Stoudemire sidelined, Anthony steps up
The New York Knicks received painful news Monday that Amare Stoudemire is out indefinitely with a bulging disk in his back. He's going to attempt to rehab it with rest and therapy, although surgery is an option. Either way, with just 16 games left this season, it wouldn't be at all surprising if he didn't return.
The fantasy implications aren't monumental -- Carmelo Anthony will take on a bigger scoring load, and Steve Novak and Josh Harrellson will see increased playing time. Novak is owned in just 8.6 percent of leagues because he's averaging just 18.3 minutes per game, although he's also averaging 2.6 3-pointers per contest and, with increased time, should be able to average double digits in scoring with more than three 3s per game, numbers worth a roster spot in any format. Harrellson's role has been limited with the Knicks this season, but he's putting up excellent per-minute stats: 4.1 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 0.7 3s and 0.5 blocks in just 15.5 minutes. Extrapolate that to 25 minutes, and we're looking at around 6-7 rebounds with close to a 3, a steal and a block per game, so he's definitely worth a flier in deep leagues until it becomes clearer how the minute distribution is going to shake out. Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert could also see a bump if Mike Woodson decides to go with a smaller lineup of Jeremy Lin, Shumpert, Fields, Anthony and Tyson Chandler, so keep an eye on how those two are utilized, as they're both on the bubble of fantasy relevance as is.
• One of the most interesting fantasy stories of this condensed season -- one which was supposed to threaten the productivity of aging players -- is how spectacular Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have been. After his huge game Monday (details to the right), Pierce is ranked 17th on the Player Rater, and Garnett is 22nd after dropping 24 points against the Bobcats. Both rely upon savvy play over athleticism, so don't look for them to slow down much down the stretch, although coach Doc Rivers could limit their minutes a bit to keep them fresh for the playoffs. Both have drastically outperformed their average draft positions, especially Garnett, who was taken 64th on average and will likely do so again next season, a tidbit to stash in the back of your mind for your draft in the fall.
• Rodney Stuckey returned to action and didn't miss a beat, notching 24 points with two 3s, two rebounds and a block. He doesn't provide much in the way of peripheral stats, but he is a monster from the stripe, in terms of accuracy and frequency. Conversely, Ben Gordon scored zero points in six minutes off the bench exactly five days after his 45-point outburst. His minute total was because he left with a sore groin, but I'm not a believer regardless. Especially with Stuckey back in the mix, Gordon is not worth a roster spot in standard formats, as his empty scoring and lack of a second strong category make him an overrated fantasy commodity.
• Gary Forbes dropped 21 points with four 3s with DeMar DeRozan sidelined with a bum ankle, Forbes' third consecutive game with at least 12 points. Jerryd Bayless left the game after aggravating his hip, and with he and DeRozan both dinged up Forbes is an excellent short-term fantasy play, averaging 17.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 3s and 0.7 steals in his past three games. Those numbers definitely make him worth adding in any league in which you have a rotating roster spot. But his production is contingent upon the status of Bayless and DeRozan, so be sure to grab him while he's hot but be ready to cut bait for the next flavor of the week once the Raptors' backcourt is healthy.
JaVale McGee has assumed the starting center role in Denver and should see a slight uptick in his stats going forward. On the flip side of that trade, Nene was back in the lineup Monday after missing Sunday's contest with back spasms and should be back in your fantasy lineup as well.