I hope you enjoyed the first installment of “Last Man Off the Bench.” I’m back with six new players worthy of consideration for your roster. A couple obscure ones and a couple that you have likely thought about.
Make sure to check out the bottom of the column for player updates from last time I wrote (11/17/2006).
Randy Foye, Shooting Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves: The rookie out of Villanova is finally getting playing time, and is turning heads in limited action. Averaging over 12 points, nearly three rebounds and over a steal a game over the past three, Foye is stealing minutes from the struggling Mike James and is instant offense off the bench for the T-Wolves.
Foye jolted the Land of 10,000 Lakes on Sunday with a 14-point explosion in the fourth quarter to carry the Wolves past the Clippers. Looks like he’s found his way into Dwayne Casey’s rotation, and there’s no sign he’ll be out of it anytime soon. Go ahead and grab him if he’s not gone already.
Luke Walton, Small Forward, Los Angeles Lakers: When the younger, less annoying Walton started strong this season, we attributed it to Kobe’s absence. Now that his production has continued, it’s obvious he’s not going anywhere.
Walton has been getting regular minutes in the Laker lineup and has averaged around 12 points with 4.5 rebounds, over three assists, and one block/one steal per night over the last week. On top of that, he’s hit seven threes in that span, something that offsets his ball-control woes. It’s time to take a chance on him if he’s available.
PJ Brown, Power Forward, Chicago Bulls: A rebounding hog nearing the end of his playing days, Brown put up a great line last night (14 points, eight rebounds, a block, and a steal) and raised some eyebrows in Chi-town.
The 13th year forward will likely see his minutes increase from the minuscule 17.5 he’s averaged to date, being that Chicago cannot win if teams continue to destroy them in the paint. Brown won’t average a double-double, but could be good for nine points and 7.5 boards with 25-30 minutes a night. He’s available in most leagues and won’t hurt your field goal or free throw percentages.
Andrea Bargnani, Center, Toronto Raptors: The first-year talent from Italy is finally starting to show some signs of life after a bleak start to the season, a breath of fresh air to those who held on. In his last two games, Bargnani has tossed in 15 points per game with 2.5 rebounds and one block/one steal in each game. In those games he played 23 minutes, up from the 14.8 he had been logging on the year. Though he was the first overall pick, a lot of teams gave up on him, so snag him and make those trigger-happy fantasy GM’s well up with bitterness.
Brendan Haywood, Center, Washington Wizards: You might scoff at this entry, but Haywood, over his last three games, has come up with 7.66 boards with two blocks a night. The erratic PT has officially ended and Etan Thomas’ reign as starting center may be over after a disappointing encore to his 15-point, 14 rebound explosion earlier this season.
Haywood, with 30 minutes a game (a possibility if he’s starting), is a double-double waiting to happen on a nightly basis. His blocks and lack of turnovers should land him on some rosters, as he is the better option at center for Washington. We’re just waiting for Eddie Jordan to figure it out.
Eduardo Najera, Power Forward, Denver Nuggets: It seems like Eduardo won’t go away. He keeps popping up and soaking in the minutes whenever someone gets hurt,and it turns out he’s not too bad an option. In the wake of K-Mart closing up for the year, Najera and fellow forward Reggie Evans filled the gaping hole nicely. Last night, Najera put up 13 points, six rebounds and three steals and has the ability to post around 11 points, 6 to 8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals an outing. There’s likely room on your bench for someone like that.
Player Updates: Nick Collison struggled for a bit, but has come on strong lately, averaging nearly a double-double over his last three games… Andris Biedrins has dominated everything in his path over the last two weeks and shouldn’t be available in any league, anywhere… Tyronn Lue continues to play solid minutes off the bench, but his assists have dwindled with Speedy Claxton back in the lineup… Jeff Foster still hasn’t been getting great PT, but is helping owners with steals and surprisingly, blocks… Lawrence Roberts struggled to find playing time until last night, when he went off for 16 points, six rebounds, and a steal in 26 minutes… Freddie Jones has not been good at all, averaging just 7.6 points and four rebounds with 1.33 steals in 36 minutes a night over the last three.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back next week with “Market Strategy.”
Jamaal Gilbert is an aspiring sportswriter who contributes regularly and is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Jamaal in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of jamastaballa. You can email him at email@example.com with feedback on any article he writes. Except for the bad ones.
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