Working the Wire: Is Vlad Rad an option again?
Before we get into this week's pickups, let's take a second look at a few guys I mentioned last week, because many of them are still on the waiver wire in more than just a few leagues.
Sean Williams has not received the playing time we might have hoped for since last week's incredible run. I'm not sure why, but for some reason Lawrence Frank has decided to roll with Jason Collins, Malik Allen and Josh Boone instead of the ubertalented Williams. Collins, Allen and Boone might be tough interior defenders, but none of them will strike fear in the opposition on the blocks like Williams can. I have to figure that at some point, Frank will decide to go back to Williams, if only because he has game-changing shot-blocking ability. When that time will be is anyone's guess, so it might be a good idea to swap Williams for another high-upside shot-blocker like Andray Blatche. Still, don't forget about Williams. He will have value again this season, and you can bank on that.
Speaking of Blatche, I've pimped him a few times in the "If You're Hard-core" section already this season, so you probably already know my thoughts on the talented youngster. But in case you haven't noticed, Blatche is giving Brendan Haywood a serious run for his money and is looking like a great add in not just deeper leagues, but leagues of all sizes at this point. With Blatche averaging 13.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 2.6 blocks per game over his past five games, it's going to be hard for Eddie Jordan to keep the 21-year old on the bench.
Guy Lake and I are going to take a deeper look at both Williams and Blatche in this week's "Are You For Real?" so anyone who's thinking about these two high-risk/high-reward gambles might want to tune in Wednesday for more analysis.
Two other suggested pickups last week -- Luis Scola and Juan Carlos Navarro -- have both been riding the roller coaster so far this season. Blame the minutes, not the player. JCN has seen the 30-minute mark only four times this season but is averaging 21.5 points, 4.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 4.0 3-pointers in those games. In games in which he hasn't broken 30 minutes: 4.4 points, 1.1 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.9 3s. Scola has been quite similar, averaging 16.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 0.8 steals in four games with 29-plus minutes and just 3.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 0.4 steals in the other games. It has become increasingly clear that both Navarro and Scola will be highly productive if given the opportunity, so those who can afford to be patient with their inconsistencies will end up reaping the rewards once the two rookies start earning consistent minutes, which will eventually happen.
We're going to try something different this week. Since guys like Antonio Daniels (who is a great addition with Gilbert Arenas out), Blatche, Navarro and Williams have likely been snatched off the wire already, I'm going to go ahead and combine the "Pickups" and the "If You're Hard-core" sections, just for this week.
Louis Williams, PG, Sixers (39.5 percent owned): Williams came into the season looking like a nice little sleeper after a great summer and solid preseason camp, but he started off slow, not earning enough minutes to get into much of a rhythm. An injury to Kyle Korver opened the door for Williams to earn some extra playing time, and as expected, he has taken advantage, averaging 16.8 points, 3.0 assists, 2.0 3s and a steal per game over his past five contests. With his explosiveness, Williams should continue to receive ample playing time from the Sixers even after Korver returns to the lineup. That, of course, doesn't mean he will, but I'd still grab Williams now for his points, steals and 3s and hope the Sixers do the right thing.
Jordan Farmar, PG, Lakers (22.4 percent owned): The more I see of this second-year man, the more I'm convinced that he will, at some point during the season, surpass Derek Fisher as the most productive fantasy point guard for the Lakers. Farmar has slowly but surely started to eat into Fisher's minutes and has averaged a steady 12.2 points, 4.4 assists, 2.2 steals and 2.0 3-pointers in 22.8 minutes per game over his past five games. Farmar can clearly get it done in steals and 3s, so we'll just have to wait until Phil Jackson decides to give the kid a little more playing time. In the meantime, he is already producing enough in steals and 3s to earn a roster spot in most leagues.
Jeff Green, SF, SuperSonics (31.3 percent owned): Green has been in and out of the "If You're Hard-core" section a few times already this season, so I'll keep this short and simple. It's looking as if P.J. Carlesimo is ready to hand the youngster 30-plus minutes per game, and if Green is going to see that kind of time, he should definitely be owned in most leagues. I'm not sure we can trust Carlesimo to put out a consistent lineup on a night-to-night basis, but Green likely will be gone in your league before we find out for sure.
Vladimir Radmanovic, SF, Lakers (23.5 percent owned): It has been quite awhile since Vlad Rad has made much of an impact in the fantasy world -- since 2005-06, if you want to get technical. For those who don't remember Radmanovic's game, it's fairly simple. He's a shooter, and a pretty good one at that. Radman has suddenly picked up his play of late and is starting to earn more minutes as a result of Kwame Brown's injury and the Brian Cook/Maurice Evans trade. With his extra playing time, Radmanovic has scored in double digits in five straight games and has averaged 12.8 points, with 2.6 3-pointers during that span. He's really just a two-category player -- points and 3s -- but he's still serviceable if you need the long-distance shooting.
Jeff Foster, PF/C, Pacers (18.0 percent owned): Foster is fairly one-dimensional (he'll get you boards and some steals), but it seems as though we go through the same pattern every season: Jermaine O'Neal gets hurt, and Foster starts rebounding like a madman. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Foster is averaging 9.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in three games since O'Neal shut it down last week. If you need boards, grab Foster and hold him until Jermaine gets back.
Charlie Villanueva, SF/PF, Bucks (27.3 percent owned): Poor Charlie. This dude would most definitely be producing at a high level right now if it weren't for a little promise made to Yi Jianlian. Charlie V showed us why, as he went off for 16.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.3 3-pointers during a three-game stretch last week. Not coincidentally, Jianlian struggled during those same games, which allowed Villanueva to secure some extra playing time. As I mentioned in Sunday's Box Score Blog, both Jianlian and Villanueva have value in deeper fantasy formats, but neither will be a consistent producer as long as they continue to split minutes. If I had to pick one of the two, I'd probably take my chances with Jianlian, but that's only because he has been promised minutes. Villanueva actually has more upside this season if he gets the playing time.
Brandon Bass, PF, Mavericks (2.2 percent owned): Having scored in double-digits in four of his past five games, Bass is beginning to look like a nice high-upside gamble in most deeper fantasy formats. The 22-year-old out of LSU plays just like his moniker suggests; "The Animal" makes up for his lack of size with physical and tenacious play under the boards. He's just the type of guy that Dallas need on the inside, and he should start to earn more and more minutes as the season progresses. Bass has gotten 30-plus minutes just three times this season but has averaged 13.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and a block per game during those contests. There's plenty of potential here if you can afford to suffer through some inconsistency.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy baseball and basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Littlemac@TalentedMrRoto.com.