Commentary

Player Rater: Iguodala on the rise

Updated: January 19, 2009, 12:52 PM ET
By Seth Landman | Special to ESPN.com

Looking over Andre Iguodala's game log for this season, it's not difficult to figure out when things started turning around for him. In a win over the Bucks on Dec. 17, Iguodala was just about the only guy on the Sixers' roster who didn't play well. He was 2-for-14 from the floor, and finished with only four points. The Sixers won that game in spite of a serious shoulder injury to Elton Brand, who hasn't played since and is only recently even listed as questionable to play.

Andre Iguodala
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesAndre Iguodala has benefited nicely from Elton Brand's injury.
And yet, the Sixers -- and Iguodala -- are playing a lot better since then. In fact, Iguodala's ranked seventh on the Player Rater over the past 30 days, and in nine January games he is averaging 23.6 points, 6.7 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.9 3-pointers and is shooting 57 percent from the floor. Obviously, those numbers present us with something of an upper limit. There's no way Iguodala can shoot 57 percent from the floor for a long stretch of time, so the scoring is bound to drop off a bit. Everything else is entirely legitimate, though, which makes him more valuable than his season ranking of 26, or 34 based on his 2009 averages (the Player Rater now accounts for season averages).

The question, then, is what happens to Iguodala when Brand returns to the lineup. Clearly, the Sixers have been a different team of late. They are running more, which suits the talents of players like Andre Miller, Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, and especially Iguodala.

The optimistic view is the Sixers' recent success -- they are 10-6 since Brand went down -- and coaching change from Mo Cheeks to Tony DiLeo will allow them to use Brand within their current uptempo system. Brand, remember, is a tremendous rebounder, so it stands to reason that he could be used effectively in initiating the break. His ability to make midrange jump shots will also make him valuable on the secondary break, and his ability to score on half-court post-ups and mop-up offensive rebounds will be, as usual, useful on all the possessions on which the Sixers don't run.

It is likely the Sixers tried to incorporate Brand into the offense too deliberately at the start of this season, and in the process messed up their collective mojo, so to speak. Perhaps thinking of Brand's traditional post-up game as a second or even third option will allow Philly to continue its recent success once he's back in the lineup.

In the final tally, it's my opinion that Iguodala can keep up his recent great play, which makes him a top-20 player overall for the rest of the season. His particular brand of well-roundedness is not easy to come by, and if you can package two lesser players for him, you'd be doing yourself a favor.

Going up (ranking based on total stats, ranking based on average stats):

Jamal Crawford, PG/SG, Warriors (60, 55): Jamal Crawford is of great value in four categories: points, 3-pointers, assists and free throw percentage. He has no value in any other. He is playing extremely well of late, averaging 28 points per game over his past five games, and even though he is streaky, I think there is actually room for improvement. Remember, Crawford was shooting almost 46 percent on 3-pointers with the Knicks before getting traded to Golden State. He shot 36 percent on 3-pointers for the Knicks last season. There are lots of reasons to believe he can shoot better than the 30 percent 3-point rate he is shooting so far for the Warriors. If he does, he's going to provide an extremely valuable combination of 3s, assists, points and free throw shooting that can help you, especially if you have a point guard, like Rajon Rondo or Russell Westbrook, who doesn't make a lot of 3s.

Lamar Odom
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Lakers may now actually need Lamar Odom to play a useful role in the offense thanks to a couple of injuries.
Lamar Odom, SF/PF, Lakers (141, 142): Odom has been a disaster this year. His true shooting percentage, rebound rate, assist rate and free throw percentage are all down, and his turnover rate is alarmingly high. Clearly, Odom has not adjusted to coming off the bench as well as I thought he might. Amazingly, the Lakers are so good and so deep that they don't need him to be anything more than a complimentary player. However, with Jordan Farmar out and Derek Fisher day-to-day with a strained groin, the Lakers have to at least consider using Odom in a heavier playmaking role. He is too talented to be ranked this low. That said, for the season he does provide a nice combination of 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks per game, and there is certainly the possibility he could start getting more minutes and return to form any day now. Over his past five games, for example, Odom is averaging 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.7 blocks, and is shooting almost 57 percent from the floor. Those certainly aren't superstar numbers, but they are a lot better than what he's given you so far.

Luol Deng, SF, Bulls (145, 104): One never knows what to expect from this season's edition of the Bulls. Because they have a stockpile of decent NBA players without anyone really great (Derrick Rose will be great, but not quite yet), there tends to be great fluctuations in minutes. The Bulls have eight players averaging between 23 and 38 minutes, and many of those guys -- due to injuries and ineffectiveness -- have had stretches when they were out of the rotation entirely. Deng, however, has been once again starting to show why people continue to think he's such a great talent. He has shot the ball very well, right around 48 percent, in December and January, and in his past four games since sitting with an injury, he is averaging 16.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.3 steals. He is rebounding and getting to the line more actively, which seems to underline the fact he's more active and involved overall. Because he was injured so recently, you might be able to buy low on him, and he should be a great value if you do.

Going down

Chris Duhon
Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty ImagesChris Duhon's surprising durability has helped his fantasy value so far, but a back injury could cut into his numbers.
Chris Duhon, PG, Knicks (32, 43): Duhon is currently listed as day-to-day with a stiff back, and you can color me concerned. He's averaging 39.5 minutes per game, which is good for second overall in the entire league. Duhon is tough, but he's not a big guy, and he's putting Allen Iverson-type miles on his tread this season. To be honest, I'm not sure he can keep it up. What is really important to consider here is that Duhon is not a productive player on a per minute basis -- his 13.44 player efficiency rating (PER) is significantly below the league average and doesn't even rank among the top 20 for point guards. He has been great in fantasy this year, but that value is entirely contingent on his massive amount of minutes and not missing any games. If you have similar doubts about his ability to stay on the floor for long stretches, you might want to consider dealing him before this back issue becomes a real problem.

O.J. Mayo, SG, Grizzlies (45, 56): Mayo shot the ball extremely well in November, and because he's a rookie (and a player we all have been hearing about since he was in the eighth grade), his accomplishments -- and value -- get magnified a bit. I just want to use this space to point out that he hasn't been that good for almost two months now. His ranking over the past 30 days is 90th, and that drop off is almost entirely contained in his field goal shooting and scoring. With a PER of just 15.77, he's only slightly more productive on a per-minute basis than the average NBA player. The fact he's still playing a ton of minutes mitigates that to a certain extent, but the likelihood is his name carries a lot more value than his actual production. What I mean, I suppose, is that if you can get someone like Jamal Crawford for him (unless you are in a keeper league), then you really should make that deal.

Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers (63, 90): After having a great November in which he averaged 12.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 0.8 steals and shot 54 percent from the floor, Bynum has trailed off quite a bit. The most alarming thing is he's averaging only 5.4 rebounds in 32 minutes per game over nine January games. His blocks and steals are down to quite pedestrian numbers, as well. At the moment, his numbers look more like Mark Blount's than what we would normally expect of Bynum. Given that his ranking overall is boosted by the fact he has been remarkably healthy all season, Bynum starts looking like a guy you might want to trade, if you can get someone whose contributions are a little more of a sure thing night to night.

Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

Seth Landman

Fantasy Basketball
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.