Darren Collison started his first game of the season at point guard for the Clippers last night, taking the spot of the injured Chris Paul. He did fairly well against his former team – A season high 35 minutes and finished with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting with four assists, three rebounds and a steal.
We have actually been down this road before - As a rookie, Collison started 37 games for the New Orleans - once Hornets, now Pelicans – while CP3 missed time with a knee injury. In those games Collison averaged 18.8 points and 9.1 assists.
Collison is the definition of the perfect handcuff. The problem is unlike fantasy football, where you can afford to stash a player or two on your bench, it’s hard to do in fake basketball. There are not enough roster positions to keep a player who plays minimal minutes. It’s the reason he is owned in only 27 percent of Yahoo! leagues. That number has of course climbed with the news that Paul will miss three to five weeks with a shoulder injury.
Collison started 46 games last season with the Dallas Mavericks (and part of the reason for his big night could have been that he wanted to prove to his old team that they made a mistake letting him walk in the offseason) and the former 09 first round pick averaged 5 assists playing much of the season without Dirk Nowitzki.
Collison is a must own while Paul is out of the lineup. He won’t drain 20 a night, nor will he dish out 11.2 assists per game like Paul, but he will contribute about half as many assists per game while grabbing a lot of floor time.
Another player who has been presented with an opportunity, therefore catches our fantasy basketball eye is Kendall Marshall of the Los Angeles Lakers. Head coach Mike D’Antoni used his 18th different starting lineup of the season last night and Marshall became the 14th different player to start for the Lakers and the sixth different point guard. In a game against the lowly Utah Jazz (and not a very good defender in Trey Burke), Marshall finished with career highs in points, (20) assists (15), rebounds (6) and minutes (41).
The Lakers signed Marshall on December 20th after spending a couple weeks in the D-League. He started three games with the Phoenix Suns last year and racked up 37 dimes!! With 15 last night, you shouldn’t waste time wondering if he will continue to produce. He’s the perfect replacement for the assists you will lose from Paul’s injury making him worth a grab.
Marshall was impressive shooting 8-12 from the floor and 2-3 from downtown. Those numbers are tainted slightly because the Jazz are the worst defensive team in the NBA, but Steve Nash isn’t expected back any time so Marshall should have all the playing time he wants on a team looking for answers. The Lakers are despite and will try just about anything. So thank them, because your fantasy squad is the beneficiary.