Daniels, Jack taking advantage of opportunities

February, 24, 2009
Devin Harris, Nets: 39 points, 5 3-pointers, 8 assists versus Philadelphia.
Zach Randolph, Clippers: 27 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals against the Warriors.
Nate Robinson, Knicks: 41 points (11-18 FG), 8 rebounds, 4 3-pointers versus Indiana.
Chauncey Billups, Nuggets: 3 points (1-8 FG), 5 assists against Boston.
Brook Lopez, Nets: 7 points, 5 rebounds versus the 76ers.
Beno Udrih, Kings: 5 points, 2 assists against New Orleans.

In many leagues, the cascade of season-altering injuries during the past two weeks took a lot of the steam out of ESPN trade deadline activity. It's easy to see why: So many teams have been radically altered so suddenly that serious deal-making has become impossible. Looking around, there are just too many holes to fill on too many teams.

The positive from all the roster turnover is the high degree of waiver-wire opportunity. Yes, your team might have been crippled by the loss of one, maybe two, maybe three high-profile players (in one league, I lost Jameer Nelson, Al Jefferson and Kevin Garnett in the span of two weeks). But chances are that many other teams in your league are facing the same challenges. What's important is to not pout or panic, but to keep hitting the wire in the hopes of picking up a low-risk, high-reward player (in my case, two or three).

For evidence of what's out there, look no further than the Indiana Pacers. With both Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy on the shelf, minutes and shot opportunities are being redistributed throughout Jim O'Brien's offensively accommodating squad. It's very similar to what's happened with Ramon Sessions and Charlie Villanueva in Milwaukee. On Monday night, we saw Marquis Daniels (28 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) and Jarrett Jack (33 points, 3 3-pointers, 2 steals) fill the void in impressive fashion.

Both Daniels (45 percent owned) and Jack (20 percent owned) possess what waiver-wire players need the most: a high degree of athleticism and 35 minutes a night.

And of course, we're not looking just at players who are ascending due to injury. Many others are snapping up minutes due to the flurry of minor deals that took place leading up to the NBA trade deadline. Monday's Kings-Hornets matchup highlighted a few names that have been trending upward on the wire. Beno Udrih, Spencer Hawes, Andres Nocioni and Francisco Garcia all could be fantasy difference-makers during the season's final weeks.

I'm well aware that Aaron Brooks and Kevin Love might not have the same sizzle as Tracy McGrady or Jefferson. But these types of players don't cost you a thing but a roster spot and certainly can keep you alive and kicking in the race for a playoff berth. As we know, anything can happen once you get to the playoffs.

Under the Boards

Lost in the sublime "clutchosity" of Devin Harris' buzzer-beater was the fact that his late 3 boosted him to 39 points, his third-highest total of the season. What's even more impressive to his owners is the fact that the perpetually dinged Harris has missed only six games to date this season. … Carlos Boozer might have logged only one field goal (and on a goaltending call, no less), but his owners care about only one number: 21 minutes played. … Chris Duhon's swoon (4 points, 5 assists) continued against the Pacers. Keep a close eye on how Larry Hughes' role in the Knicks' rotation develops in the coming weeks. … Not only did Nate Robinson score a season-high 41, but he also was the Knicks' second-leading rebounder with eight. … Josh Smith had a rough night. He scored just 11 points, missed all six of his free throws and was ejected for a flagrant foul on Matt Harpring. … Yi Jianlian hit the all-important 30-minute barrier for the first time since returning from injury. I've said it before: He has more upside than most waiver-wire candidates. … Joe Johnson posted the emptiest 17 points you'll ever see (no rebounds, assists or steals) against the Jazz. … Here's what happens when I predict an off night for the road-weary Celtics: They hand the Nuggets a near-historic home drubbing. Leon Powe (16 points, 5 rebounds) showed he could be the prime beneficiary of Garnett's injury. … Tyson Chandler (15 points, 10 rebounds) seems to be shaking off the effects of his near-banishment to the Thunder. Either that, or he's newly motivated to prove his worth to the Hornets. … Lou Williams (10 points) occasionally flashes some fantasy potential, but he doesn't play enough minutes to warrant being a permanent part of rosters in medium-to-shallow leagues. Even at his best, he provides only points and 3s. … Rasual Butler finally cooled off but still contributed a couple of 3-pointers and 12 points.

John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.



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