- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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Of these five, Bogut has averaged just 45 games since 2008-09. J-Smoove, while having perhaps his best season, has seen his rejection rate slip to the 2.0 region. Camby is nearing the end of his career, and Andersen is at the end of the Denver Nuggets bench. Even Howard, after two seasons of averaging near 3.0 blocks, is down to 2.2 in 2011-12.
Now, I'm cheating some because Serge Ibaka and JaVale McGee both finished with 2.4 rejections in 2010-11, but my general point is that elite shot-blocking has been elusive for fantasy owners recently. My specific point is it appears that, at last, blocks are getting a bit easier to come by. Youngsters Ibaka, McGee, DeAndre Jordan, Ekpe Udoh and Bismack Biyombo -- or as I call him, Bis-smack that into the third row Biyombo -- all look as if they'll be around for a while. And others are available to help fantasy owners right now as you negotiate the final weeks of the season.
After three solid performances in the aftermath of the Washington Wizards' trade of McGee, Kevin Seraphin is starting to attract attention in ESPN.com leagues. Seraphin's potential is severely limited by the addition ofNene, but with Andray Blatche apparently out of the picture in D.C., Seraphin seems set to play 15-20 minutes going forward. With that amount of time, he is capable of giving fantasy owners a block or two per game, which can work in a deep league.
Other fantasy free agents are capable of helping even more in blocks, so let's see what the schedule has to say about them.
Week 14 at a Glance
In the week ahead, two teams, the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Hornets, play five games. There's talk that George Hill will supplant Darren Collison as the Pacers' starting point guard, but Hill's 0-for-5 line against the Wizards on Thursday could keep that discussion in the rumor stage. Leandro Barbosa has played only 18 and 15 minutes in his first two games with his new team, but fantasy owners could roll the dice on him. Four Pacers opponents -- the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, New Jersey Nets and Wizards -- are in the top 12 in 3-pointers allowed.
Turning to the Hornets, we resume our discussion of shot-blockers. In 13 starts this season, Jason Smith is averaging 1.3 rejections. After missing 20 games with concussion symptoms, Smith returned to the starting lineup Thursday, finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks against the Los Angeles Clippers. Smith was also ejected from that game for a flagrant foul on Blake Griffin and received a two-game suspension. But in leagues with a daily lineup option, you could work around that. While this appears to be one tough schedule -- Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns opponents are all in the bottom seven in blocks -- perhaps Smith can still produce when he gets back in the lineup. He just did have that two-block effort against the Lob City crew. Smith is virtually unowned in ESPN.com leagues.
"R" matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup) and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's year-to-date and past 10 games' statistics, its performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, and its opponents' numbers in those categories. The Games T / H column lists the team's total number of games played as well as home games (T / H) and lists the overall rating from 1-10 for that week's matchups.
Players to Watch
Carlos Delfino, SG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks (@NY, ATL, @CLE, MEM): The Bucks' rotation has stabilized nicely, and perhaps that's helping the streaky Delfino, who's in the midst of a terrific four-game stretch (16 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 3s and 2.2 steals). New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies and Cavs opponents rate from ninth through 11th in treys, while Knicks opponents are fifth in steals.
Richard Jefferson, SF, Golden State Warriors (LAL, NOR, NJ, @LAL): While R.J. is coming off the bench in Oakland, he seems assured of 30-plus minutes given the Warriors' skeletal roster. Expect his numbers to slightly improve from what he produced with the Spurs. That said, the Nets' presence notwithstanding, fantasy owners could pay for Jefferson's 1.9 3s here. Lakers and Hornets opponents are just 27th and 28th in 3-point shooting percentage.
Chandler Parsons, SF, and Courtney Lee, SG, Houston Rockets (SAC, @DAL, MEM, IND): Parsons, the rookie second-round pick, has really come into his own. In March, he's averaging 13 points on 58.8 percent shooting, even though an illness limited him for a few games. Lee has been starting in place of Kevin Martin, and while Martin is still considered day-to-day, his shoulder problem could keep him out a while yet. In eight starts this season, Lee is averaging 13.6 points, 1.9 3s and 1.4 steals. You'll love this schedule mostly for the presence of the Sacramento Kings. Kings opponents are tops in points, second in blocks and third in field goal percentage. Beyond that, Dallas Mavericks opponents are first in steals.
Greg Stiemsma, C, Boston Celtics (@CHA, UTA, @MIN, MIA): Stiemsma has achieved fantasy relevance due to the thinning ranks in the Celtics' frontcourt. Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox are out for the season, leaving Kevin Garnett to start in the post and the one-time D-Leaguer with just enough minutes to do some damage. He's amassed 2.4 blocks and 1.2 steals in March despite averaging just 18 minutes. The highlight of this stretch so far is Stiemsma's six-point, five-block, four-rebound and four-steal outing in 24 minutes against the Bucks on Thursday. Basically, what Steve Novak was to 3-pointers (at least until Mike Woodson arrived on the Knicks bench), Stiemsma is to blocks. Given the playing time, he should be good for at least a couple of swats against pretty much anybody, but this schedule makes it even easier for him. Charlotte Bobcats, Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves opponents are all in the top nine in blocks.
Tristan Thompson, PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers (@PHI, DET, MIL, @NY): The rookie power forward is being asked to fill in at starting center until Anderson Varejao returns. Cavs coach Byron Scott has said Varejao will play again this season, but there's been little news about the progress of his fractured wrist, so expect Thompson to remain the starter at least through this stretch of games. Though he's averaging 1.1 blocks this season (in only 22 minutes of playing time) and while Detroit Pistons and Knicks opponents are 10th and 11th, respectively, in rejections, these are tough matchups. Greg Monroe and Tyson Chandler figure to give Thompson all he can handle.
Opponent Performance, Past 10 games
All statistics are for teams' past 10 games played and are defensive numbers. PPGA: Points per game allowed. FG%A: Field goal percentage allowed. 3PT%A: 3-point percentage allowed. RPG diff.: Rebounds per game differential. SPGA: Steals per game allowed. BPGA: Blocks per game allowed.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. Send him your lineup-related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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