This season has not gone how the Timberwolves would have hoped, and injuries are the primary reason why.
When healthy, the Wolves have looked like a playoff team for extended stretches, however things just keep getting worse for the team, especially in the backcourt. Luke Ridnour recently joined Ricky Rubio on the sidelines with an ankle injury, leaving oft-injured Jose Juan Barea as the team's primary (and for all intents and purposes, only) option to run the point.
This is bad news for the Wolves, who all of a sudden have absolutely no depth, however it is great news for any Fantasy owner who has room for Barea in the lineup, as the Wolves continue to be a high-octane offense that relies heavily on its point guards to create.
A few times already this year, Ridnour and Rubio have been featured here, so it is only right that the third and final point guard option on the team take his place as the Start of the Week for Week 16 (April 9-15), as he should have ample opportunities to put up solid numbers.
In his first start of the season on Wednesday, Barea showed what he can do in this larger role, as he put up 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds against the Warriors. Barea has dealt with his own injuries this season, however right now he is simply the healthiest option for the team.
|1.||Glen Davis, F, Magic||9|
|2.||Shannon Brown, G, Suns||11|
|3.||Greivis Vasquez, G, Hornets||14|
|4.||Jan Vesely, F, Wizards||1|
|5.||Jason Smith, F, Hornets||8|
|6.||Alec Burks, G, Jazz||1|
|7.||Marreese Speights, F, Grizzlies||12|
|8.||Mario Chalmers, G, Heat||28|
|9.||Brandon Rush, F, Warriors||18|
|10.||Ekpe Udoh, F, Bucks||9|
Coach Rick Adelman's offense puts an emphasis on production from the point, which is why each of the Wolves' guards has been a valuable Fantasy option at some point this season. Barea is less of a true point guard than Ridnour or Rubio, however he does not lack for playmaking abilities, so as long as he is receiving big minutes, he should have little trouble keeping his production up.
The Wolves play four times in Week 16, with none of their games coming against top-10 NBA defenses. As long as Barea does not suffer any sort of setback from the thigh injury he has been dealing with, Fantasy owners should be able to rely on the pesky point guard.
Kemba Walker, Bobcats (WAS, @CLE, DET, @MIA, BOS): The concerns about Walker's game translating to the professional game have not gone away through his first 50-plus games, however the Bobcats look like they are going to hand him the reins at point guard for the rest of the season anyways, as D.J. Augustin continues to deal with knee issues. Walker has not been great this season, however he is playing better recently, hitting 47.5 percent of his shots for 11.0 points and 5.4 assists per game over the last five games. With five more on the schedule for Week 16 and the chance to run the team consistently, Walker should put up better numbers.
Alonzo Gee, Cavaliers (CHA, IND, @IND, @WAS, ORL): Gee has been struggling with his shot for a while, however the Cavaliers are relying on two D-League call ups in their starting backcourt right now because of injuries, so Gee is going to continue to find opportunities to score. He is averaging 9.9 points per game over the last 10, barely acceptable for a low-end Fantasy option, however with the Cavaliers facing a five-game stretch this week without many other options, Gee has the ability to produce better numbers than that. We expect him to.
Sleeper Alert: Terrence Williams, Kings (@DAL, @NO, @OKC, POR): Williams, a former lottery pick who has spent time with three teams in his three years in the NBA, seems to have found some sort of comfort with the Kings, as he is averaging 9.6 points per game over the last 10. With Marcus Thornton dealing with a groin injury and Francisco Garcia suffering a concussion, Williams has been seeing more minutes recently as well, so the talented-but-inconsistent guard should continue to find playing time and scoring chances in Week 16.
C.J. Watson, Bulls (NY, MIA, @DET): Watson deserves credit for helping to keep the Bulls more than afloat in Derrick Rose's extended absence. However Rose is expected to return to the floor from a groin injury by the time that Week 16 starts, which will move Watson back to the bench. Even if Rose wasn't returning and sending Watson back to a reserve role, it would be tough to recommend him with just three games on the schedule for Week 16, especially when all three teams rank above the league's average for points allowed.
Marshon Brooks, Nets (PHI, @PHI, BOS): Brooks began the season as a pleasant rookie surprise, as he put up points in bunches and provided the Nets with a second option on the perimeter. However, given his recent performance (8.0 points on 35.0 percent shooting over the last 10 games) he has been harder and harder to count on for Fantasy owners. In most weeks he is a borderline-starting candidate, but with a brutal three-game stretch on the horizon in Week 16 against two of the league's top-three defensive teams, Fantasy owners should steer clear of the rookie.
Bust Alert: Jarrett Jack, Hornets (LAL, SAC, UTA, MEM): Jack has been a surprisingly excellent Fantasy option this season when healthy, as he averaging 15.6 points and 6.3 assists per game on solid shooting all-around. Unfortunately, health has been something of an issue with him this season, and he is now dealing with a foot and ankle injury that has cost him two games and puts his status for the immediate future in doubt. The Hornets have yet to see the Jack/Eric Gordon backcourt in action this season, so there is the added question mark of whether Gordon will negatively impact Jack's production. There are simply too many question marks surrounding Jack right now to rely on him.
Kevin Seraphin, Wizards (@CHA, ORL, @NY, CLE): Seraphin continues to be a revelation in the absence of both Nene and Trevor Booker for the Wizards. The second-year forward has now played in six straight games with at least 30 minutes and 14 points, stepping up in a big way in the starters' absences. He has also had at least seven rebounds in all but one of those games. The end of the season is often when team's find potential diamonds in the rough, and the Wizards appear to have one here. The same goes for Fantasy owners in Week 16, as he should remain in his role with the other two out.
Tayshaun Prince, Pistons (@ORL, @CHA, MIL, CHI): It took the veteran a while to get going, but he has found his shot in the second half of this season and he seems to keep getting better, an impressive feat given this hectic schedule. Prince is shooting 49.3 percent from the field over the last five games for 15.4 points per game. In Week 16, he faces off against two top-10 defenses and two bottom-10 defenses, so expect the veteran to keep riding high with his current production for the scoring period.
Sleeper Alert: Brandon Bass, Celtics (@MIA, ATL, @TOR, @NJ, @CHA): The Celtics start the week with a brutal back to back against two top defenses in Miami and Atlanta, so Bass may have to do most of his damage in the second half of the scoring period, when they face a trio of weak defensive squads. Bass has upped his played lately, averaging 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game over the last five, and he has been getting to the free throw line often, putting in free points in bunches. The Celtics are rolling and Bass has been a big part of that, so don't expect it to end just yet.
Amar'e Stoudemire, Knicks (@CHI, @MIL, WAS, MIA): On Sunday's nationally-televised matchup against the Bulls, footage was shown of Stoudemire warming up prior to the game and he looked pretty good. Maybe not his typically explosive self, but good enough that Fantasy owners may be willing to sneak him into the lineup on the optimistic notion that he will make it for his Friday prediction and give them a couple of solid games here at the end of the season. That is too risky a proposition, however, given the inconsistency Stoudemire has dealt with this season even when healthy. Even if his balky back is feeling better by Friday, there is no guarantee that the Knicks will play him right away. Don't be too overly optimistic about this situation; Stoudemire has a history of injuries, and it is better to be safe than risk getting nothing at all from him.
James Johnson, Raptors (@IND, PHI, BOS, ATL): Johnson has been one of a number of Raptors to contribute over the course of the season, however in a strange turn of events, coach Dwayne Casey has had him benched over the last two games heading into Sunday. At this point, there's not much in the way of concrete details to go on, but it is starting to look like Johnson has gotten in his coach's doghouse. This comes at a tough time for Johnson, as he had been averaging 10.6 points per game over the previous 10 games. At this point, we have no idea if Johnson is going to be brought back into the fold, and given this uncertainty you have to bench Johnson for this week.
Bust Alert: Ryan Anderson, Magic (DET, @WAS, ATL, @CLE): Anderson has been a tremendously valuable Fantasy option all season long with his unique collection of talents: His combination of rebounding and three-point shooting is topped only by Kevin Love. However he has been unable to play for the last week after suffering an ankle injury last Sunday, and Glen Davis has stepped up in his absence in a big way; he is averaging 21.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game over the last four. While Anderson has a chance of returning by Monday in Week 16, he might be slowed by the injury and see his minutes limited with Davis' emergence, making him a risky start.
Byron Mullens, Bobcats (WAS, @CLE, DET, @MIA, BOS): Mullens appeared here last week as a sleeper, but he was so phenomenal in Week 15, that he simply had to make a return appearance. The lanky big man continues to show a fantastic scoring touch, and he has been crashing the boards hard as well, putting up a pair of double-doubles in the first three games of the last scoring period. Mullens went off for the best game of his career on Friday as well, putting 31 points and 14 rebounds against the Bucks, and with a slew of injuries limiting the Bobcats' options, as well as five chances to put up numbers in Week 16, Fantasy owners should feel confident in his abilities.
Sleeper Alert: Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers (CHA, IND, @IND, @WAS, ORL): Despite moving into the starting lineup as a center, Thompson has not emerged as anything close to a must-start Fantasy option, as his production continues to be too inconsistent to rely on week in and week out. That being said, it is hard to look away from him during a scoring period when he plays five times, even if three of the games come against stout defensive frontlines. Thompson has emerged as a low-end Fantasy option, so if you have another player who won't have as many opportunities, Thompson could top them.
Zaza Pachulia, Hawks (@BOS, @ORL, TOR): Pachulia has played a big part in keeping the Hawks in contention since Al Horford's injury, and he has also broken out as a useful Fantasy player, especially when matcuups are right. However, his scoring has been slipping recently, as he is averaging only 5.2 points over the last five games. Combined that slip with a less-than-favorable schedule for the week, and Pachulia does not look like a good play. He'll be good for some rebounds and steals out of the center position, but not much more than that.
Bust Alert: Nene, Wizards (@CHA, ORL, @NY, CLE): Nene is part of the reason that Seraphin was listed earlier, as he continues to struggle with a bout of plantar fasciitis that has cost him five games in a row. The team has not indicated when they expect the veteran to return, however it seems unlikely that he will do so for all of Week 16, making him an incredibly risky start. He remains one of the most skilled big men in the league, and he has shown plenty of chemistry with John Wall in limited time in Washington, however with this lingering issue, Fantasy owners will want to keep him reserved.