Monday, February 14, 2005

Weekend Review

Can We Just Go Home Already?

Take my 8th playoff spot in the Western Conference – please! Even the return of Kobe Bryant didn’t help the Lakers yesterday against Cleveland, but they still hold the 8th spot for now. Directly behind them are the Timberwolves, who are determined to lose regardless of who’s coaching, and the Clippers, who’s starting center may or may not be about eight stories tall and a crustacean from the plethazoic era. Tied with the Clippers are the Nuggets, who may have lost a huge trading chip in Nene yesterday depending on the severity of his knee injury, and still within 5 games are the Trail Blazers, who are … well … the Trail Blazers.\

So why are we talking about this stupid "regular basketball" stuff? After all, this is a fantasy basketblog. Well, because how these teams are doing in the standings can have a pretty significant effect on how they handle their rosters and minutes. For example:

Minnesota - The further the Timberwolves fall from contention, the closer they are to trading Latrell Sprewell, whose expiring contract may have more value than his basketball skills right now. In a true ‘increase his trade value’ move, VP/new coach Kevin McHale featured Sprewell in yesterday’s loss to the Bulls, playing him 44 minutes, and having him lead the team in shots, with 25. Sprewell, remember, is also playing for a nice contract in the offseason. It didn’t hurt that Wally Szczerbiak was out with the flu, but nonetheless Sprewell could be a great short-term pickup against the Nets and Cavs this week.

Denver – Remember when the Nuggets had too many big men, and Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin and Nene all had to fight for playing time? Ah, those were the days. Of course, yesterday Camby didn’t play because, well, he’s Camby, and Nene hurt his knee bad enough that he’s going back to Denver in the midst of a 4-game road trip to have it "examined," which is never a good thing. So now, Kenyon Martin is the "featured" big man for the foreseeable future, and is a great buy right now. Unfortunately, Camby’s on again/off again status makes all the backup bigs – Elson, Tskitishvili, etc. – too risky to even consider picking up. The other thing that Nene’s injury does is pretty much put to rest the rumored Redd-for-Nene swap with the Bucks.

Portland – While it may look like things are going terribly in Portland, really, things couldn’t be going better. With Nick Van Exel looking at retirement after this year, he’s going to be great trade fodder at the deadline next week for a team looking for instant scoring off the bench (San Antonio? A return to the Lakers?). Meanwhile, Damon Stoudamire – a free agent after the season – is putting up his best numbers since he was a Toronto Raptor in the first few years of his career. Since becoming a starter again in mid-January, Stoudamire has gone off for 25 points, 6 assists, 4 boards, 4 3pt, and 1.2 steals. He might be playing for a new contract, but come March he may be playing for a new team, as well, as he hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the Portland staff. Should both of these guys be traded next week – which is, admittedly, unlikely – Sebastian Telfair should get a long look over the last third of the season, which should give him enough value to be worth starting on your fantasy team. If you’ve got an extra roster spot available, you may want to pick him up now before he becomes the hot pick-up.

Back With A Vengeance

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, Stephen Jackson has come back from his 25-game suspension and is playing extremely well right now. Over the last week, his 22 points, 2.5 3’s, 7.3 boards and 94% FT% has his owners thrilled. With a fading Reggie Miller, a constantly banged-up Jamaal Tinsley, and no Ron Artest, this might be a nice buy-fake-high opportunity for those of you in need of a swingman.


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