Two players who haven't stepped on the court for an NBA game once this season are on my mind this fine Monday. In one corner, we've got the once-great Chris Webber, still looking for a team to join, so he can give them some boards and bad chemistry. In the other corner we see that noted tattooed leaper Chris Andersen, the Birdman, eligible to apply for reinstatement to the league, two years after being thrown out for testing positive for substance abuse.
Will either of these fellas matter in fantasy hoops?
Well, I never say never, and in this case I don't really mean never, because it's possible both could still deliver some relevant fantasy stats, and not even for deep leagues only.
In the case of Webber, he can't jump high enough to slip a piece of paper below his feet, but he can pass and board, and with the Pistons in 2006-07 he was surprisingly productive once he left Philly, averaging 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds. His assist total was a low 3.0. With the 76ers, he played more and got more shots, but Webber actually seemed to fit in OK with his new team, at least initially. As the playoffs approached, Webber saw less playing time, but he still shot 48 percent from the field as a Piston and generally stayed out of trouble. The Pistons didn't want him back, as Jason Maxiell has stepped up his game.
There were rumors of the Mavericks and Magic each having interest in Webber over the summer, but he remained unsigned. Now comes word old coach Don Nelson, who couldn't get along with him in their ever-so-brief time together in Webber's rookie year, would like to take a look at Webber. The Golden State Warriors have been going with Andris Biedrins and Al Harrington in the middle, and it's seemed to work out just fine, as the team is No. 2 in the NBA in scoring, and a playoff spot could be looming. Defense has been a problem as no team allows more points than Nelson's crew, but I can't see how Webber would help that much. But hey, if Nelson takes a chance, Webber could still average 10 and 7, and fantasy owners in deep leagues would have to take a peek.
As for Andersen, he's an athlete who doesn't offer much to a team offensively, but was one of the better per-minute rebounders and shot-blockers when he was playing. According to ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan, Andersen became eligible to apply for reinstatement on Sunday, and he's interested in coming back to the league as soon as possible. The league could reject his application, but if he's clean and he makes it back, look for the Hornets, Andersen's last team in 2005-06, to bring him back. Andersen brings defense and energy, and some interesting dunks, to the table, and fantasy owners could use the blocked shots. Andersen has averaged 1.4 swats per game in his career, in just 16.6 minutes. For perspective on that stat, consider that only 26 players are averaging more than 1.4 blocks per game this season, and 18 of them are averaging at least 30 minutes per game. Andersen has value.
The stunning Hornets -- or better known after the 26-point weekend beatdown of the home Spurs as the Western Conference-leading Hornets -- could use some more frontcourt depth, as could every team, I suppose. Only two Hornets average more than four rebounds per game, so David West and Tyson Chandler could use the help. This team also gets fewer than four blocks per game (3.98), and only the Knicks and Kings are worse at that. Yes, Brad Miller and Eddy Curry, they're not shot-blockers by any definition.
I wouldn't waste too much time thinking about these guys until they sign and return to the league, unless you've got a bench spot being wasted, but keep in mind when they come back, in deep leagues you might be owning someone worse. Theo Ratliff, for example, last played two weeks into the season, more than two months ago, and he's still owned in 2.7 percent of ESPN leagues, mainly for the blocks. In a league somewhere, just about every player with stats is owned or worth owning.
Running in Memphis
Good for Damon Stoudamire for getting out of Memphis, and good for fantasy owners, too. Stoudamire is 34, and hasn't been a good fantasy option for years, though teams desperate for every last assist need to look at him anyway. I'd think Stoudamire will find work somewhere, once the buyout from the Grizzlies becomes official. The reason this is good for fantasy is it would be a shame if one of the young, promising point guards on this horrible team lost playing time. Mike Conley, who injured his ribs over the weekend, was averaging 10.3 points and 5.4 assists as a starter. He might miss this week, meaning Kyle Lowry gets to keep running. In his past two games, Lowry had a 13-and-10 game, and against the Clippers he played 49 minutes and scored 21 points. He would make for a decent pickup this week.