Ryan Knaus

NBA Fantasy Trends

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Poor Rip has a bum hip

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Emeka OkaforOkafor has shaken off his mid-season doldrums and is playing with some energy lately, even though the Bobcats now have nothing to play for but pride. Actually, Okafor is in a contract year, so his sudden spike in energy is understandable (and likely a great relief to his agent). Okafor's last eight games have broken down nicely:

First four games: Failed to play 28 minutes in a game, averaging 5.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.

Last four games: Played a minimum of 34 minutes per game, averaging 17.3 points on 65% shooting, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.

This quote goes a long way toward explaining the disparity: "It started to look like [Okafor] had lost his enthusiasm," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said on Monday. "I though it was important that some of that passion came back. He expressed some things he wanted from the team, in terms of minutes."

Bottom line: Okafor's deficiencies are at least as obvious as his efficiencies, but he has the raw power and basic skill set to be an effective NBA front-court player for the next decade. In terms of the next week or two? He's on a roll, and I can only recommend starting him while it lasts.

Chris KamanThis quote from Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy says all you need to know: ""Have you seen [Kaman's] ankle? It really blew up. I don't think we'll see him (playing) anytime soon." Given Kaman's already-ailing back, I see very little chance of the Kaveman appearing in another game this season.

Beno UdrihFor a guy who never had elite value, Udrih has a fanatical following in the fantasy community. Owners who polished their waiver wire gem for a few months are loathe to drop him without getting back a comparable free agent. Udrih could return soon, but I'm skeptical for multiple reasons: 1) He already tried to return, lasting all of 10 minutes before his back seized up on him, 2) the Kings have been out of the playoff picture for a very long time, and 3) coach Reggie Theus recently declared fill-in starter Anthony Johnson to be a better defender than Udrih. It's time to give up on Beno this season, or at least radically adjust your expectations.

Shawn MarionIf you've been holding onto Marion for this long, odds are you won't mind hanging onto him a few days more. My original recommendation was to drop him last weekend if there wasn't any good news on the horizon—turns out there wasn't. But if you still find yourself unable to relinquish your stud to the waiver wire, take comfort in the fact that Pat Riley has said Marion might return this week (though he's doubtful for Wednesday's game). Heat beat writer Ira Winderman believes Marion's motivation to return stems from Miami's desire to test him out at small forward, in anticipation of next season—but to me this makes no sense at all. Marion is essentially playing with a different (and incomprehensibly worse) team right now, and testing his suitability at small forward would seem lower on everyone's list of priorities than preserving his injured back before a contract year. We don't have to wait long to see whether he's actually coming back, so hang on to him this week and see what happens.

Jordan Farmar/Sasha VujacicNeither of these guys has much value at the moment. What should be highlighted is how much they stand to gain if Derek Fisher shuts it down for a while because of the partially torn tendon in his right foot.

Fisher has been playing through the injury, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson acknowledged the uncertainty of Fisher's status on Monday: "We really don't know what's going to happen with this. We'll just have to wait and see how he's going to be and what direction it's going to take." Fisher played very well in Sunday's game against the Wizards—posting 17 points in 33 minutes of an overtime victory—but the injury will eventually require 2-3 months of inactivity to fully heal, and LA could easily rest him for a week or so prior to the playoffs.

Since the All-Star break, Sasha Vujacic is averaging 11 points and 2.5 three-pointers despite playing only 22 minutes per game. He might already be owned in your league, but absolutely should be owned if Fisher shuts it down.

Jordan Farmar's only weaknesses in fantasy leagues are blocks (0.1) and free throw percentage (67%)—outside of that, he's a reliably versatile option. That is, when he gets sufficient playing time.

In less than 21 minutes per game, Farmar is averaging 9.2 points on 46% shooting, 1.4 three-pointers, 2.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 0.9 steals.

Farmar is therefore a prime candidate for a huge month of April, should Fisher sit out at some point.

As a brief follow-up on my previous Mark Cuban vs. Credentialed Bloggers debate: the NBA overturned Cuban's idiotic ban, so he proceeded to "prove his point" by opening the doors of the Mavs locker-room to any blogger who submitted halfway decent copy to his email inbox. There is no question that Cuban's motivations lie [sic] in his distaste for Dallas Morning-News blogger Tim MacMahon. The "media theory" element of his argument is laughable—my previous column poked numerous holes in it, and ESPN's resident hoops blogger Henry Abbott (among others) has exhaustively refuted the illegitimacy of bloggers-as-journalists. Oh well. Cuban has a silver spoon, a soapbox and an axe to grind—it's a noxious combination of metaphors, and does nobody any good in the real world.

Thanks for reading along this season as I transitioned from Bench/Start to Fantasy Trends , and continue to hammer out wrinkles in the format. There might be two more columns this season, but regardless I encourage anyone still reading to write and let me know what you did and did not like about the columns. Or just anything else you had on your mind. Thanks again…and have fun this week.


Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.
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