Remember growing up when you participated in rec league sports? Most kids loved showing up, but there was always that one who just arrived at the game when/if they wanted to. Even if every other parent who knew their child was going to be absent called the coach to let him know, that kid’s never would. It was a crapshoot relying on him even when your basketball team only had four confirmed to make the game. You sat there until 30 seconds before game time and sometimes he heroically busted through that door, but occasionally your team had to forfeit. That was just the worst.
Fast forward to Week 22 of the Fantasy Basketball season and there are plenty of “unreliable kids” across the league right now. Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Eric Bledsoe leave your fate teetering on the brink until the very last second every night (especially the second half of back-to-backs). Gregg Popovich plays the part of the annoying parent who could just care less about your squad very well. If you own the players mentioned, or any aging Spurs, there is no clear cut answer of when to start your player besides check the injury report. Yep, check the injury report early and often.
Other Fantasy players worth consideration have emerged in the past few days while some have faded. The clear cut ones will be the focus as they can be quantified in a much easier fashion. Here are players you should either start or sit down the stretch without having to stare at Twitter for hours on end before each game:
Minutes on the Rise (Use):
Avery Bradley, SG, Boston: Six games ago, Bradley was inactive because he had been suffering from a right ankle injury for nearly a month. Brad Stevens certainly didn’t waste much time ramping his minutes up to full force since he’s been back. In the five games since his return, here are his minutes played by game: 17, 28, 36, 41 and 35. Take his solid scoring, steals and 3-pointers to the bank. Having scored 23-plus in back-to-back games, Bradley is a must-start moving forward.
Samuel Dalembert, C, Dallas Mavericks: All season long, the Dallas center situation has been a Fantasy wasteland. Dalembert may be clearing up the haze. After compiling 14, 10 and 15 rebounds in the last three games (and 11 total blocks), Rick Carlisle may have found his man. While Dalembert is no sure thing, he’s surely the leader in the clubhouse for playing time at center moving forward.
Jordan Hill, PF/C, Los Angeles Lakers: Coach Mike D’Antoni decided Jordan Hill is on his good side once again. Earlier in the year, D’Antoni used a lame excuse that Hill was “getting fatigued” which led to Hill coming off the bench. That trend has been reversed recently as D’Antoni has a newfound trust for the talented per-minute big man. Hill has played 26-plus minutes in consecutive games (including starting in the last one) and has accumulated 27 rebounds during that span. Any time Hill sees big minutes, he is a double-double waiting to happen.
Henry Sims, C, Philadelphia: Nobody even acknowledged Sims as a part of the Evan Turner deal but he’s certainly trying to rectify that. After averaging 8.4 minutes per game in 20 games with Cleveland, Sims has averaged 25.6 minutes in 14 games with the Sixers. Of those 14 games, he started 13 of them. He has played 28-plus minutes in three of the last five games and produced double-digit rebounds on each of those occurrences. Like I wrote about Tony Wroten last week, Sims will play in close games or a blowout which limits his downside. You might as well use him while he’s hot.
Minutes on the Decline (Avoid):
Tony Allen, SG, Memphis: Truly a Fantasy steals specialist, Allen cannot seem to stay healthy. Tonight Allen is sitting with a stomach illness after missing significant time earlier this year with a wrist injury. Even since returning, Allen’s effectiveness has been down. He returned from the wrist injury on Feb. 21. He hasn’t grabbed more than six rebounds in a game and he has only scored double-digit points in six of 15 games since that point. Just because he is an elite NBA defender doesn’t mean he deserves a spot on your roster.
Kent Bazemore, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers: Well, the Lakers guards are getting healthy. Therefore his minutes are going down. He is the bottom of the totem pole.
Tristan Thompson, PF/C, Cleveland: The acquisition of Spencer Hawes has crippled Thompson’s Fantasy value. His scoring has fallen off big time as he’s scored in double-digits just twice in the past five games. Considering that he doesn’t block or steal, there really isn’t a reason to hang onto him any further.