This is the point in the season where things are mostly settled into place. Sure, there are trades, coaching changes, injuries and a few breakout players who emerge, but those are becoming rarer by the day. Now is when you need to fully assess the weaknesses on your roster and seriously consider addressing those issues via a trade or two. Keep your eyes peeled for deeper sleepers and guys who've disappointed so far, because it takes just a little more work upgrading the roster now that the flurry of early season activity is behind us.
This week I'll focus on the deeper sleepers. Guys who you might find still sitting on the wire or permanently benched by the fantasy GM. Hello, buying opportunity.
• Methinks it's too bad that Antoine Wright strained a groin (ouch) after showing some of his potential in a starting role (2 starts: 19.0 PTS, 3.0 REB, 1.5 AST, 1.0 3PT). I still like the kid if the team puts him back into the starting lineup when he's full speed again. Jason Terry makes for a stellar sixth man option, so this is a formula that could stick even with a healthy Josh Howard in the lineup. Devean George is too old to log big minutes, and it's pretty clear that Jerry Stackhouse is more likely to be dealt than to enter the starting five.
• Methinks we're about to see Russell Westbrook muscle his way into the Rookie of the Year discussions. He got his first start over the weekend, and he looked pretty good (12 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL). It'll only get better from there.
• Methinks I've just about had enough of Andray Blatche's hijinks. Is this kid anything more than a fantasy tease? There's no excuse for him failing to put it together rather soon; otherwise, I'll have to cross him off my "watch" list altogether. It's only a matter of time before JaVale McGee turns the corner and takes command of the minutes in the pivot.
• Methinks you need to pay attention to what Tim Thomas has done in his first four games as a Knick: 14.3 PTS, 7.0 REB, 2.7 AST, 2.3 3PT, 1.0 STL, 0.7 BLK, 45.7 FG% (35 total attempts) and 100.0 FT% (five attempts). Sure, Cuttino Mobley wasn't active yet and Nate Robinson has missed time due to a strained groin, but I think there's still room for Thomas to produce under Mike D'Antoni. If you recall, Thomas played some very productive ball under D'Antoni in Phoenix for part of a season in 2005-06.
• Methinks it is about time for the Oklahoma City Thunder to make a decision about their frontcourt and stick with it. I like that they gave Chris Wilcox, the big with the most athleticism on the team, the chance to start at center over the weekend, but 15 minutes? That's not enough playing time to really deduce anything. Unless you want to play a young big man in preparation for the future, just play your best guy, and that's Wilcox, with his inconsistencies and all.
• Methinks it's time to officially worry about the status of Tracy McGrady's health. Do you know who seems to play above his head when T-Mac sits out? I'll give you a clue -- he's available in 46 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which is too many even with a healthy McGrady. If you need a PG, I'm serious about giving Rafer Alston a chance, because his better days for this season are still to come.
• Methinks that Maurice Evans needs to be on your watch list. Head coach Mike Woodson inserted him into the starting lineup against the Wizards over the weekend, and it worked like a charm (19 PTS, 9 REB, 4 3PTS). He won't be starting when Josh Smith returns, but if he keeps playing well, Evans will still deserve quality minutes off the bench either way. Like I said in the preseason, he is the best candidate for the Hawks' sixth man role, and I still say he will carve out that role this year.
• Speaking of the Hawks, Methinks there's an Adonal Foyle clone in Atlanta. Super-deep league players should remember the name SolomonJones. He worked his way into around 18 minutes per game (even before Smith went down) and is averaging 1.4 blocks. If you're desperate for a shot-blocker, he can provide similar value to what Foyle did as a starter in Golden State a few years ago, but with percentages that won't hurt you at all.
• Methinks it's worth your time to consider Kyle Korver as a three-point specialist if you have such a need. He'll have extra opportunities until Carlos Boozer returns to the lineup and Deron Williams gets back to game speed. Korver can still contribute so long as he is getting 20-25 minutes per game, but he's an end-of-bench option based on need only.
• Methinks none of us should consider Samuel Dalembert as a buy-low. I was down on him in the preseason with Elton Brand coming to town, but he's been even worse than I expected of late -- highlighted by a zero point, four rebound, zero block performance at Boston over the weekend. Boston is by far the scariest defense in the league, but not a single point? If you can sell him for 75 cents on the dollar, don't laugh at the offer. Brand is just now starting to look like himself, and Sammy is looking more lost than I've ever seen.
• Methinks it's time to move on if you've been sitting on Mike Dunleavy. This mystery knee ailment isn't going away, and I struggle to imagine he'll offer enough value to continue wasting space on him. Weekly leagues go ahead and keep him on the bench, but daily leagues need to cut their losses now.
• Methinks I don't foresee Luol Deng pulling together yet again, which is too bad. Something is clearly not right with him, and 2006-07 is starting to look like a career outlier. All I'm saying is that I'm glad I avoided him in drafts this year.
• Methinks there are better days ahead for Leandro Barbosa. I mean, how would you feel if your mother were on her deathbed, only to pass away less than a month into the season? Cut him slack for being distracted, and for a very valid reason nonetheless. I'd buy him at a discount without question.
• Methinks the Clippers might have to start plucking guys from their D-League affiliate soon if the injuries keep mounting in the backcourt. Ricky Davis has a knee problem. Baron Davis keeps getting dinged up and/or sick. Eric Gordon is struggling with a sore hamstring. Now we're looking at moving Al Thornton to the two-spot, which would give him great three-position eligibility if it sticks, or inserting Mardy Collins into the lineup. If you recall, Collins was the "throw in" to level out the salaries in the big trade that acquired Zach Randolph in exchange for Mobley and Thomas. If Chris Kaman hadn't just gone down, making the acquisition of Randolph particularly timely, I bet the team would be kicking themselves for dealing away an experienced SG in Mobley. How many times have I talked about the mess in this rotation? At least it gives me something to ramble about.