THURSDAY’S QUESTION: Amongst NBA reserves, who are your three favorite injury replacements who could end up returning major fantasy value?
One of my favorite reserves this season is Randy Foye. He’s obviously blocked by the great Gilbert Arenas, but as we know Agent Zero has close to a five-percent chance of playing 82 games this season. That makes a guy like Foye much more attractive. He’s a 6th-round talent who can be had in the 11th round. Considering that Agent Five-Percent should see some time in street clothes, Foye can be a major fantasy producer at any moment this season — points, steals, assists, threes, and FT%. It seems imperative, if you’re a Gilbert Arenas owner, to handcuff the position by drafting Foye. You don’t want to be that Carlos Boozer owner who slept on Paul Millsap, do you? DO YOU?!
Blatche to the future! Foye’s teammate Andray Blatche is already stepping in with Antawn Jamison out nursing a shoulder injury. Blatche has responded with 11.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.7 blocks, a 46.9 FG% and an 82.6 FT%. Of course the Wizards expect Jamison to return by opening night, but Blatche is not messing around. I wouldn’t sleep on him, since all it will take is for Jamison to re-injure himself (quite possible) before we see Blatche back on the court and well on his way to posting big fantasy numbers.
DeAndre Jordan is a beast. I’m sure he won’t get much playing time since it would require Marcus Camby and/or Chris Kaman to go down with an injury. Sigh. Too bad that’s not likely to happen… Look out! Not getting any sarcasm past anyone today, am I? Camby is already out with an ankle injury and Kaman is one look in the mirror away from missing 6-8 weeks. Jordan is a high-upside big who can block shots, rebound and shoot a high percentage from the field. It’s only a matter of time, really. I have batteries in my freezer that have a better chance of working than Kaman and Camby do of staying healthy.
Fantasy owners often look to security blanket Jarrett Jack in the late rounds when their timer’s running out, their hands are shaking and the previous six picks were all queued up. Jack is going to be my binky this year if I can get him, as he’s annually good for a stretch of basketball heroics that will, statistically at least, make you think Oscar Robertson has reversed the aging process and re-entered the league. For whatever reason, we restart the next season and Jack is a lowly backup again, this time in Toronto. Not a bad place for him, especially if Jose Calderon gets dinged up like he did last year. Also, the Raptors have some shaky two-guards, so I foresee Jack getting enough court time to be a spot starter. If Calderon gets hurt, Oscar is back.
From all accounts this preseason, Marquis Daniels has fit in swimmingly with the Celtics and is even going to play some point guard on the second unit. Fantasy owners got a glimpse of Daniels’ ability last year when he averaged around 15 points, five boards and over a steal a game as a starter due to injuries on the Pacers. Daniels’ new role as a point forward makes him a tremendous backup for not just aging vets Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, but Rajon Rondo as well. It’s looking like an injury to any of those three will thrust Daniels back into fantasy relevance.
Ronny Turiaf seems like one of those centers who averages six blocks a game when he sees 10-15 minutes of court time, yet when he starts and plays 30, he can’t swat a thing. Indeed, the dude blocked 2.3 shots as a reserve in 19 minutes/game and 1.8 as a starter in 27 minutes/game. Maybe he wasn’t so concerned with fouling when he was coming off the bench, but regardless Turiaf is an excellent source of blocks who will get a few rebounds, shoot over 50 percent from the field and hit around 80 percent of his free throws. The obvious handcuffs are to Andris Biedrins and the already-banged-up Anthony Randolph, but with Don Nelson calling the substitutions all bets are basically off. We could see Acie Law at center this year. So you’ve been warned. Still, you have to consider Turiaf, especially if you draft Biedrins.
With so many reserves from which to choose, I’ve consulted Vito Corleone who was kind enough to render my selections. “I’m a superstitious man, and if some unlucky accident should befall Dwight Howard, if Ray Felton should get shot in the head by a police officer, or if Kenyon Martin should hang himself in his jail cell, or if Nene is struck by a bolt of lightning, then I’m going to blame some of the people in this room. And that, I do not forgive. But that aside, let me say that I swear on the souls of my grandchildren, that I will not be the one to break the peace that we have made here today.”
My Godfather has spoken and spoken volumes. Marcin Gortat would be the main beneficiary of a Howard injury. When it comes to Gortat, as we saw glimpses of in the ’08-09 playoffs, we’re talking about a hard-nosed and skilled big man, capable of points, boards, blocks and a solid field goal percentage. Howard seems indestructible, but his owners would be well served to use a late pick on the 6-11 Pole.
With Raja Bell about to possibly undergo season-ending surgery, DJ Augustin could find himself playing alongside Felton more than he thought. If Felton were to ever go down, we could have a top 10 point guard on our hands. In primarily a reserve role last year, Augustin recorded 11.8 points, 3.5 assists, shot 44 percent from 3-point range and 89 percent from the line. Injury factors aside, this could be Felton’s final year with the Bobcats. Since they are going to be mediocre at best, expect Augustin’s minutes to rise as the season wears on.
Chris Andersen can help his owners dominate the toughest category of them all, blocked shots. In just over 20 minutes per contest last season, the tattooed one denied 2.5 shots per night, easily the highest rate per minute in the league. He is playing behind Nene and Kenyon Martin, two fellas who won’t be challenging A.C. Green’s ironman streak any time soon. The Birdman is a must-target in the middle rounds.