As we near the midway point of the NBA season, a few things are becoming clear. First, I have about as much luck in fantasy basketball as Major Summerford did in life. Second, those of you who were wise enough to draft Knicks are being handsomely rewarded with some pretty stupid numbers, reminiscent of the 1980s Nuggets of English, Issel and Vandeweghe. Third, Blake Griffin is already a top 10 player. Maybe not yet in fantasy as his blocks (0.6), steals (0.7) and free throw percentage (.609) are still below par, but in real life he is probably already bordering on top five. He simply outworks, out-toughs and out-jumps everyone in the Milky Way galaxy. After sitting out his true rookie year with your basic, everyday busted kneecap, he’s somehow better than ever. He almost has the same look a young Forrest Gump had when he first broke free from his leg braces. He is also the most marketable dude to come along in quite a while and could help vault the league run by David Stern and the Sternettes to its greatest heights since the Bird/Magic era.
This is also the time of year when fantasy teams that have collapsed in the standings begin to disintegrate and are never heard from again. Those with itchy trigger fingers who have bookmarked DamnLiesAndStats.com and have a little extra time on their hands can beat their competition to the waiver wire punch. Players are dropping like flies as in the past two weeks Anderson Varejao and Caron Butler have been lost for the season, while Marcus Camby and Mo Williams have no set timetables for their returns.
Let’s take a look at some of the hottest pickups of late and a few others who should have a little notice paid to them, including the cousin of a man they used to call Vinsanity.
J.J. Hickson, F/C, CLE – Thanks to Varejao’s season-ender, Hickson was finally able to excavate himself from Byron Scott’s puppy palace. Over his last six games, Hickson is averaging 15.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in a hefty 32.0 minutes per night. A poor man’s Zach Randolph, the second-year post scorer could continue to register these numbers for the remainder of the year on the pathetic Cavs, and if he is somehow still available in your league, there is something seriously wrong with it.
Joel Przybilla, C, POR – Przybilla could be the primary beneficiary of Camby going down for the next 4-6 weeks following surgery on his left knee. Przybilla himself is coming off a major knee process, but he appears relatively healthy as evidenced by his 29 minutes, 11 rebounds and one block last night. He is what he is – a low-scoring boards and blocks fiend, but that’s not the worst thing in the world to have laying around. Dante Cunningham is starting, but Przybilla is the one to own. Pounce now!
Ramon Sessions, G, CLE – With Williams out anywhere from a week to the remainder of the decade, Sessions will have a chance to play huge minutes as the Cavs’ starting point guard. Yes, without Varejao, Cleveland is officially the worst team in the league. And also yes, someone has got to put up some numbers on this team as I don’t think they’re capable of being shut out. Sessions won many a fantasy league when he took the reins down the stretch in Milwaukee a few years ago. Fasten your seat belt as this could be eerily reminiscent.
Ryan Anderson, F, ORL – I’m a little hesitant to suggest Anderson as a hot commodity, but Ive got to give the devil his due. He has scored in double figures in nine of his last 10 contests, averaging 2.9 threes and 24.0 minutes per game, playing the role of Rashard Lewis the way Lewis was supposed to have played it. There are way too many options on the Magic for Anderson to be anything more than an occasional four-game week filler, but it might be wise to ride him while he’s hot.
Tracy McGrady, G, DET – All right, I said it! Ship me to the nearest funny farm. This fantasy legend has seen his career tumble off a cliff a la Wile E. Coyote, with an anvil hovering directly above. I’ve never been a huge fan of T-Mac’s laid-back game, but I’ll say this: he finds a way to put up numbers. Vince Carter‘s cuz is also embroiled in a weird situation in Detroit in which trade candidate Rip Hamilton has been benched the last five games by the incomparable John Kuester. The brittle McGrady has absorbed Hamilton’s minutes, playing 30+ in eight of his last 12 and he still offers multiple categories. He’s liable to crumble like a jigsaw puzzle at any moment, but that playing time has got to count for something.
After Greg Fox submitted his column with the name Tracy McGrady attached to it, authorities arrived at his home, harnessed a straight jacket to his lean physique and delivered him to the Goodyear Rubber Factory in Trenton, NJ. He may not appear in this blog anytime soon. If he does re-surface, and unless he is stricken with Beriberi, Fox Unbalanced will typically appear in these pages every Thursday. If you or someone you know views a Grizzlies/Raptors game as a religious experience, this could be the perfect destination for you. Feel free to chime in with some feedback.