Thursday, January 27, 2005

How'd That Guy Have Such a Good Game?

Well, you hit some and you miss some. A good time to own James Posey? Ha. Stromile Swift as productive as Pau Gasol? Ha. I did say that he needed to see the proper minutes. I’m telling you, it looks more and more like Memphis is going back to its dreaded rotation of fantasy doom. Anyway, there was a full slate of action last night, so I’m going to pick out one surprise performance in each game, and we’ll examine whether or not those players are going to be worth having on your team. Ready?

In Miami, Rasual Butler came through with 14 points, 7 boards, a three and a block. He was an early season sleeper favorite of mine because of he made 46% of his 3s last year and was in the starting lineup, but did very little in his 15 games as a starter, going for only 7.9/2.9/1.5 with just 1 3. It’s nice to see him contribute, and if Dwyane Wade finds himself on the injured list at some point – which is a distinct possibility – Butler might find his way into the starting lineup. Even then, Butler would be a borderline fantasy play, though.

As the Wizards surpassed last season’s win total in just the 41st game of the season, Willie Green took advantage of AI’s absence by going for a career-high 32 points, also chipping in 6 boards, 4 assists, 2 3s and a steal in 41 minutes. His performance was strong enough that he might be Philly’s focal point again if AI is out on Friday, and if you’re looking for a one-game fill-in, you could certainly do worse. Still, this is a guy who played a total of 14 minutes in the previous four games. In the event of an extended AI absence, he’d likely be an inconsistent option. AI missed the Jan. 7 game against the Wolves and Green got the start then and put up 13/2/2 with a steal and a 3. And when AI sat out on Nov. 21, Willie responded with a 1-for-14 shooting night.

In Cleveland, Mike Miller returned with a vengeance, going for a game-high 28 points including 5 3s. Whether he starts of comes off the bench, Miller will get his 3s, but we all know that Memphis can be frustrating. I’d like to point out the 45 minutes that Drew Gooden received last night. With Anderson Varejao out for at least a month, Gooden could see around 40 minutes nightly, which could lead to him being a top-30 player over that time span.

Not much to look at in the Boston/Indiana game. With Al Jefferson lost early in the game, Mark Blount still only saw 16 minutes (due to foul trouble), and it was Kendrick Perkins that saw 26 minutes. Six points, 5 boards and 2 blocks is nothing special, but it’s something. It will be interesting to see if Perkins continues to see 20+ minutes or if the Celtics go back to giving Mark Blount more time. As sorry as Blount’s been, if he can get back to at least 30 mpg, he’ll be marginally useful. In December he saw 30.8 mpg and put up 12.4/6.4/1.7 on 55% shooting.

It was an ugly one in Detroit with Earl Boykins and Ben Wallace the high scorers with just 14 points. Boykins has a big game once every few weeks and is pretty consistent – but just consistent enough that winning teams shouldn’t be depending on him. He just doesn’t contribute all that much.

Latrell Sprewell has likely been on and off the waiver wire in your league for a while now. He had a great five-game stretch in the middle of the month, but then scored 5 points or less in 4 of his next 5 games. His 32-point outburst last night might tempt you, but unless he keeps hitting 5 3s a game, he won’t help you much. No steals, rebounds, assists, blocks, hasn’t shot above 44% since 1996 … don’t fall for it.

How about Mike James chucking up 17 shots in just 21 minutes in the Bucks loss to the Suns? Both he and Mo Williams had nice games – which is possible against the Suns – as they split 48 minutes, but James is just dying for an opportunity to get big minutes. 15/6/5 with 3 3s and a steal in just those 21 minutes last night. As I’ve said plenty of times before, I’d love to see him get his shot.

Dan Dickau is certainly making the most of his opportunity and with the news that Baron Davis is out at least another week, he should be snagged in all leagues, especially after his 23-point, 10-assist, 3-3s performance. The games won’t all be that great, but in 9 games as a starter he’s at 15.7/3.3/5.9 with 1.3 steals and 1.4 3s. He’s even got his FG% up to 42%. With Baron always a question mark, he could be quite valuable in the second half.

Raul Lopez was certainly last night’s breakout performer, going for 20/5/11 with 3 steals and 2 3s on great shooting from the field and the line. Feel free to pick him up and to expect good things for the next few weeks while Keith McLeod is out, but remember how frustrating Jerry Sloan can be. One defensive lapse and Lopez could be splitting time with Howard Eisley. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, because it would be nice to see what Lopez can do.

With Josh Howard sitting out with back spasms, Jerry Stackhouse got the start and responded with 20/6/4 and 2 steals in 38 minutes. Stackhouse is a sure thing to put up those type of numbers when starting, but the Mavs obviously like him coming off the bench, and unless Howard makes a trip to the IL, forget about Jerry and his empty points.

Holy redhead! With Jason Collins nursing a strained hamstring, Brian Scalabrine went off for 29/10/2 with a steal and a block in 40 minutes. If Collins misses some time, Scalabrine could be intriguing, but probably not. That 12-of-17 shooting was certainly not expected from the career 39% shooter, and he’s never shown signs of being able to contribute much in 3s, steals or blocks.

Jumaine Jones’s line wasn’t too great – 11/7/0 – but he did add 3 3s, 2 steals and a block. And most importantly, he saw 43 minutes of action, most on the team. Lamar Odom was in foul trouble all night, so that was a factor, but in five starts this season Jones has averaged 40.6 minutes. His lack of steals is disturbing, but he gets good boards and great 3s for a SF, and should be a decent utility option until Kobe gets back.


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