Matt Stroup

Roundball Stew

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Griffin, for Three?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The end of any calendar year is an appropriate time for reminiscing, but you shall find none of that in the paragraphs below. Unfazed by end-of-year sentimentality, Roundball Stew, as always, is focused on the trends affecting the world of fantasy hoops right now. And with that in mind, let's get directly to the business at hand:


Three on the Rise:

Andray Blatche: Since returning from his suspension, Blatche (19.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.0 spg, 2.0 bpg in his last two) is finally looking like the player many of us deemed worthy of a high draft pick before he drove us loopy with frustration the past two months. I can understand the impulse to try to sell high, but I'm feeling reasonably confident that his solid run can continue.

D.J. Augustin: Along with Stephen Jackson (30.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.0 spg, 3.5 threes in his last two games), Augustin has been a very happy beneficiary of the Paul Silas regime, averaging 27.5 ppg, 5.0 apg and 4.5 threes under the new coach. And yes, I am a little bit salty about this development given that I dealt him away during the unproductive days of the Larry Brown regime.

James Harden: He's always been a great bet to put up stats if given an opportunity, and finally, Scott Brooks has given Harden (27 minutes per game this month) consistent run. The result: 13.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.5, apg, 1.3 spg, 1.5 threes in December. Though far from spectacular, those quietly solid numbers make Harden worth consideration in most leagues.

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Three on the Plummet:

Roy Hibbert: Frustration is very understandable given some of Hibbert's duds of late (including a five-point, four-rebound stink bomb on Wednesday night), but some perspective here is needed. Even during a mostly ghastly month of December (10.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 41.2 from the field and 63.6 from the line), Hibbert has still blocked 1.7 shots per game. Small consolation, you say? Okay, I kind of agree. But I'm still optimistic that Hibbert will get out of this slump, and as is usually the case, TWF (trading while frustrated) is not the ideal way to go.

Boris Diaw: Unlike his teammates positively mentioned above, Diaw has shown the same tiresome lack of aggressiveness under Paul Silas (8.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 5.0 apg). Too capable of big lines to outright drop and almost too maddening to live with, he's making a case for starting PF on the Rick's Migraine Powder All-Headache Team.

Jeff Green: He has averaged just 11.8 ppg and 4.2 rpg in his last five games, compiling just one total steal and one total block during that stretch. However, unlike Diaw, Green is not listed here to highlight how irritating he is, but rather as a reminder that he's a nice buy-low consideration who has the potential to be a top-50 caliber player when he gets his current struggles turned around.

Three Random but Hopefully Useful Observations

1. The three may be legitimately becoming a part of Blake Griffin's statistical arsenal. In addition to posting 23.0 ppg, 13.5 rpg, 3.9 apg, 0.9 spg and 0.8 bpg this month, he has suddenly hit four threes in his last six games (0.7 average). Though that's a small sample size, his shot from deep looks effortless and is absolutely within his range if Vinny Del Negro continues to give him the occasional green light. Over the last two weeks, Griffin – free throw woes and all – is the No. 27-ranked player on Basketball Monster's leaderboard for eight-category leagues.

2. Chauncey Billups' wrist is definitely feeling better. In the last two weeks (spanning five games for Billups), the Nuggets PG has been the top-ranked fantasy player overall in the aforementioned eight-category rankings. His numbers during that stretch: 25.6 ppg, 5.6 apg, 1.4 spg and 3.0 threes (including 58.1 from the field and a high-volume 97.6 from the line).

I did say last week that I was planning to test Billups' trade value given the fact that he still has torn ligaments in his right (shooting) wrist, but I'm finding that's easier said than done when he's carrying my/your squad. At this point, I'm leaning toward keeping him on the roster and hoping that his wrist stays in tact.

3. Brook Lopez's rebounding is kind of embarrassing for a 7-footer, but at least he's still useful. We can certainly all agree that 6.2 rpg (and just two double-figure rebounding efforts all season) is a huge disappointment for a starting center who plays 35 minutes per game.

But the news isn't all bad – Lopez has posted 20.4 ppg, 0.9 spg and 1.3 bpg over the last month, numbers that rank him No. 62 overall in eight-category leagues. He's obviously not the value owners expected and doesn't appear likely to remember how to rebound this year, but he's still a legit fantasy starter and it makes perfect sense to float a buy-low offer if his owner in your league is among the upset.

10 Quick-Hitting Statements of Fact and/or Opinion

1) Charlie Villanueva in his five games as a starter: 17.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.8 bpg, 2.0 threes. Please, John Kuester, leave him in the starting five.

2) Tracy McGrady's last four games: 13.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.5 spg and 0.8 threes, including a 21-4-8 line on Wednesday night. I definitely had my finger on the "Add" button in one of my main leagues (a 10-team league with deep rosters), but suddenly came to and wondered what I was thinking. No argument if you want to add him, but be reminded that he could shatter at any moment.

3) Chris Wilcox's last two games: 12.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.0 spg, 2.0 bpg. There's no way he keeps up anything close to those defensive stats, but he's worth a look if you're desperate for points and boards in a deeper format. And yes, I did just write three comments about Pistons players in a row.

4) After a brief three-game scoring lull earlier this month, Jrue Holiday has dropped 23.3 ppg in his last three.

5) With Xavier Henry (knee) currently sidelined, Tony Allen has nine steals (and 12.0 ppg) in his last two games. Regular minutes aren't guaranteed once Henry is back, but Allen is an intriguing flier at the moment.

6) Despite all the headaches and continually rotten percentages, DeMarcus Cousins is still at 12.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.6 spg and 0.7 bpg this month. I expect inconsistency and some frustration, but after his 21-point, 16-rebound game on Wednesday, he should once again be owned in all leagues.

7) He shot just 8-for-20 from the field and 1-for-6 on threes (for 18 points) in his Suns debut, but I have a feeling that playing for Phoenix – and with Steve Nash – is going to be very kind to Vince Carter.

8) Gordon Hayward's 17-6-3 line with three treys in 44 minutes on Wednesday was definitely eye-catching, but it's tough to get too excited considering that Andrei Kirilenko and C.J. Miles were both out.

Editor's note: For exclusive articles, chats, projections and more, check out the Rotoworld NBA Season Pass.

9) Kenyon Martin has looked every bit his vintage athletic self when on the court for Denver, so it's pretty frustrating (though somewhat understandable) that the Nuggets are being so cautious with him. I'm trying to remain patient for a bit longer in my deeper leagues, but I can understand if some owners can't do so.

10) Wesley Johnson watch: 12.8 ppg, 1.3 spg, 3.3 threes in his last four games. He's still inconsistent and not fully trustworthy on a game-to-game basis, but remains a player to watch closely for a potential breakout in the season's second half.

Matt Stroup covers basketball, baseball and football for You can find him on Twitter here .
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