Injured Stars Shine Again: Arenas, Brand, Gasol, Nowitzki All Surprisingly Return From Injury on Same Night

If you’ve read Fantasy Basketball Pros this year, you know what I think about the NBA. I think it’s thriving. The level of competition is far superior to any other time in the league’s history, nearly every city has a team to cheer for, and there are so many great story lines.

Well, surprising as it is to say, the NBA is getting even better with the return of some of its top guns. On April 2, 2008 4 stars returned to their team’s. Pau Gasol returned from his ankle injury to lead the Lakers to a victory of Portland, Gilbert Arenas‘ knee troubles seem to have subsided, as the Wizard made a surprise return against Milwaukee and chipped in 17 points in 20 minutes in the losing effort, Dirk Nowitzki also made a surprise return from a high ankle sprain to help the Mavs rout a very tough Golden State team, and finally, Elton Brand surprised many by playing nearly the entire fourth quarter and leading the Clippers to a victory over the lowly Sonics.

With that being said, it’s probably WAY too late to think about it now, but if any of these guys by chance is available in one of your leagues, 1) thank god for the gift, and 2) pick him up immediately. If they are not, consider this pickup of the night:

JAVARIS CRITTENTON

This guy came over in the Pau Gasol deal and if there is anything that Lakers gave up in that deal, it’s Crittenton (I mean Kwame is garbage, so they actually benefited from unloading him). He hasn’t gotten a whole lot of playing time this season in his rookie campagain (especially when he was in LA), but since Memphis is out of the playoff picture, his minutes have steadily increased. And boy has he been producing with the extra time. Last night he put up a top-10 line of the night, with 23 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists and a steal on 7-11 shooting (2-3 from 3). I don’t expect him to cool off any time soon, so if you’re in need of point guard help, consider Javaris (I love that name).


Second Best: NICK COLLISON

Collison won’t be available in a lot of leagues, in fact ESPN says in about 50% of leagues he won’t be. But it’s worth a shot taking a look. The guy has been an absolute monster on the glass. Here are his rebounding stats alone the last five games (most recent first): 17, 8, 10, 21, 11. That’s an average of 13.4 the last 5 games. In addition to that he’s contributing around 10 points a game and a few assists. He plays a lot of minutes as a starter in Seattle, so I would definitely suggest picking him up if he is available.


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To hoops,
Farid

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Pickup of the Night: April 1

ANTHONY CARTER

Do you pick up Carter in your league, or do you not? The Nuggets are a dynamic team, but Carter is behind AI, Melo, Camby, and Kenyon Martin in taking shots and getting stats. Well, Carter proved tonight he doesn’t need the ball to produce and should be on your fantasy team. Sure Carter only had 8 points on 3-5 from the field and 2-3 from the line. But he not only helped out with 10 dimes (and 2 rebounds), but he got an amazing 6 steals and 1 block, all while turning it over only once. Not bad at all for the guy whose name you can’t remember on the Nuggets.


Second Best: RODNEY STUCKEY

The rookie got the start tonight over Rip Hamilton and showed what he is made of. He got to the line 13 times (and made 12 free throws). 13 TIMES!!! And he’s a rookie! He also shot 50% from the field and added 2 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, and a block. Not bad at all. Also, playing 33 minutes always helps the statline. He definitely looked better than fellow youngster Aaron Afflalo tonight.

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Mike
Senior Writer

Pickup of the Night: March 31

Looks like Brook and Robin Lopez of Stanford are declaring for the NBA Draft. I personally love these guys and I thought they alone would propel Stanford to the Final Four. But even better is the news that Robin Lopez is dating Michelle Wie. Someone should’ve told the Stanford student/professional golfer that she’s dating the less-talented Lopez brother–I mean Brook might be able to land a huge contract, but how’s Robin gonna compete with the $19 million Wie made in 2007. Here’s to hoping Robin gets drafted with the 25th pick by San Antonio and Wie sits next to Eva Longoria at games. But I digress, onto the pickup of the night:

DEVEAN GEORGE

This guy has been straight ballin’ as of late. I don’t even know what was most impressive about his line last night. The 2 points? The 1-5 shooting? Nah, it’s definitely the three personal fouls. George is owned in 0% of ESPN leagues, but with a season average of three and a half points per game, I think you should pick him up before your opponent does. APRIL FOOLS. Devean George’s game last night was the worst rated line of the night last night as rated by Basketball Monster. I personally don’t like him and I would never consider picking him up. Check him out looking like a fool in this interview, by the way.

The Real Pickup of The Night: C.J. MILES

This is the guy who’s been starting for the injured Andrei Kirilenko. He’s a Guard-Forward that can hit the long ball. Last night he had a spectacular game, scoring 29 points, with 4 boards and 5 dimes. He had 17 looks at the basket and hit 12 of those shots. He’s started in each of the last 3 games for Utah, so look at him for a potential pickup this week while the Jazz are banged up. Oh and am I the only one that thinks he looks like a young Ray Allen in this pic?


Second Best: JOEL ANTHONY

A big man out in Miami, Anthony is a defensive beast. Last night he blocked 6 shots and forced 3 steals. He’s not much of a scorer (only 5 points), but he was also able to bring down 9 boards for the Heat. Most importantly to me, though, Anthony played 31 minutes last night, so it looks as if Riley (or whoever the heck is there coaching games if he’s gone) is looking to play him more off the bench. I don’t think he’s a pickup this week, but watch his play and consider him for next if you need defensive peripheral stats.


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To hoops,
Farid

Pickup of the Night: March 30

I’m sad to see Davidson out. How the hell did Stephen Curry decide to give the ball up at the end? Some news, though, is that cbs.sportsline.com is reporting that Curry will not go pro after this year, so it’s still at least another year before we will see him making threes for your fantasy team. Here is tonight’s Pickup of the Night:

BRANDON BASS

This is a guy who had me on his bandwagon when Dirk went down. He has some ability and the Mavs just are not that deep. 21 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 6-12 from the field and 9-12 from the line is respectable. He is the first guy off the bench for this team, at least until Dirk gets back, so look for him early and look for him often.


Second Best: LUIS SCOLA

I loved this guy when Yao first got hurt. Then I hated him. Now I like him again, as he is becoming more involved in the offense. Not too much of a line, just 24 points and 7 rebounds (nothing else, literally). He shot a respectable 7-12 from the floor (I only say respectable since he is a big man) and 10-12 from the line. T-Mac has been giving signs he’ll probably choke again in the playoffs, so we should see Scola’s role increasing in the final few weeks of the season.


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Mike
Senior Writer

Pickup of the Night: March 29

YI JIANLIAN

He is back from injury and has begun to string together some pretty good games. Look for him to get 25+ min/game for the rest of the year. Last night he scored 14 points, grabbed 8 boards and blocked two shots. Based on his FG%, it’s safe to say he’s been rusty the last few games, but expect him to improve with more action. And if you’re in a head-to-head league, Yi is for you because Week 23 (next week) the Bucks have a pretty easy schedule, playing: NY, Was, Ind and Ind. I predict a strong Week 23 for Jianlian.


BORIS DIAW

Diaw has been on a pretty good stretch the last 5 games. He’s been averaging 12 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and great percentages. Now add to that back-to-back games against Denver Monday and Tuesday, plus games against Minnesota and Dallas next week and Diaw looks like a great pickup for Week 23 fantasy owners. He won’t be available in all leagues, but I’d definitely check.

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To hoops,
Farid

Pickup of the Night: March 28

Not very exciting NCAA tourney games tonight. That Curry kid is amazing. Maybe one day he’ll win pickup of the night, but not tonight. That honor goes to:

JOSH BOONE

That’s twice this week, but he has earned it. In 35 minutes, he recorded 15 points and 16 boards. But the amazing thing is the 6-8 from the field and equally good 3-4 from the line. Not too bad for a guy that usually kills you from the free throw stripe. Oh, and by the way, my mancrush Devin Harris had a huge night: 27 points, 4 threes, 4 rebounds, and 9 assists. He looks much better in a Nets uniform than he ever did in Big D.


Second Best: PAUL MILSAP

I gotta love this guy’s line last night. Only 13 points on 4-7 from the field and 5-7 from the line. Only 5 rebounds and 3 assists. But the 3 steals and 2 blocks really help, especially in H-2-H leagues. Utah is basically a team that is two-deep in fantasy talent right now, as AK47 has sucked recently. Milsap might be a guy that comes in with a lot of minutes, provides good shooting, rebounds, and plays defense. It’s worth a look if he’s available.


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Mike
Senior Writer

Pickup of the Night: March 27

Only three NBA games tonight (2 if you don’t count that fact that the Heat played in one of them), so not much to choose from. My Bruins upended Western Kentucky so I’m pretty happy about that right now. But the Lakers suck (having lost to Charlotte), so I’m pretty bummed about them. But enough about me and my West Coast bias and on to the player of the night.

ARRON AFFLALO

This guy was a stud at UCLA but hasn’t really got any minutes in this his rookie season with the Central Champion Pistons. Fortunately for him, Richard Hamilton has been banged up recently and the Pistons are in need of a substitute. And that’s exactly what Afflalo has been. He has started the last three games and last night against the Heat (I know it’s the Heat), he went for 15 and 7 with 2 steals and a block–not bad for the former Bruin. Pick this guy up if nobody is left in your league. But generally, keep an eye on him for the future. He may be a legitimate pickup in future seasons.


Second Best: CHRIS QUINN

It’s hard to recommend this guy because he is playing on the worst NBA team on this Earth, but the guy has been putting up above-average numbers. In his last five games he is averaging 13 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and THREE steals a game. In ESPN leagues he is being snatched up like crazy, so don’t be the only guy on the block without him. The Heat may be in the shitters, but this guy can straight ball. Pick him up if you need some point guard help.


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To hoops,
Farid