Monday, November 29, 2004

The Quick Fix? Or the Long Termer?

When looking at the waiver wire, there are usually two ways to go. You can go for the player who just put up great numbers earlier in the night, and hope that he can continue his strong play. Often times this will be a player filling in for an injured teammate (Antonio McDyess and Darrell Armstrong come to mind) and they will certainly give you a nice shot in the arm. In the five games McDyess has started with Ben Wallace out, he has averaged a very hand 12.2 ppg, 10 rpg, 1 bpg on 49% shooting. For teams in need of a warm body, that’s quite a welcome sight. But then there are teams that drafted well and haven’t been hit by injuries. Those teams can afford to take more chances with the players they pick up. They aren’t looking to catch lightning in a bottle, but are looking instead for an underachiever with little value at the time, but has a good chance of having considerable value down the road. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some Quick Fixes and some Long Termers.

Quick Fixes

Lee Nailon
Things just can’t get any worse for the Hornets. They lost Jamal Mashburn before the season started, lost Baron Davis just a couple of weeks in, and now they will be without their last remaining legitimate NBA starter, as Jamaal Magloire looks to be out for up to a month after breaking a finger. Who would have thought that the expansion team playing in Charlotte right now would be better than the team that recently left? But where there’s injury, there’s opportunity in fantasy land. Even the most pitiful of teams will score at least 80 points a night – the Nets have proven this in the early going. Darrell Armstrong and David Wesley will continue to do the bulk of the shooting and scoring and P.J. Brown may yet salvage some value. But Lee Nailon will get his chance as well. An afterthought signing, Nailon has always been a capable scorer throughout his career as his 7.5 ppg in just 16.8 mpg proves. This hasn’t kept him from being on five teams in the last three years, though, and now he’s back to the organization, if not the city, where he started. Before Sunday’s horrific 1-for-14 performance, Nailon had an impressive string of four games where he averaged 19.3 points, 6 boards and 1.8 assists. He won’t help much in the hustle categories or in 3s, but he is a career 47% shooter from the field and 78% from the line. Until Baron returns, except him to see big minutes and be one of the top scoring options. If you’re looking for a warm body, he’s pretty warm.

Kelvin Cato
Yes, really, Kelvin Cato. It’s for one reason and one reason only, and we all know what that is. After blocking at least three shots in the first four games of the season, Cato missed the next three games, but has returned to the starting lineup since then and is averaging a pretty healthy 28.6 mpg. You know you’re not getting any scoring from him, so he needs to be an asset in blocks and rebounds. To his credit, he’s averaging 7.4 boards and 2.4 blocks in those five games. As a bonus, he’s even snagged 7 steals in the last 3 contests. He’s still going to hurt more than he helps, but if you are in a bind for a center – which is often the case – he’s not a bad stop-gap.

Hedo Turkoglu
Let’s stick with the Magic. Hedo has never been one of my favorites; I never found a reason to like a guy who was supposedly a scorer but came into the season a career 41% shooter. He has certainly taken a liking to Orlando, though. When Cuttino Mobley went down, it was DeShawn Stevenson that stepped into his starting role, but it’s been Turkoglu that has been reaping the benefits. Mobley doesn’t appear to be improving and may be heading to the IL, meaning Turkoglu should keep his modest value for the time being. And it is just modest – despite his strong play, he still checks in only at #91 on the 15-day player rater. Still, that’s the equivalent of an 8th round pick in 12-team leagues, so there’s value there, especially for teams in need of 3s. The Magic backcourt remains crowded and Mobley will get his time when he comes back, but you might be able to squeeze another productive week or two out of Hedo.

Long Termers

Mike Dunleavy
The former Duke star and #3 overall pick is finding himself kicked to the curb quite a bit these days. It’s hard to blame owners, as he has still yet to fulfill his promise, and he endured a brutal three-game stretch recently where he averaged 3.3 points, 2.3 boards and 1.7 assists on 27% shooting. Still, there’s a reason for optimism. It seems like we say it about the Warriors every year, but soon they will realize they have no chance at anything this year and will want to see what Dunleavy can do. He offers that intriguing combination of long-range ability, passing savvy and size. His numbers last year – 11.7/5.9/2.9 with 1.3 3pg on 45% shooting – were not bad at all for a second year player. If he continues to show the improvement he did this year, he could end up being Keith Van Horn with a few more assists. A dozen games is too early to give up on him. His 20 point, 4 rebound, 3 assist, 2 block performance Sunday was reason enough for encouragement.

Nene Hilario
I’ll still use a last name when talking about him. He’s been another early-season disappointment, as he played 18 minutes in the season opener then missed the next 8 games and killed owners by not going on the IL. He has since returned, but hasn’t done much, as he is clearly still finding his legs. He has shot 4-for-19 in his four games and has averaged a meager 5 points and 2.3 boards. But it should be noted that the Nuggets had been struggling but have won 3 of the 4 games since he’s been back. And it should always be noted that if he is indeed healthy, the only thing keeping him from a starting job is Marcus Camby staying healthy. Camby did that last year, but has already missed two games this year, and it’s just a matter of time. As a center, Hilario doesn’t get as many blocks as you’d like, but he gets plenty of steals – he averaged 1.5 in just 30 mpg over his career. He’s also a career 52% shooter. He was probably being counted on to start for teams that have dumped him. If you’ve managed so far at center, he would be a fine person to stash away and reap the rewards later.

Samuel Dalembert
To tell you the truth, it’s hard for me to put him on here, as he has really shown less than nothing this year. But he’s a favorite, so I’ll make an exception. Marc Jackson has exceeded all expectations as the 76ers starter so far, and has done absolutely nothing to deserve to lose his starting spot. Besides AI, he’s been their most consistent scoring threat. Still, you have to think that Dalembert will make some noise before too long. One only needs to look at his performance against the Wizards on Friday to see why. In 23 minutes, the Haitian sensation scored 13 points, grabbed 6 boards and had 2 blocks and a steal. Of course, the next night he played only three minutes with an empty box score except for three fouls. He should absolutely not be in any starting lineups right now, which goes without saying. But if you remember his April of last year, where he averaged 12 and 12 with around 4 blocks, you know that the kid can play. Talent at center is always hard to find. If Dalembert is out there, you’re a believer and you have the space, take the chance.

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