Commentary

Richard Hamilton among late pickups

Updated: April 4, 2011, 12:16 PM ET
By Brian McKitish | Special to ESPN.com

As we head into the final scoring period of the season, you will notice a big shakeup in the weekly top 130. Since we have only a week and a half remaining, games played will be a major factor in determining player values the rest of the way. Neil Tardy does a great job of breaking down the weekly schedules in the Fantasy Forecaster column, but for your convenience, I have listed the games remaining for each team here as well.

Games remaining by team

4: Pacers

5: Hawks, Mavericks, Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Timberwolves, Hornets, Magic, 76ers, Trail Blazers, Spurs, Jazz

6: Celtics, Bobcats, Bulls, Cavaliers, Nuggets, Pistons, Lakers, Bucks, Nets, Knicks, Thunder, Suns, Kings, Raptors, Wizards

The power of games played can make a big difference when we are talking about players of similar value. As an example, let's look at two players who have performed similarly since the All-Star break: Danny Granger and Paul Pierce:

Granger: 18.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks, 1.6 3-pointers

Pierce: 18.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.6 blocks, 1.3 3-pointers

Leaving percentages out of the equation, we can see that Pierce and Granger offer comparable counting stats for fantasy owners. I'd rather have Pierce, but it's fairly close, right?

But let's see how much of a difference games played will make for the final scoring period. To illustrate the disparity, we will assume that both players will continue to post their averages since the All-Star break, and multiply those averages by the number of games remaining to get an approximate total in the counting stats:

Granger (4 games): 75 points, 20 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks, 6 3-pointers

Pierce (6 games): 113 points, 36 rebounds, 21 assists, 6 steals, 3 blocks, 7 3-pointers

Now it's much more clear who the better fantasy player will be in the final scoring period. It's actually not even all that close. When we're talking about a small sample size, two games can make a big difference, but considering that Granger's Pacers are the only team that plays four games during the final period, let's see what the difference looks like if Pierce is able to suit up for only five games instead of six:

Pierce (5 games): 94 points, 30 rebounds, 18 assists, 5 steals, 2 blocks, 6 3-pointers

While he'd still be better than Granger, the difference is not as accentuated. Moral of the story? Games played makes a difference, but don't get too cute. Four games with Danny Granger is still better than six games with someone on the bubble like Grant Hill or Vince Carter.

The Top 130

Note: Brian McKitish's top 130 players are ranked for their fantasy value from this point forward in the 2010-11 NBA season. Previous rank is indicated in parentheses.

1. Kevin Durant, SF, OKC (1)
2. Derrick Rose, PG, CHI (7)
3. Chris Paul, PG, NO (2)
4. LeBron James, SF, MIA (3)
5. Pau Gasol, PF/C, LAL (5)
6. Dwight Howard, C, ORL (4)
7. Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC (6)
8. Amare Stoudemire, C/PF, NY (10)
9. Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA (8)
10. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL (14)
11. Carmelo Anthony, SF, NY (16)
12. Al Jefferson, C/PF, UTA (9)
13. Monta Ellis, PG/SG, GS (11)
14. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL (12)
15. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, GS (13)
16. Josh Smith, PF/SF, ATL (15)
17. John Wall, PG, WAS (24)
18. Steve Nash, PG, PHO (25)
19. Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, PHI (17)
20. Kyle Lowry, PG, HOU (18)
21. Al Horford, C/PF, ATL (19)
22. Dorell Wright, SF, GS (22)
23. Kris Humphries, PF, NJ (28)
24. Eric Gordon, SG, LAC (21)
25. Zach Randolph, PF, MEM (23)
26. Andrew Bynum, C, LAL (31)
27. Chauncey Billups, PG, NY (27)
28. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, POR (26)
29. Andrew Bogut, C, MIL (34)
30. Kevin Martin, SG, HOU (29)
31. Marcus Thornton, SG, SAC (50)
32. Blake Griffin, PF, LAC (32)
33. Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS (37)
34. Paul Pierce, SF/SG, BOS (40)
35. Manu Ginobili, SG, SA (33)
36. Nene, C/PF, DEN (41)
37. Marcin Gortat, C, PHO (51)
38. Carlos Boozer, PF, CHI (49)
39. Brook Lopez, C, NJ (36)
40. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, POR (38)
41. Serge Ibaka, C/PF, OKC (46)
42. Luol Deng, SF, CHI (53)
43. DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, SAC (54)
44. David Lee, PF/C, GS (43)
45. Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL (57)
46. Luis Scola, PF/C, HOU (44)
47. Chris Bosh, PF/C, MIA (45)
48. JaVale McGee, C/PF, WAS (60)
49. Marc Gasol, C, MEM (47)
50. Kevin Love, PF, MIN (20)
51. Andray Blatche, PF/C, WAS (89)
52. Paul Millsap, PF, UTA (48)
53. J.J. Hickson, PF/C, CLE (61)
54. Jason Kidd, PG, DAL (42)
55. Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS (59)
56. Greg Monroe, PF/C, DET (66)
57. Ty Lawson, PG/SG, DEN (70)
58. D.J. Augustin, PG, CHA (62)
59. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, ATL (56)
60. Tim Duncan, C/PF, SA (79)
61. Danny Granger, SF, IND (30)
62. Channing Frye, PF/C, PHO (77)
63. Tony Parker, PG, SA (63)
64. Elton Brand, PF, PHI (64)
65. Jrue Holiday, PG, PHI (76)
66. Michael Beasley, SF/PF, MIN (65)
67. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, DEN (82)
68. Ray Allen, SG, BOS (69)
69. James Harden, SG, OKC (75)
70. Andre Miller, PG, POR (71)
71. Raymond Felton, PG/SG, DEN (83)
72. Mo Williams, PG, LAC (67)
73. Wesley Matthews, SG/SF, POR (68)
74. Emeka Okafor, C, NO (72)
75. Baron Davis, PG, CLE (91)
76. Mike Conley, PG, MEM (73)
77. Chris Kaman, C, LAC (58)
78. Shawn Marion, SF/PF, DAL (74)
79. Beno Udrih, PG, SAC (84)
80. Lamar Odom, PF/SF, LAL (80)
81. Andrea Bargnani, C/PF, TOR (55)
82. Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, SAC (108)
83. Jose Calderon, PG, TOR (52)
84. Samuel Dalembert, C, SAC (93)
85. Tyson Chandler, C, DAL (81)
86. Joakim Noah, C/PF, CHI (39)
87. Carl Landry, PF, NO (99)
88. Hedo Turkoglu, SF/PF, ORL (85)
89. Jordan Crawford, SG, WAS (103)
90. Carlos Delfino, SF/SG, MIL (92)
91. DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR (100)
92. Jason Terry, SG, DAL (88)
93. C.J. Miles, SF/SG, UTA (94)
94. Jason Richardson, SG, ORL (86)
95. John Salmons, SG/SF, MIL (101)
96. Boris Diaw, PF/SF, CHA (106)
97. Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, DET (104)
98. Chase Budinger, SF, HOU (96)
99. Richard Hamilton, SG/SF, DET (NR)
100. Anthony Morrow, SG/SF, NJ (112)
101. Jamal Crawford, SG/PG, ATL (97)
102. Jared Dudley, SF, PHO (NR)
103. Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL (98)
104. Ed Davis, PF, TOR (115)
105. Leandro Barbosa, SG, TOR (NR)
106. Tony Allen, SG, MEM (107)
107. Roy Hibbert, C, IND (87)
108. Landry Fields, SG, NY (95)
109. Deron Williams, PG, NJ (119)
110. Gerald Henderson, SG, CHA (121)
111. Nick Young, SG, WAS (102)
112. Nicolas Batum, SF, POR (113)
113. Arron Afflalo, SG, DEN (NR)
114. Tayshaun Prince, SF, DET (114)
115. J.R. Smith, SG, DEN (122)
116. Jodie Meeks, SG, PHI (111)
117. Trevor Ariza, SF/SG, NO (116)
118. Toney Douglas, PG/SG, NY (126)
119. Jordan Farmar, PG, NJ (109)
120. Jerryd Bayless, PG/SG, TOR (NR)
121. Wilson Chandler, SF/SG, DEN (110)
122. Chuck Hayes, SF/PF, HOU (123)
123. Jason Thompson, PF, SAC (NR)
124. Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, CHA (35)
125. Devin Harris, PG, UTA (90)
126. Vince Carter, SG/SF, PHO (128)
127. Thaddeus Young, SF, PHI (NR)
128. Kendrick Perkins, C, OKC (129)
129. Drew Gooden, PF, MIL (NR)
130. James Johnson, SF/PF, TOR (NR)

Under the radar

Not surprisingly, most of the players that moved into the rankings this week are those that have six games on the docket. The extra game played will give them sneaky value as we wrap up the season. My favorites are below:

Richard Hamilton, SG/SF, Detroit Pistons: Though it has been nearly impossible to figure out the Pistons' rotations this season, you can't argue with what Rip has down in his past six games: 21.3 points, 1.0 steals and 0.8 3-pointers with fantastic percentages. Hamilton should be able to ride this hot streak the rest of the way, and he should be owned in all leagues for the final push.

Jared Dudley, SF, Phoenix Suns: Owned in just 40.0 percent of ESPN.com leagues, Dudley has caught fire since joining the starting lineup in Phoenix. Averaging 17.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.0 steals in his past six contests, Dudley could lead many fantasy owners to championships during the final week-plus.

Leandro Barbosa, SG, Toronto Raptors: Barbosa was one of my sleepers heading into the season, and even though he didn't pan out the way I liked, he's been quite valuable down the stretch with 16.6 points, 0.8 steals and 1.2 3-pointers in his past five games. Anyone in need of scoring, steals or 3-pointers would be wise to scoop up Barbosa for the final six contests.

Jason Thompson, PF, Sacramento Kings: Owned in just 1.5 percent of ESPN.com leagues, Thompson has averaged a solid 10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in his past six games. With a friendly schedule up ahead for the Kings, Thompson should finish the season strong for fantasy owners who need a boost in scoring and rebounding.

Arron Afflalo, SG, Denver Nuggets: Afflalo returned from a hamstring injury on Friday to post 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 26 minutes, only to miss Sunday's contest with the same hamstring ailment. He's a risky pickup candidate for sure, but with six games on the schedule, owners in need of scoring and 3-pointers may want to give him a look. He should be able to return to action on Tuesday against Oklahoma City.

Injuries/shutdown candidates

Sticking with the theme of games played, even a minor injury could turn a five-game week into four-game week quite quickly. That said, the following players are at serious risk of missing a few games down the stretch, and could even be droppable if we receive word that the injuries will linger through the end of the season:

Andrew Bogut, C, Milwaukee Bucks: I was reluctant to bump Bogut up in the rankings despite the fact that the Bucks play six games simply because if/when Milwaukee falls out of the playoff hunt, Bogut could be a shut down. Bogut has been banged up for much of the season and could use the rest, but he's been playing at a high level, and with six games on the docket it's hard not to use him this week.

Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, Charlotte Bobcats: Like Bogut, S-Jax would have six games to accrue stats in the final scoring period, but Jackson's situation is much more serious than Bogut's. He hasn't played well through his hamstring injury, putting up just 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 0.4 steals in his past seven games, and he even missed his past two games despite the fact that the Bobcats are only two games behind the Pacers for the final playoff spot in the East. I still have Jackson ranked at the bottom end of the top 130, but he could easily be dropped for one of this week's hot pickups.

Deron Williams, PG, New Jersey Nets: The good news is that Williams is expected to continue to play through his right wrist injury unless he suffers a setback, the bad news is that any minor setback will likely put him out for the year. That makes him and Jordan Farmar risky plays for the final two weeks, especially since Williams has been quite inconsistent since returning from the injury.

Kevin Love, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves: Love sat out his most recent game against the Grizzlies on Saturday with a nagging groin injury, and though he is still a candidate to be shut down, he is expected to return to the lineup this week. Given his talent, hold onto him for now, but be ready to drop him if we receive any bad news.

Jose Calderon, PG, Raptors: Calderon's sore hamstring caused him to miss his past two games, and his status for the upcoming week is currently in doubt. He had been playing very well up until the injury, so those who need a boost in assists will want to hold onto him and hope that he's alright. If Calderon needs to miss more time, Jerryd Bayless would be the primary beneficiary.

Andrea Bargnani, C/PF, Raptors: Bargnani's ankle injury just might linger throughout the remainder of the season. He was able to suit up on Wednesday, but missed games on Saturday and Sunday due to the injury. He's noted as day-to-day for the time being, but he'll be a tentative option the rest of the way. For those looking at replacements, Ed Davis has been huge in his absence.

Joakim Noah, C/PF, Chicago Bulls: Despite reports that he will return to action on Tuesday, I don't trust Noah's troublesome ankle. The Bulls are going to want Noah healthy for their playoff run, so don't be surprised if they are ultra careful with him at the end of the season.

Devin Harris, PG, Utah Jazz: Harris' hamstring injury has kept him out of action since March 21, and some of his owners are beginning to wonder if he will see the court again this season. History tells us that Harris can be slow to recover from injuries, so it wouldn't be surprising if this lingered the rest of the way. Feel free to drop him if there are better options available on the wire.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com, and was recently named the Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at bmckitish@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter @bmckitish.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com and is a two-time Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year, as named by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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