We’re less three weeks into the 2011-12 season and the carnage is sickening. It seems as if half the league has a sore shoulder and the other half a torn pec. But there’s always that 1 percent, and to that end, I’d like you all to know that Stephen Curry remains sidelined with a sprained ankle; Just thought you should be made aware.
The loss of Al Horford for the season will have a dramatic effect on all fantasy leagues. The reaction of Horford’s owners was eerily reminiscent to that of the North Korean people at Kim Jong Il’s funeral. While it is impossible to equate Dear Leader’s popularity, I would imagine that the owners of Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Jeff Teague are purchasing bouquets as we speak. This triumvirate should post terrific fantasy numbers the rest of the way, and I’m also starting to think that this is the perfect opportunity to take a flyer on Marvin Williams. He returned to the Atlanta rotation on Saturday, and if he is ever going to live up to his hype, after being selected No. 2 in the draft ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul, this will be his chance. As for the Hawks’ new starting center, Zaza Pachulia, I think I’d rather pick up Zsa Zsa Gabor.
On to the selections for Week 4.
Amir Johnson, PF, Toronto – With Andrea Bargnani questionable with a calf injury, there could be more rebounds and even a few more shots for the offensively challenged Johnson. Calf injuries tend to linger, so I believe that Bargnani will miss a few games. The boards, blocks and steals are already there for Johnson, who looks healthy and still has some room to improve. Keep a good cornea on Ed Davis as well.
Chris Kaman, C, New Orleans – Now a starter, Kaman should regularly receive 30-35 minutes a game. A strong low-post scorer, he averaged 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and is shooting 56 percent from the field over his previous two games before back-to-back duds the last two nights. Still, all arrows are pointing up for him on a team in desperate need of his offensive ability.
Kawhi Leonard, SG/SF, San Antonio – In the wake of Manu Ginobili’s 6-8 week timetable, Leonard seems to have answered the Anderson/Neal/Green/Leonard conundrum by averaging 35 minutes over the last three Spurs contests. During this period he has averaged 14.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 59 percent shooting from the field, a smorgasbord of positive statistics, if you will. Expect some inconsistency, but he’s definitely worth a start.
J.J. Redick, SG, Orlando – Redick is simply better than Jason Richardson at this point, but it’s tough to put Richardson and his bloated contract on the bench. Fortunately for Redick owners, a sprained knee has shelved J-Rich for the time being. If you’re in need of threes and a solid free throw percentage, here’s your man.
Iman Shumpert, PG/SG, New York – Over his last three games, the Knicks’ latest starting point guard has been abysmal, shooting an alarming 13-for-45 from the field and only 1-for-11 from 3-point range. But as we all should know by now, anyone receiving big minutes in a Mike D’Antoni offense, who seems to have Carte Blanche from anywhere in the 212 area code, needs to be started.
Jared Dudley, SG/SF, Phoenix – I truly like Dudley in real life, but this Suns team will do nothing for his career. He’s still playing big minutes, but a Grant Hill injury is partially responsible for this. Throw in Shannon Brown, who is playing better of late and newly acquired gunner Michael Redd, and Dudley could soon see his daylight dwindle to around 25-minutes per game.
Devin Harris, PG, Utah – Dorell Wright’s main competition for Fantasy Bust of the Year, Harris looks as if he’s on his last legs, yet he is just 28-years old. Not sure what gives in this situation, but as 4.7 points, 5.4 assists and 8-for-33 shooting over his last six games attest, there is no way he should be in anybody’s starting lineup.
Joakim Noah, C, Chicago – Noah is one of the guys who will be nursing an injury for the next 10 years. He is a terrific athlete, strong defender, and he usually competes pretty hard, but it’s doubtful that the games played and minutes will be there consistently. Throw in the return of a hungry Carlos Boozer, and the emergence of Omer Asik and you’re left with the potential for some disappointing numbers.
John Salmons, SG/SF, Sacramento – I have to have my head examined for drafting this guy, even though i did take him in the 14th round. Now on a team that features Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton, Salmons won’t be able to do what he does best, and that is chuck. He’s still somehow playing pretty big minutes, but does nothing with them. Over his last six games, he is averaging 7.3 points and has misfired on his last 19 from beyond the arc. Yuck.
Trevor Booker, PF, Washington – Booker seems to have captured the starting power forward spot in the nation’s capitol as former starter Andray Blatche is nursing, you guessed it, a sprained shoulder. The Wizards also seem to be peddling their former starter, who seems to cause more agita than anything. Booker is somewhat limited offensively, but looks to be a decent source of rebounds, blocks and steals.
Byron Mullens, C, Charlotte – The Bobcats are reeling, which is a good thing for the seven-foot sharpshooter as he will be pressed into service as the starting center. He doesn’t block shots and doesn’t attempt any threes, which is clearly disappointing, but he can score and is a terrific free throw shooter. The center position is beginning to look thin.
Chandler Parsons, SF, Houston – I’ve heard him referred to as Parson Chandler and I think I was about to call him Carson Palmer at one point, but regardless, this dude can play. Not only that, he is now the starting small forward on the Rockettes, having supplanted Chase Budinger. He fills a stat sheet in pretty sneaky fashion for a nameless and faceless rookie. He could keep this up.
Nate Robinson, PG, Golden State – Just when we thought we hard the last of L’il Him, Robinson landed with the Warriors and has already carved out a nice role for himself, even after Curry returns. Now, if Golden State had any sense at all, we won’t see Curry on the court until February, but that probably will not be the case. Still, even for just the short term, Robinson will be a solid across-the-board contributor.
Brandon Rush, SF, Golden State – Rush remains unowned in most leagues, primarily because Mark Jackson has been inconsistent with his minutes. As everyone on the Milky Way Galaxy is aware, starting small forward Dorell Wright has been a disaster, and missed the Warriors’ last game with a bruised knee. If it turns out to be serious, Rush, who can do it all, becomes a top 70 player.