Duncan to sit, Blair to benefit
DeJuan Blair already has had an impressive rookie season and once again makes the San Antonio Spurs look like the masters of the nonlottery pick. The news came out this past weekend that Tim Duncan will sit the second game of back-to-backs for the remainder of the season to remain fresh for the playoffs, which means these dates should be money for Blair: March 1, 6, 13, 17, 22, 29, April 7 and 10. A shrewd strategy would be to grab Blair if he's available and start him only on these days. He's averaging nearly 8 points, 8 boards, 0.7 steals and 0.6 blocks per game as a starter, numbers he should eclipse in most of the games in which Duncan is on the bench.
Andray Blatche, Wizards: 36 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks Sunday versus the Nets.|
Amare Stoudemire, Suns: 41 points, 12 rebounds Sunday against the Spurs.
Deron Williams, Jazz: 35 points (13-for-17 FG, 5-for-5 FT), 4 3-pointers, 13 assists, 7 rebounds Saturday versus the Rockets.
Michael Beasley, Heat: 1 point, 1 rebound, 2 assists Sunday versus the Magic.|
Andris Biedrins, Warriors: 2 points, 7 rebounds in 16 minutes Saturday against the Pistons.
Hedo Turkoglu, Magic: 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists Sunday versus the Thunder.
Chase Budinger's streak of six consecutive games scoring in double digits was snapped Friday night, as he posted just two points in 29 minutes off the bench. He bounced back Saturday with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a 3-pointer in 39 minutes in the starting lineup for Shane Battier, who sat out with flu-like symptoms. Budinger is a solid source of points, 3s and steals who has showed continued improvement this season, and now he's surfaced as a deep-league option down the stretch. Budinger's big night was overshadowed by Kevin Martin's 32 points (9-for-13 from the field, 12-for-13 from the line), which followed a 33-point outburst on Friday in which he pulled down five boards, dished four assists and was a perfect 14-for-14 from the stripe. Martin has the tools to be a top-25 player when healthy and contribute heavily in three categories: points, free throws and 3-pointers. He should do so for the rest of the season, so be prepared for his best basketball of the season. Rasheed Wallace went 1-for-5 from 3-point land Saturday night, putting him at 6-for-35 (17.1 percent) from downtown in February and 28.3 percent for the season. This is the primary reason his shooting percentage is a career-low 40.4 percent, making him worth dropping in most leagues despite his still-solid combination of 1.3 3s, 1.1 steals and 0.8 blocks per game this season. He simply doesn't give you enough to make the awful percentages worthwhile or make up for the lack of points and boards. Sheed used to be one of my favorite fantasy players, but now he's worth owning only in deeper turnover-heavy leagues.
What you might have missed
Yi Jianlian went off for 20 points and 19 rebounds on Sunday, his third double-digit rebounding effort this month. He's pulling down 7.5 boards per game this month and provides nice across-the-board stats with low turnovers, so he's a sound option if you need help but can't stomach a hit in the percentages. One of the season's unheralded numbers is Josh Smith's 4.1 assists per game, the most of any power forward-eligible player, ahead of Boris Diaw's 3.8 and Pau Gasol's 3.6. He's flashed solid passing ability in the past, averaging 3.3 and 3.4 assists in '06-07 and '07-08, respectively, but never at this level, as he's dishing like a low-end point guard. He's also been valuable overall lately, ranking third on the Player Rater in the past 15 days. Darko Milicic is getting significant run with the Timberwolves, averaging 5.0 boards and 2.2 blocks in 20.4 minutes in his past five contests. He's a one-trick pony, but his trick is valuable; he has the ability to be a Chris Andersen-type force in this department and could average two blocks per game from here on out backing up Ryan Hollins and Al Jefferson. With Jason Thompson sidelined for a few weeks, Spencer Hawes is back in the starting lineup and should put up some nice stats during this stretch. Hawes had 15 points and 12 boards on Friday and 16 points with 9 boards Sunday, and he could average around 15 and 9 with a few steals, blocks and 3s during this stint in which he'll see increased playing time.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.