Best Pickups: Centers Guards Forwards
You certainly can't help but feel bad for Tony Allen. His injury pretty much puts him on Bill Gramatica's level in terms of the severity of his injury weighed by the extenuating circumstances. You may remember that in 2001, Gramatica, then a kicker for the Arizona Cardinals, tore the ACL in his right knee when he leaped into the air, celebrating a made field goal. Upon landing, he crumpled to the ground, clutching his knee, and was subsequently lost for the season. Allen went up for a one-handed dunk on Wednesday night, landed the wrong way on his left leg, and tore both his ACL and MCL. What places his injury in the annals of infamy is that the dunk attempt came a few seconds after a ref's whistle had stopped the action, at least for everyone else on the court. Here's to a full recovery for Allen, who battled back from a previous knee injury suffered before the 2005-06 season, and who was playing some fantastic basketball for the Celtics.
Some Random Observations
Chris Webber's tenure with the 76ers has ended, mercifully. Webber has been slowed by various injuries this season, and he's not been happy with his role when he's been healthy – after averaging 20.2 points and 9.9 boards in 39 minutes and 75 games last season, C-Webb has slipped to 11.0 points on 39 percent shooting and 8.3 boards in 30 minutes per game while spending 17 of 35 games on the inactive list. While the 76ers have likely given Webber tens of millions of dollars to stay away from their team, who will pay him to play next is now the question. According to Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pistons are expected to reach an agreement with the 33-year-old Detroit native, who can't be officially signed until Monday. A Webber signing could signal the end of the Nazr Mohammad-as- Ben Wallace's-replacement experiment, or, at the very least, put it on hold. Mohammad has been a serious disappointment for the Pistons and fantasy owners, averaging 7.6 points and 5.6 boards in just 20 minutes so far this season. Either way, Webber would move somewhere near the head of the line in a frontcourt rotation that includes Mohammad, Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Jason Maxiell, and Dale Davis. According to the Detroit Free Press, a team source said that if Webber were brought in, more personnel moves could be the result and the Pistons are said to also have interest in acquiring Morris Peterson. Webber's per-game production will improve no matter where he ends up (of course, don't expect 20/10 again), but his fantasy value would be helped the most by good health, which, at this point, is tough to expect from Webber. Joe Smith will continue to start at power forward for the 76ers and post his 11/7 line.
Injuries continue to pile up for the Bucks. Mo Williams suffered a sprained left shoulder this past Monday, and is expected to miss at least two weeks as a result. The injury occurred in the first game that followed the team's announcement that Michael Redd would be out four-to-six weeks with a knee injury, and it left Andrew Bogut as the last projected starter for the Bucks that is not currently sidelined by injury. As a result, and in an effort to bolster the offensive production of a now-decimated backcourt, the Bucks on Thursday shipped Steve Blake to the Nuggets in exchange for Earl Boykins and Julius Hodge. Boykins will step right in for Williams at the point, and should continue his strong play of recent weeks. Over the past 11 games, Boykins has averaged 23.2 points on 45 percent shooting, 2.2 threes, 4.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in 36 minutes per game, while making 91 percent of his free throws. Boykins will also challenge Bell for the starting assignment at shooting guard once Williams is healthy, but each player would see plenty of minutes in a three-guard rotation until Redd's return, regardless of who emerges as the starter. As for the next few weeks, Boykins and Bell are likely to play 40-plus minutes more often than not.
On the Denver side of the deal, those fantasy owners with concerns as to how Boykins' strong play would affect J.R. Smith's role when he returned from suspension can breathe a bit easier. Smith came off the bench in his first game back on Wednesday, scoring 12 points in 33 minutes – he missed all four of his attempts from long range and made just five of 13 shots overall against the Spurs. Give Smith a game or two to shake off the rust and then expect him to resume the production of numbers like he put up in the season's first six weeks, which included career highs of 16.5 points and 2.7 threes per game. Smith could also see some improvements in his numbers, as he is averaging just over 29 minutes per game on the season. Boykins' departure should create the opportunity for that average to increase – what remains to be seen is how his game meshes with Allen Iverson's, and how Carmelo Anthony affects the dynamic once he returns. Blake will back up Iverson, also allowing AI to slide over to shooting guard on occasion, but won't play enough to be much more than a blip on the fantasy radar.
Josh Smith (GF, Atlanta)
Smith was expected to miss four weeks after undergoing hernia surgery on December 26, but is pain-free and hoping for a quicker return, and has rejoined his teammates in light workouts. "I don't want to rush back," said Smith, but added that he hopes to participate in contact drills by the middle of next week, and has a tentative target date for his return set at January 17.
Speedy Claxton (PG, Atlanta)
Claxton injured his left knee in the first half of Wednesday, and is scheduled to meet with an orthopedist on Monday to determine the extent of the injury, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We really don't know anything right now," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson.
Zaza Pachulia (FC, Atlanta)
Pachulia will not dress for Friday's game, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as he is still limited by an ankle injury suffered in Wednesday's game.
Tony Allen (G, Boston)
Allen will miss the remainder of the season with a torn left ACL and MCL suffered on Wednesday, and the recovery from this magnitude of an injury will very likely limit him well into next season, as well. Allen averaged 11.5 points in 33 games this season, including 16.4 points in his 18 starts.
Paul Pierce (GF, Boston); Wally Szczerbiak (GF, Boston)
Pierce and Szczerbiak are both expected to be out for at least another week, according to the Boston Herald. Pierce has missed 10 games due to a stress reaction in his left foot, and Szczerbiak is currently sidelined by nagging ankle issues.
Delonte West (G, Boston)
According to the Associated Press, West has been ruled out of Friday's game and will be considered day-to-day moving forward.
Gerald Wallace (GF, Charlotte)
Wallace has been a limited participant in recent practices, but will not play on Friday and is questionable for Saturday, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Chauncey Billups (PG, Detroit)
According to The Detroit News, Billups could return to the lineup on Saturday, but it's more likely that his first game back will be next Wednesday.
Chris Kaman (C, LA Clippers)
Kaman sprained his right ankle on Wednesday and is currently listed as day-to-day, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Lamar Odom (F, LA Lakers)
Odom's rehabilitation from a sprained knee ligament is progressing, and the Lakers anticipate Odom returning before the end of January, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. Lakers coach Phil Jackson has targeted the team's three-day break between January 23 and 25 as when Odom could return to practice.
Shaquille O'Neal (C, Miami)
O'Neal returned to practice for the first time since November 12 on Thursday. As for playing on Monday against the Lakers in Los Angeles, however, O'Neal said "That would be rushing it. I have strict orders not to come back until I'm 1,000 percent."
Charlie Villanueva (F, Milwaukee)
Villanueva received a cortisone shot in his right shoulder on Monday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in the hopes that it will ease his tendonitis. He will be re-evaluated early next week.
David West (PF, New Orleans/Oklahoma City)
West participated in a team practice for the first time in two months on Thursday. West will go through a few more practices before it is decided whether or not he can return to game action before the end of next week, according to The Times-Picayune.
Trevor Ariza (SF, Orlando)
Ariza suffered a grade 2 sprain of his MCL on Wednesday and is expected to miss six to eight weeks while he recovers, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Stat of the Week
Fantasy owners are hoping that Nick Collison's 21 rebounds (1/9 at Phoenix) were a fairly clear signal that the Sonics should unleash the Johan Petro experience in small doses with the team's second unit and give Collison the run at center. Since Robert Swift was lost to injury, the Sonics have tried Petro, Mouhamed Sene, and Collison in the middle, but Collison is the only one who would merit a look in fantasy lineups. In 12 games as a starter this season, Collison has averaged 11.6 points on 54 percent shooting and 8.3 boards in 29 minutes per game. In three starts since rejoining the starting lineup on January 6, Collison has averaged 18.7 points on 64 percent shooting, 13.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 block in 36 minutes per game.
Line of the Week
Gilbert Arenas (1/5 at Toronto)
35 points (14-26 FG, 6-6 FT), 1 3PTM, 7 rebounds, 12 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers
Arenas keeps fueling the MVP talk with lines like the one he put up against the Raptors. The 12 assists were a season high, and he's scored over 30 points in 14 of the past 18 games. He's currently second behind Carmelo Anthony with an average of 30.2 points per game, a career high, and is at or above his career highs in threes (3.1), assists (6.4), and steals (2.0). As a result, Arenas is currently the second-ranked player overall in the Yahoo! game.
Others with consideration: Nick Collison (1/9), Ruben Patterson (1/8), Tracy McGrady (1/5), Jason Kidd (1/11), Dwight Howard (1/10), Kirk Hinrich (1/10)
Eddy Curry Line Update
The Eddy Curry Line was originally established to put a spotlight on how truly anemic Curry's overall fantasy line is. The standard: a player must average more turnovers than assists, steals, and blocks combined – in order to qualify, a player must have appeared in at least half of his team's games and averaged at least 25 minutes of playing time.
EDDY CURRY LINE – BEST AND WORST
TOP 5 (Worst)
BOTTOM 5 (Best)
GP = games played
MPG = minutes played per game
POS = positive stats accumulated to-date (assists + steals + blocks)
NEG = turnovers to-date
RATIO = amount of positive stats per turnover