Matt Stroup

Roundball Stew

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Pay This Man His Money

Thursday, February 03, 2011

If you woke up this week and became alarmed to realize that it was suddenly February, you should be similarly alarmed that it's already Week 15 of the NBA season. I have no idea how any of that happened so quickly, but I believe it has something to do with time moving faster as we get older, and many people (myself not included) wasting too many waking hours playing Angry Birds.

Now that we've established that time is of the essence, let us waste no more of it and begin:


Three on the Rise:

Paul George: I could have easily put Roy Hibbert here after seeing him average 18.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg and 2.0 bpg in his first two games sans Jim O'Brien, but George warrants a closer look given that the might still be available in your league. The No. 10 overall pick was actually already emerging prior to Obie's dismissal, and has now posted 13.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.7 bpg and 1.2 threes in his last six games. Those aren't earth-shaking numbers, but as avid Stew reader James R. points out, it's a decent statistical facsimile of Francisco Garcia, which makes George worth a look in most leagues.

Corey Maggette: This isn't a trend that developed in the past week, as Maggette has actually been rolling for a while now (18.5 ppg in his last 11 games). But I bring this up to address the concern over the Bucks' wing rotation becoming crowded between Maggette, Delfino and John Salmons. True, it is crowded, but there are still 96 minutes per game to divide up between those three, and Maggette, quite simply, is a player who finds a way to score when healthy. He has averaged 16.8 ppg or better in every season since 2002-03, and now that he's finding his groove I don't see the second half of this season playing out any differently.

Earl Watson: It's unclear exactly how long Deron Williams (wrist) will be out, but Watson (8.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 8.0 apg in his last four starts) has emerged as a near-mandatory handcuff for Williams, and a viable option for owners seeking a short-term boost in assists.

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Three on the Plummet:

Raymond Felton: He has performed like a top-10 option for much of the season, but lately appears to be running directly into the D'Antoni Overusage Barrier (D'AOB), a well-known obstacle for point guards subjected to too many minutes under the Knicks coach. In his last 10 games, Felton is averaging 12.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 8.7 apg, 1.5 spg and 0.9 threes on 33.3 percent shooting. He obviously still has value and won't shoot it this badly throughout the second half, but a return to the glory days of November and December (when he posted a sublime 18.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 9.2 apg, 2.0 spg and 1.8 threes on 44.5 percent shooting) is probably not happening.

Wilson Chandler: He has become something of a forgotten individual while sidelined due to a calf injury, but in my opinion that makes Chandler a great buy-low consideration right now. It's true that he had been slumping before getting hurt, but I don't see an extremely brittle Ronny Turiaf or an inconsistent Timofey Mozgov as legitimate threats to his playing time. Chandler is reportedly on track to return Friday, and should return with solid value as a points/threes/rebounds/blocks aficionado before long.

Mario Chalmers: If you added him when he won the starting PG job, you should move on. Despite averaging 27 minutes in his last four, Chalmers' production during that time has been downright ghastly: just 6.8 ppg and 2.3 apg. Goodbye.

Three Random but Hopefully Useful Observations

1. It's fun to rip Joe Johnson's contract, but let's not overlook his production of late. As a Hawks fan I find it both amusing and miserable to note that Johnson will be making $25 million in 2049 every time I see him drive the lane for an uninspiring eight-foot floater, but his stats over the last month read like those of a player at least somewhat deserving of a grotesque salary: 26.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5.0 apg and 2.0 threes on 51.9 percent shooting from the field. Granted, he's doing nothing in terms of defensive stats (0.6 spg and 0.0 bpg the last month), but his recent run is enough to place him No. 18 overall in Basketball Monster's eight-category rankings since Jan. 2.

2. Boris Diaw: Insufferable, but still somewhat undroppable. Somehow still out of shape more than halfway into the season, Diaw (which, interestingly enough, sits very close to the word "diet" in terms of keyboard placement) is plodding along with 4.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg and 4.0 apg in his last three games. On the surface that makes him seem droppable, but as soon as you cut him he's going to go off for a vintage good Boris line just to spite you. The wisest move is to wait until a few of his better games have taken place and then move him as part of a package deal – because he alone won't net you much in a trade.

3. This week's semi-mandatory paragraph on Blake Griffin: First of all, I would like to note that if you take free throws out of the equation and include turnovers as a category, Griffin is the No. 14 overall player in Basketball Monster's rankings. (Side note: Dwight Howard ranks No. 1 in that scenario.) Also, speaking of Griffin's free throw shooting, he was repeatedly examining his right elbow during his 4-for-13 night on Wednesday and had some uncharacteristically awkward misses. I'm not saying this is a major long-term concern, but that elbow – which from my vantage point appeared to be pretty swollen – may have been the key culprit in that bad free throw game. (Also, given that Griffin dropped a 32-13-7 line in that game it's hard to be too upset overall.)

10 Quick-Hitting Statements of Fact and/or Opinion

1) The Raptors may be wretched, but Amir Johnson is thriving in the midst of the the losing streak, averaging 17.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.2 spg and 1.6 bpg on 63.6 percent shooting in his last five games.

2) After a quiet month as a shot-blocker, Josh Smith is back at 2.0 bpg in his last five.

3) Definitely worth noting that Tyler Hansbrough has posted 13.5 ppg and 7.0 rpg in his first two games back from pneumonia, but his zero steals and zero blocks over those two games highlights his shortcomings as a fantasy option.

4) Deeper league alert: Christian Eyenga posted a 12-4-5 line with two steals, two blocks and a three on Wednesday and has averaged 10.0 ppg, 0.8 spg, 1.8 bpg and 0.8 threes in his last five games.

5) While we're talking Cavs, it's nice that Manny Harris has posted 19.7 ppg and 2.0 threes in his last three, but that fun is likely over once Daniel Gibson (quad) returns.

6) Terribly disappointed by that 2-for-11, four-point stinker on Wednesday from Wesley Johnson, but given that he came in averaging 16.3 ppg and 2.3 threes in his previous four games, I'm giving him at least one more game before cutting him.

7) Marcin Gortat's last eight games: 15.1 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 64.4 percent shooting. Whether starting or coming off the bench, he's a must-start player until further notice.

8) It's nice to see Mike Miller rebounding (9.0 rpg in his last five), but he's averaging just 6.0 shot attempts, 8.0 points (and 2.0 threes) the past two games with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh all healthy. He has some value as a threes/rebounds specialist, but expect him to be maddeningly sub par in scoring as long as Miami's core is healthy.

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

9) Since you asked, the answer is yes, I am concerned about Baron Davis' back injury. It's good that he was able to finish the game on Wednesday, but my worry is that we haven't heard the last of this thing resurfacing.

10) Kyle Lowry is still showing no signs of disappearing, but Aaron Brooks has posted a useful 15.0 ppg, 5.0 apg and 2.0 threes off the bench in his last two games and is easily capable of sustaining that production going forward.

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