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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.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two for Tuesday: Lamar Odom and fantasy hoops free agents

Sunday, the Cavaliers saw the best of Lamar Odom.

Too often, Lakers fans -- and us fantasy schmucks -- see the worst.

The mega-talented and too-often uninterested forward with more skills than any big man outside of LeBron James and a few others. The one who is great when he wants to be -- if only we could get a heads-up on the days he doesn't feel like being so.

All of which brings us to our weekly fantasy two-pack, with a bonus third player thrown in free of charge.

1. It's safe to get Odom back in your lineup.

In his first four seasons with the Lakers, Odom averaged between 14 and 16 points and nine and 11 rebounds per game. In November of this season, those numbers were down to 9.8 and 6.5. In December, the figures dipped to 7.5 and 6.1. The latter number stayed the same in January, but Odom improved his scoring to 11.6 points per game.

That likely wasn't enough for you to put him back into your rotation. If you waited on his return to normalcy -- which for Oden is two good games combined with one or two duds per week -- you were rewarded when Odom was forced back into the starting lineup with center Andrew Bynum out for at least 8 to 12 weeks because of a knee injury.

Odom recorded season highs of 28 points and 17 rebounds in Los Angeles' 101-91 win over the Cavaliers, including a double-double in the third quarter. In his last three games, he's averaged 20.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, two assists, one block, 0.7 steals and shot 59.5 percent from the field.

I wouldn't hesitate to start him. If he plays consistent minutes, you know what you're going to get -- 15 or 16 points, double-digit rebounds, one or two blocks, a decent field-goal percentage and a disappointing free-throw accuracy.

You also know he's going to have you scratching your head on a regular basis. On those occasions, I suggest you do your best Phil Jackson impersonation -- sit stoically, comforted by the fact things are going to go your way in the near future.

2. Two to acquire: Marreese Speights and Jose Juan Barea.

Speights, a 76ers rookie forward from Florida, has tallied 39 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in his last two games, shooting 66.7 percent from the field (16-for-24) and 87.5 percent from the line (7-for-8).

I neglected to mention him last week in writing about the impact of Elton Brand's season-ending injury, mostly because he hadn't played enough minutes this season to be a fantasy factor. Prior to the two-game outburst, Speights had played 17 or fewer minutes in seven of his last eight games.

Don't rush him into your lineup after the All-Star break. He doesn't start, and there's no guarantee he's going to get 30 minutes a night.

If he's on your team, you might want to forward this statistic to Philly management: When Speights plays 20 minutes or more, the Sixers are 13-2 this season, including eight straight wins.

Barea, like Speights and Odom, should benefit from a fallen teammate.

Dallas' sixth-man extraordinaire, Jason Terry, is expected to miss three weeks with a broken bone in his hand.

That makes Barea a short-term fix, but one who should be productive for owners who need help in the backcourt.

The undersized third-year point guard from Northeastern had 20 points, six assists and three steals in 37 minutes Saturday. For the season, he's averaging 7.0 points, 3.1 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game.

With Terry out, Barea should double those numbers.

The drawback: He'll likely hurt your field-goal percentage (he's shooting 42.5 percent this season and 41.4 for his career).

If you need assists, he's an improvement upon Terry in that category.


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