Monday, January 28, 2013

Hot Fantasy Basketball Pickups – Week 14

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By Brian Cho
Staff Fantasy Basketball Writer

It was announced on Sunday afternoon that Rajon Rondo will miss the rest of the season due to a torn right ACL. Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa and Jason Terry will have to fill in for Rondo’s absence in the backcourt. All of them are worth a hard look with their minutes and hopefully their production to increase. As of now Avery Bradley is starting point guard and Courtney Lee will start at shooting guard, but keep in mind that nothing is set in stone.

On Sunday, the biggest beneficiary was actually Paul Pierce (a player we discussed as a buy low just last week), who did a lot of the ball handling, finishing with a triple-double of 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. The four players mentioned above all played between 26 and 32 minutes, and none really distanced themselves from the pack. The Celtics will most likely make some moves before the trade deadline especially if their backcourt doesn’t meet expectations. Let’s take a look at each of these players and the rest of this week’s hot pick ups (Feel free to also check out recent Pickups columns for Week 13, Week 12 and Six Players to Buy Low): 

Avery Bradley, BOS - Bradley is the starting point guard for now in Boston and should remain in the starting line up with Rondo out for the season. He is just coming off an injury that caused him to miss all but 13 games so far this season, but if last season is any indication he has the greatest upside of the bunch. In April, Bradley very got his time to shine as the Celtics played him almost 33 minutes per night and he responded by scoring 15 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 threes while shooting 52% from the field. Despite Sunday's lackluster game, he benefits the most from Rondo’s absence over the rest of the bunch and should be owned in all standard leagues.

Courtney Lee, BOS - With Avery Bradley shifted to the point guard position, Courtney Lee steps in as the Celtics' starter at shooting guard. His minutes have wavered all season long averaging only 22, but they should go up with Rondo out of the picture. He managed to log 26 minutes again on Sunday against the Miami Heat and was far from spectacular which was why Barbosa and Terry ended up with more minutes. Lee makes an intriguing pick up due to his career averages of one steal and one three pointer. 

Jason Terry, BOS - The Boston Celtics need Jason Terry now more than ever with Rondo out of the rotation. He logged 32 minutes on Sunday in their win over the Miami Heat which is an encouraging sign for Jet. The minutes will be there for the sixth man as the Celtics desperately need some spark off the bench. He ended up with 13 points to go along with 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block. Expect his minutes to increase along with his points and three’s. He was 1-7 from beyond the arc against the Heat and should have better nights ahead of him. Jet has been a huge disappointment thus far, but hopefully more playing time and an increased offensive role will help him get back into his game. 

Leandro Barbosa, BOS - Barbosa will help fill in the void now that Rondo’s out for the rest of the year. He will continue to come off the bench along with Jason Terry and will have a huge boost in playing time. He played 30 minutes on Sunday and played well scoring 9 points adding 3 rebounds and 4 assists. He looks to be a good pick up and has some upside with his ability to drain three pointers. 

Eric Bledsoe - Chris Paul missed Sunday's game, his fourth straight, with a knee injury and there is no timetable for his return which means Bledsoe should definitely not be floating on waivers. Bledsoe has been more than efficient averaging 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.5 steals and 1 block in his last two games. He remains a must own player as long as Chris Paul is out. 

Byron Mullens, CHA - Mullens looks like he could be ready to make his return soon. He should be stashed in most leagues due to his huge upside. The versatile big man averaged 11 points, 8 rebounds, a steal, a block, and a three pointer before he severely sprained his ankle in December. Look for him to expand on those numbers when he returns as the starting power forward. Hopefully, he got his shooting stroke back as he shot below 40% from the field. The Bobcats will need to heavily rely on Mullens’ offensive game. 

Andrea Bargnani, TOR - Bargnani is ready to make his return in 10 days making him a stash in most leagues. It’s difficult to see how he’ll fit into the rotation with Amir Johnson and Ed Davis playing so well together. Jonas Valancuinas is also due back in 10 days so expect the Raptor’s frontcourt to be mess. However, Bargnani’s been linked to many trade rumors in the past so that makes him an intriguing stash as the trade deadline approaches. If he ends up starting for another team, he will be worth the pick up in all leagues due to his ability to score and hit threes. 

Jerryd Bayless, MEM - Mike Conley went down with an ankle injury last night after playing only 4 minutes, making way for Bayless to carry the load as the starting PG. We have not heard anything definitive at this stage about the extent of Conley's injury, but Bayless should be picked up in deeper leagues for his potential as a starting PG. Remember that only last year, Bayless started 11 games for the Raptors and averaged 17.8 points, 3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.2 threes and 1.4 steals.

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