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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Five for Friday: A.I. and more NBA answers

We'll start and end this week's list with big-name guards who aren't producing. In between, we'll bring up your least-favorite former Cavalier.

5. It's time to consider benching Allen Iverson.

The Pistons were 4-0 when The Answer played his first game for Detroit following the Chauncey Billups trade, a 103-96 loss at New Jersey on Nov. 7. Entering Friday night's game at Orlando, they've lost seven straight games and are two games under .500.

Iverson, understandably, is taking a lot of the blame. He's averaging 18.0 points -- easily the lowest of his career -- on 41.9 percent shooting. Wednesday, he played only eight minutes because of a stiff back, and at 33, he's no longer the 6-foot, 165-pound freak of nature we're accustomed to seeing.

Iverson is still a fantasy asset in assists (5.1) and steals (1.6), but he's made only 28 3-pointers (he's averaged 1.2 treys per game for his career) and his field-goal percentage in weeks in which he's shooting 60 times is enough to wreck you in that category.

Obviously, if his back problems persist, this decision is much easier. Even if he's healthy, I'd sit him if I was deep enough at guard and needed to win field-goal percentage to have a chance in a particular week.

4. Carlos Boozer is back, and Paul Millsap owners suffer.

Boozer has played 43 minutes in two games since returning from a knee injury. He said he needs about two weeks before he can play significant minutes.

Until he does, you know to keep him on your bench.

The decision isn't so basic when it comes to Millsap, who now takes his 14.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, one block, one steal and 53.6 shooting percentage to the bench. In Boozer's two-game return, Millsap has played only 46 minutes and scored 23 points on 7-of-20 shooting.

If he's only playing half the game, which likely will be the case with Boozer back, he's only worth starting in very deep leagues in which you desperately need a big man.

3. Three players I like: Antonio McDyess, Tyson Chandler and Mike Conley Jr.

Chandler, the Hornets' starting center, has a combined 25 points and 27 rebounds in two games with New Orleans since he was traded to the Thunder, then sent back to the Hornets because he failed a physical.

Chandler hadn't played since Jan. 19 because of a sprained ankle and he was disappointing when he was in the lineup (9.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, down from 11.8 and 11.8 last season). But with back-to-back double-doubles, and because he's a center who is capable of shooting 60 percent from the field (thanks to his patented alley-oop-or-bust offensive style), I would play him next week. Before you do, though, remember this: If you need a free-throw percentage boost, look elsewhere. Chandler likely will shoot better from the field than he will the line.

I would also start McDyess, who is averaging 13.8 points and 9.5 rebounds on 65.5 percent shooting in his last six games. Somehow, he's only owned in 14 percent of the leagues on Detroit's Amir Johnson-Kwame Brown starting-lineup experiment is over, and McDyess -- and owners who want to increase that ESPN percentage -- are the beneficiaries.

Then there's Conley, who is finally getting consistent minutes and living up to his draft billing in Memphis.

The former Buckeye's February averages are as follows: 14.3 points, 6.4 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 42.6 FGP and 79.1 FTP. The only negatives: His shooting percentage and 2.4 turnovers per game.

Another number: 80.6, as in the percentage of leagues in which he's available on Again, I ask: How small are these leagues if you have an 80 percent chance of being able to acquire players the caliber of Conley and McDyess on the waiver wire?

2. One player I REALLY like: Ryan Gomes.

If you cursed the moment you heard Timberwolves center Al Jefferson was done for the season because of a knee injury, there has been one silver lining -- albeit one that's only possible if you were lucky enough to pick up Gomes.

Unlike Jefferson, Gomes is not center-eligible, but he's putting up similar numbers.

Gomes is averaging 22.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals in his last five games, a span in which he's shot 51.3 percent from the floor, 83.3 percent from the line and made 11 3-pointers. In the seven games Jefferson has missed, the fourth-year power forward has averaged 20.7 points and 6.3 rebounds.

That's much more surprising than this: He's available in 78.4 percent of the leagues on ESPN.

You're probably sensing a theme here: Start Gomes, percentages or not.

1. One player who's not worth waiting for: Gilbert Arenas.

Gomes, McDyess and Conley are readily available, but Arenas (73.1 percent ownership on is not.

Either there are a lot of keeper leagues out there, quite a few leagues have multiple injury exemptions per team, or owners are not at all discouraged by the fact that Arenas has played a total of 13 games in the last two seasons because of a knee injury.

This week, word broke that Arenas has been practicing all-out since the Wizards returned from the All-Star break. He even said he is "feeling like the old Gilbert Arenas again."

One blogger's guess: The "old" Gilbert Arenas won't be around until next season.

At 13-44, the worst record in the East, the Wizards have no reason to rush Arenas back. He'll probably play at some point this season, but how much and how well are as uncertain as A.I.'s Pistons.

By then, you'll wish you had Conley.


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