Somewhat monumental occasion here – this is the first entry published during the Roundball Stew Headshot Era, which history books may one day describe as "enjoyable, prosperous and consistently featuring a photograph of the writer of the column toward the upper left of the page."
Now, so that none of us has to spend too much time watching me grin up there, let's get directly to the business at hand:TRENDSPOTTINGThree on the Rise:Leandro Barbosa:
Showing no patience whatsoever for the hindrance commonly known as rust, The Leandroid (a machine which scores points off a professional basketball team's bench) scored 20 in 27 minutes in just his second game since returning from a three-week absence on Wednesday. This man averaged 16.4 ppg, 3.1 apg, 1.4 spg and 1.8 threes in his last 16 games before getting injured, and can easily go back to duplicating those numbers. Make the add.DeJuan Blair:
He is undoubtedly in the midst of his best stretch of the season (15.0 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 1.5 spg, 1.0 bpg in his last six games), but forgive me if I'm not yet fully sold. Flashes of brilliance followed by ugly droughts have been Blair's M.O. dating back to last year, and while I do think he's worth adding to see how long he keeps it up, I'm not convinced that the 21-year-old has suddenly mastered the art of consistency mid-season.Christian Eyenga:
I caught some flack for answering too many Eyenga questions in my chat on Tuesday, but my response to that is twofold: 1) I was getting asked a lot of questions about Eyenga; 2) What can I say? I like what he's been doing lately. Though not a reliable scorer (as evidenced by his eight points, three rebounds and two blocks on Wednesday), he's still averaging an intriguing 10.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.5 bpg and 0.8 threes in his last six. And though there's no guarantee he's useful a few weeks from now, that combo of threes, steals and blocks makes him worth a flier in plenty of leagues at the moment.Follow me on Twitter: @MattStroupThree on the Plummet:Carlos Delfino:
I've been trying to stay optimistic that Delfino, John Salmons
and Corey Maggette
can all share value in a three-man SG/SF rotation, but at the moment Delfino isn't upholding his portion of the agreement, posting just 8.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg and 1.3 apg in his last three games. The good news is that he has still gotten 26 minutes per game during that slump, and if you're in a deeper format where good players don't get dropped often, I would advise staying patient for now.Tracy McGrady:
Though McGrady is only 31 years old, my calculations indicate that his Actual Knee Age (A.K.A.) is 74. His run of productivity probably isn't completely over, but after seeing him post identical 7-2-3 lines in each of his last two games, it's very evident that T-Mac needs the All-Star break to get here in a hurry.Vince Carter:
Speaking of elevated A.K.A.'s, Vince's last six scoring totals prior to Thursday night have gone 22, 17, 12, 2, 33, 10 (average of 16.0 ppg), leaving him with a 15.6 ppg average for Phoenix after scoring 15.1 for Orlando this year. Obviously that's not bad, and I need to be clear here: I'm not saying that Vince is on the plummet in terms of value, but more that our expectations of his stats need to be lowered. Scoring 15-plus with 2.3 threes (his average for the Suns) is definitely useful, but a consistent 18-20 ppg no longer seems to be in his range – even when playing alongside Steve Nash
.THREE RANDOM BUT HOPEFULLY USEFUL OBSERVATIONS
1. Andre Iguodala's reemergence has not been fun for Jrue Holiday.
Initiating the Sixers' offense more often, Iguodala has posted 16.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 8.4 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.7 bpg and 0.7 threes in his last seven games. During that same stretch, Holiday is averaging just 8.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.6 apg, 0.9 spg and 0.9 threes. The good news is that Philly's young PG has still been playing 33 minutes a night and should break out of his scoring slump even if his assists are capped in the 4-5 range for now.
2. Brandon Bass' return will actually be a good thing for Ryan Anderson.
Anderson as a starter in February: 13.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.0 bpg and 2.8 threes on 41.8 percent shooting. Those numbers aren't a disaster at all, but they're notably worse than the 14.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 0.9 bpg and 3.0 threes on 46.8 percent shooting that he posted in January. Once Bass is back, Anderson can go back to playing against the other team's reserves, and won't have to worry as much about foul trouble, which should get his shot-blocking numbers closer to their January level.
3. Blake Griffin has taken a step backward.
First things first: With averages of 20.6 ppg, 11.6 rpg and 2.8 apg through five games this month, Griffin is still pretty useful even when slumping. But his regression in free throw shooting and blocks is disconcerting. After surging all the way to 69.2 percent from the line in January, he's down to 44.7 percent (17-for-38) so far in February. Furthermore, after posting 0.8 bpg in December, he dropped to 0.4 in January and now 0.2 this month. Make no mistake, I'm still convinced he can be a 70-plus percent free throw shooter who blocks at least a shot per game in the future, but it appears that fatigue is chipping away at the edges of his previously monstrous numbers right now.10 QUICK-HITTING STATEMENTS OF FACT AND/OR OPINION
1) I'm big on Paul George
's eventual upside, but his 7.5 ppg in an average of 20 minutes over the Pacers' last two games has rendered him droppable.
2) Lately, Jason Kidd
has begun to look a lot more like Jason Kidd
: 10.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 8.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.9 bpg, 2.5 threes in his last eight games. Now would be a wise time to market him as a top-25 player if you've been dying to get him off your team.
3) Timofey Mozgov
's last five games: 11.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 65.7 percent shooting. There's some potential here.
4) Speaking of the Knicks frontcourt, Amare Stoudemire
is averaging a Brook Lopez
-esque 5.5 rpg in his last six games, but is still dropping 27.7 ppg with 1.8 bpg during that stretch. The recent lack of rebounds lately is slightly annoying, but no cause for panic.
5) If Brandon Jennings
is on your squad, you have to be somewhat thrilled with the 20 points on 9-for-24 shooting Wednesday. Obviously 9-for-24 hurts the old field goal percentage, but it's a good sign that the lefty is starting to feel pretty spry.
6) After some shaky games in January, Raymond Felton
has averaged 16.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg and 1.8 threes on 44.3 percent shooting in four games this month.
7) Josh McRoberts
' 12-9-7 line on Wednesday got my attention, but his recent stats (10.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.0 bpg in his last four games) likely aren't sustainable, restricting his value to deeper leagues.
8) Deeper league alert: After an ugly first few months of the season, Raja Bell
has averaged 15.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.8 spg and 1.3 threes in his last four games.Editor's note: For exclusive articles, chats, projections and more, check out the Rotoworld NBA Season Pass.
9) After hearing Thursday's bombshell news that Jerry Sloan is resigning, one name that comes to mind as potentially benefiting from a new regime is C.J. Miles
. He's still far from a must-add, but is at least worth watching to see if new leadership helps him ditch his maddening inconsistency. (My cynical guess: It won't.)
10) Last week I voiced some concern about Baron Davis
' back injury. Naturally, he has responded by posting 19.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 10.8 apg, 3.5 spg and 2.0 threes in his last four games. I can understand the logic behind selling high, but personally I'm planning on keeping Le Baron in my lineup until his limbs go cartwheeling off (which hopefully won't ever happen).