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Cleveland's Donut Hole

In the aftermath of the trade deadline, Cleveland seemed to have a log jam at the four and five spots, with Antawn Jamison and Leon Powe (back from injury) added to a mix that included Shaquille O'Neal, J.J. Hickson, and Anderson Varejao -- and Zydrunas Ilgauskas expected to re-join the team after the mandatory 30-day wait.

But "too many good players" is usually filed under both "good problems to have" and "problems that resolve themselves." A hack from Big Baby Davis tore ligaments in Shaq's thumb; the big fella will have surgery and won't return until the playoffs. And Ilgauskas has another two-and-change weeks in limbo before he's allowed to return.

Until one of the big guys returns, Mike Brown will have a big hole to fill right in the middle of Cleveland's starting lineup. The players who are asked to fill in could be very interesting fantasy options down the stretch.

In Monday night's game, that replacement was J.J. Hickson. Hickson started at center and had a great game -- 17 points, nine boards, 6-of-7 from the field, two blocks, one steal in just 23 minutes. That sort of performance could start a run, but don't forget: last night's opponent was the Knicks. New York sports one of the smallest frontcourts in the league, and Hickson's presence could have been dictated by the matchup.

Can't argue with the results, though -- the Cavs absolutely blasted New York, winning 124-93.

When matched up against better teams, Brown could opt to use Anderson Varejao in the middle to add a little bulk. But given the success of last night's starting five, I wouldn't be surprised to see him stick with Hickson for now, continue to bring Varejao off the bench and let matchups and game situations dictate minutes and substitution.

Even in a job-share, both players are well worth a look in most fantasy formats -- and are there for the taking. Varejao is owned in just 10.8 percent of all ESPN NBA.com leagues, Hickson in 1.6 percent.



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