Thursday, March 17, 2005

Arming Yourself For The Final Push, Part 2.

One way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your team over these last few weeks is to get guys who are playing a lot of games during that time span. So with that in mind, let’s look at which teams have a lot of basketball left, and which teams have their busiest days behind them. Keep in mind, the gap between the teams with the most games left and those with the fewest is only 4 games, but those 4 games CAN make a difference, plus I already did the math, and I’m not letting all that effort go to waste. Anyhow:

Teams with the most games remaining (20 games left): New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, Portland Trail Blazers.

Now here is a nice little treasure trove of fantasy possibilities. Cleveland, Chicago and Washington are all fighting for home court for the first round of the Eastern playoffs. Their starters should continue to see a ton of court time and be playing 100% all the way to the end of the season. Plus, injuries here and there – we’re already seeing them with Antawn Jamison – could lead to more crucial PT for the top reserves. In Cleveland, especially, look for the veterans like Robert Traylor to get more PT over youngsters like FBB fave Anderson Varejao as the push for the playoffs continue.

New York and Portland are totally different stories. Its always tough to figure out what’s going on in New York, and while we’d like to recommend Trevor Ariza or Mike Sweetney as the Knicks should be giving major minutes to their developing youngsters, it looks like they’re happy to continue to play their overpaid vets 40 minutes a night. This is likely a situation to avoid. Portland, meanwhile, could provide some underdog fantasy helpers with their remaining games. It looks like Sebastian Telfair should be valuable over the rest of the year, but he’s likely already taken. I’d keep a close watch on Travis Outlaw, though, who has been getting 20+ minutes fairly regularly of late, and could be a nice cheap source of steals and blocks.

Teams with the fewest games remaining (16 games left): Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves.

This actually could be good thing for owners of Shaq and KG. A light schedule for them over the last month means that they are less likely to miss games with injury. Sure, KG is a rock, but we all remember how his stats suffered as he played through a weak knee in February. Still only 1.5 games out of the playoffs, look for KG to explode to the finish line. Also watch for Troy Hudson to possibly pick up his game – he thrives in the playoffs, and probably is pushing to get to the postseason more than anyone.

The Heat, meanwhile, are in a unique position – they’ve already clinched a playoff spot. They’re already so far ahead of the pack in the East – 8.5 games up on 2nd place Detroit – that you have to worry about Shaq and Dwayne Wade possibly slowing down their PT. What that does mean, though, is some more shots for guys like Udonis Haslem and Damon Jones. Of course, those guys are already picked up in your league. But before you think about going after guys like Michael Doleac or Christian Laettner, remember – the lack of games their going to be playing seriously hurts what little value they might have. So you’re better off looking elsewhere.

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