- Brian McKitish, Fantasy Basketball
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With December now in the books, it's time for another game of fun with numbers, this time focusing on recent trends by analyzing monthly splits. All numbers listed below are December splits unless otherwise noted.
The Top 130
Note: Brian McKitish's top 130 players are ranked for their fantasy value from this point forward in the 2010-11 NBA season. Previous rank is indicated in parentheses.
1. Kevin Durant, SF, OKC (1)
2. Chris Paul, PG, NO (2)
3. Deron Williams, PG, UTA (3)
4. Amare Stoudemire, C/PF, NY (4)
5. LeBron James, SF, MIA (5)
6. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, GS (7)
7. Dwight Howard, C, ORL (8)
8. Pau Gasol, PF/C, LAL (6)
9. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL (9)
10. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL (10)
11. Monta Ellis, PG/SG, GS (12)
12. Derrick Rose, PG, CHI (14)
13. Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC (13)
14. Josh Smith, PF/SF, ATL (11)
15. Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA (15)
16. Carmelo Anthony, SF, DEN (16)
17. Kevin Love, PF, MIN (18)
18. Raymond Felton, PG, NY (17)
19. Danny Granger, SF, IND (19)
20. Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS (31)
21. Al Horford, C/PF, ATL (20)
22. Blake Griffin, PF, LAC (21)
23. Steve Nash, PG, PHO (22)
24. Manu Ginobili, SG, SA (23)
25. Rudy Gay, SF, MEM (24)
26. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, CHA (25)
27. Carlos Boozer, PF, CHI (28)
28. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, ATL (27)
29. John Wall, PG, WAS (29)
30. Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, CHA (32)
31. Paul Pierce, SF/SG, BOS (35)
32. Tim Duncan, C/PF, SA (33)
33. Andrea Bargnani, C/PF, TOR (30)
34. Brook Lopez, C, NJ (34)
35. Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, PHI (26)
36. Jason Kidd, PG, DAL (36)
37. Zach Randolph, PF, MEM (43)
38. Wilson Chandler, SF/SG, NY (39)
39. David Lee, PF/C, GS (37)
40. Al Jefferson, C/PF, UTA (38)
41. Andrew Bogut, C, MIL (42)
42. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, POR (44)
43. Eric Gordon, SG, LAC (40)
44. Nene, C/PF, DEN (46)
45. Chris Bosh, PF/C, MIA (50)
46. Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, SAC (41)
47. Luis Scola, PF/C, HOU (48)
48. David West, PF, NO (49)
49. Devin Harris, PG, NJ (51)
50. Kevin Martin, SG, HOU (53)
51. Michael Beasley, SF/PF, MIN (54)
52. Mo Williams, PG, CLE (55)
53. Dorell Wright, SF, GS (68)
54. Marc Gasol, C, MEM (56)
55. Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS (45)
56. Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, DET (52)
57. Paul Millsap, PF, UTA (57)
58. Jrue Holiday, PG, PHI (58)
59. Wesley Matthews, SG/SF, POR (60)
60. Andray Blatche, PF/C, WAS (66)
61. Lamar Odom, PF/SF, LAL (59)
62. Luol Deng, SF, CHI (69)
63. Chauncey Billups, PG, DEN (71)
64. Jeff Green, PF/SF, OKC (61)
65. Andre Miller, PG, POR (63)
66. Marcus Camby, C/PF, POR (65)
67. Roy Hibbert, C, IND (47)
68. Aaron Brooks, PG, HOU (62)
69. D.J. Augustin, PG, CHA (73)
70. Jason Richardson, SG, ORL (70)
71. Elton Brand, PF, PHI (72)
72. Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL (74)
73. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, NY (64)
74. Ray Allen, SG, BOS (75)
75. Tony Parker, PG, SA (76)
76. Jason Terry, SG, DAL (77)
77. Mike Conley, PG, MEM (78)
78. Emeka Okafor, C, NO (85)
79. Gilbert Arenas, PG/SG, ORL (67)
80. Serge Ibaka, C/PF, OKC (79)
81. Joakim Noah, C/PF, CHI (80)
82. Jose Calderon, PG, TOR (81)
83. Anderson Varejao, PF/C, CLE (92)
84. JaVale McGee, C/PF, WAS (82)
85. John Salmons, SG/SF, MIL (83)
86. Tyson Chandler, C, DAL (95)
87. Andrew Bynum, C, LAL (103)
88. Vince Carter, SG/SF, PHO (91)
89. Rashard Lewis, PF/SF, WAS (86)
90. Beno Udrih, PG/SG, SAC (96)
91. O.J. Mayo, SG, MEM (89)
92. Jamal Crawford, SG/PG, ATL (90)
93. Antawn Jamison, PF, CLE (93)
94. Boris Diaw, PF/SF, CHA (88)
95. Tyrus Thomas, PF, CHA (94)
96. Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, UTA (84)
97. Landry Fields, SG, NY (98)
98. Baron Davis, PG, LAC (99)
99. J.R. Smith, SG, DEN (100)
100. Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL (101)
101. Darren Collison, PG, IND (104)
102. Richard Jefferson, SF, SA (105)
103. Chris Kaman, C, LAC (108)
104. Daniel Gibson, PG/SG, CLE (109)
105. C.J. Miles, SF, UTA (110)
106. Ben Gordon, SG, DET (106)
107. Channing Frye, PF/C, PHO (97)
108. Trevor Ariza, SF/SG, NO (112)
109. Darko Milicic, C, MIN (107)
110. Shawn Marion, SF/PF, DAL (NR)
111. Nick Young, SG, WAS (113)
112. Marcin Gortat, C, PHO (119)
113. Kirk Hinrich, SG/PG, WAS (115)
114. Hedo Turkoglu, SF, ORL (116)
115. Rudy Fernandez, SG, POR (118)
116. James Harden, SG, OKC (NR)
117. Amir Johnson, PF, TOR (121)
118. Al Harrington, PF, DEN (111)
119. Arron Afflalo, SG, DEN (124)
120. Kyle Lowry, PG, HOU (114)
121. Kris Humphries, PF, NJ (NR)
122. Tayshaun Prince, SF, DET (123)
123. George Hill, PG/SG, SA (126)
124. Kenyon Martin, PF, DEN (125)
125. Luke Ridnour, PG, MIN (NR)
126. Charlie Villanueva, PF/SF, DET (128)
127. Andris Biedrins, C, GS (120)
128. DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR (NR)
129. Mickael Pietrus, SG/SF, PHO (NR)
130. Ersan Ilyasova, SF/PF, MIL (NR)
1.7: Steals per game for Warriors swingman Dorell Wright, who offered a brilliant combination of points (16.2), rebounds (7.6), blocks (0.8) and 3-pointers (2.6) in the month of December. It should be noted that Stephen Curry played in just eight games during this time, so Wright could come back down to earth a little bit going forward, but he'll still be incredibly valuable thanks to his unique blend of steals, blocks and 3-pointers.
.415: Roy Hibbert's shooting percentage from the floor in the month of December. Hibbert came out of the gates on fire and was arguably a top-40 talent for the first month and a half of the season, but he has struggled mightily of late, posting just 10.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks as his minutes have dropped to 27.8 per game. Hibbert appears to have a confidence issue at the moment, and his playing time has continued to plummet in recent action. This slump is something he can and should break out of, and making a buy-low offer would be a good idea as long as you're not expecting him to fully return to his early-season form.
36.5: Minutes per game for Pau Gasol, down three full minutes from his averages in November. If you're looking for answers to Gasol's recent struggles (and I use that term very lightly here), you don't have to look much further than this. The Lakers are getting solid contributions from both Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, which means they won't have to rely as heavily on Gasol as they did earlier in the season. He'll be better than he's been in December, but he might need an injury to be the top-5 fantasy player he was in November.
10: Double-doubles for Zach Randolph in 14 games in December. Z-Bo may have started off a little slow, but he's now posting near identical numbers to last season, with 20.4 points, 14.1 rebounds per game. Randolph has always been productive but sometimes unreliable in the fantasy game, and he's starting to shed that "unreliable" label after a year and a half in Memphis.
8.9: Assists per game in the past month for Mo Williams. The fact that Mo's career high in assists came back in 2007-08 while with Milwaukee (6.3 assists per game) is not surprising considering he acted more as a shooting guard in the LeBron James era. Many thought Williams could have a big season with LeBron out of town, and it's looking as if he will do so as long as his recent groin injury doesn't complicate matters.
20.9: Minutes per game in December for Timberwolves center Darko Milicic, down a full seven minutes from his average in November. Various injuries (ankle, hip, quad) have derailed what was shaping up to be a breakout season for the 2003 lottery pick, as he averaged just 8.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in December. Luckily, he's still blocking enough shots that it's worth it to hold on to him for when (if) he returns to good health. Just remember, before the injuries, he averaged 10.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.
1.6: 3-pointers per game for James Harden in December. Harden might not be the flashiest player in the league, but he's a sneaky value pickup for prototypical shooting guard stats. After averaging 13.9 points, 1.3 steals and 1.6 3-pointers while shooting 46.6 percent from the floor and 83.7 percent from the line in December, Harden deserves a spot on rosters in most fantasy formats.
10.0: Rebounds per game for Nets power forward Kris Humphries. I had been reluctant to include him in the top 130 until now (mostly because I still believe Derrick Favors will begin to earn a bigger chunk of the minutes), but Humphries is a terrific rebounder and can even add some blocks to the mix. Humphries averaged 7.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in December, and he should be owned in all fantasy leagues. Just keep in mind that his minutes could decrease if/when Avery Johnson comes to his senses and gives Favors some more run.
21: The number of consecutive games in which Blake Griffin has registered a double-double, dating all the way back to Nov. 20. Griffin finished December with splits of 23.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.8 blocks while shooting 52.8 percent from the floor and 58.6 percent from the line. Now that he's starting to contribute in the defensive categories, the only real hole in his fantasy game is his free throw shooting, but I'm sure his owners are willing to look the other way when he's been so dominant everywhere else. It's simply amazing what Griffin and Kevin Love are doing this season (Love's double-double streak stands at 20).
1.5: Anderson Varejao's blocks per game. Combine those stellar block numbers for the month with his splits of 9.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals and we're looking at an extremely valuable fantasy big man. Some might think Varejao is playing a bit over his head, but I wouldn't be so quick to write this off as a fluke. He's always been a productive player on a per-minute basis, and his career stats have always suggested that this type of breakout was possible with an increase in minutes. Enjoy the ride because it likely will last the duration of the season.
• As mentioned in this space last week, the Charlotte Bobcats have an opportunity to be very fantasy friendly under new coach Paul Silas. D.J. Augustin and Stephen Jackson appear to be the two reaping the benefits the most at the moment, but don't be surprised if Gerald Wallace (when he's healthy) and Tyrus Thomas follow suit in the very near future. With that said, Crash is going to keep his high ranking even though he has not earned it with his play to date.
• Many have been critical of Stephen Curry's ranking in the top 130. I think that's a fair critique given the various injuries he has suffered early this season, but he appears to be back from his injuries and there is no denying that he is a top-10 player when he's at 100 percent. Curry is averaging 18.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.7 3-pointers while shooting 47.2 percent from the floor and 91.4 percent from the line, which places Curry ninth on our player rater when sorted by averages, and he's having a near identical season to his rookie campaign.
• Kyle Lowry played very well in relief of Aaron Brooks, and it appears as if coach Rick Adelman won't simply hand the keys back to Brooks now that he has returned from his ankle injury. During the past five games, Lowry has seen 27.0 minutes compared with Brooks' 22.6 minutes. Unfortunately, that means both players are negating each other's value for the time being. I firmly believe that Brooks will regain his starting spot and earn 30-plus minutes per game in the near future, which is why he's ranked much higher than Lowry in the rankings.
• With Caron Butler's season in jeopardy, it's time to grab Shawn Marion off your waiver wire if he's still there. The man formerly known as the Matrix (I can't in good faith call him that given the way he has played the past few seasons), is in line for a big increase in minutes and opportunities with Butler sidelined. He won't be the old Matrix, but he'll be quite valuable going forward.
• After averaging 11.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in the month of December, Emeka Okafor continues to rise in the top-130 rankings. Okafor has struggled with consistency in the past, but it is clear that he has become more comfortable in his second season with the Hornets, and it looks as if he'll be a reliable fantasy big man moving forward.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bmckitish.
Brian McKitish analyzes December statistics to offer reasons why players are rising and falling in his latest rankings.