Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Depths

In an ideal fantasy basketball world, you would have your 10 best players, they would stay healthy, and you would keep them in the lineup all season. It might not be too much fun, but it would probably be best for your team. But that never happens, and as we approach the all-star break, all hell is breaking loose. Trust me, I know firsthand. I’ve got Ray Allen in the hospital with the flu, Baron Davis taking up his usual residence on the IL, Paul Gasol on the IL, Jamaal Tinsley constantly banged up and now Josh Smith banged up. It’s not pretty. That’s half of my ideal lineup. But you can’t give up. Don’t ever give up. There are ways to survive. Even if it means making multiple transactions each day, seeing your team name and your team name only on the recent transactions list (my scenario right now), and making everyone else in your league think, “Doesn’t he have anything better to do than worry about Trevor Ariza and Jumaine Jones?” Because there’s no shame in that. OK, maybe there’s a certain degree of shame in that, but we play to win, right? So even if you are rundown by injuries – and chances are you are suffering through at least a few – let’s take a look at the latest batch of players who might be able to provide some help.

Jamaal Tinsley is doubtful for tomorrow’s game, and will likely be listed as day-to-day after that. We’ve been through that before. Expect him to miss somewhere between a couple and a handful of games. Those are technical terms. Anthony Johnson will likely slide into the starting lineup, but there’s just not much to see here. In his three starts this year, where’s seen a very healthy 34 mpg, he’s putting up 9.0/3.3/4.7 with no 3s and less than a steal. Factor in his 35% shooting and here’s a rare instance of a PG getting significant who still shouldn’t be used. But that doesn’t mean the situation won’t benefit somebody. Mostly, it should benefit Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson, who will be looked to score even more. But Fred Jones might be worth sneaking into the lineup for a few games while Tinsley’s out. He’ll still be coming off the bench, and I rarely like to recommend non-starters, but desperate times and all that. Jones got 31 minutes last night, and despite taking only 4 shots, he contributed 12 points, 5 assists, 3 3s, 2 steals and 2 blocks, for a fantastic all-around game. It’s his ability to hit 3s that makes him a possibly decent plug-in, as the Pacers will probably look to have more scorers on the floor, since they have a big downgrade in that department from Tinsley to Johnson.

It seems that as my FBB cohort was in the process of creating his post this morning, he missed the word off the wires that Rodney “Big” Buford would be lost to the Nets for around a month. I don’t know what’s worse for the Nets – the fact that they lost Buford, or the fact that they will actually miss him. It’s hard to see anyone benefiting from this situation, but if Brian Scalabrine could stay healthy it could be him. He missed a month, came back and did nothing for three games, scored 13 then 29 points in his next two games, and promptly re-injured himself. Vince Carter and Jason Kidd are obviously fragile and having to depend on them so much could be detrimental long term. This is really a chance for Nenad Krstic to step up and become a solid third option for the team. He’s still plagued by foul trouble, but if he ever had an opportunity to get those numbers up to 15 and 10, this is it.

Since Herb Williams took over the Knicks, Trevor Ariza has been a fixture in the starting lineup, even coming back to start just two days after leaving a game with a sprained ankle. Gotta like that. His minutes have been inconsistent, fluctuating between 20 and 37, and his production has been terribly inconsistent, too. The one reason to like Ariza is that he finds himself in the top 20 in steals per 48 minutes. So if he could manage to find around 30 mpg, he could be of some use for teams trying to maintain their place in the standings while fighting through injuries. The Knicks are out west right now and have games coming up against Denver, Sacramento and Phoenix. Those could be some high scoring contests, so Ariza might be able to put up some numbers. Still, he’s not exactly my idea of an ideal contributor: a SF with low %s, no 3s and no blocks. If he’s not getting lots of steals, he’s not much of an asset.

Things keep deteriorating in Memphis, but the Grizzlies keep winning, making their way up to 6th place in the conference. They’re already without Pau Gasol and James Posey, and now Mike Miller and Bonzi Wells are banged up. Worse yet, you STILL have no idea who’s going to produce for them. Last night Lorenzen Wright racked up the most 42 minutes, the most on the team. I’m too lazy to look it up now, but that’s got to be the first time that’s happened all season. This, of course, came after he totaled 35 minutes in the previous two games. Last night Wright, Stromile Swift and Shane Battier all saw 35+ minutes which isn’t much of a surprise, but it was surprising that our of all the smaller players it was Earl Watson who saw the most time, albeit only 27 minutes. If Fratello really does play him and Jason Williams together during games, Watson could have a couple of decent games if Miller and Wells are to miss time. Remember that Watson trails only Steve Nash in assists per 48, and is 22nd in the league in steals per 48. He’s a FBB favorite for a reason. Again – and this goes for everybody mentioned in this post – I’m not saying these guys are going to be world-beaters or even worth using over the next week. But when half of your team goes down, you have to start getting creative.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes injuries have killed my team,

hughes, jaric, jackson(NA), Van horn, Cassell.
Sam mitchell won't play the 2nd best player on his team.


5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, I feel your pain.

First, I lose Jefferson for the year; then Hughes for 4-6 weeks. Okay, I figure I'm still loaded for bear with Lebron, Maggette, Tinsley, and Josh Smith in my lineup. Well, you know how that came out. Like you, I'm now trying to come up with creative ways to slow my freefall in the standings. Thinking of dropping Josh Smith and picking up Marquis Daniels (whose available in my league) now that his ankle thing is apparently behind him...

8:19 PM  

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