Friday, March 6, 2009

Player Report: Larry Hughes

Larry Hughes was supposed to fade into the sunset, a man completely useless to 12-team fantasy owners for the remainder of his career because of wild shooting and general overpopulation at the guard position on pretty much every team he’s been a part of lately. Granted, the man had a nice start to the year, with 12.2 and 12.8 points per game in November and December, respectively. Then, as usual, injury struck, and Kirk Hinrich returned to the lineup, making Hughes expendable.

The trade deadline came, and he was shipped to New York in what was seemingly another stop on Hughes’ disappointing path. He played his first three games, and as expected, put up horrible numbers (3.3 points, 1 rebound, 0.66 assists and 18% shooting) and looked to be the odd man out, yet again. But when I saw his 2/27/09 line of 25 points, four rebounds, two assists and four steals with three 3s, I made like Janice from the show Friends and freaked out (see below).

Hughes hasn’t looked back from there, posting 22.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 3.0 steals and three 3s a game over the past three. And he got the blessing of Mike D’Antoni on top of that… Hughes will get the starting nod for the rest of the season in New York. Now that’s something we can use on a fantasy roster.

What does the future hold for Larry? It’s not clear yet, but we’ve got some good news: his production didn’t come as a result of injury or a slumping player, and he’s guaranteed minutes for the rest of the season. So we know one thing… this is the perfect storm for Hughes to be a fantasy contributor the rest of the way. In fact, as a 30-year-old, we may yet see the return of the 2002 or 2003 version of Hughes (NOT 2004... still thought of as an aberration), where he put up near-20 ppg numbers while offering solid peripherals in Washington.

What's more, the Knicks are looking for a scorer now that Jamal Crawford is gone, and Q-Rich couldn't get it done. Really, Hughes completes this team, and that's a very good thing for those of you who rostered him immediately. Good luck as you continue your quest for fantasy basketball glory!

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