Need one final boost? Grab Goran Dragic
Two days to go in the 2010-11 NBA regular season and there's still a fair amount of uncertainty in the standings. That's good news for many fantasy owners, because it means that most key players should see at least decent minutes on Tuesday. Here's a quick rundown of tonight's three NBA games and their fantasy implications:
• Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers: The incentive is apparent in this one. The Grizzlies, Blazers and the fading New Orleans Hornets are vying for seeds 6-8 in the Western Conference. Tony Allen, who's available in about 60 percent of ESPN.com leagues, is this game's most appealing potential fantasy free-agent add. Though inconsistent offensively, Allen is averaging 2.0 steals since the All-Star break (to go with 13.3 points, 0.8 blocks and 54.2 percent shooting). On the Blazers' side, Marcus Camby, who's missed the past two games with a neck strain, said on Monday that he will play in this one. Camby is available in only about a third of ESPN.com leagues, but if you have him, make sure you get him active against the Grizzlies, who lead the NBA in shots blocked.
• Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks: Of the teams going on Tuesday, the Knicks could disappoint the most fantasy owners. Coach Mike D'Antoni might rest Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups; then there's Amare Stoudemire's ankle. According to the New York Times, D'Antoni is looking for some assurance that Stoudemire will be OK for the playoffs, so you could see him against the Bulls. Any time Billups is limited, Toney Douglas (60 percent availability) becomes a prime fantasy option, even against Chicago's outstanding defense. Speaking of the Bulls, despite securing the top spot in the East, they're expected to stick with their starters. Still, you could see a bit more of Taj Gibson, who's coming off an 11-rebound, two-steal performance versus the Orlando Magic on Sunday.
• San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers: You'd think the Spurs would take it easy with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, but coach Gregg Popovich is at least giving lip service to the notion that his team is still battling the Bulls for the No. 1 overall seed. Parker (19.3 points and 1.7 steals in three previous games against the Lakers) is probably the safest play among the Spurs' stars. After the big three, there's George Hill (65 percent availability), who's averaging 17.5 points and 2.0 steals in his past four. You could argue that the Lakers, losers of five straight and in danger of falling to fourth place in the West, need this game, but we know and they know that they'll be fine come the postseason. But the aesthetics do suggest that Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom should log enough minutes on Tuesday to keep fantasy owners happy.
• Though the Miami Heat won ugly against a makeshift Atlanta Hawks team, LeBron James (34 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists) gave owners another sweet line (seven turnovers notwithstanding). For all the preseason angst about how James' numbers could slip, just a bit, with the move to Miami, he remains fantasy's top player.
• I think one of the most interesting questions going into the 2011-12 season will be where to draft DeMarcus Cousins. In the second half, he's averaged a horrific 4.1 turnovers, but nights like Monday (30 points, including 18-of-21 foul shooting) show just how dominant the youngster can be.
• With the Boston Celtics resting their four top players, Jeff Green (20 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals) logged 47 minutes in an overtime loss at Washington. You'll want Green active on Wednesday, when the Celtics host their first-round foes, the Knicks.
• In his previous three games heading into Monday, Channing Frye totaled 15 points. In the first of those games, he actually went scoreless against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 6. Well, Frye sure made up for that on Monday -- he drained nine triples against the Wolves, finishing with 33 points.
Since we already covered Tuesday's matchups, here are some quality free-agent adds for Wednesday's regular season finale:
Anthony Randolph, Timberwolves (50 percent availability): The perpetual fantasy tease, unleashed with the shelving of Kevin Love, is averaging 19.0 points, 7.3 boards, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in his past four.
Jordan Farmar, Nets (65 percent availability): In 17 starts this season, Farmar is averaging 13.3 points, 8.9 assists and 1.5 3s.
Ed Davis, Raptors (90 percent availability): In his past 10 games, the rookie has six double-doubles while averaging 13.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and shooting 58.3 percent. He is only a 65.8 percent foul shooter in that span, though, so keep this in mind if free throw percentage is a critical category for you.
Goran Dragic, Rockets (98 percent availability): Let's see on Monday, Frye buried nine treys against the Timberwolves. In the Wolves' previous game, Ty Lawson torched them for 10 triples. Where I am going with this? It's not where I'm going, it's where Dragic is going -- his Houston Rockets are in Minneapolis for the season finale. Dragic has already produced two near triple-doubles in place of the injured Kyle Lowry. If you have anything on the line, add Dragic now.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.