As a Hawks fan, I wept a little bit when Lou Williams’ knee exploded back on Jan. 18.
But that unhappy news for the Hawks has directly led to – or at least strongly contributed to – a glorious run for Jeff Teague.
Productive but characteristically somewhat frustrating through the season’s first 2.5 months, Teague has posted 17.3 ppg, 7.7 apg, 1.4 spg and 1.3 3s in the nine games since Williams came up limping on a fast break in Brooklyn. And if you include the game in which Williams got hurt, and the game before it, Teague’s numbers look even better: 18.6 ppg, 8.2 apg, 1.2 spg and 1.5 treys in his last 11 games.
So what does it all mean? I still expect Teague to continue being prone to duds from time to time, but his value has clearly risen a notch since Williams went down. And with the Hawks boasting a large bushel of four-game weeks down the stretch (six straight from Week 18-Week 23), these are downright happy times if you waited out some Teague inconsistency earlier this year.
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Speaking of Hawks, is Kyle Korver’s recent production to be believed? Korver has also seen a notable boost in stats in the Absence of Lou (A.L.), posting 15.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.8 bpg and 3.9 treys in his last nine games. It might go without saying that those numbers don't seem sustainable – through his first three games of February, Korver’s scoring (10.7) and 3s (2.3) have dipped – but he’s still averaging 4.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.0 spg and 1.3 bpg this month, and continues to play a ton of minutes (37 per game in February). In sum, I would expect something closer to 12 ppg than 15 going forward, but given the contributions in 3s, the surprising help in steals and blocks, and the Hawks schedule, I’d maintain confidence in Korver going forward.
Considering the schedule, it’s time to consider dealing away your Nuggets. Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari have all been posting nice numbers lately, but things get ugly for the Nuggets' schedule the rest of the way. After this week’s four games, they have just two four-game weeks the rest of the way. Also fairly miserable from a scheduling standpoint: the Clippers (just two four-game weeks left after this one), and the Rockets, who only have one more four-game week. Don't take this as me saying you should definitely trade any of your Nuggets, Clippers or Rockets – James Harden, for example, can still be plenty productive on a three-game week – but it's at least worth taking a look around to see if you can work a trade with an owner who's paying less attention to the schedule.
Meanwhile, it’s time to smash some pinatas in celebration of Rudy Gay’s arrival in Toronto. Yes, it has only been three games, and no, I don’t expect him to sustain the 24.7 ppg he’s averaging as a Raptor, but it’s highly encouraging that two of his three highest shot totals this season (23 and 24 FGA the last two games) have come since arriving in Toronto, where he’s averaging 21.0 shots per game (as opposed to 16.4 per game in Memphis). Maintaining 21 shots per game is probably unrealistic (especially now that Andrea Bargnani is back), but Rudy clearly has a flashing bright green light he didn’t always have in Memphis, where the offense was not only pretty slow and deliberate, but spent a lot of time going through Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Bottom line: I don’t see this as a sell-high situation, and if I had Rudy on my roster I’d be legitimately giddy about this change of address.
In this week's installment of Why Is That Guy Owned In So Many Leagues?... Michael Beasley! Owned in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues, Beasley has had some big games lately (including outbursts of 25 points, 27 points and 24 points in his last seven). But when you factor in his wild inconsistency, and look at his numbers over his last seven games, Beasley has posted a hollow 15.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.3 bpg and 0.6 3s. Sure, he is capable of posting a big line on any given night, but over the long run he does very little other than score. And to me, that pretty much equates to wasted roster space.
If you’re looking for late-season gems, keep your eyes on Orlando. Readers sometimes ask me to name players who don’t have a ton of value right now, but might have value later in the season. It’s always a difficult question to answer, but one hopeless team that has been playing without some veterans (Glen Davis, J.J. Redick and Arron Afflalo), and figures to have more shutdowns in the future is the Magic. That's not to say that you have to currently be rostering Moe Harkless (10.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.3 spg, 1.0 bpg in his last four), Andrew Nicholson (9.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg in February) or E'Twaun Moore (12.5 ppg, 4.4 apg, 1.6 treys in 10 starts this year), but all three should certainly be on your watch list.
Other Random Observations: In case you hadn’t noticed, Ricky Rubio is averaging 10.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 2.3 spg in his last six games, including a lofty (for him) 40.7 percent from the field. … I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Joe Johnson is a mediocre/boring fantasy player these days. His last eight games: 13.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.9 apg, 0.4 spg, 1.6 3s on 37.6 percent from the field. And on the season, he’s done very little outside of score and hit 3s: 16.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.5 apg, 0.6 spg, 2.1 3s. … It has been a frustrating season from a scoring and shooting standpoint for Roy Hibbert, but he’s averaging 11.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 0.8 spg and 2.4 bpg in his last 12 games.