For those savvy and/or lucky owners out there, the fantasy basketball playoffs begin tomorrow. To get you ready, FSE has thrown together a little cheat sheet to help your team succeed. For additional information, check out our latest edition of Desperation Station which highlights nine under the radar fantasy options.
Close To Returning
Pau Gasol, PF/C Los Angeles Lakers - Gasol has missed the last 5 games with a sprained ankle and will most likely miss the next two games as well. However, Gasol should be back this weekend either Friday (Grizzlies) or Sunday (Wizards). Once Gasol proves his health, the Lakers will give him plenty of burn as they jostle for playoff position and prepare for the second season.
Daniel Gibson, PG/SG Cleveland Cavaliers - Gibson has said he will be back for Wednesday's home game versus the Hornets after missing the last 17 games with a serious left ankle sprain. If he doesn't play Wednesday expect him in the lineup this weekend at Detroit on Saturday. Gibson should be worked back into the starting rotation and can be a solid contributor in the three point department.
Jermaine O'Neal, PF/C Indiana Pacers - O'Neal, who has missed the last two months with a knee injury that has plagued him for the better part of the past two seasons, is expected to return sometime this week. The Pacers host the Hornets Tuesday before playing a home and home with the Nets Wednesday and Friday. I wouldn't get all too excited about JO's return this season as the knee is still not 100% and he will most likely be coming off the bench for a while. If he can consistently get 25 minutes, O'Neal will is a good source of rebounds and blocks and can score a bit, but temper your expectations.
Chris Kaman, C Los Angeles Clippers - The big man declared himself ready to return; however, Coach Mike Dunleavy has said that the team will hold Kaman out for another week just to be safe. Essentially, this is code for we're tanking and Kaman would help us win. Expect him back Monday the 31st against Dallas at the earliest; however I wouldn't be surprised if Kaman's return continues to get postponed.
Gilbert Arenas, PG Washington Wizards - We've already discussed Agent Zero's potential return in-depth. To recap, don't expect much.
Andrew Bynum, C Los Angeles Lakers - Another injury we've already dissected. Like Arenas, we wouldn't get our hopes up here.
Emerging Fantasy Options
Mardy Collins, PG/SG New York Knicks - Oh yes, it's that time of year! Mardy had 12 points and 8 assists in 35 minutes Saturday night. With Nate Robinson missing time and the Knicks slowly slipping into full on tank mode, Mardy can be a decent source of assists and has the ability to put up point totals in the low teens.
Jeff Green, SF/PF Seattle Supersonics - With the Sonics' roster totally depleted, Green continues to see 30+ minutes a night. The 2007 first round pick has put up his best point averages of the season in March and can give you points and rebounds down the stretch.
Kirk Snyder, SG/SF Minnesota Timberwolves - Since being traded to Minnesota from Houston, Snyder has seen his playing time increase. Over the last 4 games, Snyder is putting up 13 points and 6 rebounds a game and should see ample burn down the stretch.
Spencer Hawes, C Sacramento Kings - The 10th pick overall is starting to see more time late in the season as the Kings attempt to gauge what they have in the big man out of Washington. He is coming off career game putting up 19 points, 12 rebound, and 3 blocks in 37 minutes. If given 30+ minutes he can contribute in rebounds and blocks consistently with the ability to score in the mid teens.
Ronald "Flip" Murray, SG Indiana Pacers - With Jamal Tinsley done for the season and Travis Diener demoted to the bench, the newly acquired Flip Murray is the Pacers defacto starter at point guard for the remainder of the season. Murray puts up decent point and steal totals and can contribute in assists and three pointers.
Nenad Krstic, PF/C New Jersey Nets - Nenad is back (again) and can help you in points, rebounds and to a lesser extent blocks. He should see 25+ minutes a night as the Nets battle for the 8 seed in the East.
Carl Landry, SF/PF - The second round stud is back after a 7 game layoff and has picked up where he left off putting up strong point and rebounding numbers. Landry should see his playing time return to the 20-25 minute range and can help your team in FG%, points and rebounds.
Recently Injured/Tanking Casualties
Nate Robinson, PG/SG New York Knicks - Robinson missed Saturday night's home game against Minnesota with a knee sprain sustained the previous night. He has been listed as day to day and the New York media is accusing Isiah of tanking. Whatever the case, we are wary of Nate going forward.
Shawn Marion, SF/PF Miami Heat - Marion is another guy on a bad team that is listed as day to day. He has missed 5 of the last 6 games with a "back injury" and the perennial fantasy stalwart is becoming a headache for fantasy owners. I wouldn't advise dropping The Matrix just yet. However, if he continues to miss time and things get dire, you gotta whatever it takes to survive.
Dirk Nowitzki, PF Dallas Mavericks - Dirk took a spill in the Mavs' Sunday afternoon tilt with the Spurs, injuring his "leg and ankle" according to team officials. ESPN is reporting that Dirk could be out over 2 weeks which is a devastating blow to fantasy owners. We will have more on Dirk's injury and the fantasy implications once more information becomes available.