The search for single-game pickups

April, 14, 2009
04/14/09
11:22
AM ET
One of the most maddening and enlivening aspects to the head-to-head format in fantasy basketball is that the championship is decided by the statistics accrued during the NBA's "silly" part of the season. This is the part of the season when once-consistent contributors fall off the map and once-obscure fringe players come out of nowhere and lead teams to titles.

For my final roundup of the season, I'd like to highlight some of the more conspicuous out-of-nowhere performances, with an eye to who might pull a Max McGee (or, in my case, a Jannero Pargo) and accidentally help a team or two win a championship:

Sebastian Telfair, PG, Timberwolves: He's getting a boost because of Randy Foye's injury. After scoring 21 in back-to-back games, he decided to distribute the ball more last night and finished with 12 assists.

D.J. Augustin, PG, Bobcats: Starting in place of Raja Bell (calf), Augustin scored only nine points Monday, but he has more upside than anybody else on this list.

Brandon Rush, SG/SF, Pacers: Rush is finally getting some serious playing time and is serving notice that the Pacers' crowded backcourt situation will be even more muddled going into next season. He's streaky, but Rush has scored 49 points and hit 7 3-pointers over his past two games.

Courtney Lee, SG, Magic: It looks as if coach Stan Van Gundy will give his vets maximum rest for the playoffs, which means Lee will have the green light on Wednesday.

Bobby Jackson, PG/SG, Kings: Historically, Jackson has been one of the great fantasy super subs. He has a tendency to produce when his team needs him to, and if Beno Udrih is shut down, Jackson should approach his Monday line (18 points, 12 assists).

Roger Mason, PG/SG, Spurs: He's playing well in place of Manu Ginobili, and the Spurs are still jockeying for playoff position. Mason is a nice across-the-board play.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG/SF, Nets: Not as much potential as others on this list, but he's in line for big minutes (he played 36 minutes on Monday).

Anthony Randolph, SF/PF, Warriors: The lone bright spot during a Spurs beatdown Monday night, Randolph is heating up and should be the Warriors' No. 2 scoring option for their final game.

Linas Kleiza, SF/PF, Nuggets: Has hit double figures in four straight and should get plenty of shot attempts in the Nuggets' finale.

Joe Alexander, SF, Bucks: Milwaukee's lottery pick should get 30 minutes Wednesday as the team attempts to give their oft-injured rookie some semblance of experience.

Ike Diogu, PF, Kings: There was a time when Diogu was hyped as a miniature Elton Brand, and for one night, Diogu actually lived up to that long-forgotten hyperbole, with 32 points and 11 rebounds Monday. To put that performance into perspective, coming into the game, Diogu had scored 59 points all season. If Spencer Hawes is done for the year, Diogu will get another chance Wednesday.

Craig Smith, PF, Timberwolves: He's finishing strong (24 points, 8 rebounds Monday) in a depleted Timberwolves frontcourt.

Hakim Warrick, PF, Grizzlies: The streaky Warrick's problem this season hasn't been scoring; his problem has been grabbing enough rebounds to justify starting him. Warrick has 23 rebounds over his past three games, which should give you enough confidence to pick him up for the finale.

Marcin Gortat, C, Magic: The poster boy for late-season anomalies, Gortat should post another double-double (he had 10 points and 18 rebounds Monday) in a meaningless Magic closeout.

Robin Lopez, PF/C, Suns: The "other" Lopez has put up serviceable numbers in two straight games.

DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers: Jordan filled in admirably (16 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 steals) for Zach Randolph (concussion) with a fine all-around game Monday, but it's impossible to predict what form the Clippers' frontcourt will take Wednesday.

Under the boards

MONDAY, APRIL 13
HIGHLIGHTS
• Anthony Randolph, Warriors: 24 points, 16 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 assists, 1 block versus the Spurs.
J.R. Smith, Nuggets: 45 points, 11 3-pointers on 11-of-18 3-point shooting versus the Kings.
Chris Bosh, Raptors: 25 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 1 3-pointer at Washington.
LOWLIGHTS
Kelenna Azubuike, Warriors: 9 points on 4-of-21 shooting, 4 turnovers versus San Antonio.
• Chauncey Billups, Nuggets: 5 points, 6 assists, 1-of-7 from the field versus Sacramento.
• Baron Davis, Clippers: 3 points, 7 assists, 1-of-13 from the field at Utah.

Overall, there should be a relatively high amount of late-season stability on display the final two nights, thanks to so many teams still pushing for playoff positioning. … On the negative side, several marquee point guards (Baron Davis, Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul) had bad to atrocious nights. The silver lining is that Billups and Paul still have something to play for in their final matchups. … LaMarcus Aldridge (5 points) looks like he's still suffering some ill effects from a recent wrist injury. Be careful starting him from here on out. Greg Oden (16 points, 9 rebounds Monday) is a high-upside substitution. … Brook Lopez finally cracked the 20-rebound barrier, cementing his position as a No. 1 center going into next year's drafts. … As promised, Russell Westbrook was a percentage-killer (15 points on 4-of-16 shooting Monday), but at least he turned it over only twice. Stay away if you're in a field-goal battle, though. … Andres Nocioni was another beneficiary of Spencer Hawes' injury and could be a sneaky good play Wednesday. … Adonal Foyle might have scraped a double-double (10 points, 9 rebounds), but he logged only 18 minutes. Don't even think about it. … Vince Carter owners should be heartened he still played 38 minutes Monday night. It probably means he'll still be worth starting in the Nets' final game.

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