Trade winds are starting to blow. Players are starting to fall to extended injuries. What opportunities have opened as a result? Let's check it out ...
Rafer Alston, Heat (17% owned in Yahoo! leagues): Obviously, the reason why Alston tops our list is because of his recent move to Miami. You know you're wanted when you sign a contract with a team and less than 24 hours later you are in their starting lineup and playing 34 minutes for your new team. In his first start with the Heat, Alston dropped 10 points, 4 dimes, 2 treys, 3 rebounds and a steal. Of course, he did shoot 3-of-9 from the field, but that's exactly what we expected him to do. What swayed me toward Alston -- since I don't necessarily like guys who shoot below 40 percent from the field -- was that Dwyane Wade said that Alston was "his guy." If you think that means that "Skip" will start coming off the bench or lose his starting job to Mario Chalmers or Carlos Arroyo, think again. This is D-Wade's team, and with his stamp of approval we now have a 30-plus mpg starting point guard who can dish, shoot the three, grab steals and score some points.
Jarrett Jack, Raptors (45% owned): Who cares that Jose Calderon returned to action? Not JJ. In the two games since Calderon returned to action Jack has played no fewer than 31 minutes and averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 threes. Considering that the Raptors are 10-6 with Jack as their starting point guard and on a three-game win streak. I'm not bailing on Jack until I see him start posting 20-24 minutes per game. Then maybe we'll have to downgrade him. I'm just not sure that scenario will come anytime soon.
Martell Webster, Trail Blazers (35% owned): No player on the wires has been hotter than Webster. Over his last five he's posted 37.8 minutes, 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks, 50.8 percent shooting, and 3.0 treys per game. Yeah, he's been pretty darn good. The two reasons I don't have him at the top of this list is because Portland plays only twice this week, which hurts his immediate value, and also because Rudy Fernandez is about seven days away from returning. With the loaded backcourt in Portland, they might be playing some three-guard sets, which could eat into Webster's minutes. Though if he keep splaying like this, those minutes will continue to be his.
Luke Ridnour, Bucks (27% owned): Once again Ridnour becomes the forgotten man at the point in Milwaukee. He's still playing around 22-24 minutes, but he has been providing 13.8 points, 1.4 threes, 3 assists and 1.2 steals and 56 percent shooting over his last five. On the season he's shooting 51.8% from the floor, so it's not as if he's playing too far over his head. Given how poorly Brandon Jennings is playing right now and the future question marks around how he'll hold up in an 82-game season, Ridnour should provide some solid value.
Drew Gooden. Mavericks (17% owned): With or without Erick Dampier in the lineup Gooden has been playing well of late with 10.2 rebounds, 10.4 points, 1.2 steals and 1 block over his last six. When Damps returned to the starting lineup on Friday, Gooden still went for 10 and 8 in 17 minutes. I know he missed Saturday night's game with a sprained finger, but he's said that he should be ready to go for Wednesday. Someone worth keeping an eye on, especially if you need some D-league help.
Keyon Dooling, Nets (2% owned): Now that Alston is in Miami, Dooling is the primary back-up to Devin Harris at point. Injuries aside, Dooling has been an extremely productive deep-leaguer. Last season he averaged 9.7 points, 1.3 treys, 3.5 assists and 0.9 steals in 77 games. And on Friday night he showed the upside he can provide with his 21-point performance with 4 treys against the Hornets in 22 minutes. His per-36 numbers this year show just how productive he can be -- 15.4 points, 2.3 treys, 4 assists and 1.7 steals.
Sam Young, Grizzlies (2% owned): Points. Points. Points. That's what Young will give you. He has two 22-point games over his last five and five double-digit scoring games in his last 10. Unfortunately, he's not much of a provider elsewhere, but with the Grizz so thin on their bench Young could be a value scorer down the stretch.
Keith Bogans, Spurs (2% owned): How can one get excited about a guy who's averaging just 5.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists? Well, there are a few things you like as a deep-league owner. You like that he's starting and playing 20 minutes per game. You also have to like the 0.9 threes and 0.8 steals per game he's logging. As many of you in 24- or 30-team leagues know, that can be some helpful value.
Marcus Williams, Grizzlies (0% owned): I might be jumping the gun here with Williams, considering that his value is dependent upon whether or not Mike Conley plays. With Williams dropping 7 points, 8 assists, 6 boards and 4 steals against the 'Cats on Saturday he might have carved out a few more minutes for himself. In the deepest of leagues, you have to keep your eyes on this situation.
Ime Udoka, Kings (1% owned): He may seem like a one-trick pony after his performance on Friday (19 points, 14 boards, 2 steals, 4 threes, 1 block in 35 minutes), but by adding 12 points, 2 treys and a steal on Saturday while playing 23 minutes, Udoka has made a statement. He wants and needs to play. With a few key guys like Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia set to return from injuries in the near future, Udoka's run might be short lived. But at the very least he can say it was lived. Right?