While it lacks some of the drama its Major League Baseball counterpart brings to the table, the NBA trade deadline will no doubt inject a little excitement into fantasy leagues in the coming weeks. Will Donyell Marshall have a new address – and perhaps a starting role – by the end of February? Is Baron Davis staying or going? What about Cliff Robinson? Thankfully, there isn't a NBA equivalent to AL and NL-only leagues, so you don't have to sweat a guy getting traded out of conference. Still, Marshall gets a huge bump in value if he starts. Dan Dickau stands to benefit if Davis is shipped. There is a lot to keep an eye on. Oh, and they're still playing games every night. On to the action:
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- Phoenix used a familiar formula to run past New Jersey Sunday. It's a formula Coach Mike D'Antoni would like to throw away and never use again. All five Suns starters played at least 40 minutes in the 113-105 win against the Nets. Total bench production: 34 minutes played and five points. Seventeen of those minutes were contributed by the guy D'Antoni hopes will help lighten the load on his weary starting unit – Jim Jackson. His production Sunday was minimal – he scored two points and missed both his 3-point attempts – but fantasy owners who endured his recent holdout have to be thrilled about his new address.
Phoenix leads the NBA in scoring despite the fact that not a single reserve averages more than 5.6 points per game. A Cub Scout with two sticks and some pine needles could provide a better spark off the bench than the cast of bench warmers Phoenix has paraded out. It's been five games since a Suns sixth-man cracked double figures. Some microwave. Departed sixth-man Casey Jacobson logged about 19 minutes per game. Look for Jackson to play at least 25 minutes per night once he's up to speed. That shouldn't take long. Jackson has plenty of experience fitting in with new teams and Phoenix has a simple system. So says D'Antoni, who expects Jackson to run the floor, find an open spot and wait for the ball. Like many veterans, Jackson has taken to living beyond the three-point arc in his golden years. That's fine with the Suns, who lead the league in three-point attempts at 8.9 per game. A 12-14 point average is a realistic expectation once he acclimates himself.
- While Jackson owners rejoiced, fantasy managers who stuck with Carlos Arroyo had to be less than ecstatic when news of his trade to Detroit hit the wires. Granted, nothing could be worse than the steady dose of DNP's he was being served by Jerry Sloan in Utah, but there was hope he would be dealt to a team in immediate need of a starter. Instead, he joins Chauncey Billups and Lindsey Hunter in a backcourt rotation for a team that ranks third to last in the NBA in scoring. Oh, and their head coach is notoriously tough on point guards. Considering how deep he fell into Sloan's doghouse, there are concerns about how well he'll accept another backup role.
There is hope, however. Billups isn't a true distributor – he doesn't rank in the Top 20 in the NBA in assists per 48 minutes. The Detroit News reports that Coach Larry Brown is looking for ways to move Billups off the ball, which opens the door for an Arroyo-Billups backcourt for portions of games. As the likes of Bobby Jackson and Antonio Daniels have proven, it is possible to have fantasy value as a point guard off the bench. Right now it just comes down to how well Arroyo fits in. Brown saw first-hand at the Olympics just how dramatically this fourth-year pro can impact a game, so he shouldn't be afraid to give him meaningful minutes. In his debut with the Pistons Saturday, Arroyo dished out a team-high five assists in 17 minutes.
- Though his stock has already soared to a level not reached since before the tech bubble burst, LeBron James' value ticked up just a bit last weekend. With point guard Jeff McInnis sidelined with a sprained foot, James played with the ball more in Saturday's win over Golden State. The results: 28 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists – good enough for his second triple-double in three games. This from a guy who looked so bad handling the ball during the preseason his rookie year that fantasy owners were scared into letting him fall to the middle rounds. This year his name was called in the middle of the first round.
With averages of 26 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 2.1 steals in January, there is no question that James has elevated himself into No. 1 overall pick territory. Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki will get their share of votes as top fantasy player, but when you consider that James can't even buy a beer at NBA arenas yet, you come to the frightening realization that we probably haven't seen his best yet. Scary.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Dan Dickau, PG, NO
Sticking with the trade deadline theme, an intriguing pickup this time of year would be Hornets backup Dan Dickau. Starting in place of the injured Baron Davis, Dickau has averaged 19 points, 5.3 assists and 1.8 treys in his past four games. With Dickau at the helm, the Hornets surprised Indiana and the Clippers and dropped a close one at Philadelphia – proving there could be life after Davis in New Orleans. Plenty of teams will have interest in Davis as the deadline approaches, but for now GM Allan Bristow is calling his star point guard "untouchable." Given Baron's injury history, Dickau makes a valuable fantasy reserve even if the Hornets don't pull the trigger on a deal.
- Eddie Griffin, PF, Min
Chances are Griffin has already been signed to a few fantasy 10-day contracts in your league. He had three double-doubles in a six game span in early December – then went away for the good part of a month. He's shown flashes a few times but hasn't been able to sustain production over the long haul. The scoring still isn't there right now, but Griffin is streaking in another category. In Minnesota's last six games, he has 21 blocks. He also had nine or more rebounds in three of those games, so if you need help in either blocks or rebounds, you could do worse than ink this guy to a tryout.
- Chris Kaman, C, LAC
The Clips are not only finding more minutes for this former No. 6 overall pick, they are finding more ways to get him the ball. He's playing nearly 30 minutes a night in January, up roughly 10 minutes over his December totals. More importantly, he's becoming a go-to guy. Since the calendar turned, he's taking a shot every 2.5 minutes – that's up from an attempt every 6.2 minutes last month. In his past five starts, Kaman is averaging 16.6 points and 8.8 boards. He'll likely come off that pace a bit, but you can throw out his season numbers as injuries conspired to slow his progress in the early going.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Antonio Daniels, PG, Sea – Daniels topped the 20-point mark for the second time in three games in Sunday's win. More often than not of late it has been a Daniels-Ridnour backcourt in crunch time for the Sonics.
Tony Massenburg, C, SA – Rasho Nesterovic was placed on the injured list with a sprained ankle, forcing the Spurs to go small Sunday. Massenburg slid into the starting lineup and chipped in with 16 points, eight rebounds and two steals in a win over Sacramento.
Al Jefferson, PF, Bos – Jefferson scored a career-high 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds and two blocks Wednesday. Boston is bringing this rookie along the right way - gradually increasing his minutes each month while disinterested center Mark Blount is slowly worked out of the crunch-time rotation.
Primoz Brezec, C, Cha – This popular pre-season sleeper recorded his second double-double of the season Sunday, scoring 19 points to go along with 12 rebounds and two blocks against Toronto. He' scored at least 14 points in six of his last eight starts.
Casey Jacobsen, F, NO – All he did in Phoenix was chuck threes, but on Sunday as a member of the Hornets, he showed he's capable of more versatile contributions: 34 minutes, 9 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists.
Earl Boykins, PG, Den – A favorite novelty pickup, Boykins is once again on one of those rolls he seems to get on a few time every year. In Denver's last four he's averaging 14 points and 5.5 assists.
Dan Gadzuric, C, Mil – Gadzuric continued an impressive run Sunday with 10 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks against New York. He's had double-figure boards in four of his last five starts and he's averaging an impressive 2.1 blocks per game in January.
Joel Przybilla, C, Por – He's still not playing a ton of minutes, but Przybilla was moved into the starting lineup Jan. 10, and since then is averaging nine rebounds per game in eight starts.
Rafael Araujo, C, Tor – Since taking over as starting center, Araujo has scored in double figure just twice in 13 games. The Toronto Sun reported Sunday that his job is safe for now.
Danny Fortson, FC, Sea – Where have all the minutes gone? Fortson played just 14 combined minutes in Seattle's last two games. Jerome James was the beneficiary Friday, scoring 11 points with six rebounds in 20 minutes.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Eyebrow-raising numbers
1 Number of dunks 6-foot-7 forward Kyle Korver has recorded in 113 games as a professional. It came last Tuesday, and the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that it was his first dunk in a game since high school. For his career, that's roughly 576 points via the three-ball and two via the stuff.