Commentary

Joakim Noah returns strong as ever

Updated: February 28, 2011, 5:59 PM ET
By Brian McKitish | Special to ESPN.com

What a difference a week makes. When last week's rankings update was put on hold due to the holiday, I figured there would have to be some major changes to the top 130, but not even I imagined there'd be this much movement. I guess that's what happens when there are multiple blockbuster trades combined with a few notable players returning from and going down with injuries. My colleague, John Cregan, did a tremendous job of breaking down the trades as they occurred, from the Melo deal, to the Jazz-Nets surprise, to those that happened at the deadline, so I'll try my best to avoid repeating all of the trade analysis that has probably been repeated ad nauseam at this point. Instead, my thoughts on the trades will be clearly noted by the swings in value in this week's top 130.

One other quick note before we take a look at some of the big movers this week: Sometimes, players will move up or down in the rankings simply because other players have moved around them. For instance, with Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Tyreke Evans and Rudy Gay all moving out of the top 50, some players will move up a few spots by default without having done much to improve their own value.

Moving Up

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, NJ (3)
4. LeBron James, SF, MIA (4)
5. Pau Gasol, PF/C, LAL (6)
6. Dwight Howard, C, ORL (7)
7. Amare Stoudemire, C/PF, NY (5)
8. Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC (9)
9. Kevin Love, PF, MIN (10)
10. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, GS (8)
11. Monta Ellis, PG/SG, GS (11)
12. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL (12)
13. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL (13)
14. Derrick Rose, PG, CHI (14)
15. Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA (15)
16. Josh Smith, PF/SF, ATL (16)
17. Carmelo Anthony, SF, NY (17)
18. Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS (18)
19. Steve Nash, PG, PHO (19)
20. Al Horford, C/PF, ATL (20)
21. Danny Granger, SF, IND (22)
22. Blake Griffin, PF, LAC (23)
23. Zach Randolph, PF, MEM (25)
24. Chauncey Billups, PG, NY (64)
25. John Wall, PG, WAS (29)
26. Joakim Noah, C/PF, CHI (51)
27. Al Jefferson, C/PF, UTA (34)
28. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, POR (24)
29. Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, CHA (32)
30. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, ATL (27)
31. Jason Kidd, PG, DAL (33)
32. Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, PHI (36)
33. Dorell Wright, SF, GS (35)
34. Carlos Boozer, PF, CHI (31)
35. Paul Pierce, SF/SG, BOS (30)
36. Brook Lopez, C, NJ (39)
37. Manu Ginobili, SG, SA (37)
38. Andrew Bogut, C, MIL (38)
39. Andrea Bargnani, C/PF, TOR (40)
40. Luis Scola, PF/C, HOU (43)
41. Eric Gordon, SG, LAC (44)
42. David West, PF, NO (45)
43. Kevin Martin, SG, HOU (47)
44. David Lee, PF/C, GS (41)
45. Nene, C/PF, DEN (48)
46. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, POR (42)
47. Marc Gasol, C, MEM (46)
48. Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS (53)
49. Chris Bosh, PF/C, MIA (52)
50. Tim Duncan, C/PF, SA (49)
51. Paul Millsap, PF, UTA (55)
52. Devin Harris, PG, UTA (56)
53. D.J. Augustin, PG, CHA (58)
54. Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL (57)
55. Michael Beasley, SF/PF, MIN (54)
56. Antawn Jamison, PF, CLE (66)
57. Andray Blatche, PF/C, WAS (59)
58. Luol Deng, SF, CHI (62)
59. Lamar Odom, PF/SF, LAL (61)
60. Andrew Bynum, C, LAL (63)
61. Elton Brand, PF, PHI (68)
62. Serge Ibaka, C/PF, OKC (92)
63. Ray Allen, SG, BOS (65)
64. Andre Miller, PG, POR (69)
65. Wesley Matthews, SG/SF, POR (60)
66. Roy Hibbert, C, IND (80)
67. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, DEN (72)
68. Darren Collison, PG, IND (67)
69. Jrue Holiday, PG, PHI (70)
70. Jose Calderon, PG, TOR (73)
71. Emeka Okafor, C, NO (74)
72. Kyle Lowry, PG, HOU (106)
73. Marcin Gortat, C, PHO (97)
74. Marcus Camby, C/PF, POR (77)
75. Tony Parker, PG, SA (78)
76. Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, DET (83)
77. DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, SAC (75)
78. J.J. Hickson, PF/C, CLE (86)
79. Beno Udrih, PG, SAC (96)
80. Tyson Chandler, C, DAL (81)
81. Channing Frye, PF/C, PHO (90)
82. Mike Conley, PG, MEM (85)
83. Jamal Crawford, SG/PG, ATL (79)
84. JaVale McGee, C/PF, WAS (82)
85. Nick Young, SG, WAS (93)
86. Mo Williams, PG, LAC (87)
87. Greg Monroe, PF/C, DET (105)
88. Amir Johnson, PF, TOR (88)
89. Chris Kaman, C, LAC (NR)
90. Jason Terry, SG, DAL (89)
91. DeJuan Blair, PF, SA (91)
92. Hedo Turkoglu, SF/PF, ORL (94)
93. Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, UTA (98)
94. Boris Diaw, PF/SF, CHA (100)
95. Raymond Felton, PG, DEN (21)
96. Jason Richardson, SG, ORL (84)
97. Landry Fields, SG, NY (101)
98. DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR (102)
99. Wilson Chandler, SF/SG, DEN (50)
100. Ramon Sessions, PG, CLE (NR)
101. Shawn Marion, SF/PF, DAL (109)
102. Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL (107)
103. Kris Humphries, PF, NJ (124)
104. Kirk Hinrich, SG/PG, CHI (NR)
105. John Salmons, SG/SF, MIL (110)
106. Samuel Dalembert, C, SAC (NR)
107. Trevor Ariza, SF/SG, NO (112)
108. Carlos Delfino, SF/SG, MIL (123)
109. Chase Budinger, SF, HOU (NR)
110. Baron Davis, PG, CLE (71)
111. Gerald Henderson, SG, CHA (NR)
112. Ryan Anderson, PF, ORL (104)
113. Tayshaun Prince, SF, DET (113)
114. Darko Milicic, C, MIN (115)
115. C.J. Miles, SF, UTA (111)
116. Vince Carter, SG/SF, PHO (95)
117. J.R. Smith, SG, DEN (119)
118. Brandon Roy, SG/SF, POR (114)
119. Glen Davis, PF/C, BOS (NR)
120. George Hill, PG/SG, SA (120)
121. Jeff Green, PF/SF, BOS (76)
122. Anthony Morrow, SG/SF, NJ (121)
123. Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, SAC (26)
124. Marcus Thornton, SG, SAC (NR)
125. Shane Battier, SF, MEM (127)
126. Chuck Hayes, SF/PF, HOU (122)
127. Ty Lawson, PG, DEN (125)
128. Tracy McGrady, SG/PG, DET (126)
129. Luke Ridnour, PG, MIN (NR)
130. Kendrick Perkins, C, OKC (117)

Joakim Noah, C/PF, Chicago Bulls: A few weeks ago, I had mentioned that Noah wouldn't take too long to get himself back into playing shape, and Noah has exceeded even my lofty expectations by posting 7.3 points, 13.7 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in just 28.3 minutes in three games since his return. Noah was a top-30 player before his injury, and it doesn't look as though he's missed a beat despite being out the past two months.

Chauncey Billups, PG, New York Knicks: I know I said that I would avoid speaking about the trades, but I get the feeling that Chauncey's rise has been understated by all the MeloDrama in NYC. Not only does he have two of the game's best finishers at his disposal in Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, but Billups is a much better 3-point shooter than Raymond Felton was. Given the way Mike D'Antoni has turned lesser point guards into fantasy stars, I could not be more confident in Chauncey's jump into the top 25 for the remainder of the season.

Marcin Gortat, C, Phoenix Suns: Fantasy owners are finally starting to see why many of us at ESPN were so excited when the Suns traded for Gortat. Averaging 12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 0.7 steals in 29.5 minutes in his past 10 games, Gortat has proved that his brilliant per-minute numbers as a backup in Orlando were indicative of his potential as a full-time player. Though he is 27 years of age, Gortat has just three seasons under his belt, and is still growing as a player after being hidden on the bench behind Dwight Howard for much of his career.

Greg Monroe, PF/C, Detroit Pistons: Though the Pistons are in serious disarray, Monroe has been one of the few who have avoided any ire from head coach John Kuester. That being the case, he figures to be the main beneficiary of all the problems going on in Detroit right now. With 16.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks in 34.4 minutes per game in his past five games, Monroe looks primed to have a huge final two months.

Beno Udrih, PG/SG, Sacramento Kings: With Tyreke Evans possibly out for the season, Udrih has stepped up his game to the tune of 15.6 points, 7.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.8 3-pointers in his past five contests. Beno is never going to be a world beater, but he's always posted solid numbers like these when given minutes. His owners can feel comfortable riding this hot streak the rest of the way, even though newly acquired Marcus Thornton may cut into his production slightly.

Chris Kaman, C, Los Angeles Clippers: I may be a huge fan of DeAndre Jordan, but Kaman has looked great after getting some extended rest during the All-Star break and has posted 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just 22.7 minutes in his past four contests. There are no guarantees that Kaman can remain on the court the rest of the way, but he's been a highly productive fantasy center when healthy during the past few seasons and could be a major boon to anyone looking to make a late-season push.

Samuel Dalembert, C, Sacramento Kings: I'm always reluctant to move Sammy D into the top 100 simply because he is such an inconsistent talent, but it's hard to ignore what he's been doing lately: 14.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 0.6 blocks (a number we know will go up) in his past five games. Dalembert will always be a risky fantasy option due to his consistency issues, but that doesn't mean you can't use him while he's hot.

Rankings Notes

It makes me physically ill to type this, but Tyreke Evans is borderline droppable in most shallow fantasy formats. Expected to be out for at least the next three weeks, and potentially longer, last season's rookie of the year should be held on to only by those who have a solid lead in roto formats, or are already locked into a playoff spot in head-to-head formats.

Ditto for Rudy Gay, who is expected to have his left shoulder re-evaluated in mid-March when the Grizzlies have about 12 games remaining. I'm not terribly confident in his ability to provide much value if he returns, and he's been dropped from the ranks as a result.

Baron Davis (110) and Ramon Sessions (100) were the hardest players to rank in this week's column. Baron passed his physical on Sunday, so it looks as though he'll be able to suit up at some point this week; how motivated he'll be is another story. As you can probably tell from his ranking, I don't think Davis is droppable just yet. Hold on to him and see how things shake out for at least a week before making a panic move based on what may or may not happen in Cleveland.

I don't blame owners who are dropping Vince Carter in waves after he's put up just 11.8 points and 0.8 3-pointers in 25.0 minutes in his past five games, particularly now that Aaron Brooks may start to cut into his minutes at shooting guard alongside Steve Nash. I'm giving VC one more week to snap out of this funk before he's dropped from the top 130.

Some may be surprised that DeJuan Blair has held on to his spot at 91 after a few rough outings earlier in the week, but I'm not terribly worried about Blair's prospects moving forward. Tim Duncan will be rested often (particularly after Sunday's ankle injury scare), so don't give up on Blair if you were thinking about cutting him loose.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com, and was recently named the Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at bmckitish@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter @bmckitish.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com and is a two-time Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year, as named by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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