The Stew is simmering again after a one-week All-Star break-induced hiatus, and we’ll waste no time in getting directly to the topics at hand:
Note to Doc Rivers: Please keep starting Kevin Garnett at center. A steady if somewhat boring fantasy contributor while starting at power forward, Garnett has raised his production to another level while starting at center this year. During his recent five-game run at the five, Garnett has posted an explosive 20.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.8 spg and 1.2 bpg on 53.3 percent from the field and 88.9 percent from the line, making him the No. 6 overall player on Basketball Monster’s 9-category leaderboard during that stretch. And in nine total games as a starting center this season, KG has averaged 17.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.6 spg and 1.9 bpg. Sure it’s still a small sample size, but with Jermaine O’Neal reportedly considering surgery, Garnett could see a significant spike in value the rest of the way. And as an added bonus – and another reason to hope that O’Neal shuts it down – Brandon Bass, who took over Garnett’s spot at the four, has posted 13.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 2.0 bpg in his last four starts.
Speaking of centers, is Brook Lopez ruining MarShon Brooks? A disturbing trend coming out of New Jersey: After averaging 16.5 ppg on 14.7 FG attempts in six games between Feb. 15 and Feb. 22, Brooks has averaged just 6.7 ppg on 5.0 FG attempts in his last three games with the Nets offense running much more through Lopez lately. That’s disconcerting, but Brooks is way too good a scorer to stay this passive for long, and he should eventually figure out how to produce playing alongside Lopez. And with Lopez’s status uncertain as of Monday morning due to an ankle sprain, Brooks could break out of his slump even sooner than anticipated.
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Meanwhile, I would advise throwing out some buy-low offers on Ricky Rubio. A few people asked for some buy-low recommendations in my live chat on Friday, and after scouring the current fantasy hoops landscape, the Minnesota PG is perhaps the most glaring buy-low situation I can find. In his last five games, Rubio has shot a ghastly 21.1 percent from the field, but he has done so on a low-volume (and therefore not as harmful) 7.6 attempts per game. Furthermore, he has still averaged 6.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 7.6 apg, 1.8 spg and 0.6 3s in 31 minutes a night during that slump, and it needs to be noted that three of those games were part of a back-to-back-to-back situation on the road. In other words, it has been ugly, but Rubio has a good chance to get back to posting dynamic lines again soon (though with a matchup against Chris Paul looming Monday evening, the buy-low window could extend at least a couple more days).
The time to shop Antawn Jamison is… now. I don’t see this as a situation where you absolutely have to trade him, but I’m not sure Jamison’s value can get much higher than it is after a monstrous 29-9-5 line with four steals and two blocks on Saturday. Even after that explosive performance – and after averaging 22.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.7 spg, 0.7 bpg and 1.5 3s in his last six games – Jamison is still just the No. 69-ranked player on Basketball Monster’s 9-category leaderboard for the season, in large part due to bad percentages (42.1 FG, 61.6 FT). In addition to hurting fantasy teams there, the 35-year-old is also a risk to miss games down the stretch after averaging 61 games played the last two years.
Speaking of sell-high situations, I think now would be a good time to at least consider shopping Jarrett Jack. He’s healthy, back in the starting lineup and producing (18-4-3 on Saturday; 15.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 5.3 apg in his last seven games), but I worry about his knee eventually becoming an issue again and leading to a potential shutdown situation on the 9-28 Hornets. As was the case with Jamison, I don’t see dealing Jack as mandatory, but now would be a good time to at least weigh his trade value.
In other news, I regret to report that I’m bored by Josh Howard’s production. On the surface, his recent numbers look fairly solid: 13.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 apg and 1.2 spg in his last six games (all starts). However, Howard has hit just two 3s during that stretch (0.3 per game), and only seven on the season, which leaves him as the No. 108-ranked player on Basketball Monster’s 9-category leaderboard during his recent stretch of improved play. He’s certainly relevant while starting and producing like this, but let this be a reminder that unless he suddenly starts hitting more 3s (which seems unlikely), Howard is nothing more than a low-end, low-upside option.
Is it time to panic on Kemba Walker? There’s nothing visibly wrong with Walker’s game (aside from ongoing issues with his FG percentage), but there is something wrong with his team’s rotation (too crowded) and his coach, who has inexplicably decided to trim the minutes of the No. 9 overall pick on a 4-31 team. Walker has averaged just 21 minutes, 9.3 ppg and 4.0 apg in his last three games, but I would avoid dropping him if possible. The Bobcats’ rotation is crowded right now, but I’d be surprised if Walker isn’t getting extended run (and putting up nice numbers) during the closing weeks of the season.
Other miscellaneous thoughts: Martell Webster looked great against Portland on Saturday (21 points, eight boards, three treys, two blocks), but I would consider that a random blip of inspiration against his former team rather than a sign of continued productivity ahead… No cause for full-scale panic yet – and maybe it’s just a coincidence – but it’s worth noting that James Harden is just 2-of-12 on 3s in four games since he injured his left (shooting) wrist… After getting a chance to rest his thumb injury over the All-Star break, Elton Brand has averaged 12.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.8 spg and 2.0 bpg in his last four games.