World of Pain
If you were to walk up to me and ask, Jesse, what are the two things most responsible for fantasy success or fantasy disaster, I would make a noise like a dying animal and then attempt to go to sleep. (You should know that I have somehow contracted the bubonic plague. Seriously, I can’t hear or talk, and my head feels like panthers are chewing it, and also it is on fire.) If you were to ask me what those things were in writing, however, I would immediately type: “injuries and trades.” Then I would probably type: “Please take me to a hospital if you do not want to have acid vomited on you.”
Bottom line: there have been a bunch of injuries and trades recently. Let’s examine the fantasy implications.
Rafer Alston to the Magic: It’s a small sample size, but still: in Alston’s two games with the Magic, he has 8.5 assists per game. With Houston, he was averaging 5.4. He’s going to give you fewer threes, but that’s a blessing in disguise—his 35.6% career mark from downtown is largely responsible for his nightmarish career field-goal rate of 38.4%. Meanwhile, back in Houston, Aaron Brooks has become the starting point guard, but don’t overlook his recently acquired backup—if Brooks remains inconsistent (19/6/8 on Friday, 7/4/3 on Sunday), the keys to the Houston offense may be placed in the strong, steady hands of Kyle Lowry, whose defense and, dare I say, Battier-esque court smarts have already made him a Daryl Morey favorite.
Brad Miller, John Salmons to the Bulls; Shelden Williams to the T’Wolves; Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, Rashad McCants to the Kings: First of all, no one should own Drew Gooden. His trade to the Kings should not change that. Brad Miller’s value stays roughly the same—he goes from one youth-intensive frontcourt (Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes) to another (Joakim Noah, Aaron Gray). I think John Salmons and Ben Gordon both lose minutes and take a hit in fantasy value; conversely, the player who stands to gain the most is none other than Mr. Candace Parker, a.k.a. the Landlord. That’s right: look for Shelden Williams to prove his mettle on an Al Jefferson-less team. At the very least, he gets some blocks. Francisco Garcia is another winner here, as the Kings go to a youth movement in what is becoming an annual rite of spring, like the migration of the birds, or the budding of the tulips. My prediction: Garcia averages a cool 15/5.5/3, 1.5 steals, one block, and 0.018 Magic Johnson comparisons.
Amare Stoudemire out for 8 weeks (detached retina); Terry Porter out indefinitely (detached coach): Ha! You see what I did there? You see that? Ha ha, ha. The meds seem to be kicking in. I love the Suns right now—they’re not going to put up 140 on everyone, but if they can pin 108 on the Celtics, even without Kevin Garnett, then there’s a lot of fantasy value to go around. Jason Richardson, especially, stands to benefit in the retro Suns offense—I think he becomes a top-fifteen player for the rest of the season, maybe a top ten. I also love Leandro Barbosa, and The Incredible Fantasy Resurgence of Shaq is about to get even incredible-r.
Kevin Garnett out 2-3 weeks (right knee strain): Leon Powe, never a big stats guy, should see a minutes bump but is really only worth a look in deep leagues. I mean deep. Deep like Deepak Chopra. Holla!! I think one of my lungs just collapsed. None of the other Celts bigs will likely get a boost, either—I see the increase in scoring coming from Rajon Rondo or Ray Allen.
Many, many Clippers: Al Thornton is iffy with foot pain, Marcus Camby is recovering from an ear infection, and of course there is a 50% chance that Chris Kaman is actually dead. Clippers to watch are Steve Novak (over his last seventeen games, an average of 12.2 points and 2.7 threes) and DeAndre Jordan (over his last three games, 9.7/10 with 2.7 blocks). Both are owned in fewer than 1% of ESPN fantasy leagues. That makes me angry. Angry like the wolf.
Here, finally, are the USE(LESS) Top 25 over the past ten games:
Fear the Durantula. Note also the presence of Jason Richardson at #6. Not pictured: Delonte West. That will have to wait until next week. Trust me on that one. In the strange, strange world of ESPN, Delonte is owned in a scanty 21.2% of leagues. If he’s available in your league, please attempt to restore some modicum of order to the universe. Please. I don’t ask much. I’m so cold.
As always, post your fantasy questions in the comments field below, and I will respond with extreme quickness, albeit through a medication-induced haze.