Contributed by Mike Gallagher
Nicolas Batum: Batum had a great past couple games. He had a 22-point quarter against the Wolves this weekend to finish with a career-high 31 points. Batum didn’t disappoint in his next game with 21 points on Monday. Ocho-ocho only scored three points in the first half and had yet another strong finish.
Brandon Roy did a courtside interview after the game and raved about Nic’s ability. Roy said he became extremely impressed with how he created his own shot. He also stated that he could always rely on him to guard the opposition’s best scorer.
Batum’s rep has been primarily as a great defender. Batum is extremely long and both guards and small forwards have a tough time getting past him even without help-side defense.
He has a much higher upside now that Travis Outlaw is playing for the Clippers. The Frenchman would be close to a stud on more than half of NBA teams, but the Blazers’ depth puts him somewhere in the netherworld of studs and irrelevant fantasy players.
Batum has an excellent fantasy game with the possibility of exorbitant threes (4.5 3PM per game in his last two), great D (2.0 steals in the last two), and solid percentages (57 percent from the field on the season and 91 percent from the stripe). If you have dead weight on your team, then there’s no reason to wait on him in any league.
Anderson Varejao: Shaq will be out six-to-eight weeks for thumb surgery and essentially ends his fantasy value this year. Shaq was playing well and played 31 minutes in back-to-back games before hurting his thumb.
Enter Andy Varejao. A.V. electrified Cleveland fans with great defense for years, but his offense has stepped up since Shaq’s absence. In the four games without Shaq, his numbers are 13.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and a block per game in 25 minutes.
J.J. Hickson could potential be a hurdle in Andy’s way. Hickson had a nice line Monday against the Knicks with 17 points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes. The problem with that line is that this game got ugly early. New York was basically down by 30 for half of the game and Hickson picked up the garbage time.
Andy is the guy to own in the frontcourt and even if Big Z arrives to The Mistake by the Mi-lake, A.V. should still be worth owning for owners needing help in field goal percentage, blocks, and boards.
Marreese Speight: The Gator was on my short list to watch of guys before the deadline in case Philly jettisoned some contracts before the deadline. They didn’t, so Speights’ prospects for the rest of the season weren’t looking too great.
Recently Elton Brand is dealing with some Achilles ailments and won’t play on Wednesday. E.B. didn’t play on Monday and Speights had a disappointing line with just eight points and two boards in 24 minutes.
He should turn it around on Wednesday and owners that missed out on Andy V might want to call him Maurice (I have no idea how to type that whistle sound in the Steve Miller Band song).
Jrue Holiday: Holiday celebrated with a career-high 23 points accompanied by six assists, two steals, and five threes. He was really let loose in the blowout loss to Orlando, so don’t expect him to top 20 that often. The former Bruin has all the tools owners will want in a fantasy point guard. He can steal, shoot the three, and disturb some assists. Holiday will likely pull down the field goal percentage category with just a measley 40 percent shooting from the floor.
Owners needing a point guard will have a very tough time getting one better than Jrue. Even though Sergio Rodriguez has a better upside for the rest of this year.
Spencer Hawes: Hawes went from Paul Westphal’s doghouse, to bumping Westy’s chest and giving him an elaborate hand greeting during the announcement of the starting lineups at Arco. Hawes averaged 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in the two games without Jason Thompson.
J.T. injured his back during a bad spill and should return some time next week. Hawes will be a nice play this week, but he will drop to some place between the doghouse and this outstanding output we’ve seen in the past two games. Grab him now and sell him this weekend for anything decent.
Bill Walker: Now before you write this off and discredit the other guys I mentioned earlier. Bill Walker had 21 points and just about all of those came in garbage time. Walker had eight points in a very competitive game against Memphis on Saturday.
The Skywalker can score from anywhere on the court, and deep league owners could do worse. Walker will provide a nice plug-n-play against the strong teams in the league. The Knicks have Atlanta (3/8), San Antonio (3/10), Dallas (3/13), and Boston (3/17) in the near future, so those games could be decent for Walker. Owners in 14-team or less should pay no attention to this guy until further notice.
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