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Fantasy basketball

Posted by Ed Ryan February 26, 2009 05:54 AM

I hope your fantasy hoop squad has some depth. An outbreak of injuries to some of the game's biggest stars has left owners scrambling and the waiver wire humming, and unless you drafted well and managed free-agent pickups with an expert touch, chances are you're in trouble.

Some of these injuries were recent, and some happened last month. Here’s a guide to help you remain sane while navigating between your roster and your league’s free-agent list.

Amar'e Stoudemire, F, Phoenix: A few days after rumors of a trade from Phoenix died at the deadline, Stoudemire underwent eye surgery. He was injured while scoring 42 points against the Clippers. Stoudemire, having a decent — not great — season, started to come on after the All-Star break, and his loss, possibly for the season, crushes the Suns as well as his fantasy owners. In Stoudemire’s absence, look for guards Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa to experience the biggest uptick in production.

Tracy McGrady, G, Houston: Here’s a surprise: McGrady is out for the year with a knee injury. We’ve already examined in this space how much of an assassin McGrady (right) is to fantasy owners, but now that he’s done for the season, expect teammate Ron Artest to step in as a starter and put up big numbers. Artest is gifted in all facets of the game, is an underrated scorer, and will see more of the offense run through him now that McGrady is shelved and point guard Rafer Alston has been dealt to the Magic.

Al Jefferson, C, Minnesota: Jefferson’s season-ending knee injury derailed the surging Wolves, but his injury created a fantasy opportunity for Kevin Love, the 6-foot-10 rookie from UCLA. Love is playing out of position at center, but he’s a double-double machine. Also, Jefferson’s scoring opportunities have now landed in the hands of Minnesota’s guards, Randy Foye and Sebastian Telfair.

Kevin Garnett, F, Boston: Garnett is out for two or three weeks with a strained muscle behind his knee. Don’t expect his production to be absorbed by Paul Pierce, who already does plenty. Instead, insert Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo (a combined 63 points in a win over Phoenix last Sunday) into your lineups, pronto. As is often the case when big-time NBA forwards go down without a suitable replacement (I love Brian Scalabrine and really loved him when he played at USC, but he’s not exactly a “suitable replacement”), the scoring opportunities are assumed by the guys with the ball in their hands — the guards.

Jameer Nelson, G, Orlando: Nelson is done for the year, but the Magic regrouped nicely by acquiring Alston from the Rockets. Alston is a talented playmaker and will rack up assist totals in O-Town simply by dumping the ball in to Dwight Howard.

Michael Redd, G, Milwaukee: The Bucks have had a while to get used to life without their high-scoring wing, and the greatest revelation has been the play of Nevada product Ramon Sessions. Sessions, a guard, has been putting up terrific numbers for the Bucks (27 points and eight assists last Sunday against Chauncey Billups and the Nuggets) and his production raises the question: Why was this guy playing half the season behind Luke Ridnour?

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