Living the Fantasy: Shutdown Season

By NBA TV's Rick Kamla

This year, the owners of Shawn Marion are the primary victims of this dreaded disease, which robs fans of several elite players each and every spring.
(Doug Benc/NBAE/Getty Images)
The fantasy world is rocking harder than Rage Against the Machine these days, as fantasy players from all over the globe compete in the fantasy playoffs.

Unfortunately, this can be an intensely stressful time for fantasy players trying to gauge whether a banged-up baller is going to suit up during “shutdown season”.

This year, the owners of Shawn Marion are the primary victims of this dreaded disease, which robs fans of several elite players each and every spring. I found it funny to read in the Miami Herald that Pat Riley said Marion could return this week, but Riles still considered Marion doubtful to play in Wednesday’s game. In other words, Marion’s been upgraded from corpse to zombie. Sweet. Thanks for the non-news, dude.

Coming into this week, fantasy players had excruciatingly tough decisions to make with Andrew Bogut and Mehmet Okur. Bogut had missed two consecutive games with a busted nose and Okur had missed two straight with a stomach virus. Thankfully, Okur had 16 and 9 in Monday’s win over Washington and Bogut dropped 24 and 13 in Tuesday’s win against New York.

Since we’re on the topic of shutdowns, I think we’ve seen the last of Chris Kaman, who suffered a nasty sprained ankle on Monday against the Mavericks. Kaman is calling it the “worst” he’s ever had and Mike Dunleavy said it “blew up”. Not good.

Kaman has been dealing with a balky back for weeks, and now his ankle looks like a grapefruit? This is no way to end a breakout season in which Kaman skyrocketed to third in boards (12.7) and third in blocks (2.8). See ya next year, dude.

The flip side is that Elton Brand is set to make his debut on Thursday against the Kings. I’m happy for Elton, who has worked his tail off trying to get his body right after Achilles surgery. The timing of his return is advantageous for fantasy players who start their Fantasy Finals next Monday, because they will have scouting opportunities on Thursday and Sunday, when the Clippers and Rockets get it on.

If Elton is playing 20+ minutes and not completely covered in rust by the end of Sunday night’s game, I would strongly consider starting him in the Fantasy Finals depending on your other alternatives.

Just know that Elton and the Clippers play the Nuggets, Lakers, and Warriors next week. And knowing Elton’s competitiveness, he wants to make it as tough on the contenders as possible, so I could see some significant production from EB next week—provided everything goes as planned the rest of this week.

Drew Gooden missed his second straight game on Tuesday with an abdominal strain, and the basketball world is bracing for yet another shutdown. However, Gooden was quoted in Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times as saying: “I’m going to finish this season out. I just need a couple days rest with this injury.”

Drew, why are you trying to be a hero? The Bulls are dead and buried, and fellow power forward Kevin Garnett missed nine games with an abdominal strain earlier this year. This isn’t a sprained ankle or jammed finger, this is the dreaded ab strain—an injury that can take weeks or months to heal.

Based on his zest for getting back to work and his numbers since the trade to the Bulls, I’d say Gooden is loving life in Chicago.

More from Living The Fantasy
Living the Fantasy: Playoff Advice
Living the Fantasy: Headed to the Hall
Living the Fantasy: The Kidd-Effect
Living the Fantasy: Point Guard Shuffle
Living the Fantasy: Meet Shaq
Living the Fantasy: Monster Jefferson
Living the Fantasy: Oh No, O'Neal
Living the Fantasy: Taking Inventory
Living the Fantasy: More Minutes Please
Living the Fantasy: Martin Outta Month
He logged roughly 31 minutes per game with both Cleveland and Chicago, but his digits are way up in the Windier City. In 51 games in Cleveland, Gooden averaged 11.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 0.6 blocks, and 44 percent shooting. In 18 games in Chicago, Gooden has averaged 14.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 46 percent shooting.

What gives with the double-up in blocks? Does that mean Gooden is more inspired to play with Aaron Gray than LeBron James? And if so, why aren’t more players demanding trades or buyouts so they can play with the burly rookie? Just wondering…

Gooden’s quote will be well received by the hard-nosed fans in Chicago, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the team is going to clear him to play. Sad to say, but it’s time to release Gooden in favor of backup Tyrus Thomas.

In Tuesday’s loss to the Celtics (go figure), Thomas had 24 points and seven rebounds, and the springy sophomore is averaging 17 and 7 in two starts for Gooden. When you combine the location of Gooden’s injury with the Bulls’ need to see what Thomas can do, it’s highly likely we’ve seen the last of The Beard.

Word on the street is that Pau Gasol practiced with the Lakers on Tuesday and plans on playing Wednesday against Portland unless there is unexpected swelling. If Pau does, in fact, get back to work on Wednesday—and I’ll believe it when I see it—he will have missed nine games with a sprained left ankle.

So riddle me this, freaks. How does Gasol miss nine games with a sprained ankle when teammate Derek Fisher misses ZERO games with a torn tendon in his foot? Again, just wondering…

Could the Suns please promote Leandro Barbosa to the starting lineup and leave him there?

I realize LB is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, and I realize Mike D’Antoni is a former Coach of the Year—as well as the NBA’s resident Mad Scientist—but Barbosa is a much more consistent player when he’s starting. To wit, in 10 starts he’s logging 38 minutes and averaging 22.7 ppg on 53 percent shooting. Conversely, in 64 relief appearances he’s clocking only 28 minutes and averaging 14.9 points on 45 percent shooting.

The Suns need Raja Bell’s defense to start ballgames, so I recommend benching Grant Hill for The Brazilian Blur.

Through Tuesday’s loss to the Nuggets, Hill had missed three straight games with a groin pull and sprained right wrist. D’Antoni told the East Valley Tribune that Hill won’t come back until he’s 100 percent, and knowing Hill’s medical history, he might not be right till the playoffs.

If Barbosa is consistently dropping 20+ as a starter, and the Suns are thriving with him playing big minutes, don’t you have to ride that setup through the playoffs? Hey, if Manu Ginobili, Jason Terry, and Al Harrington are content coming off the bench, you gotta believe the heady Hill would be cool with it as well.