Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In the NBA it's seems so easy to go from the doghouse, or buried so deep on the bench that you can't see the light of day, to the penthouse than in any other fantasy sport.
Just look at this week's national phenomenon Jeremy Lin. Just a couple of weeks ago he was buried on the bench, an unknown behind Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert and Mike Bibby. Baron Davis was expected to return soon and had he actually made it onto the court, Lin might never have gotten a real chance.
Fortunately, all the guys in front of him failed miserably as the Knicks' starting point guard and on January 4th against the New Jersey Nets Lin got a chance to come off the bench for significant minutes. He posted a 25-point, seven-assist, five-rebound night and the rest, as they say, is history. He's a national story and owned in 90 percent of all fantasy leagues.
Of course, in another week when Carmelo Anthony returns and Lin is scoring 11 points-per-game, he'll be just another point guard. But that's another story for another day. It simply shows how easy it is to move from unknown to star in the NBA.
Nicolas Batum is another player who has exploded onto the fantasy scene. He averaged 10.3 ppg in December and 11.6 ppg in January, but with the injury to LaMarcus Aldridge, he has moved into the starting lineup. In the two games as a starter, once at SG and once at SF, Batum has shown all sorts of physical skills and averaged 25.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 2.0 apg. At the minimum he's the short-term answer to an injury at either position and should be picked up and started every night until Aldridge returns to the court.
There are also players heading from the penthouse...down.
In Kevin Martin, Houston's starting shooting guard, we see a struggling star who has been performing well below expectations. In fact, Martin, who averaged 23.5 ppg last season and 18.3 ppg this year, recently went four games without breaking into double-digits and in the final two games of that span averaged just 14 minutes on the floor. Fantasy owners have been unable to get a bead on what's happening here and the last three games are even more confusing. He posted 28 points against Golden State, was shutout in 19 minutes against Memphis and on Wednesday night set a season-high with 32 points against Oklahoma City. Try to figure that out!
Or Monta Ellis who wasn't thought to be hurt, but didn't play a minute in the fourth quarter last night in a close loss to Portland. Ellis was 3-for-9 in the first three quarters, not great, but not a reason to sit during a winnable game. Instead, Nate Robinson and Stephen Curry were the Warriors backcourt. Robinson scored plenty, but in the end his low basketball IQ did the Warriors in. Ellis left the locker room without comment, but obviously wasn't happy. It remains to be seen what's going on here. After all, it was just five games ago that Ellis was unstoppable in posting a career-high 48 points.
Ramon Sessions' future is much easier to read. With the return of rookie sensation Kyrie Irving, Sessions is destined for a permanent spot as his backup. He'll get a slight reprieve while shooting guards Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker are injured, but his run as a solid fantasy value is nearly over.
In Philadelphia, meantime, Evan Turner is still struggling to find where he fits in the 76ers rotation. He's likely only on rosters in keeper leagues, but it may be time to let him go. He hasn't been able to beat out Jodie Meeks at shooting guard and certainly can't do all the things Andre Iguodala does at small forward. So it's time to let go and look elsewhere for a young guy to stash on your roster.