NBA Skinny: Sun up, Sun down

I’m going to continue a holiday tradition of my own and encourage you all to spend some time familiarizing (or re-familiarizing) yourself with the life (and not just the “legacy”) of Dr. Martin Luther King. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Can I really make a difference?” when it comes to your neighborhood, your nation, or beyond, then you need to look no further than the strength and sacrifices of Dr. King and many of his contemporaries to know that the answer is an emphatic, “Yes!”

Weekend Update: Need-to-know info from the past few days
The Suns shook up their starting lineup Monday, replacing Channing Frye(notes) and Jason Richardson(notes) with Robin Lopez(notes) and Leandro Barbosa(notes). The team had lost four of five games before the move and opponents had scored an average of 113 points over the past eight games. Alvin Gentry made the changes because Lopez can help on defense and in the hopes it will help Barbosa break out of a significant shooting slump. Keep in mind that Gentry also added that the Suns aren’t “locked into this by any stretch.” That makes sense when you consider that the Suns were down 34-20 at the end of the first quarter Monday, and eventually lost 125-118 to the Grizzlies. Let’s take a look at each of the involved parties:

Frye had averaged 5 points on 20-percent shooting in the four previous games and had three points in a season-low 14 minutes. Lopez was strong Monday (19 points, 8-of-10 FG, 7 boards, 3 blocks), has posted good numbers over the past three games (14.7 points, 68% FG, 5 boards, 4 blocks), and could certainly stick as the starter. Replacing Frye with Lopez in the starting five won’t limit the team’s offense – there is no shortage of three-point shooters here – but absolutely improves their post presence on both ends of the court. If you need big-man stats, Lopez is certainly worth a look, but be aware that some matchups will allow for more minutes than others. Frye’s owners need to take solace in the fact that Lopez isn’t likely to see more than 30 minutes most nights, so he should still see opportunities as a key reserve … Richardson (24 minutes, 8 points, 4-of-11 FG Monday) called the switch “mind-boggling,” and it’s interesting that Gentry talked about getting Barbosa out of a slump when J-Rich himself had averaged below-average numbers – 12.6 points on 41-percent shooting – in his previous 10 games (Barbosa went for 9.6 points on 35-percent shooting over the same stretch). Of the two moves, this one seems much less likely to stick, particularly with Gentry saying that the demotion had nothing to do with anything Richardson has done. The Suns’ upcoming games are Wednesday (NJN), Friday (CHI), and Saturday (GSW).

Brandon Roy’s(notes) hamstring kept him out of action for both of the Blazers’ weekend games. Interestingly enough, Roy was inactive on Monday because of what appears to be his choice of words – the team’s trainer held him out after he said he would “try” to play. Roy has already learned his lesson there, as he’s said there’s “no try” for Wednesday, but that he will definitely play. All parties recognize that he needs to be careful with more than his words when dealing with this nagging injury, however. Any further aggravation of the strain would mean weeks – not days – on the inactive list, so the cautious approach still makes the most sense here. Roy’s fantasy owners will likely need to track his game-to-game basis through the All-Star break and possibly beyond.

Kevin Love(notes) missed Monday’s game with what is now being called strep throat, the same illness that caused his teammate Ryan Hollins(notes) to miss a recent stretch of six straight games. Strep tends to affect everyone differently, so how long Love will be sidelined remains to be seen. Assume he’s very questionable in the short-term, with Ryan Gomes(notes) getting extra work in his absence.

Injury/Status Updates: Gerald Wallace(notes) (ankle) will be a game-time decision Wednesday … Kevin Garnett(notes) practiced Tuesday and remains on track to return to the active roster Friday … Both Joe Johnson(notes) (foot) and Josh Smith(notes) (Achilles) missed Tuesday’s practice, but both anticipate being in the lineup Wednesday … Tony Parker(notes) is wearing a special sock designed to help lessen the effects of plantar fasciitis, which is giving him constant pain these days … John Salmons(notes) is dealing with flu-like symptoms and we won’t know his status until Wednesday … Samuel Dalembert(notes) has traveled to his native Haiti to assist in relief efforts there but is expected to be back in time for Wednesday’s game … Richard Jefferson(notes) sat out Monday’s game with back spasms and is day-to-day.

For a complete injury wrap and a rundown of the best available players in your league, see the Week 13 Dashboard..

Market Movers: Charting player values
Randy Foye(notes) – In seven games since (re-)joining the Wizards’ starting five, Foye has averaged 18.6 points, 1 three, 91-percent foul shooting, 7.1 assists, 1.9 turnovers, and 1.6 steals-plus-blocks.

O.J. Mayo(notes) – Mayo’s numbers have been on the rise across the board while the Grizzlies have been piling up wins. Over the past 13 games, he’s averaged 20.7 points on 48-percent shooting, 2.5 threes, 4.2 boards, 3.8 assists, 2 turnovers, and 1.7 steals, and the team has gone 10-3 over that stretch.

Stephen Curry(notes) – Curry has improved as the season has progressed and is now squarely in the mix in the fantasy ROY race. Over his past 14 games, he’s averaged 15.9 points on 49-percent shooting, 2.2 threes, 89-percent foul shooting, 5 boards, 4.3 assists, 2.6 turnovers, and 1.7 steals.

Boris Diaw(notes) – Any positive signs here are reason for celebration, and Diaw has scored in double figures in four of the past six games, after having gone almost a month without reaching the threshold even once. Over those past six games, Diaw has averaged 13 points on 51-percent shooting, 1.4 threes, 6.3 boards, 4.9 assists, 1.9 turnovers, and 2.3 steals-plus-blocks.

Charlie Villanueva(notes) – Charlie V’s plantar fasciitis is feeling much better and it’s been evident in recent box scores. In seven January games, he’s averaged 15.6 points, 1.6 threes, 7.4 boards, and 1.4 steals-plus-blocks in 28 minutes.

Martell Webster(notes) – Webster has now scored in double figures in nine straight games, averaging 18.3 points on 49-percent shooting, 3.2 threes, 6 boards, 0.6 turnovers, and 1.4 steals-plus-blocks over that stretch.

Andris Biedrins(notes) – Biedrins is officially back, having averaged 8.3 points on 67-percent shooting, 12.3 boards, and 4.7 blocks in three games since returning to the starting lineup. In Monday’s win over the Bulls, he totaled nine points, 19 boards, and eight blocks with 39 minutes of playing time.

Jose Calderon(notes) – Maybe Calderon doesn’t need a starting gig (or starter’s minutes) to deliver a fantasy impact? Over the past three games, he’s averaged 16 points on 58-percent shooting, 2 threes, 6.3 assists, 1.3 turnovers, and 1.3 steals in 25 minutes.

Jason Thompson(notes) – Thompson’s offensive failings have far overshadowed any positives in his fantasy line in recent weeks. Over the past 12 games, he’s averaged 10.3 points on 37-percent shooting and 2.4 turnovers.

Chris Duhon(notes) – Here we go again. Over the past six games, Duhon has averaged 3 points on 19-percent shooting, 0.5 threes, 4.7 assists, 2.7 turnovers, and 0.3 steals in 29 minutes.

Vince Carter(notes) – Do you or does anyone you know expect VC to get and stay healthy and turn this thing around? Me neither. His per-game rank on the season is 88th, and that plummets to 153rd over the past month.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League Update
Things are getting more interesting by the week. We’ve now got three teams bunched at the top and nobody is going to run away with this any time soon. Only 11.5 overall points separate the current first-place team from seventh place, so a few key transactions here/there are going to make a difference. I’m hoping that the additions of Robin Lopez and Kris Humphries(notes) help my team’s rebounding woes, and I’m still exploring the trade market (I currently have an offer on the table for David West(notes)). Other recent transactions included Ronnie Brewer(notes), Carlos Delfino(notes), Erick Dampier(notes), Chuck Hayes(notes), and Francisco Garcia(notes) among others.

Matt Buser is a Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert. Follow him on Twitter. Send Matt a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Tuesday, Jan 19, 2010