Fire and Ice: Gerald Wallace and Andrew Bynum

 Each week, we’ll examine two players that have gone in opposite directions in the past week or two and their prospects for the immediate future.

Gerald Wallace often plays at a frenetic pace that leads to scenes like this. But you know what this leads to? (See end of post)

Fire: Gerald Wallace

Whoever has Gerald Wallace in your fantasy league is probably close to first place. He was drafted an averaged of 30th overall in Yahoo! leagues, is providing third-round value this season (according to Basketball Monster) and has been the 14th-best player in eight-category leagues over the past two weeks.

Wallace’s numbers are outstanding as he’s averaging 21.9 points, 13.1 rebounds 2.9 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.9 blocks while shooting .536 from the floor. Is anyone else on the Bobcats even trying to get rebounds?

Even more remarkably, Wallace has played in all of Charlotte’s 24 games this season. That’s no small feat for a player who has never played more than 72 games in his nine-year career.

Can you see where this is going?

Wallace is a perennial injury threat, especially due to his rambunctious style of play. On top of that, he’s grabbing 10.6 rebounds per 36 minutes this season – far above his career mark of 7.2.

It’s possible that this season will remain an anomaly for Wallace, who will stay healthy and continue to rebound like Marcus Camby. But it’s far more likely that he’ll get banged up, miss some games and become less efficient on the boards.

The upside is too great to consider Wallace strictly as a “sell-high” candidate. But if you can deal for a player of equal value that is a safer long-term bet (Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Chris Bosh, etc.), it is marginalizing your risk to make a swap.

Ice: Andrew Bynum

Bynum was profiled in an Buying Low and Selling High earlier this season while he was putting up big numbers in Pau Gasol’s absence. He was the “Selling High” part and if you didn’t listen, well, you should have.

Gasol has been on a tear recently and Bynum has averaged just 12.9 points, a measily 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in his last seven games. His minutes have sunk below 30 per game and he’s 110th in Basketball Monster’s ratings over the past two weeks.

The preseason projections for Bynum were as follows: 

Player G FG% FT% 3PG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG
Bynum 64 0.582 0.704 0.0 14.3 8.4 1.7 0.4 1.9

Bynum’s current performance is even below those modest expectations. Still, Bynum came in 121st in the preseason rankings, mainly because of the expectancy of him missing nearly 20 games.

The good news is Bynum will gradually rebound more effectively, which is the only thing really hampering his value at the moment. If a panicky owner is willing to deal Bynum and you need a center, it’s worth the risk.

Just pray he stays healthy.

This!

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Old Guards, Old Legs

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of Iveron's knees creaking.

While the extent of their injuries is currently unknown, Chauncey Billups (groin) and Allen Iverson (knee) are both heading for MRI’s. Any extended absence for either player would open up a chance for a rookie to take a significant leap in value.

With Billups, that player is Ty Lawson, who started the season well but has lost playing time since J.R. Smith returned from suspension. He is currently ranked as a 14th-rounder in eight-category leagues, according to Basketball Monster, and not ownable while the Nuggets are fully healthy.

However, Lawson has been pretty productive with his minutes, averaging 14.1 points, 5.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 3-pointers per 36 minutes. He also has strong percentages (.503/.788) and any significant jump in playing time could make him one of the league’s more valuable rookies as long as Billups is out.

If you need steals, assists or 3-pointers (and, of course, if you own Billups), keep an eye on the situation to see if Billups’ MRI is bad news.

Jrue Holiday will stand to gain the most if Iverson stays sidelined. Practically non-existent until Lou Williams broke his jaw in late November, Holiday has been the 73rd most valuable player in eight-category leagues over the past two weeks.

Holiday is averaging 10.3 points, 1.3 3-pointers, 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals during that span. He’s been far less efficient than Lawson, shooting just .303 from the floor this season and less than 70 percent from the line.

Williams had the wiring removed from his jaw on Wednesday and may return shortly. I’m not making an estimate because clearly anything the 76ers say about their players is to be taken with a grain of salt (see Dalembert post).

But should Iverson have a lingering injury, Holiday would continue to get minutes once Williams returns.

If both Billups and Iverson are sidelined for a while, Lawson is the preferred pickup. He’s far more efficient and plays with a more talented team, making him more of an overall threat to contribute even when he’s not scoring.

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See Mike Score, Trade Mike Soon

Take care of that knee Michael. Nurse it so I can ship you out at the first opportunity.

After six weeks dealing with a shaky knee and one unsuccessful comeback attempt, Michael Redd erupted for 25 points on 11-of-24 shooting and made a pair of 3-pointers to go with four assists and one steal.

For such a prolific scorer, Redd is merely an above average fantasy asset. He provides points and 3-pointers and a nice free-throe percentage and little else. I’ve been waiting for him to return in a couple leagues, especially one where I desperately need 3-pointers and FT%.

With that said, if Redd puts together a string of solid games, he’s going right onto the trading block. His knee can’t be trusted to hold up the rest of the season and if I can use his hot streak to acquire a Top 75 player, it’s a no brainer.

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Lies! Damned Lies!

Just yesterday I posted that Samuel Dalembert would be a good free agent option for at least a couple more weeks. This was based on a report I read that Marreese Speights would be out until Christmas.

Imagine my surprise when I saw Speights playing tonight and getting more minutes than both Dalembert and Elton Brand. Dalembert still managed eight rebounds and two blocks and his limited minutes were partially due to foul trouble.

Still, Dalembert’s value is on life support for the time being. Hopefully, if you grabbed Dalembert, Speights suffers a quick setback.

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Bridging the Gap

My goal in any basketball draft is to grab as many guys in my Top 100 as I can. Because my rankings and projections are usually unconventional, as discussed in a previous post, it’s pretty normal for 90 percent of my roster to be among my preseason Top 100.

As I also noted in an earlier post, I always tend to trust the numbers instead of how I “feel” about a player’s prospects. But there comes a time when some players just need to be cut loose or stashed on the best.

Of course, when that time comes depends on the situation of your particular team. For instance, in one of my 12-team, eight-category roto leagues I am currently in ninth place.

It’s not a huge headache as I still have the least amount of games played in the league, mainly due to injuries and my unwillingness to play ineffective players. I’d rather fall behind than shove an unworthy player into an active spot.

My current shortcomings are due to a handful of unfortunate picks (Paul Millsap, T.J. Ford, Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, Michael Redd). Each of those players were ranked 97th or better in the preseason and yet all of been nearly worthless due to injury, lack of playing time or just plain awfulness.

For the first two months of the season I maintained enough faith in the projections that I made few moves and patiently waited for each of these players to sort themselves out. But once I fell into 11th place, it was time to stop waiting for rotting fruit to ripen.

There are currently seven players on the roster that are clear Top 75 players. Instead of losing ground while waiting potentially irredeemable players to return to their talent level, it’s time to fill in the gaps with available players whose short-term value may have provide the team a spike. Once those players return to their former roles, it’ll be time to find the next hot hand.

For owners who are looking for a brief injection of talent, I’ll continue to post such noteworthy pickups as the season goes along. Here are some current opportunities:

Sam Dalembert (C, Philadelphia 76ers): Dalembert is likely to lose a ton of value once Mareesse Speights returns around Christmastime. But he’s been the 65th best player in eight-category leagues over the past month, according to Basketball Monster.

Dalembert has grabbed 11 rebounds or more in six of his last eight games and has blocked 20 shots during that span. And his percentages (.475/.795) are solid as well, even enough he doesn’t attempt enough shots to make a huge impact in those categories.

Dalembert only contributes in two categories, but makes a heavy impact. Speights will not be 100 percent right way, so there’s another three weeks or so of 10 rebounds and two blocks per game in Dalembert’s lanky frame.

Jarrett Jack (PG/SG, Toronto Raptors): Despite his subpar game on Tuesday night, Jack remains a strong play as long as Jose Calderon remains sidelined. And so far, no one really knows how long Calderon will be out with a hip injury that many fear is a serious issue.

For his career, Jack is averaging 12.5 points, 5.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 3-pointers per 36 minutes. He a career .446 shooter from the floor and .850 from the line. With enough time, he’s a solid point guard.

Jack has gotten 30-plus minutes in six straight games and that trend should continue as long as Calderon remains injured. Jack may just average 13 points, six assists and 1.2 steals for the rest of the season.

As always, the recommended strategy is to grab these guys to take advantage of their increased importance. Then, just prior to the value dissipating, try to unload them in a trade with an owner who may not realize just why the player was on such a hot streak.

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Ridnour Rolling

It was surprising to find the Luke Ridnour has been the 73rd best player in eight-category leagues over the past month, according to the Basketball Monster rankings. The stat that jumps out at you is a .517 FG% to go with Ridnour’s usually decent contributions in assists and 3-pointers.

The productivity of Ridnour has to make him worthy of consideration, but there’s a fantastic breakdown on BrewHoop about his future prospects. In short: leave Ridnour on the waiver wire.

Not to mention that Michael Redd is coming back tonight and if he stays healthy, it may put a squeeze on Ridnour’s role.

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Rookie Spotlight: Jonas Jerebko

As a companion piece to my weekly “Rookie Report” at the Fantasy Basketball Report, each Friday a different rookie will be looked at in-depth.

Even for those of us who follow NBA basketball on a daily basis, there was probably a point in the last month when saw the name Jonas Jerebko and said, “Who is that?”

The short version: Jerebko is a 6-foot-10 Swedish forward drafted in the second round as the 39th overall pick by the Detroit Pistons. He played in Sweden and Italy before coming to the NBA.

Considering the Pistons lack of frontcourt depth, Jerebko got some opportunities from the start and has started in every game except the team’s season opener.

With injuries to Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Gordon, Jerebko has become a major and productive part of Detroit’s lineup.

Since Gordon suffered an ankle injury on November 25, Jerebko is averaging 13.4 points, 7.6 rebounds with six 3-pointers and four steals in seven games. Even as Gordon has returned to the lineup, Jerebko has maintained his effectiveness.

It’s evident Jerebko has NBA-ready skills. He rebounds well, shoots some 3-pointers and makes 49 percent of his shots overall. In true European fashion, Jerebko doesn’t provide defensive statistics but will provide shooting from the power forward position.

Jerebko should already be on the radar of fantasy owners but the true test will be his performance once Tayshaun Prince returns. The Pistons have already claimed they will continue to give Jerebko minutes, but how will his play be affected?

Should Jerebko continue to produce at this level once Detroit is at full health, he should be considered in all leagues. But it’s going to be hard for him to continue to get shots when Gordon and Hamilton are dominating the ball.

But on the plus side, who wouldn’t want to own the league’s only Swede?

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