Working the Wire: First Williams, now Boone
Since "Working the Wire" took last week off for the holidays, I'll skip the normal intro pleasantries and get right to the action. I'll start by taking a look at a few players who have been added in a good percentage of leagues over the past two weeks before I get into this week's additions:
Nazr Mohammed, C, Bobcats: Mohammed, who was owned only in the deepest of leagues just a few weeks ago, has shot up the "most added" list and is now owned in nearly 74.5 percent of fantasy leagues. My thoughts on Nazr have already been documented: I simply don't think he's going to be dependable over the long run. Eric Karabell shares my sentiment on the big man, as neither of us can ignore 10 years of history simply because of a few solid performances. With that said, Nazr is playing very well right now (averaging 11.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, a steal and 1.1 blocks since joining the Bobcats), so he does make for a useful short-term addition for owners in need of a big man. Another reason to grab Mohammed would be to use his recent explosion as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations. I'm sure some folks think that Charlotte's lack of depth in the frontcourt will make Nazr a consistent performer, so there is a good possibility that you can pull one over on an unsuspecting owner.
Anthony Johnson, PG, Hawks: Now owned in 66.1 percent of ESPN leagues, Johnson has wooed fantasy owners with averages of 12.0 points, 7.2 assists and 1.6 3-pointers per game over his past five games. Johnson has proved to be a solid contributor in past seasons and can put up a big game from time to time, but he's always been just a mediocre fantasy option, at best. Ride him for now, but be aware that rookie Acie Law is looking stronger now that he's fully recovered from an early-season knee injury. It's only a matter of time before it's Law people are adding, rather than Johnson.
David Lee, SF/PF, Knicks: Though it hasn't translated to victories, at least the Knicks have figured out that Lee should be on the court more often than Eddy Curry. Lee is now logging regular minutes and seems to be all but entrenched as a fixture in the Knicks' new rotation. Over his past five games, Lee is averaging 13.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 0.8 steals in 33.4 minutes per game. That's vintage David Lee, and these are the kind of numbers we should expect going forward. Now owned in 88.9 percent of fantasy leagues, Lee is a nice addition for those in need of points and rebounds. Just realize that while he'll be a consistent double-double threat with solid percentages, he won't be able to offer much else in terms of steals and blocks.
Louis Williams, PG, Sixers (11.7 percent owned): Guy Lake and I examined Williams in our Nov. 26 "Are You For Real?" column. Both of us were quite high on the youngster, and although I proclaimed him "not real yet" then, I think he is 100 percent "for real" now that Kyle Korver has been traded to the Utah Jazz. Williams is an explosive scorer who can get into the lane and create scoring opportunities almost at will. The only thing that was holding him back from being a strong fantasy contributor previously was a lack of consistent minutes. With Korver out of the way, Williams should step in and earn some extra minutes at the shooting guard spot in Philadelphia. When Korver missed four games back in late November, Williams averaged a dandy 19.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, a steal and 2.3 3-pointers in 30 minutes per game. I'm not expecting averages as good as those, but there is no doubt Williams has the potential to be a major fantasy factor in points, assists, steals and 3-pointers now that he'll be earning regular minutes in the Sixers' rotation.
Kurt Thomas, PF/C, Supersonics (11.7 percent owned): I mentioned Thomas in early December, but it doesn't seem as though people have caught on yet. He's not scoring many points (just 6.9 this month), but he is bringing down 9.1 rebounds while blocking 1.5 shots per game. Considering he's also averaging 0.8 steals per game (not great, but better than average for a big guy), Thomas is certainly worth a spot in more than just 11.7 percent of fantasy leagues. He has been doing this for a month now but has been particularly strong of late, averaging 10.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 0.8 steals in 24.6 minutes over his past five games. The nice thing about Thomas is that he doesn't need upward of 30 minutes to post numbers like these, as he's been getting it done in less than 25 minutes per game. His impressive per-minute stats should ensure that he'll continue to post solid numbers going forward.
Josh Boone, PF/C, Nets (3.5 percent owned): The Nets are playing much better (4-2) since inserting both Boone and Sean Williams in the starting lineup, which should guarantee both players a spot in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future. Boone doesn't offer the impressive shot-blocking abilities that Williams does, but he will offer something Williams can't: consistency. Boone has averaged a very solid 10.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in six starts. He's blocking only 0.5 shots and creating 0.7 steals in those games, though, so he's really an option only for points and rebounds at this point. Even so, he has been solid enough to own in all deep leagues, and most midsize leagues. And as I mentioned before, I don't think Lawrence Frank will take either Williams or Boone out of the starting lineup now that the Nets are starting to win some games. As such, I'd highly recommend adding Williams (39 percent owned) as well, but that would be too obvious, wouldn't it?
Jeff Green, SF, Supersonics (9.7 percent owned): Green is the type of player who should have been on everyone's perpetual watch list, so he should have turned some heads when he earned his second start of the year on Saturday night against the Timberwolves. Green turned in a fine effort, scoring 18 points, pulling down five rebounds and blocking three shots. According to the Seattle Times, news surfaced later that P.J. Carlesimo wants to see both Kevin Durant and Green in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future. That news alone should be reason enough to warrant grabbing Green in most leagues, as an increase in minutes almost always leads to an increase in production.
Carlos Arroyo may be on the verge of stealing the starting point guard gig from Jameer Nelson, but we won't know for sure until Nelson returns from minor back and hip injuries. Arroyo is solid enough as a starter (averages of 12.0 points, 5.2 assists and 0.9 steals in 95 career starts), but with Nelson around, he might not be able to earn enough minutes for most shallow leagues even if he is named the starter.
Wally Szczerbiak has been putting up big numbers over the past week, scoring 17.4 points with 2.8 3-pointers in 26.6 minutes per game. Wally has always been a great shooter, but just keep in mind that he's an option really only for points and 3-pointers.
I knew Anderson Varejao would have value at some point this season, but I have to be honest, I didn't think it would be this soon. Varejao is getting it done on the glass, averaging 8.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and a steal per game over his past five games. I'd like to see more blocks, but I'm not going to complain, given those rebound and steal numbers.
I've always been a huge fan of Trevor Ariza's game, and I had almost given up before he earned a few starts in place of an injured Luke Walton for the Lakers. Ariza might not be able to retain his starting spot once Walton returns, but you have to like how he's played with his opportunity. Ariza has averaged 13 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals in his two starts, and he might warrant a pickup in deeper formats for his upside in the steals category.
I've seen a few folks go out and acquire Kyle Korver after learning of his trade to the Utah Jazz. I'm sure Korver will do just fine in Utah, but I'm failing to see how his value will increase with the move. Korver might be able to retain the fantasy value he had in Philadelphia, but with Ronnie Brewer around, he might need an injury to increase his fantasy value.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy baseball and basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Littlemac@TalentedMrRoto.com.
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