NBA Skinny: Return of the King

Matt Buser
Yahoo! SportsDecember 11, 2007

Since Dennis Green is attempting to trademark his celebrated outburst, we all need to use the phrase, "They are who we thought they were," as many times as possible while it's still free. We're just about at that point in the fantasy hoops season where we can start making those kinds of claims, too, so it only seems fitting. Shawn Marion and Kevin Garnett? They are who we thought they were. Chris Kaman and Ronnie Brewer? They have been a bit surprising. Marcus Camby and Chauncey Billups? They are who we thought they were. Andrei Kirilenko and Mike Dunleavy? They've been turning a few heads. Carmelo Anthony and Mike Miller? They are who we thought they were. Pau Gasol and Hedo Turkoglu? Not so much. That was fun, but let's get to some more useful information …

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Jamaal Tinsley once again found himself involved in a fracas outside of a club in the wee hours of the morning – after leaving an Indianapolis club early Sunday morning in three of his cars, he and his entourage were followed and fired upon with an assault rifle. Tinsley was not hurt and will not be disciplined by the Pacers for what was the third off-the-court incident in the past 15 months – he was also present when then-teammate Stephen Jackson fired a gun into the air outside of a club in October 2006, and he'll be in court on January 14 on felony and misdemeanor charges resulting from a bar fight in February 2007. Clearly, the most important thing in all of this is that no lives were lost in this latest unfortunate incident. Since we've got that out of the way, we can turn our focus to the one course of action that Tinsley's fantasy owners should be pursuing at this point, and that is to sell high.

You are either feeling lucky or good if you used one of your later picks on him this season (ADP of 130.9), as he's averaging what would be a career high in minutes (35), free-throw percentage (78 percent), assists (8.7), and steals (2.0) after 20 games. He's adapted nicely to the new Pacers offense and has helped carry the load while Jermaine O'Neal has struggled out of the gate. But given his dubious track record when it comes to health (he averaged 45 games played in three seasons from 2004-06) and his more recent penchant for questionable off-the-court decision-making, fantasy owners should not press their luck. He did play 72 games last season, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that he'll once again be healthy enough to play most of the season – his upcoming court date could make it a moot point, however, if he ends up facing disciplinary action. When you then factor in that he's shooting just 40 percent from the field and averaging a career-high 3.6 turnovers, it should make it a no-brainer that you want to sell those "sexy" stats sooner than later.

Other injury updates: After missing the past five games with a sprained left index finger, LeBron James is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer … Tim Duncan should be back in the lineup when the Spurs take the court on Tuesday, according to the San Antonio Express-News … Andrea Bargnani said he was "feeling good" after his first practice in over a week (Sunday), and hopes to play on Tuesday, pending approval from the team's medical staff … Randy Foye is scheduled to have his knee re-examined on Monday, and he expects to be cleared to play by team doctors. "I already know it will be better," said Foye.

Lineup changes/position battles: Andrew Bynum was back in the starting lineup on Sunday, replacing Chris Mihm after a two-game stretch. Bynum went for 20/11 and five blocks while Mihm was a DNP-Coach's decision … Shannon Brown averaged 16 points, 1.7 threes, and 1.3 steals in 32 minutes as a starter, but will go back to the bench with the return of LeBron James … Chris Quinn got the start at PG for the Heat on Sunday, scoring 13 points in 44 minutes subbing for the injured Jason WilliamsRasual Butler and Julian Wright started on Sunday for the Hornets, in place of the injured Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic. The players combined for 13 points on 6-of-18 shooting in 73 minutes … Sebastian Telfair and Marko Jaric made up the Timberwolves' starting backcourt in their 100-93 win over the Suns on Saturday – Rashad McCants has started just one of the past four games for the T-Wolves.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Beno Udrih (PG – Sacramento)
Udrih's percent-owned number is still a hair under 50 percent, so he's the best widely-available player going right now. His stats certainly aren't the reason for relatively low ownership – he's averaged 15.8 points on 48 percent shooting, 0.9 threes, 3.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.5 steals in 37 minutes over 11 games as a starter.

Travis Outlaw (F – Portland)
Outlaw is on a serious run right now. He's scored 20-plus points in four of the past six games, averaging 18.7 points on 48 percent shooting, 0.7 threes, 6.8 boards, and 1 block in 29 minutes over that span. You should seriously consider adding Outlaw to your roster on speculation, but be wary that that these mere "flashes" of brilliance are nothing new.

Marko Jaric (GF – Minnesota)
Jaric's most recent start came at SG, perhaps prepping him to play there once Randy Foye returns and plays PG, which should be soon. The deeper the league, the more sense it makes to pick up Jaric, as he's been as productive as almost anyone on the team recently and should continue to see consistent minutes. In his 12 starts, he's averaged 11.3 points on 52 percent shooting, 0.7 threes, 4.3 assists, and 1.4 steals in 30 minutes.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Chris Paul (PG – New Orleans) – Paul is now the top-ranked player in the Yahoo! game after a recent outburst of massive performances. Over the past six games, Paul has averaged 28.3 points on 51 percent shooting, 2 threes, 3.2 rebounds, 8.8 assists, and 2.8 steals in 42 minutes per game, while making 42 of 44 free throws (96 percent).

Rudy Gay (GF – Memphis) – Gay could be ready to make the quantum leap at the tender age of 21 years old. Over his past five games, he has averaged 23.2 points on 53 percent shooting, 1.8 threes, 7 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 42 minutes, and he's made 29 of his past 33 free throws (88 percent).

Josh Howard (GF – Dallas) – Clearly, Howard is ready for prime time. He scored a career-high 47 points on Saturday and has averaged 26.3 points on 51 percent shooting, 1.3 threes, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists over his past six games, while making 48 of 52 free throws (92 percent). Howard has been playing so well that Dirk Nowitzki has had no problem deferring to him. "With him playing the way he is, there's no need for us to be out there competing for shots," said Nowitzki.

Andre Miller (PG – Philadelphia) – Miller's slow start had a lot of fantasy owners worried, but he's been back to his old productive self in recent weeks. Over his past nine games, Miller has averaged 17 points on 52 percent shooting, 4.2 rebounds, 7.9 assists, and 1 steal.

Brad Miller (C – Sacramento) – While Miller's offense has been slow to come around this season, nearly all of his other numbers are on the uptick. Over the past six games, Miller has averaged 11.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks, while making 22 of 26 free throws (85 percent).

Boris Diaw (FC – Phoenix) – Diaw has found himself with fewer and fewer responsibilities in the Suns' rotation, and he's averaged 5 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2 assists in just 19 minutes over the past seven games.

Raymond Felton (G – Charlotte) – Felton has been in a real funk as of late – over the past eight games, he's averaged 11.6 points on 33 percent shooting, 0.5 threes, and 5.4 assists. Not surprisingly, the Bobcats have lost seven of those eight games.

Cuttino Mobley (SG – LA Clippers) – Mobley's production has suffered as he's been slowed by various injuries in recent weeks. Over the past seven games, he's averaged 9.1 points on 33 percent shooting and 0.9 threes in 30 minutes per game.

Martell Webster (GF – Portland) – Webster's production has waned while Travis Outlaw's has increased. Over the past eight games, Webster has averaged 8.8 points on 40 percent shooting in 31 minutes per game.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League Update
Team pianowski tightened his grip on first a bit more over the past week, and he currently has at least 11 roto points in FT%, 3PTM, PTS, REB, STL, and BLK. I've clawed my way up to second place, but losing Kevin Martin for the next month or so isn't going to help matters, particularly when you consider that my low point totals are in FG%, 3PTM, PTS, and STL. The week's transactions included Brevin Knight, Jared Dudley, Kenyon Martin, Craig Smith, Juan Carlos Navarro, Corey Brewer, and Antoine Walker, among others.