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THREE UP, THREE DOWN

Posted by Ed Ryan January 8, 2009 05:54 AM

UP Jeff Green, F, Oklahoma City:
The second-year forward from Georgetown (and the draft pick the Celtics traded to Seattle for Ray Allen) had a fair rookie season but is coming into his own during his sophomore campaign. The Thunder's starting power forward, Green has three double doubles in the last two weeks and has been a consistent scorer and rebounder since the third week of the season. In his last five contests, Green is averaging 20 points, seven rebounds, and one block per game. Most important, he's been on the court for an average of 42 minutes during that span.

UP Marc Gasol, C, Memphis:
Gasol -- brother of the Lakers' Pau -- is developing into a worthy fantasy starter. He's averaging 15 ppg and nine rpg during his last five contests and has nine blocks during that stretch. With Memphis big man Darko Milicic out for at least a month with a broken knuckle, Gasol, who was part of last season's deal that sent Pau to the Lakers, is going to see plenty of playing time.

UP Anderson Varejao, F, Cleveland:
With Cavs starter Zydrunas Ilgauskas out indefinitely with a sprained ankle, Varejao has assumed the starting center spot, and the results have been encouraging: 26 points, eight rebounds, and three steals in 31 minutes against Chicago, and 10 points and 10 rebounds in 40 minutes against Washington. If Varejao remains out of foul trouble, he'll continue to log big minutes for the Cavs. He hadn't played 40 minutes in any game before Ilgauskas went down.

DOWN Mike James, G, Washington:
James, a recent pickup, has been starting and had a five-game stretch in mid-December during which he averaged 16.8 ppg. Washington, which will be without star guard Gilbert Arenas until at least the end of January, acquired James to provide scoring and minutes, and he's not shy when it comes to field goal attempts. But his play has fallen off lately (just 14 points in his last two games), and toward the end of a recent win over Cleveland it seemed as though teammate Caron Butler was going to strangle him after an ill-advised three. Keep James on your roster for depth (he will give you threes), but don't play him unless it's necessary.

DOWN Steve Nash, G, Phoenix:
Nash is beginning the downside of his career, and his stats are reflecting that. He remains valuable in all formats because he piles up assist totals, but his scoring is off, as are those assists. Complicating matters is Nash's back. He has spasms, and has missed six games this season. It's not a disaster to have Nash in your starting lineup, but it may be time to either start looking for alternatives or sucker someone into trading for him.

DOWN Andrew Bogut, C, Milwaukee:
Bogut may not score enough to live up to being drafted first overall three years ago, but he has been exceptional this season. With averages of 10.5 rebounds per game (seventh in the league), just under one block per game, and nearly 12 ppg, Bogut has helped the Bucks remain in contention for a playoff spot in the East. But a sore back kept him out of last weekend's game against Charlotte, and he had a shaky outing the night before, also against the Bobcats. With several games coming up, replace Bogut with a healthier option until you can gauge whether he's at full strength.

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