Matt Stroup

Roundball Stew

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Delfino's Awakening

Thursday, January 27, 2011

For the record, I spent a really long time trying to think of a clever phrase involving the word "Delfino" for the headline of this column. But I could only delay publication so long while I tried to conjure one up, so I surrender. Delfino, you win. Speaking of which…


Three on the Rise:

Carlos Delfino: After a rust-laden first three games back from a concussion that saw him shoot 2-for-16 on threes, Delf Lundgren broke out a vintage 15-5-4 line on Wednesday, including five threes. The SG/SF landscape is somewhat crowded in Milwaukee with John Salmons, Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts vying for playing time, but Delfino should be a solid bet for 30 or so minutes per game regardless.

Chuck Hayes: We may have all been a little bit skeptical (myself included) when he appeared in this space last week, but there can simply be no ignoring what Hayes has done this month. His latest trick on Wednesday was harassing Blake Griffin into his third-worst shooting night of the season (5-for-16) while posting five points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. And for the month of January, Ground Chuck (nicknamed that by me just now because of his ground-bound style) has averaged 8.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.4 spg and 1.3 bpg. If those stats can't help your team, you play in a strange format.

Randy Foye: Quite simply, Eric Gordon's wrist injury is going to treat him nicely. In his two games starting at shooting guard, Foye has posted 17.5 ppg, 2.5 apg and 2.0 threes. He won't do a lot outside of scoring and threes given how much Baron Davis and Blake Griffin have the ball, but his production in those two areas makes him worth a look.

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Three on the Plummet:

Mike Conley: This isn't a rapid, disastrous plummet, but more of a subtle, very gradual evaporation. Though Conley's scoring this month has held steady at 12.0 ppg, his assists are down from December (7.6 to 5.6), which can also be said of his steals (1.6 to 0.9) and his threes (0.6 to 0.4). Nevertheless, there still seems to be a lingering perception out there that Conley is a PG with upside, though he really isn't at the moment. If you can somehow work some 2-for-2 trade magic to flip him into Jrue Holiday, you will likely end up being rather happy you did so.

Landry Fields: Much like Spike Lee (who's known to wear a Fields jersey courtside at Knicks home games), I appreciate the rookie's style of play. However, there's no denying that things have gotten somewhat ugly of late. In his last eight games heading into Thursday night's matchup with Miami, Fields had averaged just 7.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.3 spg and 0.8 threes. It's still possible that he breaks out of this, but given that his margin of error wasn't that large in the first place, I have no problem with looking another direction in standard-sized leagues.

George Hill: I theoretically like Hill's potential for production, but the reality right now is that few players do this little with this many minutes. Hill is averaging a full 29 minutes per game off the bench this month, but has posted just 11.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.6 spg and 0.9 threes. Though I do think Hill will have value when Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili inevitably miss some games (more on that in a minute), the Spurs' backup combo guard is very much droppable in standard leagues.

Three Random but Hopefully Useful Observations

1. Fantasy owners should have a plan in place for Manu Ginobili. A reader raised the point in my chat the other day that with the Spurs' record now 39-7, there is undoubtedly going to come a time when Gregg Popovich will start thinking about giving his top players some random games off. This also applies to Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, but it's most relevant to Ginobili, who has been the most productive Spur this season while averaging a career-high 32 minutes per game.

Keep in mind, I'm not saying that he's a must-sell right now, but now is not a bad time to consider it. Ginobili is No. 12 overall for the season in Basketball Monster's eight-category rankings, and if you can turn him around for a safer option in the top-15, such a move could end up eventually proving quite wise.

2. I will begrudgingly admit that J.J. Hickson is useful. Personally I'm not a big fan of J.J. Hickson's game (hard to appreciate a PF/C who's shooting 38.8 percent in his last 12 games), but there's no denying that he's still producing despite his flaws. In those 12 games this month, Hickson has posted 13.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 0.8 spg and 1.1 bpg. Just don't expect a repeat of his four-block game from Tuesday night. The last time he had that many blocks was Nov. 26, 2008 – the only other time he's had more than two blocks in his career.

3. Tracy McGrady is locked in as a starter for Detroit, but is he that useful? T-Mac has posted some solid games for the Pistons in the last month-plus – a 17-7-7, a 21-4-8, an 11-11-9, a 22-4-5 and most recently a 14-6-8 on Wednesday, to name a few – but his cumulative impact is not that impressive. Though averaging 31 minutes per game in January, he has posted only 10.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.1 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.6 bpg and 0.5 threes. And though I have no objection to the reasonably respectable points/rebounds/assists combo, it's the outside shooting – just two threes in his last seven games – where McGrady's value arguably takes its most frustrating hit.

10 Quick-Hitting Statements of Fact and/or Opinion

1) Paul George's last two games: 13.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.0 spg, 1.0 threes in an average of 30 minutes per game. With Brandon Rush (ankle) reportedly out two weeks, it's time to give George serious consideration unless you're playing in a very shallow league.

2) I hereby nominate that Kevin Durant line from Wednesday (47 points, 18 rebounds, two steals, two blocks, four threes, 15-for-28 from the field and 13-for-14 on FTs) as the line of the year thus far. Can anyone name one that's been better?

3) Speaking of the Thunder, Jeff Green has hit for 19 points in two straight games. The defensive stats still aren't there (just four steals and three blocks in his last eight games), but those should come around before long as well.

4) The buy-low window on Gerald Wallace is closing quickly after his 22 and 10 on Wednesday night. Act quickly.

5) Amir Johnson's last 10 games: 11.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 0.6 spg and 1.0 bpg on 66.2 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from the line.

6) I don't trust him to stay consistent just yet, but Wesley Johnson's last two games underscore his considerable potential: 16.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2.5 spg, 1.0 bpg, 2.0 threes.

7) Stephen Jackson is shooting a cringe-inducing 32.9 percent in his last nine games. If you can stomach a FG% in the low-40's (where he should land in the long run), S-Jax is worthy of buy-low consideration.

8) How far the once mildly productive have fallen: James Harden's 13-point game on Wednesday was his first double-figure scoring game since Jan. 4.

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9) DeMar DeRozan (28.0 ppg in his last three) could be a pretty exciting value pick next year if he goes home this offseason and develops three-point range.

10) You won't find him landing on any of my rosters, but it's worth noting that Kwame Brown has averaged 10.1 ppg and 10.6 rpg (with 0.6 bpg) in his last seven games. And for the record, I'm pretty certain that's the first time he has ever been mentioned in the two and a half-year history of this column.

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