Williams emerging in Young's absence

April, 8, 2009
04/08/09
11:01
AM ET
Budding star Thaddeus Young's ankle injury will sideline him for the rest of the season, ending a stretch of what was arguably his finest month as a professional; he had seven straight 20-point games before his injury. But there's a ray of sunshine here. Young's injury has opened the door for 76ers sixth man Lou Williams, who scored 20 points Tuesday for the second time in four games since Young went down and has seen his minutes increase to an average of 29.7 in those games.

It's a convenient occurrence for the Sixers, who are going to need Williams in the playoffs whether Young returns or not. Williams has to be brimming with confidence right now, and without Young around, Andre Miller and Williams have been battling it out behind Andre Iguodala for scoring option No. 2. The Sixers are starting Willie Green, who provides little of anything (what is the team's obsession with this guy anyway?). But with the playoffs on the horizon, down another one of their top scoring options, they have no choice but to play Williams as the production warrants it. Williams gets to the line consistently, averaging 5.2-free throw attempts per game in just 25 minutes per since the All-Star break, and when he's hot, as he is this month (48 percent from the field, including 50 percent from beyond the arc), he's an exciting value pickup in fantasy.

Under the boards

TUESDAY, APRIL 7
HIGHLIGHTS
Ryan Gomes, Timberwolves: 24 points (11-for-21 FG), 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 3-pointers against the Clippers.
Tim Duncan, Spurs: 25 points (11-for-20 FG), 15 rebounds, 3 blocks and 1 assist against the Thunder.
John Salmons, Bulls: 19 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals and 2 3-pointers versus the Knicks.
LOWLIGHTS
Chris Duhon, Knicks: 2 points (1-for-4 FG), 6 assists, 3 turnovers and 2 steals in 27 minutes against the Bulls.
Baron Davis, Clippers: 12 points (5-for-16 FG), 4 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals versus the Timberwolves.
• Rasual Butler, Hornets: 7 points (3-for-9 FG), 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal against the Heat.

Hakim Warrick's 13-point game Tuesday marked his fourth double-digit outing in his past five games, and the notoriously streaky Warrick seems to be playing pretty well right about now. Don't expect any miracles, but he's getting to the free throw line often (7-for-8 versus the Blazers) and could earn himself more minutes down the stretch. … The Rockets earned a big win over the Magic thanks to Yao Ming (20 points, 16 rebounds) showing up Dwight Howard (13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks). Yao's previously debilitating injuries always seemed fluky and non-predictive, and this season he is on pace for his first full season in three years. With his insane percentages and consistent blocks, he should resume his status as a first-round pick in fantasy leagues next season. … For the eighth consecutive game, only seven rotational players for the Bulls logged 20-plus minutes. Fortunately, Tyrus Thomas was one of them. The inconsistent Thomas has earned a starter's minutes and is rewarding owners with some of his best play of the season (18 points, six rebounds, four blocks, two steals and two assists Tuesday). … Craig Smith returned from a calf injury and had 16 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench. Before his injury, he had earned starting consideration and was showing the ability to put the ball in the hoop consistently, making him a deep-league special. … You probably forgot all about him, but Peja Stojakovic returned from a back injury and racked up 24 points, including five 3-pointers, against the Heat, adding six rebounds and four steals. Julian Wright's minutes (10 off the bench) and starting job went kaput, and Rasual Butler hasn't exactly been lighting it up either, so the Hornets will count on Stojakovic to provide balance for Chris Paul and David West if they hope to push into the playoffs on a strong note.

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