NBA fantasy: Kobe rising

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant during a stoppage in play against the Mavericks at American Airlines...

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant during a stoppage in play against the Mavericks at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Tex., Feb. 22, 2012. (MIKE STONE/Reuters)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:29 PM ET

HOUSTON - We’re past the all-star break and down to the concluding half of this abbreviated NBA season.

The trade deadline is just over two weeks away (March 15th) and that will shake up the fantasy landscape a bit, but for now, the focus remains on what injuries have done to playing rotations, plus which young players are starting to come on.

Kobe Bryant was banged up in Orlando by Dwyane Wade, but that should only be good news to Bryant owners, who have watched him put up some unfortunate turnover and shooting numbers of late. If anything, Wade’s bump will refuel Bryant for a big second half. The Lakers might be cautious with Bryant this week, but he’ll be in this weekend, no doubt about that. He won’t be able to score 81 points against Miami — but he might try.

In Golden State, Stephen Curry continues to be hampered by ankle/foot injuries. He’s a fantastic player when he actually plays, but unfortunately, his body doesn’t seem to be up for the grind of a full NBA season at this point. It sounds crazy, but keeper league owners might want to think about moving Curry for a massive offer. Particularly if they are still in the hunt without him and can take home a title with a bold move.

Lamar Odom has left the Mavericks for personal reasons. He was struggling anyways, but this is good news for Brandon Wright, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter owners, as they will see more time with Odom away.

The news looked bad for Manu Ginobili, but now the Spurs are expecting him to return from his latest setback soon. Things aren’t as promising in Memphis, where Zach Randolph’s comeback has stalled. Either are worth a pickup now though if you have a deep team as they can really help you later.

Brandon Roy said on Tuesday that he is thinking about an NBA return. However, before you get too excited, it wouldn’t be until next year at the earliest, and even that is a longshot. Portland wouldn’t be allowed to sign him until 2015, though he could sign elsewhere before that.

A week ago, it looked like Corey Brewer didn’t merit a pickup, because Wilson Chandler appeared to be on his way back to Denver, but now Chandler and the Nuggets are having trouble coming to an agreement, putting his future in doubt. That opens up more time for Brewer, who has been surging over the past few weeks. Always a good defender, he finally is also hitting a few shots.

Looking at reserve centres, we’d go with Aaron Gray over newly signed Joel Przybilla. Gray has been productive in a starting role for the Raptors and should continue to contribute in deep leagues, even when Andrea Bargnani returns in a week or two. Toronto got Linas Kleiza back on Tuesday against Houston. He had provided a nice jolt offensively and on the boards before being knocked out for three games with a couple of ailments resulting from a fall.

As for young guys doing well ... Taj Gibson, Nikola Vucevic and Kenneth Faried on our Waiver Watch fit the bill. Tristan Thompson is playing well, though Anderson Varejao’s return is getting closer; Chandler Parson has been a nice find in Houston; Isaiah Thomas has been a great story; Sophomores Jordan Crawford, Greivis Vasquez and Evan Turner also are rolling. Keep an eye on Eric Bledsoe. He has the talent to breakout, though playing time is tough to come by with the Clippers.

TRAINER'S ROOM TICKER/INJURY UPDATES

Charlotte is nearly at full strength, with Gerald Henderson ready to return, along with Corey Maggette … Veterans Rip Hamilton and Anthony Parker should return to starting roles this week, though both are past the big impact stage at this point of their careers … Lamar Odom has left Dallas for personal reasons and his return is uncertain … Don’t expect Kobe Bryant’s broken nose to limit his productivity. If anything, he’ll be on a mission, particularly against the Heat on Sunday … Zach Randolph is still at least a week away for Memphis, and likely longer than that … Atlanta got Joe Johnson back this week, but Al Horford, though starting rehab, is still a long way off … Philadelphia got Elton Brand back, but Spencer Hawes should miss 2-3 more weeks … Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani is now able to run, but is not expected to play this week.

WAIVER WATCH

With fantasy rating out of 5

Kenneth Faried, Nuggets, F

3 stars

Rookie is getting some minutes and producing. Averaging 9.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.1 combined steals/blocks on high FG% over past seven games. Worth a look.

Nikola Vucevic, Sixers, F/C

2 stars

Another rookie big man. With Spencer Hawes still sidelined, Vucevic should continue to contribute. Averaging 10.8 points, 5.0 rebounds 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals on 61% shooting over past five contests.

Devin Harris, Jazz, G

3 stars

Many people might have given up on him, but Harris has flashed some of his old form of late. He’s scoring, shooting the ball well, though assist-to-turnover ratio needs to be better than 2:1.

Taj Gibson, Bulls, F

Carlos Boozer has been great, which has limited Gibson’s minutes, but he’s cracked Yahoo’s top 100 over the past two weeks, despite coming off of the bench. If he ever got more time, he’d be a fantasy stud.

Courtney Lee, Rockets, G

2 stars

Nailing nearly three three-pointers a game in February. Once his shooting percentage from other spots on the court go up, his scoring average will improve. Contributes in multiple areas.

FAVOURITES FOR A REASON?

Many people have picked Miami and Oklahoma City as the favourites to meet in the NBA Final. Over the past month, four of the league’s top eight scorers have come from those clubs, including the top two scorers, the Thunder’s dynamic duo:

Kevin Durant, OKC – 29.9 PPG; Russell Westbrook, OKC – 26.9 PPG

Kobe Bryant, LAL – 26.1 PPG, Deron Williams, NJ – 25.9 PPG

Kevin Love, MIN – 25.1 PPG; LeBron James, MIA – 25.1 PPG

Monta Ellis, GS – 24.0 PPG; Dwyane Wade, MIA – 23.7 PPG

HOT AND NOT

Surprises and disappointments over the last two weeks

HOT

Deron Williams, G, NJ

6 GP, 28.5 PPG, 7.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 4.2 3PM

Marcin Gortat, C, PHO

6 GP, 17.7 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 1.7 SPG, .542 FG%

Marco Belinelli, G, NO

5 GP, 16.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.6 3PM, .554 FG%

Isaiah Thomas, PG, NO

6 GP, 16.8 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.7 3PM

NOT

Kobe Bryant, G, LAL

6 GP, 24.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.0 TPG, .409 FG%

Danny Granger, G/F, IND

5 GP, 15.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, .349 FG%

D.J. Augustin, G, CHA

4 GP, 11.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.7 APG, 3.0 TPG, .341 FG%


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