Given the frenzied nature of this truncated 66-game schedule, it is difficult for even the most ardent box score scavengers to stay on top of all the injury updates and position battles taking place throughout the league.
However have no fear, HOOPSWORLD is here for you, looking to assist fantasy GM's hoping to snatch a solid contributor off the waiver wire. Today we'll highlight a few players flying under the radar, but managing to post intriguing statistics. If one of your starters is sidelined, and you are attempting to patch the hole in your roster with a decent replacement, see if any of these guys are available...
Baron Davis - New York Knicks
If, for some reason, B-Diddy is still floating around your league's waiver wire, scoop him up immediately. Davis is working his way back from a back injury that has kept him sidelined over the first month of the season. Word out of New York is that Baron is making significant progress in his rehab and could return to the court as soon as Saturday night. His minutes will be limited and inconsistent early on, but if (big "if") Davis can stay healthy, his fantasy upside is enormous. The Knicks struggles so far this season have been directly related to their lack of a true point guard, and B-Diddy is being viewed as a potential savior. Head Coach Mike D'Antoni is desperate to jumpstart his offense and will give Baron all the PT he can handle. And we know what kind of numbers good starting point guards can put up in D'Antoni's offense (remember, Chris Duhon was dishing out 20 assists a night in New York during his short stint in the Big Apple). And while he clearly isn't in his prime, Baron has proven he
can still be a fantasy force when motivated. In April of 2010, while playing for Cleveland, Baron averaged 13.6 points and 7.1 assists. Over the 15 total contests he played for the Cavs, Baron's per-36 minute averages we definitely impressive: 19.7 ppg, 8.7 apg, 3.4 3PT, 1.5 steals. Again, go get him if he is still available.
Kirk Hinrich - Atlanta Hawks
Hinrich is another PG nearing a return to action. Hinrich obviously doesn't have the same upside as Baron Davis and won't see the same playing time (as Jeff Teague has done a solid job as Atlanta's starting PG), but if you play in a deep league and have an empty roster spot, Hinrich makes some sense.
Devin Harris - Utah Jazz
Over an eight-game stretch from January 7th through January 21st Harris saw his stock plummet precipitously, as he averaged just 6.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, while shooting a putrid 34.5% from the floor and 60% from the free-throw line. This led to many GMs dumping Harris into the waiver pool in many shallow leagues. Harris finally showed some signs of life on Wednesday night, pouring in a season-high 24 points and dishing out six assists in a loss to the Raptors. Devin has the ability and skill set to be a useful fantasy contributor, which is why I'd scoop him up in any league he is available.
Tiago Splitter - San Antonio Spurs
The Brazilian big man generated a lot of hype coming into his rookie season last year, but never was given much of opportunity to prove his worth. And although he started off slowly this season, Splitter is starting to turn heads in fantasy circles (and possibly earn the trust of Coach Pop). Over San Antonio's last four games Tiago is pouring in 15.8 points and grabbing 7.8 boards per contest while shooting a sizzling 72.7% from the floor. Coach Popovich will undoubtedly look to rest Tim Duncan as much as possible over the rest of the regular season, which could mean consistent and dependable PT for Tiago.
Tyrus Thomas - Charlotte Bobcats
Thomas, a perennial fantasy tease, has been left unclaimed in most leagues this season because he's always been agonizingly inconsistent. Ty has scored in double-figures just three times this season, and has yet to grab 10 boards in a single game. However, that latent talent remains, which is why he has long been labeled a potential sleeper. On Wednesday night, he proved what he can do when playing at optimum efficiency - Tyrus played less than 33 minutes against the Wizards, but still managed to score 13 points, snatch nine boards, collect four steals, and block nine shots! Just a monster night. I can't recommend going after Thomas knowing full well he'll probably disappoint you sooner rather than later, but if you are looking for a block specialist, I suppose you could do worse.
Drew Gooden - Milwaukee Bucks
Bucks starting center Andrew Bogut is currently awaiting an MRI on his injured ankle while rumors circulate he could miss the majority of the 2011-2012 season. This is obviously a situation to keep a keen eye on. If Bogut does miss significant time, Gooden is the guy to grab. Gooden has started five games in place of Bogut this season, and in those five contests he is averaging 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds.
Ersan Ilyasova - Milwaukee Bucks
Another Buck to consider if Bogut's injury is serious = Mr. Ilyasova. Over the Bucks last five games, Ersan is playing under 25 minutes a night, but has managed to average 9.0 points, 11.2 boards, and 1.2 steals. If he starts seeing 30+ minutes a game, he becomes an intriguing fantasy option.
Linas Kleiza - Toronto Raptors
Kleiza began the 2011-2012 campaign on the sideline nursing injury and then played sparingly while working his way back into shape. However, over the Raps last three games Linas is averaging a solid 15.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, and 2.3 three-pointers in just 27.6 minutes of action. Now that it appears Andrea Bargnani has re-injured his troublesome calf, Kleiza's minutes (and production) should continue to increase.
James Johnson - Toronto Raptors
Much like the aforementioned Kleiza, Johnson stands to benefit from Bargnani's injury as well. Johnson and Linas may cut into each other's minutes, but if there is enough to go around, they both could make some noise. JJ is more of an all-around threat, as opposed to strictly a scorer. Over Toronto's last four games, Johnson is averaging 12.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.5 blocks, and 3.3 steals. Those are fantastic stat-stuffing numbers...
Carl Landry - New Orleans Hornets
Landry's 2012 has been a bit of a roller coaster. He started out the season playing well, but then saw his minutes reduced as Chris Kaman's role increased. Over the five games played from January 9th through January 20th, Landry averaged just 14.8 mpg, 3.2 ppg (26.9 FG%!) and 2.6 rpg. However, over the Hornets next three (and most recent) contests, he averaged 17.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg, shooting 50% FG and 85%FT. It's tough to determine if he'll be able to sustain this production, but I'd be willing to invest a waiver-wire flier in his services.
Chandler Parsons - Houston Rockets
For those of you in deep leagues, Parsons is still likely on the wire and does posses some upside. He has started 11 straight games for the Rockets. His stat lines have been hit or miss; we'll have to wait and see if he can start producing consistently.
George Hill - Indiana Pacers
Before dropping back-to-back duds, Hill had been averaging nearly 13 points and two three-pointers per game in his previous five contests. Still, he is playing fewer than 25 minutes a night, and can't but fully be trusted yet. At this stage of the game, he'd likely only be a decent option if Darren Collison were to miss time.