Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Opportunity Knocks

Sometimes you just don’t see it coming. Sure, we knew that Yao Ming was having some toe troubles, but he was well-rested for the first time in his career, he’d never missed significant time, and we all thought he’d just get over it. Well, sometimes everyone’s wrong. Yao should be out at least two weeks – though a month might be more accurate – and his absence means there are some points and rebounds to go around in Houston.

Meanwhile, in Charlotte, Emeka Okafor went down last night with a slightly less definitive injury. All reports are that it wasn’t pretty and he should be out for at least a little while.

Upon first glance, there isn’t much of a connection between these two injuries, but the fact is that each opens up playing time for a sleeping giant – maybe. Both of the guys we are going to talk about in this column are serious FBB Favorites – with center eligibility, no less. Without further ado:

Stromile Swift, Hou
Stro has been begging for an opportunity (in fantasy circles, at least) since his sophomore season in the NBA. At one point in Memphis, starting center Lorenzen Wright was out for a few games, Swift stepped in, and was a fantasy stud. Then Wright returned, Swift returned to his 20 mpg, and was never really heard from again. Until this year, when he left as a free agent and headed to Houston to play alongside Yao and T-Mac – at least that’s what we thought. Really, though, he headed to Houston to sit on the bench behind Juwan Howard, and still only get 20 minutes per game.

Well, not any more! With Yao and Dikembe Mutombo out, Swift has been handed the starting job again, and if he’s on your waiver wire, don’t finish reading this column – go pick him up right now, and then come back. He might be slumping a bit statistically this year, but the per-40-minute numbers don’t lie: 16.4/7.8 with 1.7 blocks, 1.3 steals, and decent percentages. And those are DOWN from his typical output. He’s a top-15 center if he gets 35-40 mpg, and those don’t show up on the waiver wire too often.

Granted, this isn’t a long-term play. When Mutombo returns, which should be in a couple of games, Swift will have to scrap again for his minutes, which he’s proven is a big problem. Also, if he fails to get at least 30-some mpg with Lonny Baxter as his only competition, we’ll have to reassess. But for now, we’re still suckers for Stromile.

Melvin Ely, Cha
When we game-blogged a Bobcats/Nets game last month, one of the players that impressed us the most was Ely, who despite being a lottery pick for the Clippers in 2002 has been unable to find consistent minutes in the NBA. This one isn’t as much of a slam dunk as Swift, but again, the numbers don’t like. Ely’s per-40-minute numbers: 17.5/9.7 with 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks. Granted his FT% is horrendous, but he’s a center, so that’s not too scary.

This one, though, has a couple of factors to it that makes it a little tougher to handle. One, we don’t know the severity of Okafor’s injury. He could be out a couple days, a couple weeks, or more. Two, there are a couple of other big men who could be taking time rather than Ely: Primoz Brezec and Sean May. And three, Ely himself is out at least one more game with the flu. So this is more of a one-to-watch than a one-to-act-on for the time being. Still, if Okafor is out long (and we should know more later today), Ely should be worth a spot on your bench if you can afford it.


Anonymous bublitchki said...

How about Kevin Martin in Sacto?

Don't know much about him, but it looks like he'll be the guy for awhile as Bonzi rehabs from his injury.

3:41 PM  
Blogger DM said...

If I was sure it was going to be Kevin Martin, I'd say go ahead and grab him. But when Peja was hurt earlier this year it was Francisco Garcia that got the starts. He was the first one to replace Bonzi last night but he got two quick fouls and Martin came in and caught fire so Adelman stuck with him.

Adelman loves to ride his starters, so whoever gets the call should be at least a decent pick up.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous CN said...

Trade question: Do I give up Kirilienko for Webber and Boris Diaw? I'm seriously tempted. Webber and Andre cancel out each other in the injury dept., with Webber showing more durability this year. Diaw has been steady since he won his role with the Suns. Webber has averaged 4 more fantasy points per game in our format than Andre. But can someone speak to AK47's potential this year? The guy puts up incredible stat lines, almost posting a triple double last week with BLOCKS! But, Kirilienko's out again with a back problem tonight. Pull the trigger right now while I can with the brittle Russian? Help me out...

7:39 PM  

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