There are about two and a half weeks remaining in the NBA regular season. That means two things. First, most fantasy basketball head-to-head leagues are in the final stages of their playoffs. Second, the need for my fantasy hoops advice and guidance is coming to a critical yet sweet end here on Pippen Ain’t Easy. I must say, it’s been a blast and I hope that you readers were able to take away something useful from what I brought to the fantasy strategy table.
There are a few teams that should be looked at closely for key adds, mainly based on a good number of games, for these upcoming couple of weeks.
Both Charlotte and Cleveland land special mentions mainly due to their having five games this upcoming week and four games the next. Aside from that, recent injury situations and roster developments have opened up opportunities for some players to shine (somewhat) in the limelight.
Chalotte (Games: 5, 4)
Kemba Walker has had an up-and-down week with coach Silas shuffling him in and out of the starting lineup. DJ Augustine is hurt and it looks like that Walker no longer has a predatory veteran looking to chomp on his playing time. He can score, add some assists, shoot a trey here and there; but still tends to force his shot at ill-advised situations and can be a bane to your FG%. Still, on sheer counting numbers, Walker is a good play moving forward.
Byron Mullens has emerged over this past week as a solid power forward, as he becomes the outside component in an “inside-outside combo” pairing with rookie Bismack Biyombo. Mullens can be counted on to add points, some boards, contribute to your team’s FG% chances, and even sneaking in that occasional three point shot from your front court.
Derrick Brown is both a sneaky and a speculative spot add this coming week as Reggie Williams is dealing with a knee injury. He;s now starting at SF for the Bobcats and holds some deep-league value. Enjoy it briefly as it will fizzle the moment Corey Maggette returns to action before the end of the regular season.
Bismack Biyombo has recently hit the “rookie wall” but appears to be getting back on track. He has shown that he’s indeed a very raw project, but on sheer opportunity, playing time, and talent; Mack daddy is on the cusp of exploding for huge numbers in boards and blocks almost every night. You’ll just have to deal the the mediocre nights along with the good ones.
Cleveland (Games: 5, 4)
The Cavaliers are not going to take any risks on potentially aggravating Kyrie Irving‘s injury. If he’s not at one hundred percent health, there is probably no point for them to “force the issue”. With Irving projected to miss a minimum of a week to heal up, Donald Sloan, Manny Harris, and Lester Hudson are all in line for opportunities to produce some viable numbers. Anthony Parker is also out with a bruised sternum. That means the everything including the kitchen sink is up in the air as far as Cleveland’s backcourt production is concerned. Sloan and Hudson should be the best candidates to step up, but get ready to pounce on Harris in daily changes leagues in case he heats up.
Keep your eyes and ears open for Anderson Varejao to potentially make a come back pretty soon. He’s targeting to get back to practice. His return would send Tristan Thompson back to the bench. Varejao is a double-double threat who is capable of chipping in a steal and block per outing as well.
Orlando / Minnesota
JJ Reddick (Magic) and JJ Barea (Timberwolves) are up for big weeks ahead. Both guys are beneficiaries of improved opportunities due to injuries to teammates. Hedo Turkoglu has a facial fracture and will be out for about three weeks, while Luke Ridnour suffered a bad sprain recently. Barea will bring steals, assists and points; while Reddick will bring a ton of threes without hurting you in any particular category
The Big Bucks
Keep an eye on Drew Gooden’s status. He’s missed a few games due to a sore back and Ekpe Udoh has been performing well filling in for him. I actually gambled (and lost) on Udoh for a Finals matchup in last season’s fantasy playoffs. He’s improved a lot since then and is on a different team now. Given a similar situation, where my team needed a boost in blocks, I’d do it again this year. Udoh can be a swing factor in that category as long as Gooden is on the sidelines.