Moving Without The Ball: Diggin’ Deep

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In the NBA, we start to see certain trends happen once we hit the 65-game mark, which is essentially where we are now. Teams who are no longer in the playoff hunt are going to start giving playing time to some of their younger players, hoping to see what they can provide on the basketball court as they look forward to next season. Then you have those in the playoff mix who end up signing league veterans to shore up their roster. Finally, we have the teams who are already in the playoffs hoping to get a little rest down the stretch as they prepare for a run at the title.

Thus, it’s helpful to look who can emerge in the battle for playing time over the final month of the season. These tips should be helpful in identifying players to target off the waiver wires down the stretch.

Carlos Arroyo (PG, BOS)
Arroyo has yet to play a game with the Celtics after having signed with them this past weekend. However, the Celtics are in need of a veteran point guard to help Rajon Rondo carry the load. Arroyo is not a sexy name, but he should provide nice deep-league value down the stretch. The Celtics may look to start giving Rondo some rest as they head for a deep run in the playoffs. Desperate owners need to give Arroyo a look, but only those in 14-team leagues or deeper.

Nenad Krstic (C, BOS)
He has more 12-team value than Arroyo and even Troy Murphy. The Celtics are going to take their time bringing along Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal. Both will be called upon in the playoffs, but the regular season will belong to Krstic. He’s playing four more minutes in Boston than he was in Oklahoma City, averaging 12.2 points and almost five rebounds per game. He deserves a look on a Boston team that is limited in its size.

Jarrett Jack (PG, NOH)
The idea of considering Jack off the wires has been made much more rational after Chris Paul hit his head hard and has not been medically cleared to play, as of this writing. Jack will be in charge of leading the Hornets back from a decline toward the NBA Draft Lottery. Jack, even before the injury to Paul, still managed to score in double figures in 11 of the team’s last 12 games. He’s also currently the 7th-most-valuable Fantasy player over the last seven days. With the Hornets trending toward the lottery, they may end up shutting down Paul, depending on his recovery from the concussion. Jack is a serious contender for top waiver add over the next few weeks.

Tyrus Thomas (PF/C, CHA)
Thomas is not only one of my favorite Fantasy players, but he’s also one of the most inconsistent players in the game. His potential is off the charts, especially on the defensive side of the ball. And while he’s missed the last month and a half due to a knee injury, he is expected back this week and expected to find himself in the starting lineup. Why? Because of Boris Diaw‘s underwhelming play of late. Coach Paul Silas has indicated that Thomas could instantly be slotted into the starting lineup. And unlike in seasons past, Thomas may stay in the starting rotation and play 30-plus minutes nightly. What that means are plenty of double-doubles and the chance to average four steals-plus-blocks per game. Great value!

Damion James (SG/SF, NJN)
The rookie out of Texas has found himself back in the rotation for the Nets after a long two-month bout with a concussion. With his ability to play on-the-ball defensively, racking up eight steals and three blocks over his last four games, and finishing at the hoop with the best playmaker in the game leading him, James should have no trouble maintaining his spot in Avery Johnson’s rotation. He’s worth a look down the stretch in 12-team leagues for his defense, mostly, and his light scoring and sufficient rebounding.

Ed Davis (PF, TOR)
After his 12-point, 15-rebound performance on Sunday people are starting to give Davis a serious look. Please, continue to look; he deserves your peering eyes. He’s pulled in at least five rebounds in 10 straight games, and in that span has 10 blocks and 10 steals. Rebounds and defensive numbers are the key stats for this rookie. The Raptors seems pretty content in letting Davis, Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan continue to develop. To be honest with you, that core, added to Andrea Bargnani, looks quite promising. And Fantasy owners are getting an early look at what each of those four players can provide, with Davis being the latest to provide value.

Darrell Arthur (PF, MEM)
It’s been a long time coming for Arthur. He’s been streaky over his young career, also noting that he’s been a bit injury-prone. Now, however, the possibly-playoff-bound Memphis Grizzlies are desperately in need of his production. Down the stretch he’s in line to play 25-plus minutes per game. He’s on a nice hot streak, scoring at least 12 points in five straight and blocking over one shot per game. Over his last four games he’s taken 51 shot attempts, showing just how involved on the offensive game he’s become. Arthur is poised to continue to see his Fantasy value grow. The Grizzlies have called upon him to help Zach Randolph carry the load in the paint and he’s been quite successful in playing his part.

D.J. White (PF, CHA)
White has played over 20 minutes per game in his last three. With Tyrus Thomas close to returning, he seems to be in line to lose minutes, though that’s not necessarily true, especially after Paul Silas called out Boris Diaw recently. White is a big body, highly-effective rebounder and solid interior defender. In deeper leagues, you’ll see value in him as the Bobcats try to see what he has to offer down the stretch.

Alonzo Gee (SF/PF, CLE)
Gee is finally getting a chance to show his worth, now starting for the Cavs at small forward with Antawn Jamison out. The Cavs right now are simply trying to see who they can count on in next season’s rebuild. Gee is giving them reason to be a bit hopeful after his performance this past week — 18 points, seven rebounds, two 3-pointers and one steal in 37 minutes. He’s not a high-impact player, but he’s worth the trouble in larger leagues. The opportunity will certainly be there for him.

Others to consider:

Anthony Randolph (PF/C, MIN): The T-Wolves traded for him to see what they have to build off of in the future. He’s averaging about 20 minutes per game over his last four games.

Austin Daye (SF, DET): Seems like one of the few young players John Kuester hasn’t lost in Detroit. With Tayshaun Prince a free agent at the end of the season, the Pistons will want to see what they have in his replacement.

Ekpe Udoh (PF/C, GSW): He’s a one-category add, with 17 blocks over his last 10 games.  Still a rookie, the Warriors want to see his true value down a meaningless stretch.

Christian Eyenga (SG/SF, CLE): Another building-block in Cleveland. Time to see what his true value is.

*All stats as of Monday, March 7 (prior to the start of Monday night’s action).

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