Lawson's playing better of late (USAT)
After shooting 51.5, 50.3 and 48.8 percent from the floor over his first three years in the league, respectively, Ty Lawson’s field goal percentage is just 41.9 so far this season, and his FT% is also a career-low 71.2 (not to mention his 2.6 tpg are a career high). As a result, he went from being the 24th most valuable fantasy asset last year to the 119th this season, as he’s been one of the most disappointing players so far. It hasn’t been all bad, as Lawson’s 6.9 apg and 1.5 spg are both career highs, and he’s played much better of late, averaging 19.4 ppg, 8.6 apg and 1.2 3pt over his past five games, including a Tuesday effort in which he played through an illness that caused him to miss that morning’s shootaround. Since returning to the starting lineup six games ago – all wins by Denver – the point guard has also produced a 3.6:1 assist:turnover ratio. Lawson has attempted more shots at the rim per game this season than ever before, so it’s probably safe to expect his shooting percentages to improve moving forward, giving him early round value from here on out (it also helps that the Nuggets rank fourth in Pace). On a side note, it’s pretty interesting Denver has a 24-16 record despite playing such a tough schedule that has included 23 road games already (they are 15-2 at home).
Paul George has double-doubled in each of his past four games and is now averaging 18.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.4 apg, 2.9 spg and 2.0 3pt in January. His shooting percentages have been down, but it’s hard to argue with that type of production, as George has thrived since becoming the Pacers’ No. 1 option on offense with Danny Granger out, making great strides as the team’s primary option on pick-and-rolls. George is currently the 21st most valuable fantasy player, which is especially impressive while playing for an Indiana team that ranks 27th in Pace and 29th in Offensive Efficiency. George’s role continues to grow, as he’s averaged 13.3 FGA in November, 15.0 in December and 19.0 in January – the latter would be the third most in the NBA for the season, behind only Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant. For those G/F eligible, George’s 7.7 rpg is a full board more than the second best (Evan Turner), and he also ranks third in spg and second in bpg among that group. George is just 22 years old and might be a borderline first round pick next year.
Marcin Gortat got off to a slow start this season, averaging just 11.3 ppg and 8.4 rpg over the first two months, even admitting to showing up out of shape. Since the calendar flipped to 2013, however, the big man has improved greatly, as he’s grabbed 11.8 rpg in January. His scoring remains down, but Gortat’s 1.3 apg and 1.9 bpg are both career highs, and he’s double-doubled in seven of his past nine games, so hopefully you were able to buy low. Gortat’s Usage Rate is the lowest it’s ever been since joining Phoenix, but it’s clear he can remain plenty valuable in fantasy leagues even without Steve Nash setting him up for easy scores (Gortat’s numbers at the rim are mostly the same this year compared to the last two, although his scoring there has come on fewer assists, so he’s had to create more himself with the change at point guard). Gortat hasn’t been the fantasy star he was last season when he finished as the 22nd most valuable player, but even after the sluggish start, he still comes in at No. 42 this season, so he’s hardly been a bust.
Nice to see John Wall back in action, although it remains to be seen just how compromised his injury will make him moving forward (I know the injuries aren’t the same, but Ricky Rubio has looked nothing like he did last year since returning to the court this season). It’s probably going to be a slow process with Wall on a minutes limit, especially on a team with nothing to play for (other than yet another high draft pick). I’ve always liked him (my team name in my home league last year was “Wall So Hard”) and have drafted him (too) aggressively in the past, but it’s important to remember he wasn’t exactly an elite fantasy option even when 100 percent, thanks to a high turnover rate and poor shooting (the latter also resulting in him providing nothing in the 3pt category. In fact, Wall actually shot an incredible 3-for-42 from downtown last season). He’s still just 22 years old, and there’s obviously room for improvement (and shooting is frequently the last skill to develop), but he’s unlikely to be a savior to fantasy owners who have held onto him, at least right away.
A day in the life of Hunter S. Thompson was pretty extreme.
Although his blocks have dropped during his sophomore season, Tristan Thompson’s production has otherwise increased across the board, including shooting 51.6 percent from the floor so far this month. Anderson Varejao being sidelined has helped, but Thompson has averaged 12.0 rpg over his past 14 games. He hasn’t exactly been an elite fantasy property this season, but the 21-year-old is certainly developing in an encouraging way. Varejao is going to be out for a while, so expect more of the same from Thompson moving forward, although some more blocks would be nice (he did get 1.1 bpg in December, so there’s some potential here). And while playing for such a shallow Cleveland team, there’s no reason for Thompson’s Usage Rate not to increase greatly from here on out (his current 15.75 mark is lower than both last year’s 19.30 and the league average of 19.10).
Here’s disgusting footage of a worm leaving the body of a recently killed spider.
It’s only fitting to follow that up with a toad who has a worm in its eyes.
Quick Hits: Did the Hawks really score just five points in the second quarter (and 20 points in the entire first half) of Monday’s game? That’s pretty insane…Larry Sanders is averaging 4.7 blocks per-36 minutes. He’s easily leading the NBA in the category despite getting a modest 24.7 mpg, helping him be the 25th most valuable fantasy player so far, ahead of Dwyane Wade…Earl Clark has averaged 12.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.5 apg and 1.8 bpg over the past four games, although his production will drop once Pau Gasol returns to the lineup…Al-Farouq Aminu looked like one of the better waiver wire adds early on this year, but he then became worthless in December. However, he’s averaged 10.8 rpg over the past six games since rejoining the starting lineup, getting 1.8 spg over that span as well. His Total Rebound Rate actually ranks second among small forwards in the NBA this season, behind only Kenneth Faried…Joe Johnson has been bouncing back and forth in recent years, ranking 29th in 2009/10 and 108th the following season. He ranked 35th last year (thanks partially to Jamal Crawford leaving Atlanta), but he’s down to 84th this season, as the move to Brooklyn hasn’t exactly helped. However, he’s been much better lately, averaging 20.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.7 apg and 2.9 3pt (with a 47.6 FG% and an 86.7 FT%) this month, as he’s been a top-20 fantasy asset over the past two weeks.
Police chase starts on someone’s TV, ends on his street.
Longread of the week: If you lose your cellphone, don’t blame Wayne Dobson.
Quick Hits Part Deux: J.R. Smith has averaged 15.4 field goal attempts per game, which ranks in the top-20 in the NBA. He’s the only one among that group who’s not a starter. Over Smith’s last dozen games, that number of FGA has jumped to 20.2, which would be only behind Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant on the season...Metta World Peace has somehow been the 35th most valuable fantasy player this year…Deron Williams has made 40 straight free throws, while Lamar Odom is 6-for-48 on three-point attempts this season…Anthony Davis has averaged only 23:03 mpg over his past seven games, getting just 9.6 ppg and 5.0 rpg over that span. Despite that, Davis has been the 37th most valuable fantasy player this year, and while he’s been injury prone, that type of playing time is a joke. Let’s hope sanity prevails moving forward, although I guess those who don’t own him can hope it brings his price tag down a bit next season, when he’ll enter with top-20 upside…Kobe Bryant has been a big problem on help defense this year, so it seemed curious the team planed on increasing his responsibilities at that end of the court, but he responded by shutting down Brandon Jennings (4-of-14 FG), who was just coming off winning Eastern Conference player of the week. Go figure. Bryant is the only guard ever to average more than 15.0 ppg in his 17th season (or later) in the history of the NBA (h/t Dave McMenamin), and he’s done so while essentially doubling that mark (29.9 ppg). Pretty crazy.