Fantasy Forecast: The Return of Kobe

First let me say that fantasy basketball and even the NBA doesn’t compare when you lose a loved one. Kevin Love missed both of the Wolves games in week 6 after his grandmother, Carol Lee Craig, died while the team was in Mexico to take on the Spurs. Love does an annual winter coat drive and it would be an amazing way to show your appreciation for all he has done by donating your gently used coats to the Target Center. Love is expected to be back for Tuesday’s game against the Pistons.

It seemed like all you could talk about on Sunday was the return of Lakers SG Kobe Bryant. No matter what email I opened or what channel I turned to, Bryant was all people wanted to talk about. In the end Bryant finished with nine points (2-of-9 from the field), eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a whopping eight turnovers in just under 28 minutes.

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni suggested that it will take Bryant a month until he's producing like he did last season (27.3 points and six assists per game). "He's not going to be above the rim for a while, which is fine," D'Antoni said. "There were some great players that played below the rim; he'll control the game, and his presence will be exemplary."

There is a lot of truth in the month comment from D’Antoni. Bryant looked rusty Sunday night and he will have to not only get back into game-shape, but also gel with the team and them gel with him. Obviously I hope he will be fine eventually, but Bryant is now 35 years old and has been in the NBA for 17 years, so there is a LOT of wear on those tires of his.

In trade news, the Toronto Raptors sent Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings for Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson. This doesn’t really change my opinion on Gay this season and still think he does more harm than good. The only real fantasy worthy news for the Raptors is this trade only further compiles and already muddy situation at PF with Tyler Hansbrough, Amir Johnson, and now Patterson and Hayes. I would take a wait-and-see approach before adding any of them, and would probably advise from staying away from all to be honest since a timeshare is most likely to come about.

Start ‘em

Jordan Crawford – PG Celtics: Rajon Rondo recently pushed his meeting with Dr. James Andrews back to the end of December. That means Rondo is almost a lock to not play until after the New Year, giving Crawford’s owners another month of stats from a guy they got off the waiver wire. Over his last five games, Crawford is averaging 19.8 points and seven assists a night, and has drained 11 3-pointers in that time. Right now he is owned in 62 percent of Yahoo leagues, and his DraftStreet cap figure is rising.

Tony Wroten – PG Sixers: Wroten is a short-term filler at the PG spot for those in desperate need as Michael Carter-Williams deals with a bacterial infection in the skin of his right knee. In his two games as a fill-in starter, Wroten has put up 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. With MCW the future for the Sixers, you can be sure they will take every precaution necessary to insure he is 100 percent healed before letting him back on the court. Wroten can be had on almost all waiver wires (13 percent owned) and is dirt cheap on DraftStreet’s salary cap based game.

Randy Foye – SG Nuggets: A familiar name for Wolves fans, Foye is flying under the fantasy radar out in Denver with his 34 percent ownership on Foye has scoured double figures in nine of his last 11 games, and is averaging 11.3 points and 1.9 3-pointers per-game over the last two weeks. With 2.3 rebounds and two assists averaged over that same span, you have to understand that Foye is going to be empty points and 3’s off the waiver wire. But, for people looking for help in that area, he can be had in most leagues. And, for those in daily leagues like DraftStreet, Foye can be had for pennies on the dollar, giving you more room for studs like Love this week (four games.)

Khris Middleton – SF Bucks: With Caron Butler missing six straight games with knee troubles, Middleton stepped in and gave the Bucks a glimmer of hope at the SF spot. Over the last two weeks he is averaging 13.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and is shooting 4.8 percent from the field. Middleton is an excellent pick-up off a thinning waiver wire as the Bucks are looking for answers and seem to have found one in here. And, it doesn’t hurt that you can get pretty good production off a guy like Middleton on DraftStreet and pay a rock bottom price for him because nobody knows enough about him to buy-low, except me!

Channing Frye – PF Suns: Yes, Frye had an off night against the Raptors on Friday, scoring just two points and grabbing four rebounds in 18 minutes. But, over the past two weeks he is averaging 13.6 points and 6.1 rebounds, while shooting 55.7 percent from the field. Every player in the NBA has a bad game here and there, and Frye is ranked No. 16 overall in that two-week span on when filtered by average stats. He’s owned in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues (number is climbing each day) and is still a great value for what he costs on DraftStreet.

Kosta Koufos – C Grizzlies: With Marc Gasol out, Koufos has stepped into the starting center spot and put up better numbers than you may think. Over the last two weeks he is averaging 11 points, 12.3 rebounds, two blocks and 1.2 steals a night. He is only shooting 43.1 percent from the field, which is well below average for a center, but the double-double average makes up for it. He’s owned in just 35 percent of Yahoo leagues and is still provides an excellent return on investment in DraftStreet’s cap based system.

Sit ‘em Steve Nash – PG Lakers: Nash hasn’t played in a game since November 10th and yet he is owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Sunday night. Nash practiced on Saturday and there are rumors that he could return as early as next Thursday's game in Portland. The problem I see with him is that Steve Blake has been playing pretty well, averaging 11.2 points with 9.5 assists a night for the Lakers. Even when Nash does return, there are no guarantees his 39-year-old back can handle the heavy minutes, and Blake might stay the starter with Nash playing 20-ish minutes a night. That all adds up to a major disappointment for those who’ve stashed him for the past month, and those who will see a loss on their investment on DraftStreet’s cap based system.

Lance Stephenson – SG Pacers: Stephenson started the season off hot, averaging 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per-game in November. But, in the five games so far in December he is averaging just 9.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists. While he helps with a few points, rebounds, and assists most nights, his 63.6 percent shooting from the free-throw line and 2.7 turnovers a night do detract from his value. The Pacers play just two games this week, making everyone but Paul George and Roy Hibbert risky plays.

Rudy Gay – SF Kings: As I said before, I don’t like Gay this season because his FG percentage is a abysmal 38.8 percent. Add to that a free-throw percentage of 77.3, along with 3.3 turnovers-per-game, and you can see where those 19.4 points come at a hefty price for fantasy owners. It could either be just the change Gay needed in the move to Sacramento, or he could struggle more as the Kings look to find their new identity with both Gay and recently acquired SF/PF Derrick Williams.

Josh McRoberts – PF Bobcats: I hear a lot of talk about McRoberts a website Yahoo uses for their updates and their hype of McRoberts is unfounded. Of his 19 games this season, he has score 10-plus points just nine times and grabbed more than 6 rebounds just six times. Over the last two weeks he is averaging just 5.8 points and 6.2 rebounds, while shooting a dreadful 38.9 percent from the field. Can someone tell me why they think so highly of him when he has been inconsistent this whole season and is ranked in the 160 range for all fantasy players?

Chris Bosh – C Heat: One of the more overrated players in fantasy basketball for me is Bosh. In 4 of his last 7 games, Bosh has failed to score double-digits, giving him two week average of 10.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and a 41.8 FG percentage. Those stats rank him 169th in Yahoo’s standard 9-category league, which means he is not even worth playing at the moment. The Heat play just two games this week, so get him out of your weekly transaction/daily line-ups on DraftStreet and Yahoo.

James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Timberwolves fantasy basketball section, but he crosses over the sports boundary and writes the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals fantasy football sections. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and Facebook to get all your NFL news before it hits the national media. For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at