Working the Wire: 15 players on the free-agent bubble
By now, your league's trade deadline likely has passed and at this point, the only way to improve your team is to work the free-agent wire. Many times, we as fantasy owners are so concerned with who to add that we forget to think about who to drop -- or more importantly, who not to drop. With that in mind, and with March Madness on the horizon, I've identified 15 bubble players who you might have already added or are currently thinking about adding. Should they stay or should they go? Let's find out:
Anthony Parker, SG, Raptors (74.7 percent owned): Plenty of Raptors have stepped up their game with Chris Bosh sidelined. None more than Anthony Parker, who is averaging 18.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.6 3-pointers over his last five games. Parker has had his ups and downs this season, and I have to think that he'll return to his normal, inconsistent self once Bosh returns from his knee injury. When that is, we don't know, so by all means, feel free to grab Parker as a short-term option for the time being.
Jamario Moon, SF, Raptors (56.5 percent owned): Unlike Parker, Moon is a player who could hold on to his value even after Bosh returns, and I'm not sure why he hasn't been scooped up in more than just 56.5 percent of fantasy leagues given his averages of 10.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.6 blocks and 0.7 3-pointers in 11 games since the All-Star break. And that's not even mentioning his percentages -- 51.6 percent from the floor and 84.6 percent from the line during that same span. I'm not sure he'll continue to hit from downtown and he's been a little inconsistent this season, but he has proven to be a dependable thief and shot-blocker. At the very least, he should be able to provide steals, rebounds and blocks once Bosh returns to the lineup.
Mickael Pietrus, SG/SF, Warriors (3.1 percent owned): He's been buried on the bench in Golden State since last February, but it seems as though everyone has already forgotten just how much of a beast this kid was in the first half of last season (13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.4 3-pointers while shooting 49.6 from the field as a starter). Now back in Don Nelson's good graces, Pietrus is again proving his fantasy worth with 10.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.2 3-pointers over his last 10 games. Now, we all know that Nellie is a fickle fellow, but the Warriors are 7-2 since Pietrus started earning more minutes, and I would hope that Nelson wouldn't want to mess with that kind of streak. I know it's a tad risky, but I would add Pietrus immediately just in case Nelson sticks with him.
Boris Diaw, SF/PF, Suns (54.6 percent owned): This isn't a knock on Diaw as much as it is a praise for Pietrus, but it is interesting to see how many more owners have grabbed Diaw given that Pietrus has actually been the more valuable fantasy player since the All-Star break. Diaw is averaging 10.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.8 steals while shooting 54 percent from the floor and 86 percent from the line since the break. He is a fine addition in most leagues, and is a safer bet than Pietrus, but I think I'd actually rather gamble with Pietrus if only because his ceiling is much higher than Diaw's.
Ronnie Brewer, SG, Jazz (35.9 percent owned): Many have soured on Brewer since the acquisition of Kyle Korver, but Brewer has been getting back into the groove lately with 13.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game over his last five. His scoring may slump again once Andrei Kirilenko returns from his back injury, but Brewer has proven to be one of the league's best at creating steals on the defensive end, and is still a valuable acquisition for anyone in need of steals and the percentages.
Kendrick Perkins, C, Celtics (50.8 percent owned): With four straight double-doubles and averages of 13.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and 3.4 blocks over his last five games, I think it's pretty safe to say the cat is out of the bag on Perkins. Still, he is available in nearly half of fantasy leagues, and those who have already grabbed him probably want to know if he's worth holding on to. The answer to that question is: Absolutely. With the Celtics likely to limit the minutes of the Big Three, Perkins should continue to blossom as the season winds down. Grab him ASAP.
Nenad Krstic, C, Nets (8.4 percent owned): I would much rather own Perkins, but if you're desperate for big man stats, and Perk and Jamario Moon are gone, you could do worse than Krstic. And by worse, I mean that you could be stuck with Dikembe Mutombo or Mark Blount. Krstic is still an injury risk, but he is averaging 8.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.6 steals and 0.8 blocks while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor over his last five games. Still, Krstic is far from perfect, especially because he's not a particularly good shot-blocker for a man his size.
Earl Watson, PG, Sonics (76.3 percent owned): Kudos to those who grabbed Watson off the wire shortly after Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak were shipped to Cleveland. Watson has averaged 14.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 3-pointers since the All-Star break, and with numbers like those, he is a must-own in all fantasy formats. In fact, Watson's post-All-Star stats compare favorably to those of Beno Udrih, who is owned in 98.2 percent of fantasy leagues. With Luke Ridnour as his only real competition, I can't see any reason why Watson won't continue to produce for the balance of the season.
Thaddeus Young, SF, Sixers (18.8 percent owned): Regular readers of this space already know how high I am on this youngster, so I'll keep it short and simple. The kid is right on the verge of a breakout and is averaging 14.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals while shooting 68.1 percent from the floor over his last five games. If you need steals and are looking for some upside, Thaddeus just might be your man.
John Salmons, SG/SF, Kings (35.5 percent owned): There's a lot of speculation flying around about Ron Artest right now, and many owners are using the opportunity to snag John Salmons off the wire. It's a smart move for sure, but also a tad risky. Salmons has averaged 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.8 3-pointers in 34 starts this season, so the upside is quite obviously there. But what if Ron-Ron returns to the court? Salmons has averaged just 8.0 points, 3.1 boards, 1.5 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.3 3-pointers off the bench this season, which is exactly where he'll be if/when Artest does come back. Salmons could easily be the best pickup on this list, so this really depends on your tolerance for risk at this stage in the game.
Mike Conley Jr., PG, Grizzlies (18.6 percent owned): Here's a thought, with Kyle Lowry and Javaris Crittenton in the mix, maybe the Grizzlies are thinking Conley isn't their point guard of the future? That's the only explanation I can find for why Conley has seen just 19.6 minutes per game over his last five. And since all three are splitting minutes the way they are, none is a particularly attractive fantasy option at the moment. The way he's playing, he has to be dropped right now, but be sure to monitor his minutes as we move closer to April because if Marc Iavaroni changes his tune, Conley would be the first to benefit.
Carl Landry, SF, Rockets (2.2 percent owned): Landry is currently struggling with a minor knee injury, but surely his averages of 13.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 0.6 steals in his last five games could be usefully for more than just 2.2 percent of you, especially considering that he's shooting 78.9 percent from the floor during that span. If you're in a tight race for points and field goal percentage, look no further than the solid if unspectacular Landry.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy baseball and basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Littlemac@TalentedMrRoto.com.