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Hoops Lab: Hoops Lab-Week 21

Andre' Snellings

Andre' Snellings is a Neural Engineer by day, and RotoWire's senior basketball columnist by night. He's a two-time winner of the Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

The Andray Blatche Dilemma

Andray Blatche burst onto the scene like a shooting star after Wizards trades moved him to the top of the depth chart. A couple of weeks ago I joked that his name should be changed to "LeBr-Andray" after he averaged 28 points, 13 boards, four assists, two blocks and two steals per game for a week. I had him on my bench in my main league, and his emergence has been like suddenly adding another first round pick to my squad. There's only one problem: A little voice in my head keeps screaming that I should trade him.

On the surface that doesn't seem right. After all, he has maintained averages of 23 points, 10 boards, three assists, a block and a steal on great shooting percentages for the last month to earn a top-25 ranking in the Y! player rater. And some of that includes time before the trades, back when Blatche was just a backup with upside. And he's just coming off of a 23-point/nine-rebound effort against the Celtics, one of the best defensive front lines in the league. That game should have come as a relief to me.

But it didn't.

My eyes keep getting drawn to the names of the teams against whom Blatche has really exploded. He gave 33 points and 13 boards to the Timberwolves. Smashed the Noah-less Bulls for 25 and 11. And embarrassed the wonderful Knicks and Nets front lines for a combined 62 points, 33 boards, 10 assists and eight steals/blocks.

But in the last week, when he's faced the Bucks twice and the Celtics once? He's averaged 18 points, eight boards, two assists, three turnovers, 46 percent shooting from the field and 62 percent from the line. Solid numbers still, but good for only a Y! ranking of 179th. A far cry from the prime Shaq-like numbers he posted against the cupcakes. And a quick glance at the Bucks' remaining schedule shows an awful lot of "Rockets", "Hawks" and "Magic" type opponents in coming weeks with very few doughnuts to be found.

And thus, my dilemma. The trade deadlines in most leagues are either coming up in the next week or have already passed. In the league where I have Blatche, the deadline is Thursday. Initially I was getting offers like Channing Frye for Blatche that were easy to turn down. But right now I've got a Kevin Garnett for Blatche offer sitting in my inbox, tempting me. The Garnett whose value is definitely down from years past, but who Yahoo! also ranks 33rd for the season and 35th for the last week (by average) despite his 0-for-7 game on Sunday. He will not score with Blatche from here on, but he will give everything else that Blatche does, and he has been ramping up in recent weeks.

In the end I don't think I will make this swap. Regardless of the opponent, Blatche has shown he can produce video game numbers and is center eligible. Both of those have value, so at the least I would hope I could leverage a better offer. But I don't say no easily because, as I said, something in me is nervous about relying on Blatche to keep it up against good defenses that now have his scouting report. One way or another, I expect I'll end up banking his potential and swapping it out for something a bit more proven, even if it comes at the expense of some upside. Blatche right now is found money, a player I drafted for 10 cents that is now worth a dollar. But I think I'll sleep better if I swap him out for a sure-fire 85 cents.

Situations to Watch and Quick Hits

  • LeBron's rest: LeBron James has missed the last two games with a tweaked ankle, but is expected to be back for Friday's game against the Sixers. It seems likely he could have played if he had to in the last two games, but as Cavs Coach Mike Brown said, this was an opportune time for James to get some rest. Expect him to be back to his video game self on Friday.

  • Wade kicking it up a notch: Last season Dwyane Wade had several extended stretches of monster games over the last months of the season. I have been waiting for it this season, and it appears that the time is now. Wade has scored at least 27 points with at least 10 assists in three straight games, a stretch in which he is averaging 33.3 points, 12 assists, five boards, 2.3 steals and even 1.7 treys. I tried my best to trade for Wade while he was injured, to no avail, but if you have any shot at getting him in a deal that's even based upon his year-to-date numbers, go for it, as he likely finishes the year on a high.

  • Amare's 30 streak: Amare has somewhat quietly averaged 30 points over his last five games and has scored exactly 30 in each of his last three outings. He's stepping forward as the primary scorer for the Suns, and as the team will be embroiled in a playoff push for the next month, he should continue to produce.

  • Parker is parked, GIN-O-BILI!: Tony Parker broke his left hand this weekend, and though he will not need surgery and may be back for the NBA playoffs, his regular (and fantasy) season is over. Parker's absence opens up room for George Hill and Roger Mason Jr. to step up, but even more it clears the way for Manu Ginobili to resume his mantle as a primary producer. Ginobili celebrated a return to the starting lineup with 38 points, seven treys, seven boards, five assists and two steals. While he's unlikely to replicate that, his numbers should remain strong for the rest of the season.

  • Scola booming more than busting: Luis Scola had been up and down in recent weeks, following a zero-point outing with a 30-point effort then following that up with a 10-point down game to end February. He has been on fire thus far in March, though, averaging 21.3 points and 18 boards with three straight monster double-doubles over his last three games.

  • Zach's back: Zach Randolph sat out Monday's game with lower back tightness, his first missed game of the season. Right now this doesn't sound serious, but back injuries can linger so keep an eye on it. The good news for Randolph owners is that the Grizzlies are still at least within shouting distance of the final playoff spot out West, so if his body can handle it, I would expect to see Randolph on the court again sooner rather than later.

  • Stuckey scare: Rodney Stuckey collapsed on the bench in a scary moment on Friday night, and thus far his return is still uncertain. He is still being evaluated, but coach John Kuester said that Stuckey is on the right path, so it sounds positive that he could return in the near future. But keep an eye on the situation, as things could change at any time.

  • Lee's explosion: Courtney Lee has returned from his sprained ankle like a man possessed, averaging 27.5 points in the two games since he's been back. It should also be noted that he had scored more than 20 points in the two games leading into his injury absence, and he is only owned in 59 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

  • Landry finding his level: I mentioned before that Kevin Martin was settling into his new role in Houston, and now I recognize the other end of that deal. Carl Landry had great advanced stats as a backup in Houston, and he is showing the ability to sustain that promise as a starter in Sacramento. He has scored at least 20 points with at least eight boards in three straight games now and looks to be the Kings' primary frontcourt scorer moving forward.

    New Additions

    Quentin Richardson (26% owned): Richardson is a streaky player, and over the last few games he has been in the zone. He likely won't hold that for the rest of the season so he would strictly be a hot pick to drop at the first sign that the ride is over. But anyone that can average more than 20 points, almost eight boards, almost five treys and more than two steals over a week is worth a look.

    Jonas Jerebko (19% owned): Jerebko has been playing solid basketball of late, averaging a double-double with a trey over his last four games.

    Anthony Tolliver (16% owned): With Andris Biedrins (groin) likely done for the year, Tolliver should continue to get solid minutes. He turned in a 26-minute clunker on Monday, but before that he had averaged well over 33 minutes played with 13 points, seven boards and more than two treys in his previous five games

    Rodrique Beaubois (15% owned): With Jason Terry recovering from face surgery, Beaubois will have to have more weeks like this one, in which he averaged 21 points a game.

    Reggie Williams (not yet in the system): Williams is the latest unknown player to be inserted into the Warriors lineup and explode, having posted 28 points with six assists and two steals on Monday. He was just signed for the team last week and had only four NBA games under his belt before the eruption. Only grab him if you don't have to give up a productive player, though, since with the Warriors you never know when the playing time will evaporate.

    Article first appeared 3/9/10