Jason Richardson: Chris Keane/Icon SMI
On Wednesday morning, Jason Richardson underwent exploratory surgery on his right knee. Fortunately, nothing significant was found, so he's expected to require just a week or so to recover from Wednesday's procedure.
J-Rich played 82 games last season, but he was dinged up the previous three seasons, and missed 31 games during his last run with the Warriors (2006-07). The combination of a sore knee, a shaky injury history and the presence of coach Larry Brown should make you a bit nervous if you own J-Rich.
Brown has limited the fantasy value of dozens of players over the years, and it's clear he's affected J-Rich early on this season. Richardson was a top-20 player in the second half of last season, but he's only averaging only 17.6 points after averaging 24.8 following last season's All-Star break, 15.9 shots (19.2) and 1.6 threes (3.2).
Richardson's too talented to not produce well, regardless, but there's nearly no chance he matches last season's finish under Brown this time.
The addition of Elton Brand to the 76ers' lineup was supposed to catapult them into contention in the Eastern Conference, but so far, they've lost three of their last four games and sit in fourth place in their division at 3-5.
It's very early on this season, so they have plenty of time to gel and make a push, but it's clear they still are feeling each other out -- something we see directly in fantasy terms.
Consider that Brand, who has averaged over 20 points per game on his career, is averaging just 15.8 thus far, and Andre Iguodala, who averaged just under 20 points per game last season, is averaging 12.4.
I recommend targeting both in trades right now, since their owners have to be seriously concerned about the poor scoring.
Once they get used to playing with each other, the scoring will come, though. I expect Brand to get his scoring up close to 20 ppg, and Iggy should get up to 18 or so.
In the meantime, both players have been contributing in most other categories: Iggy nearly triple-doubled twice in his last three games, has at least two steals in four of his last six, and has a trey in each of his last three contests; Brand has nine blocks in his last two games, and he's averaging 10.5 boards and 48 percent from the field. Get them while you can.
I rarely recommend drafting rookies in fantasy basketball. Typically, any player talented enough to make a splash in his first campaign will get drafted too early due to name recognition. The result usually is that he doesn't perform up to his draft spot, even if he plays well. On top of that, most of the time, rookies come with huge up-and-down swings, and for guards, an abysmal field-goal percentage.
However, Derrick Rose is one of the rare rookies whom I really targeted coming into this season, and thus far, I couldn't have asked for more.
He's currently averaging 18.8 points, 5.3 assists, 4.6 boards, while shooting 46.8 from the floor and 84.2 from the charity stripe.
The physical assets Rose brings to the hardwood are very real: amazing speed, strength, agility and athleticism. But it's his game acumen that brings it all together. He's very adept as a point guard, knowing when to dish the ball, when to take it to the rack and when to pull up for a jumper.
I'd love to see his defense pick up -- he's averaging only one steal per game -- but Rose is here to stay, so don't be afraid to add him to your roster for the long haul.
Nenê: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
You'd be hard pressed to find a better success story early on this season than Nenê. Here's a guy who has flashed his great potential since first arriving in the Association during the '02-03 campaign, but whose body has continually failed him.
From knee surgeries to last year's battle with testicular cancer, Nenê's had trouble just staying on the hardwood. His games-played totals the past four years look like this: 55, 1, 64, 16.
But with Marcus Camby's departure during the offseason, starter's minutes have been doled out to a healthy Nenê, and the results have been stellar: 15.6 points per game, 8.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.0 blocks, while hitting a whopping 67.2 percent of his field-goal attempts.
So long as he can stay out of the infirmary, Nenê should continue to produce similar numbers. Obviously, with his lengthy history of injuries, the odds are stacked against him, but so far, so good.
Speaking of injury-prone players, it's clearly going to be a while until we can get a legit read on what Greg Oden can contribute as a professional basketball player. Oden got back into the mix Wednesday night after being sidelined since spraining his foot in the season opener.
Of course, the No. 1 overall pick in '07 missed all of last season due to knee surgery, which leaves him a complete unknown at this point.
He played 16 minutes off the bench last night and managed to block two shots. The blocks are the one thing we know will come if Oden can ever keep himself on the hardwood. I really don't expect much in the way of scoring this season, though, since the Trail Blazers have plenty of scoring options.
I'm confident that a healthy Oden could average a double-double with three blocks this season, but don't set your expectations much higher than that. And considering the mammoth size of his 7-foot body, he could end up with a Nene-like medical record. If you're a Blazers fan, just keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best.
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