Bucks full of waiver-wire goodness

February, 10, 2009

You've drafted, traded, and acquired your way to a hard-fought fantasy championship. Months of correct decision-making coalesce with a little bit of luck as you taste final victory. Congratulatory e-mails flood in from around the globe (especially if you're in a public league.) But then that guy stuffs sour grapes in your inbox with:

"Well, if I only didn't have all those injuries, I would have won."

O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies: 22 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists versus New Orleans.
Ramon Sessions, Bucks: 26 points, 7 assists, 4 steals versus Houston.
Charlie Villanueva, Bucks: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 5-for-10 3-pointers versus Houston.
Tracy McGrady, Rockets: 3 points, 1 for 9 field goals at Milwaukee.
Al Thornton, Clippers: 6 points, 3 turnovers, 3 for 13 field goals at Charlotte.
Yao Ming, Jazz: 7 points, 10 rebounds at Milwaukee.

Monday's Bucks-Rockets offensive explosion/defensive disaster is proof positive why the person who invariably writes that self-defeating e-mail usually is usually asleep at the wheel when breaking news hits.

It sounds hard-hearted, but injuries beget opportunity. It's not rocket science. Injuries are ultimately a form of statistical turnover. They create opportunities for new players to come out of nowhere and become fantasy must-haves. It's especially true on historically mediocre-to-bad teams, the kind of teams that stockpile young talent due to a perennially medium-to-high draft position.

Milwaukee has proven fertile territory for unheralded players to remove the sword from the stone and take their rightful place among the fantasy elite. May I remind you that once upon a time Michael Redd himself came out of virtual nowhere (after a trade, not an injury) and has been a top-40 player ever since.

Right now, Ramon Sessions -- another guard drafted in the second round -- is making an impact similar to the one Redd did many moons ago. (Actually, since he's a point guard, and can't shoot from deep, it's slightly different, substituting assists for 3s). Sessions' numbers over the past five games: 23.4 points, 7.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game. And he's still almost available in 40 percent of leagues! These numbers are not going to go away, fantasy enthusiasts.

Milwaukee currently features four fantasy impact players: Charlie Villanueva, Richard Jefferson, Ramon Sessions and Charlie Bell. With the exception of Jefferson (a late-round pick), all these Bucks were undrafted waiver-wire acquisitions who have become significant box-score contributors.

That's why it's so important to stay on top of breaking news, so when the Al Jeffersons and Michael Redds of this world are suddenly lost for the season, you can shut the door to your office and get on the wire with all immediate haste. (It's also a reason to follow my personal statistical hero John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Ratings the way people used to follow the Dow Jones).

If you manage real-life NBA catastrophes with a fast, dispassionate eye, you can stay ahead of the curve and not be that guy who writes that e-mail at the end of every season.

Under the Boards

Another player stepping into the fantasy limelight via a star's injury? Marreese Speights turned his upside into production versus the dilapidated Suns to the tune of 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field. …Thaddeus Young (25 points, 5 rebounds, 2 3-pointers) is also making the most of his increased touches (and more up-tempo system). … I told you D.J. Augustin was in for a nice night, and for once I was right (17 points and 4 rebounds in 38 minutes played). He'll be a factor as long as Raja Bell remains sidelined. … He didn't break 20 points, but Hakim Warrick had one of the more impressive nights of his fantasy career, as he posted a rare double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks). … Boris Diaw continues to have one of the most underrated seasons in fantasy (15 points, 9 assists). … With Chris Paul on the shelf, the Hornets had no answer for Mike Conley (18 points, 8 assists), who did a great job dictating the tempo for the Grizzlies. … As anticipated, Darko Milicic's (22 minutes) return will cut into Marc Gasol's numbers (10 points, 10 rebounds in only 23 minutes).



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