Ridnour, Jefferson will benefit most without Redd

January, 27, 2009
Fred Jones, Clippers: 19 points, 7 assists, 3-for-5 on 3-pointers versus Portland.
Shaquille O'Neal, Suns: 29 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 9-for-10 free throws against the Wizards.
Chris Paul, Hornets: 27 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, 7 steals against Philadelphia.
Mike Bibby, Hawks: 2 points (1-6 FG, 0-3 FT), 5 turnovers in 32 minutes at Miami.
Vince Carter, Nets: 8 points on 2-for-12 field goals at Oklahoma City.
Devin Harris, Nets: 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting versus the Thunder.
Mike James, Wizards: No points (0-4 FG) in 36 minutes against the Suns, who allow 103.1 points per game.
It's always tough to try to comfort a fantasy enthusiast who loses one of his or her top picks to a sudden, cataclysmic injury.

Such is the case with our poor, bedraggled, soon-to-be-ex-Michael Redd owners. What am I supposed to say? "Hey, you know, Ramon Sessions isn't so bad. Give him a chance." (It reminds me of the time when I was told up and down I was going to be taken to see Ray Charles for my 12th birthday, only to find out certain parents hadn't done their legwork, missed out on the tickets, then tried to pawn a Judy Collins concert off on me instead. Such is the stuff of scars that will last a lifetime.)

Monday night, I was very interested to see how the Bucks' rotation would divvy out Redd's touches. We're talking about 16.6 shots and 21.2 points per game that are dying for reappropriation.

First off, forget about Sessions (18 points) becoming the new Redd. Once Charlie Bell comes back fully, I'd expect a sort of statistically amorphous guacamole-type substance to reside at Milwaukee's shooting guard spot. Sessions and Bell both will have nice games here and there, but neither will be dependable on a nightly basis.

Secondly, when Andrew Bogut comes back, I wouldn't expect Scott Skiles to tax Bogut's condition further by suddenly chucking the ball inside 30 times a game. And don't even mention Charlie Villanueva, who will remain a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma stuffed in the envelope from "Clue," no matter the situation. No, the two players that I think have the most upside to offer in a post-Redd world are poor, unowned Luke Ridnour and the always underrated Richard Jefferson.

Ridnour needs only about 3-4 more shot attempts a night to become a truly reliable fantasy point guard. If he could raise his scoring average to about 12-13 points per game, he becomes well worth owning (he already is upping his assists to 6 a night to go along with 1.5 steals).

But Jefferson will end up being the real beneficiary by virtue of being the only Buck with a recent history of being a go-to scorer (he averaged 22.6 points per game in 2007-08). Jefferson's hidden strength has always been in the percentage categories (.471 and .779 for his career). This season, his field goal numbers are way down, but it's because he's attempting more 3-pointers than at any other time in his career (3.0 per game). He's also hitting a career-high 38 percent of said 3-pointers, adding another facet to his dependable game. He's getting to the line less, but I'd expect Jefferson to go back to some of his slashing ways sooner than later.

Under the Boards

I almost found myself leading this blog with the beneficial fantasy effect Kevin McHale is having on the Timberwolves. I retracted my lead when Randy Foye slipped down to 12 points and 7 assists. … Peja Stojakovic continues to turn back the clock, canning six 3s on his way to 26 points. … As promised, Nate Robinson continues to be red-hot (19 points, 6 rebounds). I suspect his role will expand as Chris Duhon inevitably levels off. … Shaquille O'Neal had a big night from the line, going 9-for-10 and then stampeding over poor Andray Blatche late in the fourth quarter, an interaction which left Blatche day-to-day for the foreseeable future. … After showing a glimmer of his past form last weekend, Mike Miller had a frightening regression, posting a total of three points versus Milwaukee. … Elton Brand (0 points, 3 rebounds) showed he needs to remain on fantasy benches everywhere until he starts logging 30 minutes a night. … The (league-leading in pingpong ball) Wizards had their normal restorative effect on the competition. They helped no less than four Suns break out of various slumps. … Steve Blake returned from his shoulder injury Monday night. I wouldn't expect much for the next 3-4 games. … Greg Oden continues to block shots at a Haslem-esque rate (for the record, the normally unchallenging Haslem recorded two blocks on Monday). I know Oden is still feeling out the refs, but I'd swap a little bit of foul trouble for 1.0-1.5 rejections a night.

John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.



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