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Fantasy basketball

Posted by Ed Ryan February 12, 2009 05:54 AM

Imagine having your season saved by a Los Angeles Clipper.

We’re talking your fantasy basketball season, and it’s conceivable that a handful of injured players who have returned to the Clippers’ lineup could affect fantasy races down the stretch.

Yes, the Clippers have talent. But they’ve also had injuries, a problem that has prevented LA from putting its best lineup on the court. (We should also mention that the Clippers are the biggest joke of a franchise in all of professional sports, but why get bogged down in negative details? We only care if their players can fill up the stat sheet.)

The Clips’ injury list has been impressive. Baron Davis, one of the more talented guards in the NBA and a headline-worthy free agent signing last summer, had an injured hamstring and a sore tailbone. Marcus Camby, acquired in a trade during the offseason, sprained an ankle. Zach Randolph, acquired in a trade with the Knicks earlier this season, had a sore knee. Center Chris Kaman strained his left arch and is expected back after the All-Star break.

Suddenly, though, the Clippers are getting healthy. In the handful of games leading up to the break, they’ve started Camby at center, Randolph at power forward, talented second-year forward Al Thornton at small forward, promising rookie Eric Gordon at off guard, and Davis at point guard. They even won two straight last weekend before getting crushed by Charlotte Monday night.

Obviously, the Clippers are going nowhere, but that’s of little concern to us. What does concern us is keeping these guys in the lineup, because when they play, they produce big numbers. A healthy Camby (averaging 11.6 points per game, 12.7 rebounds per game, and 2.4 blocks per game) is a force on the glass and in the paint. Davis, who still does not seem to be playing at full strength, averaged 20 points, eight assists, 4.5 rebounds, and over two steals per game in the previous two seasons.

And then there’s Randolph. He’s a major talent, but his commitment has always been questioned. He played with an edge in New York to begin the season and put up monster point-rebound numbers, but the Knicks dealt him to LA, where he continued to dominate until his knee acted up.

Randolph has returned strong, though. He’s been consistently scoring over 20 points since he began playing Feb. 2, and he even compiled 35 points and 10 boards against Memphis on Feb. 6. Before he hurt his knee, Randolph was rated fifth among forwards in my fantasy league. Double doubles were a given, and it seemed as though he had finally figured things out.

So keep an eye on this group. You wouldn’t think a 12-win team would have many, if any, relevant fantasy players, but remember, we’re talking about the LA Clippers. Nothing is normal.

Ed Ryan writes about fantasy sports and betting for OT and can be reached at ed_ryan@globe.com

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