The “next man up” is a mentality that every athlete, coach or fan of athletics must buy into. It is a concept that roots itself in the belief that when a player goes down, the next man in line will step up and fill the gap. It is practiced in all team-based sports and its use goes back as far as men have been lining up shoulder to shoulder with shield and spear in hand, ready to go to battle against another like-minded group. In many people’s minds, sports is just a
sissified civilized version of war, where at the end of the battle everyone goes home in one piece… Hopefully. There are casualties in every war much like there are injuries in every season and when they occur it is up to the next man to step up and get the job done, for their team, for their fans and for their fantasy owners.
This practice was seen put into effect during the triple overtime war against the Washington Wizards on Friday night, when Terrence Ross went down with an unfortunate ankle injury. The young warrior tried to walk it off, but after several minutes of play the coaching staff smartly decided to err on the side of caution and pull him from the game. Though John Salmons started in place of the injured Ross in the second half and brought his standard veteran presence we’ve come to expect, ultimately it was Greivis Vasquez who stepped up and filled in admirably for the fallen Ross. General Greivis finished the night with 26 PTS off 11/19 shooting, with 4 three-pointers made, 8 AST, 2 REB, and 2 STL in 39 min. of action. This was the first time that Vasquez got over 30 min. of play since joining the Raptors, all it took was an injury and three overtime periods. Despite the reasons, Vasquez earned every minute of play and nearly found victory for the team in the process.
That game also showed warrior like efforts from several Raptors players including Amir Johnson who logged heavy minutes on his recently re-injured ankle. Kyle Lowry landed on Gortat’s war boats on a drive in the fourth. Despite rolling his ankle, he played every minute until fouling out in the third overtime period. Patrick Patterson started out hot, looking to erase his recent shooting woes, but took a mean shot to the face at some point during the game leaving a lump on his forehead and stars in his eyes. 2Pat came back to play some solid defence, but didn’t look too get his offense going after the hit. He was seen icing his face on the sidelines, hopefully he won’t have to go back to wearing the mask on Sunday against the Golden State Warriors. They may be warriors by name, but today Golden State will be facing a team full of them in Toronto.
The “next man up” mentality is just as important for a fantasy owner to have. When a player gets hurt on your roster the chance for sentimentality creeps in, often because of the good play that they gave you. Depending on the injury and calibre of player you may choose to sit on them, but in most cases it’s in your team’s best interest to drop that player and find a suitable replacement, especially if playing in a daily league. Injuries often open up opportunities for players to show how they can affect their team. This may be most easily seen in Los Angeles with Kobe and Nash injured this season. In their place Nick Young and Xavier Henry both had a chance to flourish earlier in the season and now with them suffering injuries, Kendall Marshall along with MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore most recently have all posted helpful fantasy numbers in their place.
Gotta Have ‘Em
DeMar DeRozan – Season player rating continues to rise this week from 47th up to 45th, and is owned by 100% of the leagues at ESPN. DeRozan has yet to hit a three pointer since the All-Star break, despite this he still averages 0.9 – 3PM on the season. That aside, DeMarvelous has been just that over the last week, averaging an impressive 30.3 PTS off .492 FG% and .818 FT%, with 5.3 AST, 3.7 REB and 1.0 STL per game. One reason for his lack of three-pointers of late stems from his decision to attack the rim and a desire to draw a foul. Over the last three contests DeMar is averaging a stellar 11 free-throw attempts per game. His ability to recognize space and his confidence to make the shot has made him one of the most dominant scorers in the NBA. This past week DeMar was the sixth highest scorer in the league and is currently sitting ninth overall (22.7) on the season.
Kyle Lowry – Season player rating holds at 12th this week and is owned by 100% of the leagues at ESPN. With only two games on schedule for this upcoming week, fantasy owners must take solace in the fact that IF he’s going to be out a week, this week would be the one to choose. That’s not to say he isn’t going to play, perhaps Sunday will give us a better indication of what’s to come. Over the last seven days Kyle has averaged 42 min. per game, .averaging 19.7 PTS off a troublesome .348 FG% while shooting .880 FT%, with 8.3 AST, 6.0 REB, 1.3 STL and hitting 1.7 three-pointers per game. The fantasy owner in me wants to see him back out on the floor being the tough competitor I know he is. However, the fan in me wants him to take some well-deserved rest this week to make sure he’s ready to compete down the stretch and into the playoffs. With Greivis playing well lately, the Raptors could afford to chance taking Lowry out of the line-up while ensuring his health moving forward.
Amir Johnson – Season player rating rises again from 69th up to 66th and is owned by 48.8% of the leagues at ESPN. If you were in need of a big and were one of the many owners who grabbed him this past week, then I’m sure you were happy. In the last seven days Amir has averaged 12.3 PTS off .609 FG% and .700 FT%, with 7.7 REB, 2.3 AST, 0.7 STL and 1.3 BLK per game. Tall Money is stacking up those stats with stats on top of stats. It’s amazing that he’s still available in more than half the leagues at ESPN. With the final games of the season coming down the pipe, expect coach Casey to rely more upon his veterans to get the job done. His vast array of hook shots in the lane and excellent pick and roll game is to be expected, the surprise is the two three-pointers made in the last three games. With the addition of the three point shot into his repertoire he quickly becomes a must-have at the end of your roster. If Amir still available in your league, consider picking him up before it’s too late.
Keep An Eye On
Terrence Ross – Season player rating moves up again from 132nd to 120th and owned by 24.9% of the leagues at ESPN. T.Ross has played to impress over the last seven days, averaging 15.3 PTS off .593 FG% while adding a whopping 3.7 three-pointers, with 2.7 REB, 1.3 AST, 0.7 STL and chipping in 0.3 BLK per game. These numbers would have looked even more impressive if only he had been able to play beyond the first half of Friday’s game canning 3 three-point shots and totalling 11 PTS, 2 REB, and 1 AST. Had he been able to continue one could only assume that with three overtime periods of play his numbers would have been impressive. Today’s game against Golden State should give us answers to the playability of Flight31 in the upcoming week.
Greivis Vasquez – Season player rating continues upward from 189th to 173rd and is owned by 33.3% of the leagues at ESPN. In the last seven days General Greivis has continued to find success, averaging 17.0 PTS off an efficient .568 FG% while making 3.0 three-pointers, with 4.7 AST, 2.0 REB and 1.0 STL per game. The last month has seen Vasquez keeping a .473 FG%, proving his shooting woes are a thing of the past. Things are looking up for him from a fantasy perspective as he begins to find comfort with his spark plug role off the bench. With both Terrence Ross and Kyle Lowry sustaining ankle injuries in Friday’s contest expect an increase in playing time for Vasquez this week.
Patrick Patterson – Season player rating dips slightly from 137th down to 138th and owned by 2.5% of the leagues at ESPN. Over the last week we have seen 2Pat`s offensive numbers continue to fall, he currently averages only 3.3 PTS off .267 FG%. Thankfully he continues to add 6.0 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.3 STL and 1.7 BLK to offset his poor shooting. It was rumoured that his offensive woes stemmed from his inability to get comfortable behind the protective mask he’s been wearing since breaking his nose. His poor FG% shouldn’t hurt your fantasy team, as its off only five shots per game and he is still managing 0.7 three-pointers per game. I look to see Patterson get his shooting back on track this week with only two games on the schedule and a chance to get back into the gym.
They Try and Try
Jonas Valanciunas – Season player rating drops from 102nd to 106th and owned by 79.6% of the leagues at ESPN. Unless he’s being used for the rebounding stats, owners of Jonas have been disappointed over the last seven days. Aside from his 8.3 REB, his numbers continue to struggle with 5.3 PTS off .385 FG%, adding 0.7 AST and 0.3 BLK per game. With only two games on the schedule this upcoming week, hopefully JV will be able to refuel the tank and regain some composure. Something that could benefit him would be if he could learn to stop complaining about the calls and take that well-earned frustration out on the opposing team on both ends of the floor. Growing pains.
Tyler Hansbrough – Season player rating drops from 288th down to 293rd and is still owned by none of the leagues at ESPN. Limited minutes get in the way of Tyler Hansbrough as far as being an effective fantasy contributor. Despite his limited minutes (16 MPG) he’s managed to average 4.0 PTS and 5.0 REB per game. Perhaps his most impressive stat was his 5.0 attempts at the free-throw line this past week, making him third on the team in drawing fouls during that time, while only managing to hit 2.7 of them (.533 FT%).