Fantasy Basketball: Batum, Brewer Could Help Your Team Down The Stretch

Brandon CroceAnalyst IJanuary 20, 2011

DENVER - DECEMBER 28:  Nicolas Batum #88 of the Portland Trail Blazers awaits a free throw against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on December 28, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Blazers 95-77. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Depending on your league's settings, we are about two thirds of the way through the regular season for fantasy basketball. If the season hasn’t gone as you might expect to this point and you are on the outside looking in for the playoffs, now is the time to make a push. Below are four players who can help you secure a playoff spot.

Nicolas Batum, SF, Portland Trailblazers

A young player who seems to be putting it together recently is Nicolas Batum. The starting small forward for the Portland Trailblazers has been playing well this season and even better in the last few weeks. Over the past two weeks he has averaged 14.1 points, 1.3 three pointers made and 5.6 rebounds per game. He also is shooting 81 percent from the free throw line as well as 42 percent from the field.

Over the past five games, he has scored in double digits in four of them and the game he didn’t score in double digits he had nine rebounds, three assists and a block. So even when he is having an off night shooting, he is able to contribute in other categories for your team. He is averaging over 35 minutes per game so he has been given plenty of playing opportunity and I don’t think that will change anytime soon.

Batum should continue to average around 15 points, six rebounds per game along with the occasional steal and block thrown in there. Portland has a very easy schedule over the next three weeks, playing three home games against the Clippers, Pacers and Kings.

Corey Brewer, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves

The seventh overall pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves back in 2007 is starting to play like the Timberwolves expected when they drafted him. He was recently put into the starting lineup for Minnesota and has risen to the challenge. Over the past week he has averaged 14.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game while getting over 30 minutes of playing time. The category that Brewer can really help is in steals but unfortunately not much else.

As long as Brewer continues to see extended minutes he will continue to average around 15 points and be a great source for steals which is sometimes hard to find. The one downside is that the Timberwolves only have two games over the next week, playing home against Houston and Oklahoma City.

For fantasy owners who are in leagues that lineups are set on a weekly basis, he is not a great option this week but owners in leagues that can change their lineups daily, he is a good option to plug in when needed.

Kyle Lowry, PG, Houston Rockets

The general consensus was that when Aaron Brooks came back from his injury and was healthy he would regain the starting point guard position from Kyle Lowry. However, that hasn’t been the case and Lowry has actually been playing so well that he should be considered as a waiver wire pick up this week.

Over the last week he has averaged 37 minutes per game while Aaron Brooks has only seen about 24 minutes per game. In this span, Lowry has averaged 16.5 points, 5.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. The Houston Rockets have four games over the next week, playing away at Minnesota and Memphis and at home against Orlando and the LA Clippers.

Kyle Lowry is another great pickup that can contribute in multiple categories as long as he keeps starting. So if you do pick him up, keep an eye on how playing time is divided up between him and Aaron Brooks moving forward.

Amir Johnson, PF, Toronto Raptors

Another player who has been playing well as of late and is most likely on your league’s waiver wire is Toronto’s Amir Johnson. He recently has seen more playing time with Reggie Evans being hurt and has played well over the past week. He has averaged 11.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, one steal and 1.3 blocks per game in 32 minutes. When Evans comes back, Johnson will lose some playing time and he does sometimes have trouble staying on the court because he tends to get into foul trouble, so he is a little bit of a riskier pick up.

With that said, he is a player that has the potential to put up a double-double every night. If your team is lacking in the rebounding category, Johnson is a player to consider for the short-term until Evans comes back. He can be expected to put up around 12 points, 10 rebounds per game. The Raptors have four games over the next week playing away against the Magic and Heat and then return home to face the Grizzles and 76ers.