Window closing to get Beal, Hayward

February, 20, 2013

Here's a simple way to get the second half of your fantasy season off to a good start: add Bradley Beal and/or Gordon Hayward.

On Tuesday morning, Beal and Hayward were available in nearly half of leagues. By day's end, both looked healthy and showed why they should be universally on rosters. In fact, Beal's ownership  increased to nearly 60 percent by Wednesday morning.

A wrist injury caused Beal to miss five games in late January and early this month. On Tuesday, in his first start since Jan. 28, the rookie put up 25 points and three 3-pointers in the Washington Wizards' loss to the Toronto Raptors. Since the beginning of 2013, Beal is shooting better than 50 percent from downtown. He's a cinch to average 15.0-plus points and 2.0-plus treys (while contributing in the hustle cats) for the balance of the season.

Hayward, meanwhile, returned to action for the Utah Jazz after sitting out 10 games with a shoulder problem. In just 25 minutes off the bench, he amassed 17 points, four assists, a pair of 3s and a pair of blocks against the Golden State Warriors. Given his current reserve role, Hayward's second-half prospects aren't as bright as Beal's. However, the third-year pro does have a brief but compelling history of strong finishes (12.2 points and 49.2 percent shooting post-break over his first two seasons). Of course, Hayward will need more minutes to re-establish his value, but looking at the fantasy free-agent landscape, I believe he and Beal are clearly the best, most available players out there.

Looking Back

" Are the New Orleans Hornets ready to turn the Unibrow loose? In the weeks before the break, Anthony Davis saw his playing time dip into the 25-minute range. But on Feb. 13, in his final game of the first half, Davis registered 21 points and 11 boards in 28 minutes against the Portland Trail Blazers. Then on Tuesday, he produced another double-double: 15 points and 10 rebounds, along with four steals, against the Chicago Bulls. Best of all, the Unibrow saw 33 minutes of action; it was just the fifth time in his past 23 games that Davis reached 30 minutes. The Hornets face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, and how Davis fares in a back-to-back setting could be quite telling.

" While Wesley Matthews (ankle) remains sidelined, several other players got healthy over the break. In addition to Hayward, Deron Williams (19 points, 9 assists), Larry Sanders (14 points, 6 blocks), Danilo Gallinari (26 points, 4 3s) and Andre Iguodala (1 point, 7 assists) all returned Tuesday. Matthews had been a game-time decision on Tuesday, so with the Blazers now off until Friday, he might not miss any additional time.

Looking Ahead

" Andrei Kirilenko is expected to play Wednesday after missing five games with a quad injury. The Minnesota Timberwolves host the Philadelphia 76ers.

" On Tuesday, the Warriors announced they were loosening the playing restrictions on Andrew Bogut. But in the loss to the Jazz, Bogut went scoreless in only 15 minutes. Afterward, coach Mark Jackson simply said that the big Aussie wasn't moving well. Still, with Bogut now cleared to play on consecutive nights, he should be available Wednesday when the Warriors host the Phoenix Suns.

" Danny Granger apparently won't play on Wednesday, when the Indiana Pacers host the New York Knicks. The team is now looking for Granger to make his season debut Friday against the Detroit Pistons.



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