Workin the Wire
Knicks center deserves patience
Dec. 8 -- I don’t know why everyone is so down on Eddy Curry right now. I mean I understand the frustration but I’m not about to let one of my competitors grab him because of my impatience. Fantasy writers talk about patience a lot…but no one seems to listen. There are certain players that you should be patient with (anyone with considerable upside) and there are certain players that you should part with if they can’t prove their worth after a few games. I don’t understand why people push the panic button on Curry (who was playing well prior to his calf injury) while they exercise incredible patience with Andrei Kirilenko (who has struggled in his return from an ankle injury).
Granted, AK47 is an entirely different beast than Eddy Curry but the same principles should apply. Any player who goes down with an injury will inherently need a few games (even weeks) to get his game legs back. If you were willing to hold onto Curry during his five game absence…why not give him another five or ten games to get back into the flow of things? If you look at Curry’s stats on the season…you won’t be impressed. They aren’t pretty. Now look at his first eight games of the season (before the injury) and you’ll see a different story: 13.8 points, 7.5 boards and 1.5 blocks per game. I don’t know about you but I’d take that on my fantasy team any day of the week…
In case you were wondering, Curry makes for a fine pickup…speaking of pickups…
Players named here in the last week that are still quality options on the wire include: Wally Szczerbiak, Desmond Mason, Chris Kaman, Marko Jaric, Erick Dampier, Jameer Nelson and Eddie Griffin.
Luol Deng, SF, CHI- Obvious name but with so many people playing in 10-team leagues, he just might be available. The great thing about Deng is that he’s far from a one-dimensional player. I list him in the “points” section because he can fill the basket but Deng can also fill the stat sheet in rebounds, steals, threes and even blocks. Coming on strong over his last five games, Deng has averaged 19.2 points, 6.2 boards, 1.2 steals, 0.8 threes and 0.6 blocks per game. And if that weren’t enough, Deng is also shooting a stellar 46.6 percent from the floor and 86.2 percent from the line this season. To top it all off, Deng has the potential to get even better. With his long arms and athletic frame, he could be one of those rare 1-steal, 1-block guys in the future. Looking at those stats, it’s almost unfathomable that Deng could be available in any league of any size at this time. That said, there is some downside here…like Scott Skiles’ unpredictable rotation. The Bulls have a deep bench and there is no telling what Skiles might do with a player’s playing time. Still, the way Deng is playing right now, there’s just no way Skiles can keep him off the court.
(Note: Deng took a Dirk Nowitzki elbow to the face on Monday and required oral surgery to fix the problem but he’s not expected to miss any time with the injury)
Earl Boykins, G, DEN- Earl Boykins is living proof that size doesn’t matter. Forget about his 5-5 frame…this guy can just flat out ball. It helps that his head coach, George Karl, absolutely loves what the “little guy” brings to the game off the bench. Because of his energetic style of play and ability to change the game as soon as he steps on the court, Boykins is guaranteed to see at least 25 minutes a night in the Nuggets rotation. He’s not going to get 35 minutes a night but he’s a high-energy guy and high-energy players don’t need 35-plus minutes to be productive. Boykins has turned it on lately averaging 14.6 points, 6.0 assists and 1.6 threes per game in his last five. Don’t be scared of his “non-starter” status, he’ll see enough minutes and contribute heavily in points, assists, steals and threes.
Kurt Thomas, C, PHO- Being a fantasy columnist can be frustrating at times. Last week I wrote my column a day early and posted it just before Kurt Thomas busted out with his second solid game in as many nights. All I could say after I saw his stat line was: “Oops!” Still, I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about not mentioning him last week since I did talk about being patient with him earlier in the season. As soon as a player of Thomas’ caliber starts to show signs of life…he becomes an automatic pickup. The same goes for any player that we were high on in the preseason. We were high on guys like Thomas for a reason…those reasons just don’t go away because of one poor month of action. With this in mind, if you see a player like Stromile Swift, Al Jefferson or Josh Smith putting together a few strong starts, pick them up!
Al Jefferson, PF, BOS- Speaking of stringing together a few solid starts…Al Jefferson has posted 14 points and 9.5 boards over his last two games. I’ve talked about Jefferson in almost every column this season so I’ll keep this short and sweet. The time we’ve all been waiting for is close (if not here already). Grab him now before it’s too late.
Devin Harris, PG, DAL- Harris was highlighted in this space two weeks ago but his play over the last week (partly due to Jason Terry’s hamstring injury) warrants another recommendation. Terry shouldn’t miss too much time with the injury (he’s expected to return on Friday) but Harris’ play has been more than impressive in Terry’s absence. In his last five games, Harris has averaged 11.6 points, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals in 32.3 minutes per night. As I said two weeks ago, Harris can coexist with Terry on the court and his recent play suggests that he’d be a very solid point guard if Terry is out of action for any extended period of time. There is some downside here…Harris rarely shoots the three ball and his minutes are limited with a healthy Terry around…but he’s still a fine option for points, steals and assists regardless of his backcourt mate’s injury status.
Mo Williams, PG, MIL- It’s not uncommon for a player to go from hot free agent pickup to waiver wire fodder and back to hot free agent pickup in only a matter of weeks…and that’s exactly what’s going on with Mo Williams right now. Obviously Williams has had some ups and downs this season and right now he seems to be up. Yeah, averaging 17.0 points, 6.4 assists, 2.2 threes and 1.0 steals over the last five games certainly qualifies as “up”. Williams has always had nice potential as an NBA player and T.J. Ford’s return to the court has allowed him to loosen up and play without the pressures of being the floor general. He should continue to be a solid option for points, assists, threes and steals but will remain inconsistent unless there’s an injury in the Bucks’ backcourt.
Sarunas Jasikevicius, PG, IND- Jamaal Tinsley’s injury history is well documented and it should be a surprise to no one that Sarunas Jasikevicius has flourished in Tinsley’s absence over the last week. In that time he has averaged 12.6 points, 4.0 boards, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.2 threes per game. Jasikevicius is most valuable as a three-point specialist but he also has the ability to contribute in points, assists and steals if Tinsley misses much time. Like Devin Harris, Jasikevicius will still have value if Tinsley is in the lineup…just not as much. Unlike Harris, Jasikevicius has an injury prone player in front of him, and could even win the job outright if he continues to impress.
Ruben Patterson, SF, POR- There are a lot of theories out there as to who will replace Darius Miles’ production in the Portland lineup. Some think it will be Martell Webster (who has replaced Miles in the starting lineup), some think it will be Travis Outlaw (who has shown flashes of brilliance in limited minutes) and others think it could be Ruben Patterson (who has the potential but serious problems with head coach Nate McMillian). Count me in the Ruben Patterson camp…despite his recent outbursts and suspensions. There is still the possibility that he’ll be traded or even suspended again but he can be a serious force on the defensive end of the court if he’s playing. Last season, Patterson averaged 15.6 points and 1.7 steals in 36 starts for the Blazers…if he even comes close to these numbers, he’ll make for a solid pickup in fantasy leagues. Rather than running out to grab Patterson immediately, it might be best to monitor this situation before making any decisions…one of these guys will have value while Miles is out.
Vladimir Radmanovic, PF, SEA- If you looked up one-dimensional in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Vladimir Radmanovic. He can hit the three-ball with the best of them but does little else to help your fantasy squad. Since he can drill up to 2.5 threes per game, Vlad Rad will always have value in fantasy leagues so long as he’s getting enough minutes to produce. He struggled early in the season but he’s starting to find his shot, connecting on 2.4 threes per game on 57.1 shooting from behind the arc in his last five games. Consider Radmanovic if you’re down in threes but realize that you’ll be disappointed if you expect him to contribute in any other category.
Sasha Vujacic, G, LAL- Both Sasha Vujacic and teammate Brian Cook may have some value in deeper leagues while Kwame Brown sits out with a hamstring injury. Vujacic isn’t going to wow you with his overall stats but he has connected on 2.0 threes per game over the last week and if you're desperate for treys, he might not be a bad option. I like Cook a bit better as a player but I don’t get to make the playing time decisions in L.A. so for now, Vujacic is the better pickup. Neither player figures to have much long-term as both will see less time when Kwame returns.
Adonal Foyle, C, GSW- What you see is what you get from Adonal Foyle. He’s virtually non-existent on the offensive end but can rebound and swat shots with the best of them. On the season he’s averaged 4.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game and should continue to do so if he can sustain his average of 25 minutes per game. Surprisingly, Foyle hasn’t lost any production with the rookie Ike Diogu back on the court so he’s safe to add if your desperate for blocks and boards.
Brian McKitish is an associate editor for www.talentedmrroto.com, a site featuring free advice, news, stats and analysis for all fantasy sports. The site has been nominated for 16 Fantasy Sports Writing Awards by the FSWA, twice as many as any other site. Contact him at Littlemac@talentedmrroto.com