GETTIN' GEEK'D (1/9)

Five on the Rise

Now that the clock has hit 00:00 on the fantasy football season, it’s time to get those fantasy hoops squads in tip-top shape. The 2010 portion of the NBA season was full of surprises, as injuries, trades and the fallout from the big summer of free agency opened the door for new stars to shine. Bargain-hunting owners who like to pan for gold on the waiver wire and deal for buy-low candidates have already struck it rich with guys like Wesley Matthews, Beno Udrih and Hedo Turkoglu. Now that you’ve got that new 2011 Puppies & Kittens calendar on your wall, The Geek will get you up to speed on the next round of players whose stock may be about to rise. Some of the guys on the following list may be owned in your league and others may not be ownable just yet. But they’re all worth keeping an eye on.

1] Manny Harris, CLE
With 30+ minutes a game, I have no doubt Ramon Sessions would be a fantasy beast. Problem is, no one wants to give him that much clock. He’s had his moments coming off the bench, though he’s not the player capitalizing on Daniel Gibson’s most recent absence due to injury. That privilege has gone to rookie, Manny Harris. Inserted into the starting lineup late last week, Harris put up 16 points, 10 boards, 4 dishes and 3 steals. He then followed that up with a career-high 27 points to go along with 8 rebounds. There’s a good chance the Michigan alum pulls a vanishing act when Gibson returns. For now, he’s a player to at least keep on your radar.

JJ has been “dyn-o-mite” since Varejao went down.

2] JJ Hickson, CLE
Another Cavalier has suddenly emerged as a hot commodity. Hickson was heavily hyped heading into the season. Then he got dropped faster than a lazy guy’s New Year’s Resolution to hit the gym. Last week, Anderson Varejao went down with a season-ending tendon tear and guess who’s back in the good graces of fantasy owners? In his last game, Hickson went off with 23 points and 17 boards. If he’s available in your league, change that. Fast. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to target him in trade if another team now has a surplus of quality big men.

3] Chris Douglas-Roberts, MIL
I was a big fan of CDR when he was heading into the NBA a couple of years ago. New Jersey ran him off to Milwaukee, who had an abundance of new pieces this season, leaving his role up in the air. Douglas-Roberts was starting, then he wasn’t, then he was getting solid minutes off the bench, then he was out of the rotation altogether. Well, the roller coaster ride is now clicking and clanking up the big incline. With no Drew Gooden and Andrew Bogut around to clog the middle, Douglas-Roberts has been getting big minutes and he’s making them count. That written, Scott Skiles could sit CDR at the end of the bench anytime now—consistency hasn’t been a strong suit for any of the Bucks this season. But 30 and 24 points in back-to-back games is an eye-opener. While you’re at it, don’t sleep on fellow Buck, Ersan Ilyasova. Good player who really deserves more minutes.

4] Al Harrington, DEN
Sunday night my Twitter was blowing up with rumors of a three-way deal around Carmelo Anthony. ‘Melo soon dismissed the deal said to be in the works. One thing is clear: he’s getting antsy in Denver and it may not be long before he heads east. Depending on what the Nuggets get in return for their franchise player, a gaping hole may open up for Harrington. He’s quickly turned into an afterthought since coming over from the Knicks. The talent is still there, and soon, the opportunity may be as well. He could inherit Anthony’s starting gig, or he could be shipped out and take on a bigger role with another squad. Another Mile-High guy to grab if you’ve got an open bench spot is Ty Lawson. An Anthony trade could also spell the end of Chauncey Billups’ run in Denver.

5] Troy Murphy, NJ
Remember him? The only place he’s showing up these days is on the back of milk cartons. Instead of piling up his usual double-doubles, Murphy is putting up nothing but a “DNP – Coach’s Decision” in the box scores.  This one kills me because I’m a big fan of Murph’s game. He’s only 30 years old and he’s just a season removed from delivering quality fantasy production. It made absolutely no sense when the Nets brought him in. Now, I expect them to correct that decision by including him in a trade. Depending on where he lands, Murphy’s value has nowhere to go but up. With 26-28 minutes per game somewhere outside of Jersey, the former Fightin’ Irish center could still give you 12 points and 10 rebounds. He’s worthy of stashing if you have a deep bench and if the trade rumors persist.

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