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Hoops Lab: NBA 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 Hoops Lab

By Andre' Snellings
RotoWire Staff Writer

The Unfair One

It has long been obvious that LeBron James enjoys absurd physical gifts in a combination that has never been seen before in the NBA in a wing player listed at 6-8, 240 pounds. But he made a statement this week that moves his physical advantage beyond absurd, all the way to simply not fair.

"I'm 6-9, 260," James said. Six-feet nine inches tall, 260 pounds. Let me put this in perspective for you. Karl Malone, considered one of the most physically gifted POWER forwards of all-time, was listed at only 6-9, 250 pounds. Let that sink in for a second.

So to complete this thought: James has the physical dimensions of a bigger Karl Malone. He can get from one end of the court to the other about as fast as Allen Iverson. He has a vertical leap similar to Michael Jordan in his prime. And oh yeah, at only 23 years old, he could still be growing!

OK, enough ranting, let me find some roto significance in this. First of all, at this size it seems clear that his career-best 8.1 rebounds per game average this season could actually go up in future years and that double-digit board averages are not out of the question.

Secondly, it is worth noting that James very rarely utilizes a post-up game on offense, preferring to set up off the dribble from the perimeter. If he ever comes back after one summer having picked up a post game, his offensive potential goes from ridiculous to unguardable. With the possible exception of Ron Artest, there isn't a player in the NBA that is both quick enough to stay in front of him off the dribble and strong enough to prevent him from establishing whatever post position that he wants. James with a post-game is a scary thought.

Finally, in a keeper league, can you think of any TWO player combos that you would rather keep than just James? I can't. Even if someone offered me the rights to Chris Paul and Dwight Howard as keepers, I would be hard-pressed to pull the trigger and give up the rights to James. His future potential is crazy.

Situations to watch and Quick Hits

Avoid Haves vs. Have-Nots: The Celtics beat the Sonics by 29 points Wednesday night, 111 82. The starters on both teams finished their nights early, with the Sonics' ones averaging 27 minutes and the Celtics' starters averaging only 22. Consequently, none of the players on either team lived up to his fantasy potential on the night. Meanwhile, the Knicks and Heat played a hard-fought 91 88 game in which 10 players played 33 or more minutes and hit their fantasy numbers. This is a trend to watch down the stretch as the great teams rev up for the postseason and poor ones prepare for the lottery. If good teams play other good teams or poor teams other poor teams, the game is more likely to be close, whereas the good vs. bad matchups are more and more often blowouts where the starters sit out the fourth quarter. Keep this in mind when preparing your nightly and weekly lineups.

Celtics with huge schedule: Along that same train of thought, the Celtics are about to embark on a nine-game stretch that includes matchups with Utah, New Orleans twice, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Phoenix. For those that have been disappointed that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have been sitting out of blowout wins, this upcoming stretch should be the time of year when those players have to step up and maximize their fantasy output.

Dwyane Wade is done: As was widely predicted, Wade has shut it down for the season. The most obvious beneficiary is Ricky Davis, who has scored 27 points in three consecutive games and is clearly the new focal point of the Heat offense. With Marcus Banks also out for awhile with a hamstring injury, deep sleepers like Daequan Cook have a chance to produce.

Eddy Curry out as well?: Curry is considering season-ending surgery to repair a vertical cartilage tear in his right knee. Since the Knicks have nothing to play for, it would be pretty surprising for Curry to fight his way back onto the court this season. Actually, "shocking" is the word I'm looking for. I would not be surprised if Zach Randolph, the other disgruntled Knick big man, also scales back at some point before the season ends. On the other hand, David Lee is now a much more valuable commodity.

Andrei Kirilenko is back: Kirilenko (strained right hip) returned to action Tuesday and scored 12 points with four rebounds and four assists in Utah's loss to Chicago. He was right back in the starting lineup after missing the previous three games, and looks to have resumed his same role.

Gerald Wallace is back: Wallace returned to the court Wednesday night after missing the previous eight games with a concussion. He scored 14 points with five boards, a steal, an assist and a trey in 22 minutes off the bench as the team tries to work him back in slowly, but considering his solid play it would be surprising if he is not back in the starting lineup relatively soon.

Caron Butler back Thursday: Butler (hip) practiced pain-free on Wednesday and is expected to be back in the line-up for the Wizards Thursday night. He missed 17 games and is likely rusty, but considering that last week his return was uncertain, this is great news for those that stuck by him and are looking for a late-season boost.

New Additions

Randy Foye: Sebastian Telfair hurt his ankle two games ago and is expected to be out for a week. This has opened up room for Foye to reassert himself as the starting lead guard, and he has responded by averaging 17.5 points, 7.0 assists and 5.5 boards over the two games Telfair's been out.

Charlie Villanueva: Villanueva is playing like a superstar of late, averaging 24.6 points and 9.6 boards per over his last five games.

Thaddeus Young: Young is a late-season explosion waiting to happen. He has been prominent in the rotation for the thriving Sixers recently, and has quickly become a team and fan favorite. He's averaging 14.3 points, 4.5 boards, 1.2 steals, and 69.8 percent shooting from the field in March.

Daequan Cook: As mentioned above, Cook has a real opportunity to produce in extended minutes on the injury-ravaged Heat. Considering that he is a scorer who was recently demoted to the NBDL, he should be extremely motivated to put up points in bunches.

Steve Blake: Blake has averaged 13.5 points, 7.0 assists, and 2.8 boards in 35 minutes over his last four games.

Rasho Nesterovic: Nesterovic has taken advantage of Chris Bosh's absence to average 13.2 points and 7.6 boards per over his last five games.

Article first appeared 3/13/08