West will produce with big minutes

January, 22, 2010

You can expect Delonte West to be the most-added player during the next 48 hours.

With news of Mo Williams set to miss the next 4-6 weeks with a sprained left (non-shooting) shoulder, West will find himself the starter at point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and you can expect about 35 minutes per game to accompany that promotion.

While his performance Thursday was underwhelming -- three points on 1-of-4 shooting in 43 minutes, although at least the one basket was from beyond the arc -- the playing time is what is important, as the Lakers shut him down by playing Kobe Bryant on him for much of the game. Assuming West can keep his head on straight, expect him to provide a healthy amount of 3-pointers and steals, along with a decent amount of production in assists and free throw percentage. He's particularly appealing because he hardly hurts you anywhere; he won't exactly pour in the points, but he can block a shot or two and keep your field goal percentage steady.

Most importantly, however, his defense will earn him the bulk of the playing time, keeping any potential threat from Daniel Gibson at bay. Unless the Cavs opt to bring in reinforcements -- and you should expect to hear a plethora of rumors on that front -- it will be hard to find a better short-term stopgap for your backcourt than West.

Looking Back

J.J. Hickson, Cavaliers: 11 points (4-6 FG), 14 rebounds in 25 minutes against the Lakers.
LeBron James, Cavaliers: 37 points (13-25 FG, 10-13 FT), 9 assists, 2 steals versus the Lakers.
Kenyon Martin, Nuggets: 13 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 2 3-pointers against the Clippers.
Marcus Camby, Clippers: 7 points, 6 rebounds, no steals or blocks in 24 minutes against the Nuggets.
J.R. Smith, Nuggets: 3 points (1-7 FG), 3 turnovers in 23 minutes versus the Clippers.
Delonte West, Cavaliers: 3 points (1-4 FG), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks in 43 minutes against the Lakers.
At first it looked like Andrew Bynum just might be able to produce with Pau Gasol back in the lineup after scoring 20 points in Gasol's return, but with just seven points against the Cavs, the center has combined for 15 measly points in the following two games. It looks like it's back to the status quo as long as Gasol stays upright. … If they weren't worried about his fractured fingers already, Kobe Bryant owners definitely are now. Not only did he suffer another awful night shooting the ball, going 12-of-31 from the field to net 31 points, but he had nary a steal. In fact, after averaging more than two per game in the first couple of months, he's averaging less than a steal per game in January; his free throw attempts and percentage are way down, too. Kobe's a warrior, but it might be best for everyone if he takes a couple of games off, which could also have the healthy side effect of forcing Bynum to learn how to play alongside Gasol. … Considering he's still owned in 95 percent of leagues, people still believe in J.R. Smith, but so far he's shown nothing to reward that faith and stunk it up again versus the Los Angeles Clippers, shooting 1-of-7 from the field. His shooting percentage has decreased each month, and he's now shooting below 30 percent from the land of plenty this month, yet he's still jacking up 5.7 3-pointers a game. Feel free to drop him if you need room to pick up a guy like the aforementioned West.

Looking Ahead

Kevin Garnett (knee) is set to make his return Friday, which will effectively kill the value of Rasheed Wallace and put a dent in Kendrick Perkins'. You may not want to activate him immediately, however, as it's unknown how many minutes he will play. It's also worth noting the Portland Trail Blazers play the league's slowest pace, so there won't be a ton of opportunities to go around, either. … The Lakers shut down the 3-pointer better than any other team in the league, with opponents shooting a league-low 31.0 percent, bad news for the likes of Danilo Gallinari and Co. when the two teams meet on Friday. … On a similar note, Channing Frye is hitting just 35.9 percent of his 3-pointers this month, and the Bulls employ the league's sixth-best opponents' 3-point defense, so keep him glued to your bench. … Vince Carter has vowed to keep playing through his sprained left shoulder, but is bringing his January average of 7.6 points up against the stifling Bobcats' defense; suffice to say that he should be firmly planted on your bench.

Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.



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