Love remains a double-double machine (USP)
Kevin Love hasn't missed a beat since returning from his hand injury, averaging 23.0 ppg and a modest 15.6 rpg. His 1.4 spg is a career-high while his 0.6 bpg ties his previous best mark. His shooting percentages are down, which can at least partially be attributed to him attempting 33.9 percent of his shots from beyond the arc this season. He's also getting to the line a career best 11.2 times per game so far, and yet he's shooting just 69.6 percent from there, easily a career low, so it's safe to blame the early struggles on his hand injury (as well as the small sample). The rest of Love's game actually looks improved, which is a scary proposition for the rest of the league once he gets closer to full strength. His current Usage Rate (34.93) leads the NBA, as does his whopping 9.2 attempts per game at the rim (this can also help explain his poor FG%, as he's shooting just 46.4 percent at the rim this season - league average is 63.8. So it appears he's also been a bit unlucky). Love is locked in as an easy top-five fantasy player.
I've written about Anderson Varejao a few times this year, but wow, who averages 14.5 ppg, 14.9 rpg, 1.5 spg while shooting 52.5 percent from the field and 77.8 percent from the line while also somehow posting a 3.2:1.7 apg:tpg ratio? And while there's an argument to be made some of that is unsustainable, making him a sell-high candidate, Varejao is seeing by far the most mpg of his career, and he has shown flashes before - he averaged 14.8 rpg over the previous five games before suffering a season-ending injury last year. Moreover, since he got 1.2 bpg two years ago, his current 0.4 mark could be in store for a big increase moving forward, especially with the added playing time. While some modest drop off in the other categories can be reasonably expected, the biggest worry with Varejao is health, as he's played in just 31 and 25 games, respectively, over the past two seasons. But there's no reason not to expect him continuing to be a beast (his Defensive Rebound Rate (31.3) leads the NBA) if he can stay on the court. The Sideshow Bob lookalike appears to be a home run of a draft pick for fantasy owners.
This clip is a couple years old, but Brad Keselowski, who was this year's Sprint Cup Champion, isn't quite as good at basketball as he is at driving.
Darren Collison has averaged a solid 12.9 ppg, 6.3 apg and 1.5 spg while shooting 88.7 percent from the line this season after joining the Mavs to take over their point guard duties with Jason Kidd departing, but apparently that hasn't been good enough, as he's now reportedly headed for a bench role behind of all people newly signed Derek Fisher. Although Collison is shooting just 35.0 percent from the floor over the past seven games and committing too many turnovers, that decision seems a bit rash, (Collison's 14.99 PER is above league average), but it's admittedly tough to question Rick Carlisle at this point. Still, for a 38-year-old Fisher? Really? Of course, starting can be overrated, and a bench role probably isn't the death knell to Collison's value, but fantasy owners have been dropping him in droves. Collison is also currently dealing with a finger injury, but for those in deeper leagues, I'd remain patient and hold onto him for now.
This guy was in the midst of making ridiculous requests to people in order to try to get used to rejection, yet early on in his experiment he encountered a remarkable lady who worked for Krispy Kreme who ruined his plan.
Jamal Crawford hasn't started a game this season, has averaged fewer than 2.0 rebounds and assists and gets no blocks, yet he's been sneakily valuable in fantasy leagues. In fact, he currently ranks ahead of Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams and LaMarcus Aldridge, according to Basketball Monster. Crawford is averaging 17.5 ppg, 1.1 spg, 2.0 3pt and a modest 1.9 tpg, but the real reason he's been so valuable is his 94.2 free throw percentage — on enough attempts (4.6) that make a true difference. That may be unsustainable, but he did hit 92.7 percent of his shots from the charity stripe last year, so this isn't completely out of nowhere. However, there's some concern Crawford will see less playing time moving forward with Chauncey Billups' return, which is enough reason to try to sell high if possible. Crawford's mpg this year have actually been his second fewest since 2002-03, and he's proven plenty capable of being efficient in a bench role, but this Clippers backcourt is especially deep with an emerging Eric Bledsoe also in the fold.
Here's an early candidate for dunk of the year.
One of Greg Monroe's better qualities entering the league coming from Georgetown was his passing ability, which has been highlighted by his apg going from 1.3 to 2.3 over his first two years in the league. That's only been amplified by him handing out 3.6 assists per game this season, and while it would be nice to see more blocks from the big man (0.8 bpg), his 1.7 spg leads all centers. It hasn't been all good for Monroe, who's shooting percentages are down while his turnovers are up during his third year in the league, but he's been a top-45 commodity regardless. His 8.2 attempts per game at the rim (Kevin Love doesn't technically qualify) leads the NBA by a pretty wide margin (next most is 7.2), so it's probably a safe bet to expect his FG% to creep back toward his career level. Monroe is just 22 years old, and his pedigree suggests the uptick in assists is for real, so he's going to be a major fantasy asset moving forward.
This guy attempted to kill a spider with brass knuckles.
After making by far the single biggest impact in blocks last year, I still thought Serge Ibaka was getting drafted too early in most fantasy leagues this season (he was overly reliant on one category and coming off a rate that was not sustainable). But so far, I've been dead wrong, as while the big man has dropped off some in blocks, his 3.1 bpg is still tied for the NBA lead. Moreover, his ppg has jumped from 9.1 to 15.0, and he's somehow shooting 59.5 percent from the floor despite attempting 0.7 three-pointers per game. Ibaka saw little playing time for Spain in the Olympics, so there was reason for some skepticism entering the year, and he's seen little gains this season compared to last in rebounds and assists while actually decreasing his spg (0.5 to 0.3) despite his mpg having increased from 27:06 to 32:06. However, after shooting 66.1 percent from the line last year, Ibaka is up to 88.1 this season, which is a big reason why he's been the sixth most valuable fantasy player in 9-cat leagues so far, according to Basketball Monster.
For what might have been the first time ever, no one got shot, stabbed, murdered or slashed Monday in New York City.
Quick Hits: Steve Novak's layup on a breakaway this week was hilarious, as he moved at a glacial pace and apparently can't dunk despite being 6-10. In fairness, it likely caught him by surprise, as that was actually his first attempt at the rim since 2010/11! Last year, Novak attempted five shots total from 15 feet or less…I get that Gregg Popovich kind of comes off as trolling choosing to rest his best players during a nationally televised game against the defending champs on a night in which there were only two games being played throughout the league, but I can't see truly punishing him for it. David Stern's comments before the game looked even funnier when the Spurs actually led with fewer than five minutes left. This Miami team appears to play to its competition too often…Get well soon, Chandler Parsons…Ramon Sessions currently has a higher Usage Rate than Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker and Blake Griffin…Drafting injured players is seemingly better in H2H formats opposed to rotisserie, since theoretically stats matter more at the end of the season in the former, whereas they all count the same in the latter. However, if you're in a H2H league with daily moves, it's actually the opposite, as taking zeros is just such a killer. I say this as someone who drafted both Andrew Bynum and Andrew Bogut in the Yahoo! Friends and Family league, which is H2H this year.
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- Anderson Varejao