Roy Hibbert got off to a painfully slow start last season, as he shot just 41.4 percent from the floor before the All-Star break. The big man has turned things around since, however, as he shot 50.8 percent from the field after the All-Star Break and played extremely well in the playoffs, when he averaged 17.0 ppg and 9.9 rpg against the NBA’s top competition. Hibbert’s strong postseason performance has carried over into 2013/14, as while his scoring is back down to his career level (11.7 ppg), Hibbert has double-doubled in three of his past five games, and his 4.76 bpg leads the league by a wide margin. In fact, it’s a full block more per game than any other player. Hibbert, who’s currently a top-30 fantasy player, anchors an Indiana interior defense that has allowed an NBA-low 48.0 FG% on shots within five feet. He’s attempted 10 shots or more in four of his past five games after failing to do so once over the season’s first five contests, so hopefully his scoring will go up moving forward. Either way, Hibbert has become the league’s premier shot blocker and is a fantasy beast as a result.
It certainly hasn’t been a smooth return to the court for Derrick Rose this season, as he’s averaged career-lows in points (15.4), rebounds (2.9), assists (4.4), steals (0.3) and blocks (0.1). He’s done so while also committing a career-high 3.6 turnovers per game and shooting just 34.8 percent from the field. It’s not exactly unexpected Rose has struggled out of the gate, since he hadn’t played an NBA game since May 2012. Then again, because he sat out all of last season, the hope was the point guard would return at a full 100 percent this season. Instead, we are seeing a former MVP somehow record just two steals over seven games. Rose is still working himself back physically (and is currently dealing with a hamstring injury), and both he and the Bulls need to adjust to playing together again, as Chicago’s system was different with him sidelined last year. Rose is still getting to the rim as usual, but he’s shooting just 36.36 percent when he gets there. Seriously, look at his shot chart. There are a number of factors likely affecting this small sample, but it’s probably safe to expect some regression here. Rose is currently the No. 249 fantasy player, so to call his start a disappointment would be an understatement. I doubt just a couple weeks into the year there’s a true buy-low opportunity here, as fantasy owners should probably just remain patient and hope the old superstar reemerges at some point in the future.
This isn’t new, but it’s gained attention recently, so in case you missed it, here’s one man who dances like nobody’s watching.
Andrea Bargnani doesn’t appear to have control over his own body.
Speaking of struggling former stars, Kevin Garnett is off to a terrible start with his new team in Brooklyn, averaging just 5.8 ppg in 22:41 mpg. No one should be surprised by KG’s drop in playing time, and it’s something that should continue, as the Nets will monitor the 37 year old’s workload. Still, Garnett was the No. 33 most valuable fantasy player while seeing a modest 29:41 mpg last year in Boston, so it’s not like a drop off this extreme (KG is currently the 196th ranked fantasy player) was expected. Garnett hasn’t reached double figures in any game this year, as he’s shooting 30.0 percent (21-of-70) from the floor. With Deron Williams (ankle) and Brook Lopez (ankle) both sidelined, Garnett has an opportunity to get his season on track, that’s if he can recover from his own sprained ankle. The parts sure seemed like a perfect fit on paper for Brooklyn, but it’s been anything but so far, as the Nets are 3-6 and rank in the bottom-10 both in Offensive and Defensive Efficiency. That’s not good. Garnett has a ton of mileage on his body and sometimes the end comes suddenly, but he has too long of a track record and was still playing at a high level too recently to be dropped in fantasy leagues right now. But there’s no question it’s been an ugly start.
Quick Hits: Since entering the starting lineup four games ago, Jordan Hill is averaging 18.8 ppg, 12.0 rpg and 1.8 bpg. The former top-10 pick is suddenly a must-own in all fantasy leagues…Josh Smith is somehow averaging 5.7 3pt this season. His previous career-high was last year at 2.6…During the Raptors’ double-overtime loss to the Rockets last week, Toronto had just 10 assists on 114 shot attempts. That’s pretty crazy…It may take a few games for Lou Williams to start seeing meaningful minutes, but he’s back on the radar after returning from knee surgery. The bigger takeaway might be how this affects Kyle Korver, who’s quietly been the No. 22 fantasy player this season…With Michael Carter-Williams sidelined with a foot injury, Tony Wroten has filled in nicely, getting 19.7 ppg and 6.3 apg over three contests, including becoming the first player to ever record a triple-double in his first career start. Philadelphia is thin, so Wroten will continue to get all the run he can handle as long as MCW is out. Speaking of point guard “handcuffs,” Shaun Livingston is another who needs to be owned with Deron Williams suffering yet another ankle injury…Spencer Hawes is the only player in the NBA averaging 1.5+ bpg, 1.5+ 3pt and 10.0+ rpg. He’s quietly been a top-20 fantasy player this season.
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Quick Hits Part Deux: With the Omer Asik/Dwight Howard experiment over, Terrence Jones has moved into Houston’s starting lineup. He’s recorded double-digit boards in four straight contests, getting 2.5 bpg over that span. Jones should be long gone from waiver wires…Trevor Ariza is currently sidelined with a minor hamstring injury, which is too bad, because he was off to the best start of his career, averaging 14.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.1 spg and 2.5 3pt. It’s just an eight-game sample, but Ariza obviously was fitting in nicely in a new starter’s role and is clearly worth holding onto in fantasy leagues…It’s tough to get a gauge on the Celtics’ center position right now. Vitor Faverani opened the year as the starter, but he then disappeared for four games only to suddenly reemerge as a starter Saturday, when he pulled down 14 boards and recorded three steals and four blocks. Kelly Olynyk was decent enough during his time starting, so this seems like a fluid situation and one to avoid in fantasy terms…Over the last six games, DeAndre Jordan is getting 14.5 rpg and 2.5 bpg as the 25-year-old’s breakout season continues…Minnesota currently leads the NBA in Pace, while Sacramento and Memphis are tied for last.
Longread of the Week: “The Coach Who Exploded.”
Quick Hits Part Tres: Rudy Gay is averaging career-highs in points (20.6), rebounds (7.6) and steals (1.8), so it’s hard to complain, but he’s also shooting 38.2 percent from the field. The career-worst mark has come with a ton of volume as well, as Gay is attempting a whopping 20.0 shots per game, which is the third most in the NBA. He may continue to be inefficient, but Gay should also continue to fill the stat sheet as the centerpiece of Toronto’s offense…With Steve Nash out dealing with more back issues, Steve Blake has really turned it on of late, as he’s handed out double-digit assists in four straight games. Blake is also getting a career-high 2.2 3pt, as he’s thriving in Mike D’Antoni’s system. Blake’s assist/turnover ratio (4.1) is better than Chris Paul’s (3.9), and there’s little reason to expect Nash to return and play meaningful minutes any time soon…After going 7-for-34 over his past two games, J.R. Smith might not be long for the starting lineup, at least in the short term. The streaky shooter currently holds an ugly 22.6 FG% after going ice cold to end last year in the playoffs, when he shot 34-of-117 (29.1 percent) from the floor over the final eight games...The Warriors are the only team in basketball to currently be rated in the top-five both in Offensive and Defensive Efficiency.