Saturday, January 12, 2008

Top Fantasy Basketball Contributors in the last month

Today, I'm going to take a look at some of the top fantasy basketball contributors in the past month (using averages, not totals). This is using a standard 9 category structure, meaning turnovers are included.

I'm going to break it up in three posts, just for your convenience.

And without further adieu, in inverse order (25 - 16):

25 - Pau Gasol (PF, C), Mem - Key stats over the last 30 days - .500 FG%, .795% FT%, 21.9 PPG, 9.5 Reb, 1.4 Blk

24 - Chris Kaman (C), LAC - Key stats over the last 30 days - .451 FG%, .691 FT%, 16.9 PPG, 13.8 Reb, 3.3 Blk
Kaman has continued to be very production in his surprising breakout fantasy season. Teams are starting to recognize that the Clippers lack a supporting cast down low, and have been doubling up Kaman more as the season has progressed. This has led to a slightly lower FG% and some poor shooting games as he presses some, but he's still been very productive. I'm a little disappointed in his recent FT%, but he's been a solid free throw shooter during the past few seasons, so I really wouldn't worry.

Of note is his increased block per game totals during the year, as his monthly average was 2.5 in Nov, 3.3 in Dec, and 3.8 thus far in Jan. Over the past month, he's second in blocks / game, only trailing Marcus Camby...this is especially impressive considering his previous season high average was 1.6 (last season). He has increased his blocks per game average every season since he's entered the league, so I don't see his performance as a fluke, although I'm not sure I'd expect him to finish the season averaging over 3 per game; 2.5 seems like a solid expectation.

I expect him to remain production as the year goes on, but it's unknown how much Elton Brand's return will affect Kaman later this year or next season (if you're looking at him as a potential keeper).

23 - Hedo Turkoglu (SG, SF), Orl - Key stats over the last 30 days - .908 FT%, 2.1 3PTM, 20.0 PPG, 5.9 Reb, 4.3 Ast, 1.3 Stl
Hedo has been helping teams nearly across the board this season. He's only been weak in blocks & turnovers (which have increased a bit throughout the season). If you've got him on your roster, keep playing him & enjoy the excellent production from a player who was taken 115th on average in Yahoo drafts.

22 - Rasheed Wallace (PF, C), Det - Key stats over the last 30 days - 1.4 3PTM, 11.6 PPG, 7.7 Reb, 1.5 Stl, 1.9 Blk
One of only 14 players averaging more than 1 steal & 1 block per game this season.

21 - Josh Smith (SG, SF, PF), Atl - Key stats over the last 30 days - .497 FG%, 19.7 PPG, 8.1 Reb, 3.0 Ast, 1.7 Stl, 2.5 Blk, 2.9 TO
Josh Smith has been an up-and-coming fantasy star for the last few seasons, dating back to the second half of 2005. He has been giving owners the type of contributions that Andrei Kirlienko
provided a few years ago. He's been improving in recent months shooting the ball (or more specifically, he's been taking better shots), and his scoring has increased as well. Even though
Joe Johnson is still the number one option on the Hawks, he's been struggling with his shot much of this season, and Smith has stepped up to be a solid #2 option.

But even though Smith's offensive game has continued to improve, it's on the defensive end where his value really shines. He's averaging about 5 total blocks + steals / game, which is incredible production. He uses his athleticism & incredible leaping ability to provide great block totals, and he's shown improved anticipation (while using his long arms) to up his steal totals. And the fact that he grabs 8 + rebounds & gets a few assists / game is only frosting on the cake.

In summary, he's taken the next step this season towards fantasy superstardom...He's still young, so I see no reason he shouldn't continue to get better, especially if he puts in the necessary work on his jump shot. If you have him, congrats on grabbing a top 20 talent & enjoy his contributions as the year progresses.

20 - Jose Calderon (PG), Tor - Key stats over the last 30 days - .507 FG%, .897 FT%, 1.1 3PTM, 14.3 PPG, 4.2 Reb, 9.5 Ast, 1.0 Stl, 1.5 TO
Calderon has been incredibly consistent & solid again this season. He has always produced in his career when placed in a starting role, and this year has been no different. With TJ Ford's injuries, Calderon has stepped up & been a top 10 PG this year.

Keys that make Calderon a great member of your fantasy team - He has excellent %'s across the board, he hands out plenty of assists, and his incredible assist / turnover ratio, which stands at 6.33 for the past month. He's first in this ratio in the NBA this season, averaging almost two more assists per turnover than the next best (Brevin Knight & Chris Paul). Even if / when Ford returns, Calderon is a must keep, and he'll likely be a full time starter next season, either in Toronto or another team (I like the thought of him in the Cavs backcourt next season).

19 - Dwane Wade (PG, SG), Mia - Key stats over the last 30 days - 26.8 PPG, 4.3 Reb, 7.5 Ast, 2.1 Stl, 0.9 Blk, 4.4 TO (ouch!)
Following last season's shoulder injury, Wade has come back strong, although his high turnover totals really hurt his ranking.

18 - Mo Williams (PG), Mil - Key stats over the last 30 days - .478 FG%, .889 FT%, 1.5 3PTM, 19.9 PPG, 3.5 Reb, 6.3 Ast, 1.4 Stl, 2.0 TO
Williams has continued to improve as the season has progressed. His scoring average has increased from 15.0 PPG in November, to 20.9 PPG so far this month. Barring injury, I expect him to continue his strong season.

17 - Grant Hill (SG, SF), Pho - Key stats over the last 30 days - .545 FG%, .887 FT%, 16.6 PPG, 4.8 Reb, 3.4 Ast, 0.8 Stl, 1.5 Blk
Hill's currently recovering after an appendectomy, but he's fit right into the Phoenix offense. He doesn't hurt you anywhere, and he's even hit a few more 3's this season than in season's past. I would plug him right back into my lineup after he returns (expected around the end of the month).

16 - Chauncey Billups (PG), Det - Key stats over the last 30 days - .895 FT%, 1.9 3PTM, 17.2 PPG, 2.7 Reb, 6.3 Ast, 1.4 Stl, 2.0 TO
A consistent, steady producer.

Up next, 15 - 6...stay tuned.

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