcome - just post 'em on the message board at the bottom of this page.
Nate Robinson (NY): Sunday's start was Robinson's fourth straight, and Nate didn't disappoint, scoring 20 points with eight boards and two threes in 36 minutes of action.
T.J. Ford (TOR): We've had a role-reversal in Toronto – now Jose Calderon is the unquestioned starter and Ford is the backup who is still very capable of putting up fantasy-worthy minutes. On Sunday, Ford scored 15 points with five assists and four boards in just 19 total minutes.
Rajon Rondo (BOS): We keep hearing that Boston needs to bring in help at the point, but Rondo is actually playing pretty darned well. He's averaging over 15 points per game over his last five outings, with 4.4 assists and 1.6 steals in that span.
Charlie Villanueva (MIL): Milwaukee made an adjustment to its lineup after the break, moving Villanueva into the starting lineup at power forward and bringing rookie Yi Jianlian off the bench. Villanueva has averaged 16 points in 27 minutes in the Bucks' last two games.
Primoz Brezec (TOR): A nice debut for the newest Raptor: Brezec scored 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting in just 13 minutes on Sunday. But don't get too excited – the opposition was the defensively-challenged Knicks.
Brandon Roy (POR): Roy hurt his ankle in the Blazers' last game before the All-Star break and aggravated the injury on Sunday. It sounds like he'll miss Portland's road trip to Los Angeles this week and possibly some games after that as well.
Chris Kaman (LAC): Kaman injured his back in Friday's game and wasn't available for Monday's game against Boston. He's now missed seven of 15 games due to injury and/or illness.
Gerald Wallace (CHA): The initial estimate was that Wallace would miss approximately two weeks after suffering a concussion on Friday. That estimate could change – in either direction – after he consults with a neurologist later this week.
Article first appeared on 2/25/08