Week 7 of the NBA season brings us three games for the Pacers, two of which are against sub-.500 teams. New Jersey has won just once this season and Washington is very beatable with problems on both ends of the court (22nd in offense at 96.8 PPG and 19th on defense with 100.6 PPG allowed). Portland is the tough matchup this week as they have a young team, but Greg Oden is out for the season yet again and that bodes well for Roy Hibbert. This could be just what the Pacers needed to get back on track this week if all goes as well as it does on paper.
When you look at the season so far you have to wonder what else can go wrong for the Pacers? Franchise player Danny Granger is dealing with knee and heel injuries and left the arena in a walking boot Saturday night. Mike Dunleavy was injured but is now back. Troy Murphy was injured but is now back. Hibbert was a double-double machine to start the season, but came off the bench this weekend as Jeff Foster got the start. Brandon Rush finished last season off red hot, but has failed to carry that success over to this season and has now been bumped from the starting lineup. T.J. Ford has had more than five assists just once this season. And if all that werenít bad enough, Indiana has lost five in a row and is now 6-12 on the season.
Since the first game this week isnít until Wednesday, I will go on the assumption Granger will be able to play. The heel is a bit of a concern since it will limit his mobility and he played just 18 minutes on Saturday. But, he has the ability to score 25-plus on any given night and he will always add a few boards and assists to the box score with a few days rest.
With Granger hurting, the bulk of the load will fall on to Murphy and he is a double-double threat every game. He has averaged just over 11 points and 9 rebounds this past week and that is good for a flex forward position player.
Think about 'em
unleavy is still coming off the bench, but he is a leader on the team and can score in double figures each night. His drawback right now is that he isnít offering rebounds, assists, or steals consistently enough to be a sure-fire starter in fantasy leagues.
I am a fan of Dahntay Jones this season, but he has had back-to-back games where he scores below the double-digit mark. If Jones can get himself back on track, he will be worth starting in the guard flex or utility spot in standard format leagues.
Hibbert hasnít logged double-digit rebounds since Nov. 18, but since he can score around 10 points a night and he will add 1-2 blocks he is worth starting as a second center. He isnít putting up stats like he was early in the season, but we know he has the ability to since we have all seen it this season.
On Saturday, Earl Watson managed to put up 9 assists, 7 points, and 4 steals in his 29 minutes off the bench. Right now the Pacers point guards are struggling as a whole, but Watson has shown signs of life and the near 30 minutes are interesting for fantasy leagues.
I had high hopes for Ford this season but he is averaging just 2.9 assists and 0.8 steals a night. I have no idea what the problem is, but Ford is finding himself on more and more waiver wires and I canít say I blame owners for jumping ship. If you are going to stick with him, make sure he is on your bench until you have a reason to start him.
Even with Foster taking over the starting gig, he isnít going to see more than 15-20 minutes most nights, so owning him in anything smaller than a 16-team league is a reach at this point. If you are in a deeper league and own Foster, only play him if you are desperate for rebounds.
Tyler Hansbrough is just a rookie and he will take some time to really find his NBA game. That being said, I think he has a solid enough future in fantasy leagues when he figures out how to use his size to his advantage with that shot of his. But, that time is not right now, so donít own him unless you are in a deep league.
Take a right at the tunnel, then a left at the sideline, and you will find yourself in the doghouse, sitting right next to Rush. Rush has averaged just 7 points and 4.3 rebounds this season and he recently lost his starting job to Jones. If you were thinking of cutting ties with him, now would the right time.
A little further down the bench you will see guys like Travis Diener, Luther Head, Solomon Jones, Josh McRoberts and A.J. Price. Even if you are in one of those 16 or 18-team leagues, none of these guys see consistent enough minutes to be truly effective in fantasy leagues. Iím in a 24-team league and these guys are on my waiver wire because you just donít know when, and for how long, they will play.
Question of the week
Q. I heard Danny Granger is dealing with a sore heel, is he someone I should look at trading away since this injury is likely to linger all season long? (Donovan, San Diego, CA)
A. Yes, he is dealing with a sore heel and he left the arena on Saturday in a walking boot. He is going to have an MRI on it probably Monday to see what is going on, but Granger is a trooper and he will play through the pain until his body finally shuts down and tells him no more. If anything, Iíd be trading for him right now because there are a lot more managers like you wondering if this will be a bigger problem than there are like me who know what kind of heart he has.