Working the Wire: Villanueva worth a look
Kudos to those of you who were smart (or lucky) enough to grab Beno Udrih off the wire following the Mike Bibby trade. Udrih, who averaged 14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 3-pointers in 31 starts earlier in the season, is back at it again, averaging 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 0.5 steals and 1.0 3-pointers in four games since the trade. At just 25 years of age, Udrih is looking like the Kings' point guard of the future, and I'd be surprised if we found a waiver-wire addition this season that will have more value down the stretch.
But if there is a more valuable pickup for the stretch run, it might be Udrih's teammate Francisco Garcia (56.6 percent owned). He has been blowing up in Bibby's absence, with averages of 16.0 points, 1.3 blocks, 4.0 3-pointers and a steal per game since the All-Star break. With the Kings now looking toward the future, Garcia should be a safe addition, and I expect to see more and more of the 26-year-old as the season progresses. Udrih is the better pickup, but Garcia is quite the addition himself.
Charlie Villanueva, SF/PF, Bucks (19.1 percent owned): I broached this subject in Sunday's Box Score Blog, and I figure it's worth a second mention here because no one has seemed to catch on to the fact that Villanueva is the new starting power forward for the Bucks. That's right, folks, Charlie V. finally has played his way into the starting lineup, and hopefully the Bucks are beginning to realize he has just as much, if not more, upside than their first-round draft pick, Yi Jianlian. I always have been a huge fan of Villanueva's fantasy game, mostly because the guy can contribute in multiple categories, including steals, blocks and 3-pointers. From everything coach Larry Krystkowiak is saying to the media, it looks like the job will be Villanueva's for the rest of the season, meaning we should expect about 13-14 points, 7-8 rebounds and close to a steal, a block and a 3-pointer per game the rest of the way.
Marcus Williams, PG, Nets (29.5 percent owned): Williams has been added in 27.5 percent of fantasy leagues in the past week, so it seems as though word of his talent is spreading among fantasy owners. But I feel like many are staying clear of Williams because of the impending return of Devin Harris. I might be alone here, but I think Lawrence Frank will give both youngsters plenty of time together in the backcourt. Obviously, the addition of Harris will hurt Williams' assist totals, but he has some potential for long-term value. And, since Williams has been getting it done with averages of 12.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.8 3-pointers and a steal in four starts since the Jason Kidd trade, it wouldn't be a bad idea to give him a shot now and hope he plays well enough to earn 30-plus minutes alongside Harris.
Bonzi Wells, SG, Hornets (3.5 percent owned): Morris Peterson better break out of his funk real quick, otherwise he might see himself planted on the bench alongside coach Byron Scott. Scott has suggested he might insert Wells into the starting lineup if Peterson doesn't turn it around within the next week. I think it's only a matter of time before Wells makes an appearance in the starting lineup, and although there is a bit of a logjam at his position, if he gets the minutes, he can be a valuable fantasy producer in rebounds and steals. At this point, we all pretty much know the deal with Wells. He never is guaranteed to produce, but he does offer some upside. If you are hurting for rebounds and steals, give him a look.
I'm sure most of you already have jumped on board the Tyrus Thomas (54.3 percent owned) train in the wake of the Wallace deal, and that's a good move if you are looking for a high-upside gamble to put you over the top in steals and blocks. Thomas figures to earn major minutes now that both Wallace and Joe Smith are gone, although he will have to battle with both Joakim Noah and Drew Gooden. Thomas, however, has the upside factor, which is why I'd take him over both Noah and Gooden for the time being. Speaking of Noah (21.1 percent owned), he will have to battle for his minutes as well but should earn enough to be a solid contributor in rebounds, steals and blocks going forward.
Jarrett Jack (25.7 percent owned) has been getting after it as of late, averaging 12.0 points, 6.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 3-pointers in four games since the All-Star break. He has provided modest value in spurts this season, so be sure to grab him now while he is hot. Just be ready to dump him for the next flame off the wire when he cools.
I'm not salivating to pick up Jeff Green (6.6 percent owned), but he should see an increase in minutes with Szczerbiak out of town. Despite logging close to 25 minutes per game on the season, Green has disappointed, averaging just 8.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.4 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. I don't see him making a big jump from those numbers, so I'd have to be pretty desperate to grab him in anything other than deeper formats.
I always thought Luis Scola (12.8 percent owned) would have some value at some point this season, although I honestly didn't think it would take him this long to stake his claim on the starting power forward spot in Houston. Since his promotion to the starting lineup Jan. 27, the Rockets have won 12 of 13 games. Coincidence? I think not. Scola is playing quite well, averaging 11.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 0.5 steals in that span. I would like to see more steals, but he still is a solid option in deeper leagues for points, rebounds and field goal percentage -- as long as you can stomach his 61.5 percent free-throw shooting.
Another Rocket who is seeing more time during this winning period is the rookie out of Purdue, Carl Landry. Landry still is a work in progress but is one to keep an eye on, given how well Houston is playing with him coming off the bench. In February, Landry is averaging 8.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 0.7 steals in just 19.5 minutes per game. A slight increase in minutes would make him a solid fantasy performer, don't you think?
Brian McKitish is a fantasy baseball and basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Littlemac@TalentedMrRoto.com.
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