Hair Metal and the Fab Five: Fantasy NBA Basketball Pick Ups

Grant Correspondent IDecember 29, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27:  Chris Andersen #11 of the Denver Nuggets points in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 27, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. 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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

In the late 1980's Hair Metal ruled the radio.  Aquanet coiffed and spandex clad groups looking for nothing but a good time paraded up and down the Sunset Strip. 

However, unbeknownst to the glamorous guitar shredders, a stripped down, angry man's version of rock (later termed "grunge") would usurp their throne.  Faded flannel became the emperor's new garb and the music scene would be forever changed.

Along the same lines, basketball at this time was undergoing its own revolution.  The actions of five young men commingling in Ann Arbor still have ramifications today.

Dubbed the "Fab Five" by the media, an all freshmen starting lineup from the University of Michigan popularized star power over the previous traditional notion of basketball being a team effort.  Gone were the striped kneesocks and skin tight short shorts.  Black socks, trash talk, and baggy shorts became the norm.

Four of the Fab Five went on to the next level, yet nearly two decades later only one member remains in the NBA.  That man, Juwan Howard , to date has 15 years of professional experience under his belt.  But during the past five seasons the former Wolverine has seen his playing time diminish drastically.

Until now.

The Portland Trailblazers had hoped this year would finally see the breakout of their someday superstar Greg Oden.  But in early December the oft-injured big man saw his season cut short when he fractured his left kneecap.

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As a result, the starting post position was given to the Blazers' insurance policy—better known as Joel Przybilla.  Przybilla started only nine games before he dislocated his right kneecap.

Since Howard is the last center standing, he has become the de facto starter.  In the three games involving his newfound role, Howard has averaged 10 points and 8.6 rebounds.

By no means is Howard a universal pick-up, though. 

In the wake of Oden's injury, Blazers' point guard Brandon Roy has taken his game to another dimension.  Whatever offense is left over has been going to LaMarcus Aldridge.  Furthermore, a trade by Portland for a younger post player seems eminent.

But fantasy owners in deep formats or those looking for a short term source of boards should at least give the veteran Howard a long look.  After all, the Trailblazers have tasty match-ups against Golden State, Memphis, and the Clippers on the horizon.

Now let's take a glance at some other players, who if available, are definitely worth a space on your roster.

Yi Jianlian   New Jersey Nets  Power Forward

If the Nets had a seven foot tall, 22-year-old forward with a sweet jump shot on their holiday wish list, then Christmas came two days early in the Garden State.

In his first live action in almost two months, Jianlian torched the lowly T-wolves with a 7-12 shooting performance (going four of six from behind the arc) while pulling down eight rebounds.

The towering Sino cager warrants an immediate pick-up in all formats. 

The Nets are a young team with nothing to lose and everything to prove.  Playing alongside All-Star Devin Harris and this year's draft day steal Brook Lopez, Jianlian will post the stats which help bring home fantasy championships.

Kevin Martin   Sacramento Kings  Shooting Guard

Consider this a friendly reminder that Martin will have his injured wrist examined on December 30.  If all goes well, he could return early next month.  Martin has been shooting for some time now and recently has begun dribbling drills, so hopefully the rust will be minimal.

Act now because a cheap blue light special on K-Mart is fading fast.

Jarrett Jack   Toronto Raptors  Point Guard

Mum's the word in Toronto regarding the status of injured point guard Jose Calderon.  Which suggests his hip problems may be worse than day to day.

In his stead, Jarrett Jack has assumed the play calling duties for the Raptors, helping them to a four-game win streak.  Since becoming a starter, the one time Yellow Jacket has been averaging 13 points and 4.5 assists per game.

Jack will continue to be a viable fantasy play until Calderon finally comes back, whenever that may be.

Tyrus Thomas   Chicago Bulls  Power Forward

In case you didn't notice, Thomas rejoined the Bulls over the weekend after missing 22 games due to a broken arm.  Although he came off the bench, there is no need to worry as Thomas should soon take Taj Gibson's spot in the Chicago starting lineup.

The much anticipated return saw Thomas collect 21 points and nine boards in 32 minutes of action.  Therefore, if for some reason Thomas is still swimming in your free agent pool, fish him out immediately.

Chris Andersen   Denver Nuggets  Power Forward/Center

Let's be honest, points are sexy.  That's why they call it scoring.

But we're not competing in beauty pageants and buckets alone will not win championships.  Teams need to be well-rounded.

Why, then, is Andersen owned in roughly half of CBS, Yahoo, and ESPN leagues?

The Birdman is a multi-position eligible player (PF, C) who has averaged, so far in December, 2.1 blocks and 7.1 boards per game.  However, his offensive contributions are minimal.  Yet, unlike other defensive specialists, he is a boon to statistical categories involving percentages.

This year Andersen is a 55.6 percent shooter from the floor and has been connecting on 75 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe.