Lee, Arenas on rise; Carter, Jennings fall
Things change quickly in the fantasy world, so after taking a week off for the holidays there was quite a bit of reshuffling in my Top 130 rankings. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the major movers over the past two weeks.
Brandon Roy, SG, Portland Trail Blazers (13): After starting the season fairly slow, Roy has been playing out of his mind since Greg Oden's injury. Averaging 27.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.8 3-pointers all while shooting 47.1 percent from the floor and 80.2 percent from the line during December, Roy has completely taken over for the injury-plagued Blazers. And with little low-post presence aside from LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland will continue to lean on Roy's playmaking abilities the rest of the way.
The Top 130 Note: Brian McKitish's Top 130 are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues from this point on, not on the statistics that have already been accrued. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.
RK. Name, POS (RK)
1. LeBron James, SF, CLE (1)
2. Chris Paul, PG, NO (2)
3. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL (4)
4. Kevin Durant, SG/SF, OKC (3)
5. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL (5)
6. Carmelo Anthony, SF, DEN (6)
7. Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA (7)
8. Dwight Howard, C, ORL (8)
9. Pau Gasol, PF/C, LAL (9)
10. Steve Nash, PG, PHO (10)
11. Monta Ellis, PG/SG, GS (13)
12. Chris Bosh, PF/C, TOR (12)
13. Brandon Roy, SG, POR (19)
14. Deron Williams, PG, UTA (11)
15. Brook Lopez, C, NJ (16)
16. Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, PHI (14)
17. Amare Stoudemire, C/PF, PHO (20)
18. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, ATL (17)
19. Josh Smith, PF/SF, ATL (15)
20. Jason Kidd, PG, DAL (22)
21. Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS (25)
22. Danny Granger, SF, IND (53)
23. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, CHA (32)
24. Al Jefferson, C, MIN (21)
25. Tim Duncan, C/PF, SA (27)
26. Mo Williams, PG, CLE (33)
27. Chauncey Billups, PG, DEN (23)
28. Paul Pierce, SF/SG, BOS (18)
29. Gilbert Arenas, PG, WAS (35)
30. Baron Davis, PG, LAC (28)
31. Devin Harris, PG, NJ (26)
32. Carlos Boozer, PF, UTA (24)
33. David Lee, PF/C, NY (38)
34. Andrea Bargnani, PF/C, TOR (29)
35. Nene Hilario, C/PF, DEN (30)
36. Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC (36)
37. Troy Murphy, PF/C, IND (41)
38. Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, SAC (39)
39. Vince Carter, SG/SF, ORL (31)
40. Antawn Jamison, PF, WAS (43)
41. Rashard Lewis, SF/PF, ORL (37)
42. Al Horford, C/PF, ATL (44)
43. Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS (45)
44. Trevor Ariza, SF/SG, HOU (40)
45. Luol Deng, SF, CHI (51)
46. Caron Butler, SF, WAS (48)
47. Jason Richardson, SG/SF, PHO (34)
48. Rudy Gay, SF, MEM (42)
49. Kevin Love, PF, MIN (50)
50. Marc Gasol, C, MEM (49)
51. Marcus Camby, C/PF, LAC (60)
52. Zach Randolph, PF, MEM (64)
53. Ben Gordon, SG, DET (46)
54. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, NY (55)
55. Jeff Green, SF/PF, OKC (61)
56. Hedo Turkoglu, SF, TOR (52)
57. Joakim Noah, C/PF, CHI (58)
58. Chris Kaman, C, LAC (59)
59. Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, CHA (56)
60. Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL (47)
61. Jason Thompson, PF, SAC (65)
62. Eric Gordon, SG, LAC (63)
63. Derrick Rose, PG, CHI (68)
64. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, GS (79)
65. Al Harrington, PF, NY (57)
66. Raymond Felton, PG, CHA (87)
67. Kevin Martin, SG, SAC (86)
68. David West, PF, NO (69)
69. Carl Landry, PF, HOU (75)
70. O.J. Mayo, SG, MEM (72)
71. Aaron Brooks, PG, HOU (70)
72. Luis Scola, PF/C, HOU (71)
73. Tony Parker, PG, SA (67)
74. Emeka Okafor, C, NO (76)
75. Jason Terry, SG/PG, DAL (66)
76. Ray Allen, SG, BOS (77)
77. Tyrus Thomas, PF, CHI (88)
78. J.R. Smith, SG, DEN (74)
79. Michael Beasley, PF/SF, MIA (91)
80. Channing Frye, PF/C, PHO (80)
81. Andrew Bogut, C, MIL (93)
82. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, POR (89)
83. Thaddeus Young, SF, PHI (81)
84. Rodney Stuckey, PG, DET (83)
85. Andrew Bynum, C, LAL (54)
86. Jamal Crawford, SG/PG, ATL (82)
87. Lou Williams, PG/SG, PHI (NR)
88. Mehmet Okur, C, UTA (62)
89. Brendan Haywood, C, WAS (84)
90. Jose Calderon, PG, TOR (73)
91. Allen Iverson, SG/PG, PHI (90)
92. Elton Brand, PF, PHI (97)
93. Andris Biedrins, C, GS (100)
94. Corey Maggette, SF, GS (114)
95. Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL (117)
96. Chris Duhon, PG, NY (127)
97. Wilson Chandler, SF, NY (110)
98. Courtney Lee, SG, NJ (99)
99. Richard Hamilton, SG, DET (98)
100. Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG, NJ (101)
101. Ron Artest, SF, LAL (102)
102. Kendrick Perkins, C, BOS (109)
103. Ersan Ilyasova, , MIL (108)
104. Manu Ginobili, SG, SA (107)
105. Roy Hibbert, C, IND (113)
106. Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, UTA (103)
107. Shawn Marion, SF/PF, DAL (92)
108. Larry Hughes, SG, NY (105)
109. Charlie Villanueva, PF/SF, DET (94)
110. Spencer Hawes, C, SAC (104)
111. Jonny Flynn, PG, MIN (119)
112. Jermaine O'Neal, C, MIA (106)
113. Anthony Randolph, PF/SF, GS (125)
114. Boris Diaw, PF/SF, CHA (95)
115. Kenyon Martin, PF, DEN (111)
116. Ben Wallace, C/PF, DET (112)
117. John Salmons, SG/SF, CHI (78)
118. Mike Dunleavy, SG/SF, IND (116)
119. Andre Miller, PG, POR (118)
120. Lamar Odom, PF/SF, LAL (121)
121. Yi Jianlian, PF/SF, NJ (NR)
122. Michael Redd, SG, MIL (124)
123. Corey Brewer, SF/SG, MIN (129)
124. Peja Stojakovic, SF, NO (123)
125. Mike Conley, PG, MEM (NR)
126. Mike Bibby, PG, ATL (115)
127. Josh Howard, SG/SF, DAL (128)
128. Blake Griffin, PF, LAC (130)
129. Beno Udrih, PG, SAC (NR)
130. Kirk Hinrich, SG/PG, CHI (NR)
Mo Williams, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers (26): Williams has always been a great free throw shooter (86.6 percent for his career), but never before has he taken enough shots from the line to make him a dominant force in the category. Until now. In fact, Mo is getting to the line a career high 3.4 times per game this season and he's been even better as of late with 4.2 attempts in December. The increase in attempts is a direct result of his more aggressive style of play this season. I should also note that his increased aggression is also showing up on the defensive end in the form on his career-high 1.4 steals per game.
Gilbert Arenas, PG, Washington Wizards (29): Aside from his uncharacteristic lack of steals and poor free throw shooting (relatively speaking of course), Arenas is pretty darn close to being back to his pre-injury self. Averaging 24.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 2.2 3-pointers and a steal in December, Arenas is just a few steals and made free throws away from being a top-20 player in fantasy leagues again.
David Lee, PF/C, New York Knicks (33): The Knicks seem to have found a winning formula (7-3 over their past 10 games), and part of it includes running David Lee out on the court as much as possible. With 38.8 minutes per game this month, Lee has taken advantage of the extra playing time to post Dwight Howard-like rebounding numbers as of late. Lee is averaging 18.0 points and 14.2 rebounds over his past five games, and Mike D'Antoni will continue to give him big-time minutes while the Knicks are winning.
Zach Randolph, PF, Memphis Grizzlies (52): Unless you own him, or played against him in a head-to-head league recently, it might come as a surprise to learn that Z-Bo is averaging 23.3 points, 13.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals through the month of December. Those stats are off the charts, and while every part of me screams "sell high," I also wouldn't be surprised if Randolph kept up the pace.
Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Golden State Warriors (64): It's hard to put your full faith in any Warrior not named Monta Ellis, but Curry appears to be the next closest thing to safe in Golden State. Averaging 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.8 3-pointers this month, the rookie has proven to be more than just a shooter at the NBA level. He's still a fairly streaky shooter, and he will have his ups and downs like most rookies, but Curry looks like a very strong fantasy option going forward.
Raymond Felton, PG, Charlotte Bobcats (66): Felton may have started the season off slow, but he really turned his game up a notch once Stephen Jackson arrived in town. Now averaging 15.8 points, 5.3 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.2 3-pointers in December, Felton is once again a viable point guard option in fantasy leagues.
Tyrus Thomas, PF, Chicago Bulls (77): Just a friendly reminder that Thomas returned from a seven-week absence to post 21 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal on Saturday. He shouldn't have been dropped in your league, but be sure to run out and grab him if he was.
Michael Beasley, PF/SF, Miami Heat (79): Slowly but surely, Beasley is turning into the player the Heat thought he'd be when they took him with the second overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft. Beasley credits his breakout to improved focus and preparation, and it's showing up in the numbers as he is averaging 17.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks per game this month. Most importantly, Beasley's confidence (something he struggled with in his rookie season) appears to be back.
Andrew Bogut, C, Milwaukee Bucks (81): Bogut can be frustrating to own because of his propensity for injury, but when he's 100 percent healthy, he's as good as anyone. Averaging 14.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game over his past five, Bogut is on a nice little stretch right now. He should be a solid option the rest of the way as long as he can keep himself on the court.
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Portland Trail Blazers (82): With both Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla out for the year, Aldridge will see more touches in the paint. That doesn't mean that he'll suddenly start blocking shots, but his scoring and rebounding will undoubtedly spike.
Lou Williams, PG/SG, Philadelphia 76ers (87): Before breaking his jaw, Sweet Lou was averaging a cool 17 points, 5 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 3-pointers and it won't be long before we see Williams back to his old tricks again. Yes, the addition of Allen Iverson will sap some of his production, but that's all the more reason to buy low on the talented guard. Too many folks don't believe that Williams can produce alongside Iverson. I'm betting that he can.
Chris Duhon, PG, New York Knicks (96): As mentioned with David Lee, Mike D'Antoni seems to have found his winning formula, and that formula includes a heavy dose of Chris Duhon at the point. Duhon has seen 36.1 minutes per game this month while averaging 12.8 points, 6.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.5 3-pointers per game. Expect this trend to continue as long as the Knicks keep winning.
Vince Carter, SG/SF, Orlando Magic (39) : VC had a big game on Christmas Day, but don't let that fool you into thinking that he's having a typical Vince Carter season. What's happening to him this season reminds me a little of what happened to Kevin Garnett when he joined the Boston Celtics. It actually has less to do with his skills and much more to do with the fact his minutes have plummeted due to Orlando's fantastic team depth. Carter is getting just 31.8 minutes per game, so his owners have to be happy that he's still incredibly productive when on the court with 18.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.7 3-pointers. Those are still good numbers, but they are not what we've become accustomed to for Carter.
Jason Richardson, SG/SF, Phoenix Suns (47): Much like Carter, J-Rich is struggling statistically not because of a decline in skills but rather a lack of minutes. He's still posting solid numbers (15.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.0 3-pointers) but one can only do so much in just 31.3 minutes per game. The Suns' regular rotation runs nine men deep, and with Leandro Barbosa, Grant Hill and Jared Dudley all needing minutes, Richardson is having a hard time getting the playing time he needs to be considered a top-40 player.
Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks (60): Talk about a shooting slump. Jennings is shooting just 36.5 percent from the floor and 28.8 percent from downtown this month. This comes after hitting on 42.0 percent from the floor and 49.3 percent from behind the arc during his torrid November. The good news is that aside from killing your FG percentage, he's still putting up some solid numbers. He'll be inconsistent with his shot all year, so be sure to surround him with some high-percentage guys if you own him.
Andrew Bynum, C, Los Angeles Lakers (85): I knew Pau Gasol would hurt Bynum's value, but I didn't dare imagine that I'd be sitting here in late December looking at game logs and seeing Bynum with averages of 11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 13 games this month. To be fair, some of that has to do with an upper-respiratory infection, but the rest has to do with the fact he simply can't get it going alongside Gasol. He should be better than this going forward, but not by much (unless Gasol goes down again).
Mehmet Okur, C, Utah Jazz (88): I was hesitant to drop Okur in the rankings earlier in the year because we've seen him start slow in the past, but it's getting increasingly difficult to defend him when he's playing out on the perimeter too much and not really looking for his shot. I still have some hope that he'll turn things around, but my confidence is fading quickly after he's averaged just 11.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.1 3-pointers this month.
Jose Calderon, PG, Toronto Raptors (90): In most cases injured players will move up in the rankings as they get closer to their return, but Calderon's hip injury scares me especially when considering that the Raptors have been tight-lipped about his return. Hopefully he'll be back in action soon, but I'm not terribly optimistic.
Boris Diaw, PF/SF, Charlotte Bobcats (114): While Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton have thrived since Stephen Jackson's arrival, Boris Diaw has struggled mightily. He's still getting solid minutes, but he's not nearly as involved in the offense as he used to be. It's hard to like anything about his averages this month (8.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.5 blocks and 0.9 3-pointers), but it's also hard to write him off completely after one bad month. Still, it will be difficult to keep him on fantasy rosters if this keeps up much longer.
John Salmons, SG/SF, Chicago Bulls (117): I was very patient with Salmons early in the season, insisting that his struggles were a result of a minor shooting slump. But that slump has lasted for more than two months now, and it appears that this may be more of a confidence problem than a shooting slump. To make matters worse, head coach Vinny Del Negro has responded by dropping Salmons from the starting lineup in favor of Kirk Hinrich. I'd like to wait a week or so to see how this plays out (given that Del Negro is on his way out) before making any rash decisions to drop him, but it is completely understandable if you want to swap Salmons for Hinrich at this point.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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