Time to drop Collison?

March, 23, 2010

Chris Paul returned on Monday, though Darren Collison played more minutes and posted bigger numbers.

After missing 25 games with a left knee injury, Paul started and produced 11 points and three assists against the Dallas Mavericks. New Orleans Hornets coach Jeff Bower limited Paul to 21 minutes, which prompted the star to joke it was like being on a crappy cell phone plan.

"At halftime, I kept telling the guys I only had 12 minutes left. That's all I had left on my daytime minutes," Paul told the Associated Press.

Paul's part-time status left plenty of opportunity for Collison, who played 35 minutes off the bench and finished with 15 points and eight assists. Collison, who was a plus-28 on the night, was also instrumental in the Hornets' huge comeback that wiped out an early 16-point deficit. So what to do with the rookie who's sparked so many fantasy rosters the past two months? Holding onto Collison is a defensible position; it's not like he'll be dead weight from here. However, I think, especially in standard leagues, you have better options: namely, Toney Douglas. I've been hyping Douglas since he moved into the New York Knicks' starting lineup. In those five games, he's averaging 20.0 points, 5.6 assists, 3.4 3-pointers and 2.2 steals. And the more Douglas plays, the less seriously I take Mike D'Antoni's previous proclamation about Sergio Rodriguez getting another shot at running the point for the Knicks.

Here's another thing to consider with Collison: Since the first of the year, the Hornets have played a ton of games. Take out the two February weeks shortened by the All-Star break, and from January through the beginning of April, the Hornets will have played four games in nine of 11 weeks. But in the season's final 10 days, the Hornets play just four times. Douglas and the Knicks, on the other hand, have six games in that span.

Looking Back

Kevin Durant, Thunder: 45 points (15-24 FG), 8 rebounds, 3 blocks against the Spurs.
Jason Richardson, Suns: 34 points (5-8 3-pointers), 6 rebounds, 4 assists versus the Warriors.
Dwyane Wade, Heat: 27 points (9-13 FG), 7 rebounds, 12 assists against the Nets.
Aaron Brooks, Rockets: 9 points (3-17 FG), 6 assists against the Bulls.
Brandon Jennings, Bucks: 2 points (1-8 FG) in 18 minutes against the Hawks.
Chris Paul, Hornets: 11 points (4-9 FG), 3 assists, 3 3-pointers against the Mavericks.
Beno Udrih (18 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds) was again huge in the absence of Tyreke Evans, who's still sidelined with a concussion. However, the Rookie of the Year front-runner could return as soon as Friday. Udrih has certainly played well with Evans, too, so he's another possible replacement for Collison. Udrih is available in about 65 percent of ESPN.com leagues.

• It looks like Reggie Williams, former D-League warrior and current Golden State Warrior, can score at this level. He had his biggest game yet on Monday, pouring in 29 points and a couple of treys while shooting 10-of-16 overall. Granted, the Phoenix Suns were the opponent, but Williams, who's available in more than 95 percent of ESPN.com leagues, is worth adding in leagues of at least 12 teams. Certainly he's a worthy replacement for owners who are still hanging onto the fading Anthony Morrow. Williams' success on Monday could be partially explained by the fact that Corey Maggette played just 19 minutes. I can't find word of any injury. One more Warriors note: Anthony Tolliver absolutely stuffed the stat sheet (25 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists) while playing all but 35 seconds against the Suns. While Tolliver has been a streaky scorer, he's played at least 26 minutes in every game this month, averaging 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.2 blocks. He's available in more than 90 percent of ESPN.com leagues.

• Hey, Joakim Noah (foot) went for 12 points and 18 boards. Nah, I'm kidding -- but those numbers would be Noah's 36-minute averages on Monday. In reality, he was limited to 12 minutes (and four points and six rebounds) against the Houston Rockets. Fantasy owners are still better off with Taj Gibson, who had 10 points, 12 rebounds and 5 rejections in 33 minutes.

John Salmons (32 points on 12-of-19 shooting) sure looks at home with the Milwaukee Bucks. After averaging just 12.7 points on 42.0 percent from the field with the Chicago Bulls this season, the veteran is going off at rates of 20.5 points and 46.7 percent shooting since the trade.

Looking Ahead

Just four games in the NBA on Tuesday, so who's a prime plug-in option? Douglas, of course. Granted, he has a tough matchup against the Denver Nuggets, but at this point Douglas simply should be rostered in all leagues. While owners are moving on the lad, he remains available in about 85 percent of ESPN.com leagues.

Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.



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