Thursday, March 03, 2005

DM loves blogger!

As my FBB cohort said yesterday, he thinks it’s too early to start focusing on specific categories. I, on the other hand, disagree. With just over a month left, it is going to be hard to make up ground in the standings, and you have to identify those places where you can. Most lineups will be full every day, as teams will be racing to use the games that they have accumulated do to injury or other circumstances. This is going to make it even tough to gain ground, and almost impossible in the three big categories of points, rebounds and assists. Nothing’s out of the question, and if there’s a team using both utility spots on point guards, then yeah, they might be able to make up some ground in assists, but unless you are within 50 assists, 100 rebounds or 200 points, you are probably going to stay put.

So what to do? You’re trading deadline has probably passed, so you’re stuck with what you can find on the waiver wires. But that’s not all bad. Here are some guys that might be able to help you in those specialty categories.

Stromile Swift was quite possibly dropped as he’s missed the past 4 games with a sprained ankle and it sounded like he was going to be out a lot longer. While they are saying that he’s now day-to-day, we all know what that means. Still, he’ll be back way before Pau Gasol is, and even though Brian Cardinal has been playing some inspired ball in his absence, Swift should work his way back into the starting lineup eventually. Cardinal has earned some his PT, but Swift is a more natural big and should see his minutes when capable. Don’t forget his numbers in his last 11 games, all starts: 15.1/5.5/1.1 with a very nice 1.3 steals and 1.9 blocks. Those steals and blocks – especially getting those steals from a “big” spot – are enough to make a difference of possibly a point or two. If he’s sitting out there and you afford to have him sit on your bench for another week or maybe even two, his upside is worth the risk.

Brendan Haywood was a pleasant early season surprise, but his November numbers were by far his best of the year. Once Etan Thomas came back, Brendan’s play suffered, as he averaged 30.7 minutes in November, but then 26.6, 25.9 and 25.1 in the three months since then. But with the Wizards hit with a new set of injuries to Jared Jeffries and Jarvis Hayes, that’s leaving Antawn Jamison to play most of his minutes at the SF spot and giving Haywood a chance to re-establish himself, which is exactly what he’s done. In his last three games, Haywood has seen 31.3 minutes and has gone for 12.7/7.7/1.0 with 2.0 steals and 1.3 blocks. It’s those steals that stand out. In fact, Haywood is averaging 1.8 steals in his last 6 games. It could be a fluke, but Haywood is starting to earn Eddie Jordan’s trust in the fourth quarter, especially after he hit two huge free throws and a fadeaway jumper of Yao Ming down the stretch last night. He’s definitely someone to take a look at if he’s out there.

Get ready for a blast from the past … Anfernee Hardaway. I’ve made frequent mention about the Knicks backcourt situation and the good things it means for Stephon Marbury and Jamal Crawford. But that means Penny is seeing minutes, too. In fact, he saw 29.1 in February, which isn’t too shabby. He’s not going to do too much for you, but he can get some steals. He has 6 in the last two games and averaged 1.2 last month. Not a huge number, but if you’re fighting in that category down the stretch – and in my league 8 steals is the difference between 6 points and 9 points – you can use every advantage possible.

Jumaine Jones flirted with fantasy relevance when Kobe Bryant was out, but never really got going. Since Kobe came back he’s been over 30 minutes only twice and has been under 20 minutes four times. But he is out there for just one purpose now, and that’s to fire up 3s. Since Kobe’s come back, Jones has taken 50 shots. 31 of them have been 3s. So even though he’s seeing barely 20 mpg, he’s still launching close to 4 3pg, and making 1.5. That might be of use to someone. Think of him as this year’s version of Walter McCarty. Of course, you could just go for the real thing. Since coming over from Boston, Waltah has taken just 23 shots in 7 games. But all except 6 of them were 3s. Still, that’s just 2.4 attempts per game, far less than Jones.


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