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THREE UP, THREE DOWN

Posted by Ed Ryan December 18, 2008 05:54 AM

UP Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City: Westbrook, a rookie from UCLA, has moved into the Thunder's starting lineup and will likely remain there for years. Westbrook just turned 20 and is still not consistent -- on Dec. 13 he had 19 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, and he followed that up with just two points and two assists the next night in San Antonio -- but he's a great option as a third or fourth guard on your bench.

UP Rodney Stuckey, PG, Detroit: Stuckey has been moved into the starting lineup next to Allen Iverson, and he's fared well. Stuckey is averaging about 35 minutes per game, and on Dec. 13 he broke out for 21 points and eight assists. Stuckey's presence allowed Detroit to trade Chauncey Billups, and his insertion into the starting lineup is a sign that the future is now. Pick him up if he's available.

UP Jason Richardson, SG, Phoenix: Richardson's fantasy value went up after a trade last week sent him from Charlotte to Phoenix. He's now paired in the backcourt with Steve Nash, and there are always plenty of opportunities to score when Nash is distributing. Once Richardson settles in, put him in your starting lineup.

DOWN Tracy McGrady, SG, Houston: McGrady is back from a knee injury and has impressed in his return; he had 24 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists in his first game back. We all know what McGrady can do when he's healthy, but isn't it a matter of time before he misses another two weeks with a nagging injury? Enjoy his production now, but pick up Westbrook or Stuckey as insurance.

DOWN Jermaine O'Neal, C, Toronto: O'Neal is no longer an offensive force and is averaging only 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 29 minutes per game. That's OK for a center, but if you're in a three-forward format, he's a third forward at best.

DOWN Shawn Marion, F, Miami: Marion (below) is not producing the way he did in Phoenix and is averaging just 12 points per game. His rebound totals are still strong; he's just not getting as many scoring chances as he did with the Suns.

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