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Hoops Lab: Hoops Lab-Week 12

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 Washington Bullet

I have Gilbert Arenas on two of my bigger fantasy basketball teams. I am NOT feeling good right now, as I just don't see any way that Arenas escapes this gun investigation without a massive suspension from the NBA. Jemele Hill wrote a long editorial on Monday suggesting Arenas be suspended for the season, and Charlie Zegers blogged on Tuesday about prepping for the distinct possibility that Arenas could at any point be done. As a father who wants to see a safer world with more consideration and less stupidity about weapons, I can understand and even appreciate the likelihood of a harsh punishment from the league. But as an Arenas owner, all I feel is a sense of impending doom that at any moment one of my best players will be taken from me.

The irony is that Arenas has been on my "to trade" list for quite awhile, well before any whiff of gun charges scented the air. From the time I rolled the dice to draft Arenas I was hoping for him to get off to a fast start so that I could trade him before he became unstable, but my concerns were more about his medical history than any thought something like this would happen. But I was busy, and I was paying attention to my football teams, and I kept putting off making Arenas offers for just another day until WHAM, the stories of guns in the locker and gambling debts gone wrong hit me in the face.

I'll continue to start the Hibachi until the news breaks that he will be sitting (which really could come any day now) with hopes that he can give me at least a few more strong games before he's lost. I'll also hope that the suspension is short, but that doesn't seem likely. As prep for the inevitable, the obvious thing to do is pick up Arenas' back-up Randy Foye, who has been a capable fantasy producer in the past and seems like a good fit in the point-guard friendly Flip Saunders offense. I wouldn't drop a starter to do it since it's definitely a speculative pick-up, but in one league I just dropped Ben Wallace for Foye and I think a player of that caliber is a reasonable drop for Foye's potential. Earl Boykins is another potential target in deeper leagues, as his minutes would pick way up without Arenas and he was a viable 15-and-4 guy as a sixth-man type back in 2007.

The other angle that Zegers pointed out in his blog was that an Arenas suspension could potentially trigger (bad choice of words?) the Wizards to sell off some of their other veteran assets like Antawn Jamison or Caron Butler. This is even more speculative than the pick-ups of Foye or Boykins, but it's plausible, and if it happened it could be a boon for young Wizards like Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee or Nick Young. I already own Blatche in a couple of leagues and will hold onto him, but in a deep league this news could prompt me to take a flyer on one of the other youngsters as well.

Bottom line: this Arenas situation is bad news for any of his fantasy owners no matter what the official outcome turns out to be, but a savvy owner can't just mope about it. We are forewarned, which means that we should fore-arm (come on, I just can't resist) ourselves and our team by preparing for the inevitable loss.

Situations to Watch and Quick Hits

  • KG, Pierce and Rondo all hurting: The Celtics have been the walking wounded for the last couple of weeks as Paul Pierce (knee), Kevin Garnett (knee) and Rajon Rondo (hamstring) have all missed game action. The good news is that Pierce and Rondo both returned to practice on Tuesday and look likely to play against the Heat on Wednesday. The bad news is that Garnett is still expected to miss at least 7 – 10 more days, with no set timetable for his actual return.

  • Nuggets missing stars: Chauncey Billups (groin) has missed the last couple of weeks and is expected to miss the next game on Tuesday as well. It's possible he'll return for Friday's game against the Cavs, but that's still up in the air. Carmelo Anthony (knee) sat out the last two games but is hopeful he'll play on Tuesday. In the meantime youngsters Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo have been playing well in increased roles and could be worth a look (especially Lawson, see below).

  • Dwight Howard not getting enough touches: Howard has been getting frozen out of shot attempts for the Magic as the perimeter players have been firing away. Howard has taken eight or fewer shots in seven of the last 11 games and has three single-digit scoring efforts in his last five games. On Saturday he got only seven shots while the team attempted 37 three-pointers. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has suggested Howard will receive more touches, though, which would be good news for frustrated Howard owners.

  • Pau Gasol's other hamstring: Gasol missed the first 11 games of the season with a right hamstring injury. The good news is that his right hammy is fine, but the bad news is that he's suffered a mild-to-moderate left hamstring strain that has him doubtful for Tuesday's game against the Rockets and day-to-day after that. The Lakers were very patient with Gasol's healing process before, so expect Gasol to be on the shelf for a little while until he's completely healthy.

  • Derrick Rose heating up: Rose has finally become the player we all thought he would be entering the season before ankle injuries slowed him down. He's scored 20 or more points in six of his last eight games and is averaging 25.8 points with 6.0 assists and 4.5 boards over the last week. Your window to buy low on him may already be closed, but if the Rose owner in your league is hung up on his Yahoo! ranking of 121 you may still be able to get him at cost.

  • Vinsanity limping but okay: Vince Carter suffered an ankle injury on Saturday that caused him to leave the game, but it wasn't considered serious, and he was able to practice fully on Monday. This is a good sign that he should be able to play on Tuesday against the Pacers.

  • Aaron Brooks on Fire: Brooks continues to lead the surprising Rockets in scoring, and he has been ramping up of late. He averaged 22.8 points, 4.0 treys, 3.6 assists and 3.6 boards in his last five games of 2009 including a 30-point/6-trey explosion against the Mavs on December 31.

  • Michael Redd's long way back: Redd is coming off of a 27-point performance in 43 minutes of an overtime win against the Thunder on Saturday. Before that he had averaged only 4.7 points in 22 minutes in his previous three games, and before that he had popped for 32 points in 35 minutes against the Wizards. He's seriously up-and-down as he continues to work his way back from serious knee issues, but if he is able to stay healthy he may regain some consistency down the road. I would not want to depend on Redd, but if you could get him for cheap he could be a lottery ticket player.

  • Okafor cleaning the glass again: Emeka Okafor has either set or matched a season-high in rebounds in three of his last six games, peaking with 16 boards against the Rockets on Saturday. Okafor has been a bit of a disappointment this season after recovering from offseason injury, but with some apparent spring returning to his legs perhaps he will finally start to mesh with the Chris Paul that used to routinely add three or four points to Tyson Chandler's box score every night with easy dunks.

  • The on-going mystery of Anthony Randolph: I can't count how often Randolph has been in this space this season, and every week is something different. After playing well last week Chandler was inexplicably sent back to the bench on Saturday, only to record a 15-point/11-rebound double-double in only 20 minutes off the bench. Randolph's per-minute stats are outstanding (18.3 points, 10.5 boards, 2.4 blocks, 2.1 assists, 1.4 steals per 36 minutes), but he's having trouble getting minutes. Nevertheless, the last word out of Golden State is that he is expected to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday night, and we continue to hold out hope that one day we will get the fantasy beast that every sign indicates is inside of Randolph.

    New Additions

    Omri Casspi (44% owned): Casspi is becoming a surprise impact player as a rookie and is coming off three straight 20-plus point performances. He has two double-doubles in his last five games, has hit at least one 3-pointer in 13 straight games, and is getting a decent number of assists, steals and blocks as well.

    Ty Lawson (27% owned): Lawson has produced two consecutive 23-point/nine-assist performances as the starting point guard for the Nuggets in place of the injured Chauncey Billups. Billups is day-to-day, which means that at any time Lawson's run could come to an end, but for now he could give your team a nice short-term boost

    Matt Barnes (22% owned): Barnes moved back into the starting lineup for the Magic last week, and in those two games has averaged 20 points with 7.5 boards and 2.5 treys. Those numbers are likely not sustainable for the season but if he continues to start Barnes should be a viable producer.

    Martell Webster (16% owned): Webster has really picked up his production in the two games that LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) and Steve Blake (pneumonia) have missed. He has always been a talented shooter, but he's inconsistent, so enjoy this run while it lasts but don't expect him to continue averaging 20.3 points (like he has in the last week) moving forward.

    Rasual Butler (16% owned): Butler has been money from 3-point range for several weeks now, good for mid-teens scoring with two or three treys on a regular basis.

    Luther Head (15% owned): Head has stepped up as a primary scorer for the Pacers with Danny Granger and Troy Murphy injured, and he appears to have established himself as a viable fantasy producer moving forward. He has averaged 19.8 points, 4.5 boards, 3.3 assists and 2.3 treys in his last four games.

    Article first appeared 1/5/10

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