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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fantasy NBA: Upgrades and Downgrades on Rotowire

This week's NBA Barometer is live over on Rotowire. To read the full article, you need to subscribe.

Too much? Too soon?

The original version of last week's barometer started with an extended discussion of Gilbert Arenas. Talked about the fact that Agent Zero really wasn't fully recovered from offseason knee surgery, that the Wizards had a tough early-season schedule and cautioned owners to be patient – not to panic if their first-round pick struggled a bit until Thanksgiving or so.

Course, in the lapse between when I wrote it and when it was published, Arenas dropped 34 points on the Pacers, playing 44 minutes on Halloween night. My prediction ended up on the cutting room floor, along with Jabba the Hutt's scene in the original Star Wars and Kevin Costner as the dead guy in The Big Chill.

But three games – and over 120 minutes of playing time – into the season, Arenas is struggling. He's shooting just 33 percent from the floor, hasn't hit from downtown in two straight games and was seen walking with a serious hitch in his step after Saturday's game. There's even talk that he'll need to have fluid removed from the surgically-repaired knee before Thursday's game. Luckily for Arenas, the Wizards, and fantasy players everywhere, the Wizards have a very long layoff between games (Saturday to Thursday). Maybe that will be enough time for him to recover from this setback.

Can't say I told you so - because I didn't. So instead I'll recycle the theme that was removed from last week's column.

Arenas is just one of several high-profile players that missed big chunks of the preseason only to jump into action opening night. Another that may be suffering from a case of "too much, too soon" is Amare Stoudemire. As with Arenas, Stoudemire had knee surgery in the offseason. As with Arenas, he had a strong outing in the season opener (23 points, 11 boards) and a shaky outing after that. Unlike Arenas, the Suns have already held Stoudemire out of one game, and it's not yet clear when he'll be back on the floor.

The lesson is clear - when watching the progress of players coming off injury who haven't had the benefit of a preseason's worth of conditioning, be more critical than you would ordinarily. Sometimes a 2-for-10 from the field is just a bad night. But when it's coming from a guy with a bad knee, it could be an indication of something more. That goes for fantasy superstars like Arenas and Stoudemire, Jason Kidd and Chris Bosh and also for sleepers and marginal plays like Renaldo Balkman.


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