The Wire Troll: Beginning the Playoff Surge
With the opening weekend of March Madness and the end of the regular season in most head-to-head NBA leagues, owners in your league may not be focused on the wire this week. As I have stressed in my last few Wire Troll columns, a shrewd pick up or two at this point in the season can be the difference between the penthouse and the outhouse. Take advantage of this opportunity in your league and seize victory.
Josh Powell, Los Angeles Clippers: Despite being only 6′9″, Powell has emerged as the starting centre for the Clippers as Chris Kaman deals with his ongoing back issues. Amid reports and projections that Powell’s playing time was linked to the injury to Tim Thomas (who recently returned to the lineup only to miss Friday night’s game with a stomach virus), Powell has been inserted as the Clippers’ centre. Since Powell’s addition into the starting lineup, he is averaging 12 points and 7.4 boards per game. In addition, Friday night’s injury to Corey Maggette opened up more touches and Powell responded with a 21-point effort. Moreover, according to cbssportsline.com, Powell is one game away from earning centre eligibility. He should be picked up in all leagues.
Mickael Pietrus, Golden State Warriors: Even though I discussed Pietrus in last week’s column, his production in the Warriors last three games merits another mention this week. On Wednesday night, Pietrus played 36 minutes and put up 15 points and 12 boards. On Friday night, he played 37 minutes and scored 16 points and added 13 rebounds. However, on Tuesday night, Pietrus played just 16 minutes and finished with six points and two boards. As expected, his production is linked to his minutes and with a head coach like Don Nelson, who is infamous for changing his lineups on a nightly basis, Pietrus’ minutes must be monitored. If he is still on your league’s waiver wire, he is worth picking up but should be scutinized very closely on a game-by-game basis.
Flip Murray, Indiana Pacers: After being buried on the Detroit Pistons’ bench all year, Murray was released by Detroit and then picked up by the Indiana Pacers at the beginning of the month. He has always been a solid scorer and a decent point guard and it only took him five games to take over the starting point guard position from underwhelming Travis Diener. With Diener’s demotion and the injury to Jamaal Tinsley, Murray should see good minutes as the starter. In his last five games, all starts, he is averaging 15.8 points, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 47.6 per cent from the floor. Murray is worth consideration in all leagues.
Ronny Turiaf, Los Angeles Lakers: The latest news out of L.A. is that Lakers’ head coach Phil Jackson doesn’t anticipate Pau Gasol returning until at least March 26. Turiaf, the benefactor of Gasol’s absence, has two more games as a starter if Gasol does in fact return when scheduled. As a starter, Turiaf has proven to be a versatile fantasy contributor. In Turiaf’s five games as a starter, he has averaged 9.6 points, 5.8 boards, 4.2 assists and 1.4 blocks. These numbers should continue as long as Gasol remains out of action and Turiaf should be picked up in all leagues until the Spainard returns.
Carl Landry, Houston Rockets: Landry had been one of the main reasons the Rockets continued their success after Yao Ming’s injury until the rookie was himself sidelined with a knee injury. After missing seven games, Landry returned to the Rockets lineup on Friday night and, in only 19 minutes, scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds. If he remains healthy, he is a very strong waiver pick up who can be a good source of rebounds while scoring with a high field goal percentage.
Anthony Johnson, Sacramento Kings: When Mike Bibby was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, Johnson was thrown in to give the Kings a veteran back-up point guard, as the Kings were ready to hand the point reins to Beno Udrih. Udrih has missed the last two games with a lower back strain and is listed as day-to-day. In Johnson’s first game as a starter for the Kings on Tuesday night, he led the Kings to a win over the Golden State Warriors with a fine line of 13 points, 13 assists, six rebounds and one block. Johnson came down to earth in his second start on Friday night contributing 12 points, two assists and three rebounds. He is worth monitoring in deeper leagues and will have value if Udrih is going to miss any more time.