J.R. Smith has been all over the place this season. The good news is that he’s finally getting a steady diet of minutes for the Nuggets. The bad news is that it’s hard to predict when he’ll do much with them. However, Smith remains a solid source of threes and steals, despite his low field-goal percentage, and should Carmelo Anthony be dealt away in the coming weeks (which seems increasingly possible), Smith will have more minutes and shots fall into his lap.
Stephen Jackson has been turning in some lackluster lines lately. He’s averaging 12.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 turnovers and just 0.5 threes in his last four outings. But consider this: Two of those games were blowout losses for the Bobcats, and Jackson was mired in foul trouble for another, limiting his minutes and production. He’s still a solid fantasy player and could be pried a bit easier from his owners’ hands if they haven’t been paying attention to the details behind the lines.
Nicolas Batum was one of the most intriguing players heading into this season, but he soon fizzled into waiver-wire fodder. He had a nice little run earlier this month, but his last four games have been awful. Still, Batum’s true value lies in being Brandon Roy insurance. With Roy laboring with a bum knee and struggling on the court, it looks more and more likely that he’ll accumulate his share of DNPs sooner than later. Batum’s value will get an instant boost should this happen.
Roy Hibbert’s December has been a month to forget so far. His production and minutes have been sporadic at best, and fantasy owners are vigorously shaking their fists at coach Jim O’Brien’s maddening minute distributions. The good news is that Hibbert remains capable of turning things around and is saying all the right things about his poor play, despite his coach’s tough words about his center not “having a very good season.” Productive centers are hard to come by, and Hibbert is one of the better ones when playing well. Try to get him on the cheap before that happens again.
Luol Deng had a strong November but has been limited so far this month because of a roster that was back at full strength. However, with Joakim Noah out anywhere from 6-10 weeks after having thumb surgery, Deng’s value immediately gets a bump. He’ll get minutes at power forward and should return to being closer to the player he was near the start of the season.
Rajon Rondo, Joe Johnson, Stephen Curry and any other productive fantasy players who are injured should be considered buy-low candidates.
Channing Frye really turned his season around after Robin Lopez went down with a knee injury. Despite Lopez’s return Wednesday, Frye started at power forward and managed to put up 21/9 along with a steal, two blocks and seven threes. Nevertheless, the negative impact Lopez’s presence has on Frye’s value can’t be overlooked. There’s a chance that Frye will keep things rolling right along, but his owners should at least explore what kind of value he’ll fetch for them. It would do them well to swap him for another player whose value isn’t as chancy.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. has had himself a good week, but two threats to his value remain: a timeshare and revolving starting gig shared with Brandon Rush, and a history of shaky health. After such a strong week, his owners should do their best to deal him for someone without those kinds of hazards.
Kyle Lowry, as expected, has done an admirable job filling in as the Rockets’ starting point guard. But with Aaron Brooks closer to his reclaiming his starting job, Lowry’s value is ticking away. The good news for owners looking to sell high on him is that Brooks still appears a couple weeks away from returning, which gives Lowry’s owners more time to make a deal.
Glen Davis doesn’t put up gaudy numbers, but he gets the job done. Big Baby has gone from being waiver-wire material to being a viable starter in some leagues. Since Black Friday, Davis has averaged 15 points, 7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.1 turnovers, all while shooting 51 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free-throw line. Those are solid numbers. However, with the Jermaine O’Neal getting closer to returning to the court, Davis’ value will take a blow in the coming weeks.
Caron Butler had his best game of the season on Wednesday and finished with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. He’s been looking a lot better lately than he did at the beginning of the season, but his owners shouldn’t get too comfortable with him on their rosters. His name remains bigger than his actual fantasy value, so do what you can to sell high on him, especially before Rodrigue Beaubois returns to put yet another hurdle in Butler’s way.