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Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining, or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 game every now and then - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time, rotation role, or performance.
Bradley Beal, G, WAS – A wrist injury in mid-January derailed a solid stretch for Beal, who was starting to solidify himself as one of the top rookies in his class. Now over that wrist problem, Beal has quickly gotten back on track. The 19-year-old rookie has averaged 21.0 points and 2.3 threes over his past three games. He was re-inserted into the Wizards starting lineup Tuesday and should hold on to the gig for the remainder of the year. Beal might not help out much outside of the scoring and three-point categories, but he'll be strong enough in those to areas to warrant a roster spot in most formats.
Andrew Bogut, C, GS – While Bogut laid an egg Tuesday night against the Jazz – zero points and five rebounds in 15 minutes – his value is still on the rise due to his minutes restrictions being lifted for the second half of the season. He'll also now be able to play in both games of back-to-back sets, so owners shouldn't have to worry about juggling him in and out of the lineup as much. His current season-to-date averages of 7.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks probably don't inspire much confidence, but that production equates to per-36 averages of 11.7 rebounds, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks, which would put Bogut right near the value he held before suffering a season-ending injury last year. His injury history remains a concern, but Bogut is a solid buy-low target before the Warriors really decide to uncap his playing time and start running him out there 30 mpg.
Byron Mullens, F/C, CHA – Mullens put together another strong outing Tuesday night, finishing with 20 points and 12 rebounds in a win over the Magic. Tuesday marked his third double-double in five games since rejoining the starting lineup. Over that five-game stretch, Mullens has averaged 20.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.6 threes in 39 mpg. Despite his strong play of late, Mullens is sitting on the waiver wire in 42 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He should be universally owned at this point.
Jose Calderon, G, DET – Since joining the Pistons, Calderon has posted some of the strongest numbers of his career. He's averaging 14.3 points, 7.0 assists, 2.6 threes, and 1.6 steals in 32 mpg through his first seven games in Motown. His scoring, three-point shooting and steal averages as a Piston would all mark career-highs, so some drop off should be expected, but it's not unreasonable to believe Calderon continues to play at a high level now that he's been handed an unquestioned role as a team's floor general. The Pistons are keen to signing Calderon long term after the season, so look for the team to continue handing him boat loads of minutes and responsibility.
Chauncey Billups, G, LAC – Billups returned from a two-month absence just before the All-Star break. He averaged 13.8 points while nailing three treys per game in his first four games back despite playing just under 19 minutes per night. Mr. Big Shot is more of a spot-up three-point shooter than a distributor nowadays, so don't expect production like we've seen from him in past seasons, but he could be a valuable asset with the three-pointers in deeper formats.
Jason Thompson, F, SAC – Thompson's production has been up-and-down for most of the season, but he's started to post more consistent numbers in February. Over the past six games, Thompson has averaged 16.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 35 mpg. His playing time will be key going forward, as Thompson averaged under 25 mpg in January. If he continues to see 30-35 minutes on a nightly basis, Thompson has the skills to average close to a double-double with modest defensive production.
Nicolas Batum, F, POR – Batum continues to be bothered by a right wrist injury he suffered in mid-January. Since suffering the injury, Batum has shot just 40.1 percent from the floor, while averaging 10.9 points over a 15-game stretch. His overall contributions have still been fantastic, but the shooting woes could continue as long as he continues to play through the pain.
Wesley Matthews, G, POR – Matthews missed Tuesday's game against the Suns with a sore left elbow and high ankle sprain. He suffered the injuries before the All-Star break, but the extra time off wasn't enough to get him back at full strength. His status going forward is "unclear," so make sure to move him to your bench until more details surface.
Andrew Bynum, C, PHI – Bynum (knee) said he'll "definitely be back" this season on Tuesday, but he also admitted to being at least a week or two away from returning to full practices. Once he is able to practice fully, Bynum will need some time to shake off the rust and get into game shape. No official timetable has been released, but we could be looking at mid-March as a best-case scenario for seeing Bynum suit up for a game.
Thaddeus Young, F, PHI – When Young went down with a hamstring injury in early February, he was originally expected to miss approximately three weeks. We're just over two weeks out from his injury, and it appears Young is close to a return. He took part in half-court shooting drills during Monday's practice, giving him an chance to return Sunday against the Knicks. Now would be a good time to scoop up Young if an impatient owner dumped him.
Eric Gordon, G, NOH – While Gordon has been able to stay relatively healthy since making his season debut on Dec. 29, he still hasn't made as big of an impact as expected for fantasy owners. Gordon's production has been hit-or-miss since his return, posting 20 points one night and failing to crack double-digits the next. His shooting has dropped to a career-worst 40.3 percent from the floor; his rebounding and assist contributions have been extremely minimal; and he's also turning the ball over (2.9 TOs) more than ever. The Hornets continue to hold Gordon on strict restrictions, which includes sitting out the backend of back-to-back games. Odds are we won't see Gordon at his best until next season.
Nate Robinson, G, CHI – Robinson was moved back to a reserve role Tuesday night when Kirk Hinrich returned from a seven-game absence. As a starter, Robinson has posted averages of 13.7 points, 7.1 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.9 treys in 12 games. His averages dip to 11.4 points, 3.3 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.4 treys in 41 games off the bench. He's still an explosive enough scorer to post the occasional monster game, but Robinson's production will be too inconsistent to use him in most standard formats now that he's back in a reserve role.
Andrea Bargnani, F/C, TOR – Since returning from an elbow injury on Feb. 6, Bargnani has averaged just 8.4 points two rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 0.4 blocks in under 22 mpg. He has taken a backseat to new teammate Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan, pushing him to the third scoring option on the team, at best. Bargnani still held plenty of value when he had the freedom to chuck up 15-20 shots per game, but he doesn't post strong enough contributions in the rebounding and defensive categories to warrant as much fantasy consideration now that his role in the offense has dwindled.
Samuel Dalembert, C, MIL – The return of Larry Sanders has pushed Dalembert back to a reserve role. In his first game back as a reserve, Dalembert managed just three points and three rebounds in 11 minutes of run. Dalembert had averaged 16.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, and 1.4 steals in his previous five games, but he won't see enough run as a reserve to come close to that production now that Sanders is back in action. Barring another Sanders injury or a trade, Dalembert will have a tough time re-establishing his fantasy value this season.
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