Thursday, February 17, 2005

Lots of Action

It’s not often that we spend a whole column here going over the events of the day before, but yesterday was so jam-packed with issues both on and off the court that we’re gonna buck that trend and just go over all the fun news from yesterday. Ready? OK!

- Kirk Hinrich’s severely sprained right hand means that sorta-borderline Ben Gordon becomes a healthy risk to put in your starting lineup, assuming Hinrich is going to miss any sort of serious time. Also, as much as we hate to admit it, Chris Duhon could be worth your while as well, but he doesn’t have the value that Gordon could/should.

- Hinrich isn’t the only point guard going down with injury. Shaun "Dr." Livingston is out for a month with torn cartilage in the shoulder. That, combined with Marko Jaric’s injury troubles, means Rick Brunson becomes a hot pickup. Is anyone more proof of our "minutes are really the only thing that counts" pledge than Brunson? A journeyman 32-year-old point guard on his 7th team in 7 years, undrafted, never scored more than 4.3 ppg in his career. But when he gets 30+ mpg he helps you in 3’s, steals, and assists and is valuable enough to start in just about every league.

- One guy who certainly isn’t getting any minutes these days is Baron Davis. As much as we want to believe that these NBA players are giving their all, Baron is missing a ton of time with pretty minor injuries and is now not even with the team, instead "rehabbing" in his hometown of LA. Baron doesn’t want to be in New Orleans, and I’m not sure he’ll play much – if at all – after the break, unless he’s trying to increase his trade value. There’s nothing more frustrating than this, for a fantasy player sure, but what about the team that’s paying him TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS this year. Unbelievable.

- OK, enough of the whiners. How about an old school, "give it all you’ve got" guy – Reggie Miller, who just absolutely exploded last night. 36 points, 4 3’s, 12-12 from the line … and zero boards and 1 assist. Ah, Reggie. It’s his last year, and if he led this team to a playoff birth, you’d have to give him all the credit in the world. He’s a guy that is going to be super-motivated over the last third of the season.

- How about these three-game averages for Joel Przybilla: 17 points, 15 boards, 4.8 blocks. Are you kidding me? That’s absolutely ridiculous. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t rush out to pick him up. His output is based mostly on the fact that Zach Randolph and Shareef Abdur-Rahim are missing time with injury, and Theo Ratliff is afraid of the basketball. Eventually at least one or two of these guys will return, and Joel’s value will plummet. If you’ve got an extra roster spot, go for it, but if not, don’t drop anyone of value.

- Remember that glut of point guards in Utah? Carlos Arroyo, Raul Lopez, Howard Eisley, and then out of nowhere, Keith McLeod? Well now, there’s just one man left standing – literally. Lopez is set to have an MRI on his knee, McLeod has been out a couple of weeks with a bad hammy, and Arroyo is in Detroit. That leaves Howard Eisley as the one remaining point guard in Utah. Look for as much as 12/8 with 2 threes from Eisley if he gets good minutes, but you can probably wait to hear a status report on McLeod and Lopez before picking him up.

- Finally, one of my favorite players from this year’s draft, JR Smith, has emerged as quite the scorer. Over his last 5 games, JR is averaging 19.4 ppg with a 3, a steal, and 4 assists on 49% shooting. He will certainly be streaky-at-best over the last third of the season but he’ll definitely be someone to keep your eye on for next year.

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