We’re getting into that part of the season when many beleaguered owners begin to lose faith and start to not pay as much attention to the waiver wire and free agent pool. Don’t be one of these owners! Be more like your Start, Drop & Roll author, who thinks whining about his fantasy basketball team should be a profession. On to some sage Week 5 guidance.
Nicolas Batum, SF, Portland: I, for one, can’t make up my mind on Batum this year. He has been on the wrong end of a congested swing rotation in the Great Northwest, but is making the most of his opportunities. Gerald Wallace missed the Blazers’ last game with a sprained finger and Crash has never been known to make speedy returns. Batum should offer a nice across-the-board return in a four-game week.
James Johnson, SF, Toronto: Andrea Bargnani has already missed five games with his calf injury and Johnson has made the most of it recently, averaging 15.0 points, 3.5 blocks, 2.0 steals and 1.0 threes as a starter over his last two. He has been hit or miss through the first month, but with Amir Johnson also banged up, I’d roll with the defensive whiz.
Anthony Morrow, SG, New Jersey: Week 3 has been the only good week of the season for Morrow out of the first four. Take a wild stab at the one week I didn’t start him. With DeShawn Stevenson hobbled and Damion James about to go under the knife, Morrow should again be in line for a full complement of minutes. He still won’t do anything for you except score and hit a bunch of threes, but he could carry your team in the latter category.
Lamar Odom, PF, Dallas: With Dirk Nowitzki set to miss Week 5, Khlamar, who has shown signs of life recently, is a must start. If he can’t get it done this week it will be time to pull the plug. On the marriage, I mean.
Chauncey Billups, SG, LA Clippers: I’m not sure when this happened, but Billups has become a chucker and virtually unwatchable as a member of the Clippers. For some inexplicable reason, he believes he needs to shoot the ball every time he crosses midcourt. He still hits tons of threes and shoots a phenomenal percentage from the foul line, but if field goal percentage (.360) and good ventricle health are important to you, stay away in his upcoming difficult three-game week.
DeJuan Blair, PF, San Antonio: It never seems to matter what the frontcourt situation is for the Spurs as Blair simply can’t sustain consistent minutes and solid production. All he’s competing with are the improving Tiago Splitter and the mummified Tim Duncan, but he’s played only 18, 22, 17 and 24 minutes in his last four contests.
Chris Kaman, C, New Orleans: Forget everything I said about Kaman last week. It was just my little joke. Kaman somehow found himself glued to the bench most of the week (19.8 mpg) as Jason Smith and Emeka Okafor absorbed most of the big man daylight. Don’t give up on the blonde bombshell, but keep him glued to your personal bench until he gets it going again.
J.J. Redick, SG, Orlando: Redick’s run as a starter is about to come to an end as Jason Richardson return this past week and Hedo Turkoglu could be back as early as Monday night. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Redick remains a key to the Orlando perimeter game. However, I’d much rather take my chances given the 30-35 minutes he has been getting as a starter as opposed to the 23-25 minutes he’ll again receive as a reserve.
Pick ’em up:
Omer Asik, C, Chicago: Asik may have to rot on your bench for a few weeks, but if Joakim Noah goes down for an extended period, a somewhat likely scenario, then Asik will be a terrific replacement. With Noah out with a bum ankle on Saturday, Asik gobbled up 39 minutes and registered six points, 15 rebounds, three steals and two blocks; A nice audition to say the least.
Linas Kleiza, SF, Toronto: The fantasy situation in Toronto continues to get weirder and weirder. Seems like we recommend picking up three new Raptors each week and then we recommend to drop them the next. Kleiza returned a week-and-a-half ago from microfracture surgery and is not on a minutes restriction. He has proven in the past that he can score the basketball. He’ll continue to come off the bench for 20-25 minutes, but that could soon change as this team falls into the abyss.
Shaun Livingston, PG/SF, Milwaukee: Something funny happened on the way to Madison Square Garden on Friday. The mercurial Stephen Jackson missed the team bus for shootaround and got himself suspended for a game. In that game, former bigtime prospect Livingston was thrust into the starting lineup and the Bucks moved the ball better than they have since Kareem roamed the paint. Scott Skiles liked it so much that upon Jackson’s return on Sunday, he kept Livingston in the starting five. The result – Bucks over the Heat in Miami. Pick him up.
Tiago Splitter, C, San Antonio: It’s taken more than a year, but Splitter had his coming out party on Saturday night, totaling 25 points (11-13 fg), 10 rebounds and four assists in a loss to Houston. He is playing more aggressively and with more confidence this season and his minutes are on the rise. With Blair’s inconsistency and Duncan’s comatose state, Splitter could end up providing decent value.