Friday, January 07, 2005

Weekend Preview

Ruben Sandwich

Pretty clever title, right? Anyhow, the real reason I’m writing about Ruben Patterson isn’t because I could go for a nice deli sandwich right now (though it couldn’t hurt), it’s more because the 2 guys taking minutes away from him, Darius Miles and Shareef Abdur-Rahim, are hurt. Miles is out for at least 2 weeks with a knee injury. Abdur-Rahim is playing, but may opt for surgery to remove "loose bodies" from his bothersome elbow, whatever that means. Either way, Patterson is in line for a nice uptick in minutes and the Blazers play twice this weekend, tonight at home against Miami and then on Sunday in New York to start off a 6-game, 10-day road swing. The grueling schedule could be enough to convince Abdur-Rahim to take some time off to rest his elbow.

So that clears the way for Patterson, who is one of coach Maurice Cheeks’ favorite players. Remember, Cheeks said that Patterson should be getting more playing time but that he had to play Miles and Shareef earlier in the year due to pressure from upper management. Patterson, if he gets minutes, can be a very valuable player. His steals alone make him worthy of a roster spot, as he grabs 3.18 steals per 48 minutes, good for 4th best in the league and 1st overall among forwards. Patterson is a career 50% shooter as well, and can put up double-digit points if given the minutes (he put up 18 points in 28 minutes on New Year’s Day). If you’ve got a spot on your bench, it might not be a bad idea to grab him before the weekend. If you’re a little more hamstrung by your roster, wait and see what happens this weekend with Abdur-Rahim.

Not-So-Golden Nuggets

It’s been about a week since Jeff Bzdelik (whose name had zero chance of making it through my spell-checker) was dumped by the Nuggets in favor of interim coach Michael Cooper, and things are still up in the thin air regarding who Cooper likes on the court. There have been some rumblings that due to a crowded big-man situation, the Nuggets might have a lineup of Marcus Camby, Nene, Kenyon Martin, Carmelo Anthony and Andre Miller on the floor at some points during upcoming games. Of course, that all depends on if Camby and Martin are able to stay healthy, which hasn’t seemed to be working out too well so far.
Regardless, it looks like Cooper is trying to figure out a way to get Nene on the floor more often. Due to the injuries to Camby and Martin, Nene has been on the floor over 35 mpg during each of the last 4 contests, and has averaged 17.8 points, 11.3 boards, 1.3 blocks and .8 steals while shooting 58% from the field. Talk about showing off for the new boss. Although they’re not winning any more games with Cooper on the bench so far (they’re 1-2 since the change, including a loss to the Clippers on Monday night), Nene has been a bright spot for them and could be a bright spot for your team as we head into the long haul.

Game Of The Week(end)

Indiana Pacers at Dallas Mavericks, Sat. Jan 8th, 8pm EST.
When we last saw our hero Dirk Nowitzki, he was unquestionably the best center in fantasy basketball, assuming he qualifies at center in your league. Well, nothings changed, and just because we don’t mention him much doesn’t mean he’s not a top-3 pick in every draft. However, Dirk isn’t going to be getting all our attention in tonight’s game. Remember, the Mavs managed to realize Jason Terry is actually a pretty good basketball player, so it’ll be important to see if they continue to give him the minutes he needs to thrive on your roster.

On the other side of the ball, Jermaine O’Neal has wasted no time returning to form. Since having his suspension shortened, O’Neal has averaged 29.8 points, 10.3 boards, and 2 blocks per game. Obviously his 55-point effort the other night helped those numbers, but still. Also keep an eye on Jeff Foster, who has quickly become a fantasy basketblog favorite with his knack for double-doubles even with the return of O’Neal. He was likely undervalued earlier in the year because people thought he’d lose major minutes once O’Neal returned, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

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