Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
And I thought only college kids went on spring break.
San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker barely broke a sweat Monday night against the Golden State Warriors. San Antonio's big three combined for a mere 41 minutes played, and the Spurs still won.
While the Spurs' All-Stars were on the bench playing checkers and updating their Facebook statuses, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade was having a similarly relaxing experience in New Jersey. Monday night marked Wade's second night off in three games and the fourth time he's played hookey this month.
Where was Wade the night before? Taking in a Yankees/Angels game with his buddy Tim Tebow, of course.
With just a week left in the regular season and most teams' fates already decided, many of the NBA's most productive stars are getting an early vacation.
For some, it means getting a rest before (hopefully) a deep playoff run. For others, the final days of the 2011-12 regular season are for trying out new lineups and getting a feel for young talent.
Either way, it significantly alters the landscape of fantasy basketball. This is the one week a year when C.J. Watson and Gerald Green will have more fantasy value than Derrick Rose and Deron Williams.
Following are some of your best options for the rest of the regular season, assuming stars like Duncan and Wade use up the rest of their vacation days. Keep in mind, these aren't necessarily players who will be available on the waiver wire, just players who will benefit from increased playing time over the next several days.
Mario Chalmers, Guard, Miami Heat - Aside from Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Wade, the Heat have had very little fantasy significance this season. But if I had to choose another Miami player to help lead my fantasy squad, Chalmers would be my choice. With Bosh, James and Wade all likely to go on hiatus later in the week, Chalmers (9.7 ppg) will be asked to shoulder more of the load on offense. Chalmers' assist totals (he averages 3.4 apg) might suffer without the big three but he should still see a nice boost in scoring. Remember, he's lethal from beyond the 3-point arc (40 percent from that distance in 2011-12).
Jamal Crawford, Guard, Portland Trail Blazers - Kaleb Canales has handed over the starting point guard gig to newcomer Jonny Flynn for the Blazers' final four games of the season. But without LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Raymond Felton in the lineup, the scoring burden still falls squarely on Jamal Crawford's shoulders. The veteran and former NBA Sixth Man of the Year recipient responded with 22 points off the bench Monday in Phoenix. The Syracuse product Flynn finished with just four.
Gerald Green, Forward, New Jersey Nets - A few months ago Green was on the fringe of professional basketball, playing his games for the Los Angeles D- Fenders of the NBA Development League. Nowadays he's one of the Nets' leading scorers. The former NBA Slam Dunk Champion (remember his "cupcake" dunk back in 2008?) has been on an absolute tear since he signed a 10-day contract with New Jersey at the end of February, exploding for a career-high 13.1 ppg. Green has been even better in April (16.9 ppg) and now that coach Avery Johnson has promoted him to the starting lineup, expect Green to be a fantasy home run for the rest of the season.
George Hill, Guard, Indiana Pacers - Indiana is a lock for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, so coach Frank Vogel can afford to be conservative with banged-up point guard Darren Collison down the stretch. Collison's sore groin opens the door for Hill, who has averaged 9.3 ppg mostly coming off Indiana's bench this season. Hill's numbers aren't eye-popping (14.3 ppg in his last six games) but he's a steady scorer and a solid distributor when given the chance (5 apg in that same span). Maybe you should give Hill a chance, too.
Gary Neal, Guard, San Antonio Spurs - Parker's backup has shown that he can produce when he is called upon. Expect him to be called upon quite a bit this week. The former Towson guard has scored in double figures eight times in his last 12 games, including a team-high 17 points Monday night at Golden State. Much like Chalmers, Neal is a terrific long range shooter. In fact, Neal has converted each of his last seven 3-point attempts. Plus he's available in 99 percent of leagues. This guy has fantasy dark horse written all over him.
Anthony Randolph, Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves - Somebody had to pick up the slack with Kevin Love out and Randolph has been that somebody. The 22- year-old out of LSU tormented the Denver Nuggets last Wednesday on his way to a season-high 28 points. For now, it appears that Randolph has leaped Derrick Williams on the Timberwolves' depth chart. The five blocks he had in that same game against Denver won't hurt Randolph's fantasy stock, either. Randolph is going fast (he's already been added in 42.5 percent of leagues this week), so if you covet him, make your move quickly.
C.J. Watson, Guard, Chicago Bulls - If there is one thing that the 2011-12 season has proved it is that Rose cannot stay healthy. Another phantom injury for Rose has landed Watson back in the Bulls' starting five, where Watson has had decent success (12.2 ppg in his 22 starts compared to only 8.3 ppg in the 22 games he has come off the bench). Watson is more than just a scorer: he has averaged 6.3 assists per game over his last four outings. For some reason, he is owned in only 1.4 percent of leagues, but if there was ever a good week to own Watson, this would be it.
Now if you'll excuse me, it's about time I get going. Dwyane and I are watching the game at his place later. Tebow better not forget to bring the guacamole. You've got to love spring break.
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