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NBA Barometer: March of dimes

By Shannon McKeown, Rotowire.com

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Brandon Jennings has been a decent distributor since reaching the NBA, but he has never been mistaken as one of the premier playmakers in the league. Instead, Jennings was always more of a streaky shoot-first point guard.

Things appear to be changing in Brew City.

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Brandon Jennings has been an assist machine of late. (Getty)

Over the past two games, Jennings has dished out 36 assists, including a career-high 19 dimes in Saturday's win over the Jazz.

Bucks interim coach Jim Boylan, who urged Jennings to do more to get his teammates involved, suggested the altered role.

"Brandon's play recently is a catalyst for the whole team," Boylan said. "His willingness to move the ball, become an assist guy. I talked to him about a guy like Chris Paul. Night in and night out he's a major factor, but his stats are always a bit different."

While Jennings is unlikely to ever be an elite player on CP3's level, or continue averaging double-digit assists, adding two or so dimes to his current average of 6.6 would push Jennings into the top-5 in assists and just below the league leaders in the category.

Sure, cutting down on shot attempts would cause his scoring average to drop, but that would also mean less damage in the shooting percentage category, which has always been one of Jennings' biggest flaws.

Already a great producer in three-pointers and steals, Jennings could reach a new level of fantasy value if he continues to show improvement setting up his teammates.

Barometer

Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining, or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 game every now and then - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time, rotation role, or performance.

Stock Up

Derrick Favors, F/C and Enes Kanter, C, UTA – Recent ankle injuries to Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson have opened the door for Favors and Kanter to flash some of their potential as double-double monsters. Over the past three games, Favors has averaged 16.0 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. Kanter has managed to be nearly as productive over those three games, averaging 15.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in 31 minutes per game. Millsap has already returned to action, and Jefferson shouldn't be out much longer, so Utah's frontcourt is about to get crowded again really soon. And with the team still holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, Millsap and Jefferson will get heavy minutes. Despite that fact, Favors and Kanter are worth a short-term look until Big Al returns, and the pair of young big men should absolutely be targeted in keeper leagues, as Jefferson and Millsap are both hitting free agency this summer.

Marcus Thornton, G, SAC – With a pre-draft ranking of 36th overall, Thornton was easily one of the more disappointing players of the first half of the season. Through the first 44 games, Thornton was averaging just 11.5 points while shooting 40.5 percent from the floor. He's done a complete 180 since the All-Star break, averaging 20.9 points and 3.4 three-pointers while hitting 54.3 percent of his field-goal attempts and 47.4 of his three-point attempts over the past eight games. While those shooting percentages are unsustainable for a career 43.9 percent shooter, the overall production isn't that far off from his production with the Kings over the past two seasons. Thornton is a streaky shooter, so you'll have to stomach some dry spells, but he's the type of player who can single-handedly carry the three-point category for your squad when he's right.

Mo Williams, G, UTA – After sitting out the past 10 weeks rehabbing a surgically-repaired thumb, Williams is finally nearing a return. His rehab has progressed well enough over the past week to make the veteran guard a game-time decision for Wednesday's tilt against the Cavaliers. Williams is expected to be slotted back into the starting point guard spot immediately upon his return. In 24 starts before his injury, Williams averaged 12.9 points, 6.7 assists, 1.3 treys, and 0.9 steals in 31 mpg. Despite his pending return and early-season success, Williams remains available in over 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Go grab him now before other owners start noticing his name in the box score.

Cory Joseph, G, SAN – Joseph was given the first chance to work as the Spurs' starting point guard in Tony Parker's absence. The second-year guard out of Texas played just 18 minutes in his first career start, finishing with eight points, four assists and two steals. The Spurs will likely split their point guard duties between Joseph, Gary Neal, Nando De Colo, and Patrick Mills while Parker is shelved for the next month. The lack of a clear frontrunner to assume the majority of Parker's minutes makes this a dicey situation, but Joseph is the first player for deep leagues to give consideration to since he has already cracked the starting five.

Ed Davis, F/C, MEM – With both Zach Randolph (ankle) and Darrell Arthur (neck) limited by minor injuries, Davis could see his first stint of substantial run since joining the Grizzlies in late January. Davis has struggled as a member of the Grizzlies, but he showed double-double skills while starting 24 games with the Raptors earlier this season. Neither Z-Bo nor Arthur are expected to miss much time, but Davis makes for a decent streaming option in the short term.

Check Status

Carmelo Anthony, F, NY – Anthony left Monday's game against the Cavaliers after suffering a right knee injury. An exam on Tuesday revealed fluid buildup, which has been causing the stiffness in Anthony's knee. Knicks coach Mike Woodson said resting it for a couple games would probably be the best thing for recovery, but he'll let Melo make the decision on whether or not to play through the ailment. With the Pistons on deck Wednesday night, we wouldn't be surprised to see Anthony sit out at least one game. Consider him day-to-day for now.

Bradley Beal, G, WAS – Beal's huge second-half breakout hit a speed bump Sunday when he suffered a left ankle sprain against the Sixers. While he was able to ditch the crutches he used for a couple days, Beal has still been walking around with a noticeable limp and wasn't able to participate in Wednesday's morning shootaround. He's doubtful for Wednesday's tilt against the Timberwolves, but the early reports suggest this injury won't keep the surging rookie out long. Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, and Trevor Ariza will see extra run in the games Beal sits.

Al Jefferson, C, UTA – The aforementioned Jefferson is out for Wednesday's tilt against the Cavaliers, which will mark his third consecutive game in street clothes. The Jazz haven't given the indication that this injury will be of the long-term variety, so Jefferson should be able to make a return sooner than later.

Zach Randolph, F, MEM – Randolph is another big man dealing with an ankle problem. He originally suffered the injury in last week's contest against the Heat. X-rays came back negative, putting Randolph on a day-to-day timetable. He's doubtful Wednesday, but a return this weekend could be in the cards.

Stock Down

Andrew Bynum, C, PHI – After months of wondering if Bynum was getting close to a return, it appears the Sixers big man may never take the court this season. He continues to meet with an array of specialists, but the lack of reported progress over the past few weeks, and the fact that arthroscopic surgery is now being considered, make it seem likely that Bynum won't be of any assistance to your fantasy squads this year. Cut him and pick up a healthier option.

Danny Granger, F, IND – Granger, who has only been back on the court for five games, will be shut down for the next week to receive treatment on his sore left knee. The former All-Star has looked extremely limited since making his season debut on Feb. 23, averaging just 5.4 points in under 15 mpg. While Granger could return after the week of treatments, owners would be best served finding a healthier and more productive option than waiting on Granger, who is clearly not at full strength.

Tony Parker, G, SAN – Parker, who was easily having the best fantasy campaign of his career, had his season derailed last week when he went down with a Grade-2 sprain of his left ankle. The initial timetable called for Parker to be sidelined four weeks, which would put his return at late March or early April. Depending on your league's schedule, there's a very good chance Parker could be sidelined for the majority of the fantasy playoffs. If your playoff schedule concludes in early April or sooner, it's time to shop around for other options.

Rodney Stuckey, G, DET – Stuckey showed some signs of life in a three-game stint as a starter in late February, but his production has took a nosedive since moving back to a reserve role. Over his past three games, Stuckey has averaged just 2.7 points in 21 mpg. Once considered one of Detroit's primary building blocks, Stuckey has only regressed the past couple seasons. Toss him to the scrap heap and try to find a more consistent, well-rounded option.

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