Daily Notes for Monday: Alston on the upswing
|Time||Visitors||Opp. PPG||Opp. FGP||RPG Diff.||Home||Opp. PPG||Opp. FGP||RPG Diff.|
|7:00 p.m.||Phoenix Suns||103.4||.453||+1.2|
|7:00 p.m.||Los Angeles Clippers||101.8||.460||-3.3|
|8:00 p.m.||Houston Rockets||95.2||.451||+2.5|
|8:00 p.m.||New Orleans Hornets||93.3||.459||-0.5|
All times are ET.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Andrew Bogut, C, Bucks (back)
Tyson Chandler, C, Hornets (ankle)
Mardy Collins, PG/SG, Clippers (calf)
Chris Kaman, C, Clippers (foot)
Michael Redd, SG, Bucks (knee)
Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, Bobcats (rib)
The Rockets are finally getting healthy, which is perfect timing for the very streaky Rafer Alston, who is on one of his patented upswings (22 points, 6 assists, 4 3-pointers). If you own Alston, you need to know when to hop on and hop off, and you should feel very confident through All-Star Weekend. The fact that Aaron Brooks is dealing with the flu should only enhance Alston's short-term prospects. Darko Milicic got back into action, but he got into foul trouble before he had too much of a chance to drag down Marc Gasol's numbers. Gasol's long-term prospects seem to be falling, and I'd still look to move him before Memphis' front court gets too crowded. Ron Artest is back but is still coming off the bench, which means he's not a lock as a worthwhile start (14 points Saturday, but only five Wednesday). Still, if I owned him, I'd run him out there and hope for the best, lest I miss one of his 27/7/7-type games. January was a disappointing rebound month for Emeka Okafor (9.3), but he has reverted to his double-double norm over his past couple of games. More importantly, he's stayed healthy for the second season in a row, hopefully proving last year's 82 games played wasn't a contract-push fluke. Al Thornton (31 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists Saturday) is proving he can produce alongside Zach Randolph, but has yet to show he can do it night-in, night-out. It's going to be difficult for Thornton and Eric Gordon to find consistent shot attempts as long as Randolph plays 30-plus minutes a night. O.J. Mayo's been up and down as of late, but with Rudy Gay battling a hip injury, 20 shot attempts have to be in order against the Hornets. In the wake of Tyson Chandler's injury, David West has been starting at center as of late. If Chandler stays hurt through All-Star Weekend, could a world-beating qualification at center be in the offing? Probably not, but the fantasy ramifications would be staggering.
I was very impressed with the normally frustrating Luis Scola in January, which was the most consistent month of his career. He threw up only two statistical bricks (Jan. 7 and Jan. 13) while averaging 14.2 points and 8.5 rebounds. We know by now not to expect any defensive numbers, but as long as Scola's fouls are down and his minutes are better than 30 per game, he's a solid start. If D.J. Augustin (abdomen) can make it onto the court Monday, he should be in line for heavy minutes with Raja Bell (groin) seemingly out. Check Augustin's status Monday afternoon, as he could prove a nice spot start. This almost seems like science fiction, but Vladimir Radmanovic could have some semblance of short-term fantasy impact with his new team, which currently features just two healthy forwards on its roster. Given the rash of injuries over the past week, it's surprising Mike Conley is still unowned in 90 percent of leagues. Conley is still a lottery-type talent, and although he won't give you anything gaudy, he will provide steadiness off your bench. His role is expanding, and he's responded with 14 points and six assists over his past five games. Conley also rebounds well for a point guard, giving his fantasy prospects a hidden strength and upside. If Chris Paul remains on the sideline, Conley's got a great matchup against the Hornets. Ramon Sessions proved Saturday (44 points, 12 assists) that it's a good time to own a healthy Buck, as they seem to be an endangered species these days. He's still unowned in more than 50 percent of leagues despite scoring 83 points over his past three outings. It might be tempting to give one of the Hornets' backup point guards a shot with Paul on the shelf, but I wouldn't expect anything more than an annoying timeshare out of the situation. With Elton Brand gone until Halloween, Marreese Speights' fantasy value should see a severe uptick from here on out. He's an excellent fit for the more wide-open style the Sixers favor in Brand's absence. The Suns might be a depressing mess at the moment, but Grant Hill has been good to great over the past couple of weeks. The "damaged" tag may still hang around Hill's neck, but Hill is healthy and producing. Give him a shot.
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.