The Cheat Sheet
By Eric Yearian:
Recent News/Revelations: Boy, things sure do change quickly in the NBA. It seems like just yesterday people couldn’t stop talking about the struggles of the HEAT, how the Lakers were destined to once again win the NBA Championship, and the Magic contending for another Eastern conference title. Now, however, the Lakers can’t seem to string wins together as Kobe looks a little “off” at times and Ron Artest reverting back to his speaking before thinking approach to the media. In contrast, the HEAT may have found a way to get the big 3 to mesh, as they are dominating during the team’s winning streak (although it should be noted that many of the games have been against weak teams or teams such as Atlanta, who were missing Joe Johnson.) The Magic have gone from looking like a dominant team in the league to looking sickly, literally. As the team tries to regain its health, they have allowed the aforementioned HEAT and Hawks to chase them down and make the division an extremely close three team race at this early stage of the season.
Kyle Lowry: If you own Lowery, you no-doubt know that he recently went for career highs in assists and steal in recent games. He has played very well and been efficient on both ends of the court as the Rockets have leaned on him. He has shown a propensity for scoring (22 points,) pass (12 assists,) and defend (6 steals.) All of the sudden it appears as though the young guard is firing on all cylinders and is poised to be a breakout player the rest of the season. Alas, it’s unlikely he will keep this production up. For one, he shares a team with Aaron Brooks, who is an electrifying point guard in his own right. Also, this is a small sample size to rely on Lowry being able to duplicate these numbers on a regular basis. If you own him, capitalize on his play while his value is still high.
Ron Artest: Artest is talking a little more than the Lakers would probably like. In a recent interview, he confessed that he has yet to grasp Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, and that he “just stands in the corner” so Phil won’t yell at him. He isn’t putting up the numbers, and is dangerously close to becoming a distraction for the team. Artest did state that he was all about winning and wouldn’t mind not playing as many minutes as he’s used to for the greater good of the team. While this is good for the Lakers, fantasy owners need him on the court if he’s going to contribute. He still holds the name recognition that may make it possible for you to unload him for a talented player. If the opportunity presents itself, take it.
Mo Williams: Williams clearly misses his friend LeBron James in Cleveland and it has shown this season. He has struggled to score and has missed some time with injuries. He is now getting back into his groove. Is he going to regain his all-star form from before? That’s pretty doubtful, but will he be able to put up number for a weak Cavaliers team in need of his scoring, passing, and court presence? Now that is a solid bet, and if he’s doing all of that for the Cavs, that means he is helping your fantasy team. Because he has not had a good season thus far, you may be able to acquire him on the cheap.
OJ Mayo: First, Mayo got moved from the starting lineup to the bench. Thus far, he has struggled in his new role, and the longer these struggles persist, the more willing his fantasy owners are to be willing to listen to trade offers for him. The Grizzlies as a team are struggling, so Mayo isn’t alone on the team in having trouble playing to his potential. I would advise making a move for him sooner rather than later if you plan on trying to acquire him, because once he gets out of this funk it’s very unlikely you will be able to acquire him for a reasonable price.
Players you should avoid:
[player: Shaquille O’Neal]: Sometimes a player’s name is reason enough for some people to pick him up. Don’t be that person. Yes, center is a weak position in fantasy and can be hard to fill with a decent option. O’Neal is not that option, though. O’Neal has been hobbled by a sore leg, and has missed a couple games, leading some owners to cut him free. With him expected to play this upcoming week, it might be tempting for a center-needy team to pick him up, but in virtually all leagues there are better options available, even if those options don’t have the name recognition Shaq does.
Players you should be looking to pick up:
Ekpe Udoh: Udoh, the rookie out of Baylor, has yet to play this season due to an unfortunate injury. He is getting very close to coming back from the injury and as a high lottery pick, the team obviously expects big things from him. He will need time to adjust to the pro game and get into game shape following the time off, and he’ll be playing behind Andris Biedrins and David Lee, but he should be on your radar, and if you need forward help he may be able to help that problem, because the Warriors didn’t use a high draft pick on him for him to spend all of his time on the bench. He could potentially be a good source of rebounds in rotisserie leagues.
Full Disclosure from last column: How did the players mentioned in the last column fare in the last column?
Sell High: Shawn Marion, Jarrett Jack:
This month, Marion has scored in double digits only twice, and has not recorded double digit rebounds either. It hasn’t kept the Mavs from winning, but it has kept him from helping fantasy owners quite as much as he had previously. In his most recent game, Jack scored 13 points, his previous high this December was 6, and that’s all you need to know about his fantasy prospects: they stink. He isn’t scoring, and he isn’t racking up the assists. He doesn’t do enough to really justify the roster spot unless CP3 goes down to an injury. Final Verdict: Correct
Buy Low: Richard Jefferson, Beno Udrih:
Jefferson has not only kept up his play, he’s playing even better. He has begun to find his stroke from deep, hitting threes at a nice rate, while consistently scoring and even contributing in rebounds and adding the occasional block. Udrih has been inconsistent. In games against the Mavs, HEAT, and Wizards he had a combined 51 points, 19 assists, and 9 rebounds. But in games against the Lakers and Clippers, had a combined 6 points, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds. He has shown flashes of being good and has seen plenty of court time, but has been supplementing each good game with a bad game, which can frustrate fantasy owners. Final verdict: Correct
Player you should avoid:
Peja Stojakovic: Peja is averaging 9 points per game since joining the Raptors, although you may not realize it even if you’re a rabid Raptor fan. Why? He has only played in two games since being traded. He shouldn’t be owned in any leagues as he has become a shell of his former self due to injuries. Final Verdict: Correct
Player you should look to pick up:
Jerryd Bayless: Bayless is another inconsistent guard that can frustrate fantasy owners. However, he has shown flashes of brilliance, including a 31 point game in which he torched Detroit, also adding 7 assists and 5 rebounds. When given the opportunity, he has shown that he can be a very good player, and he is sure to continue getting minutes, even with Jose Calderon coming back from an injury. Final Verdict: Correct