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A few weeks ago I was curious as to who turned into a better value this year -- the fantasy MVP so to speak -- between David Lee, Monta Ellis and Josh Smith. Smith and Lee have been on fire in the two weeks since, while Ellis has been sidelined but expected to return to the court on Thursday night. I'm always thinking about next year, who needs to move up my cheatsheets and should be one of my targets. Two players who have been especially impressive this season at center are Brook Lopez and Andrew Bogut. The question is, who comes into next season ranked higher?
Entering Wednesday night's games, here are the season stats for the two:
Brook Lopez: 19 points, nine rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.9 blocks, .7 steals, 51 percent FG, 81 percent FT
Andrew Bogut: 16.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 2.5 blocks, .5 steals, 52.7 percent FG, 66 percent FT
Going by these numbers, it looks like Lopez is the better pick, right? The biggest discrepancy here is the free-throw percentage. Lopez will not only not hurt you in this category, he likely helps you win it. Keeping that in mind, Bogut has been unstoppable since the calendar turned 2010. Here are his stats in the 33 games since Jan. 1:
These stats make the argument a lot closer if Bogut can sustain the pace over a full season. You expect certain categories out of your big man: rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage. All three of these categories Bogut wins using both sets of statistics, but the second set makes for a more compelling case. In fact, over the course of a full season you're looking at 164 more rebounds, 82 more blocks and a 3.5 percent higher field goal percentage. We probably haven't seen the best from Lopez yet, I'd probably put him higher but barely. What do you think?
Now onto our weekly look at player minutes, roto categories that waiver-wire players can help with and new position eligibility.
Rodrigue Beaubois, G, DAL - Beaubois has gotten the extra playing time left from Jason Terry's face injury and made an immediate impact. Over his last four games he's contributed across the board with averages of 18.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 blocks/steals. A member of the French National team, Beaubois had three seasons of professional basketball in France under his belt before entering the NBA draft. This looks like the heir to the point-guard spot in Dallas so owners in keeper leagues should take note. Deploy Beaubois as long as Jason Terry is sidelined, which is estimated to be some time late next week.
Julian Wright, F, NO - Wright officially took over Peja Stojakovic's spot in the starting lineup on Wednesday night with Peja on the shelf for the next two weeks. His first start was nothing impressive - 10 points, three rebounds and a steal in 26 minutes. Take a wait-and-see approach with the athletic forward before picking him up.
Beno Udrih, G, SAC - Udrih has gone overlooked in many leagues since his name triggers thoughts of disappointment from his past fantasy owners. He's been getting consistent playing time as of late and been producing. He's averaged 35.2 minutes, 13.8 points, 4.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds and a steal over five March games. Throw in 8-for-8 from the free throw line and 49.1 percent from the field during that span and you've got a viable option at point guard in deeper leagues.
Johan Petro, C, DEN - Petro got the start on Sunday for the Nuggets in place of the injured Kenyon Martin. The good news was he grabbed 10 rebounds but almost managed more fouls (5) than points (6) in 23 minutes of playing time. He's worth mentioning, though, as the waiver-wire is pretty thin at center this time of the year. If you really need help at center in a very deep league, take a flier on Petro.
Here are some players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Terrence Williams, G, NJ - The Nets are finally giving Williams a chance, apparently realizing that, with a league-worst 7-57 record, what they've been doing isn't working. Williams has played at least 26 minutes in each of his last four games and put up stellar numbers. Over those games he's averaged 13 points, 6.5 rebounds, six assists and one three-pointer made. At Louisville, he recorded two triple-doubles in his junior season and recorded 20 steals over his final four games his senior year. Expect the Nets to let him play since they're seven games ahead of Minnesota in the "most lottery balls" sweepstakes.
Jason Maxiell, F, DET - I've always thought of Maxiell as a lesser version of Paul Millsap; both are 6-foot-7 and within 10 pounds of 250. Both are also fantastic options when they get more than 30 minutes a night. Maxiell has gotten his chance lately with Ben Wallace sidelined with an injury. He pulled down 16 rebounds on Sunday night while logging 39 minutes of court time. Wednesday night he scored 10 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and recorded two steals in 30 minutes. Consider him a solid double-double threat each night while Wallace is out.
Shane Battier, F, HOU - Normally you don't find me talking about a small forward in this spot, but Battier is an exception. He's the poster boy for a player who means more in the real basketball world than the fantasy world. I found myself within striking distance of a couple of teams if I could gain some extra blocks. Trying to catch a team in front of you requires some creativity since it's likely they're aware you're on their tail. So instead of looking at typical positions that provide blocks (centers and power forwards), I scoured the waiver-wire looking for small forwards and guards to help me. Even if I found a great big man, chances are the teams I'm trying to catch will also find or already have some solid shot blockers. So I'm taking a gamble on Battier next week. You don't find many small forwards who've averaged 2.75 blocks over their last four games, which included a seven-block outing against the Kings. Battier now has at least one block, and a total of 14, over his last five games while posting decent rebound and assist totals. He doesn't score much, but he's got a four-game schedule next week if you're looking for rejection help.
Quentin Richardson, G, MIA - Richardson has stepped up for the Heat, trying to take some pressure off Dwyane Wade. Over his last three games he's hit 14 three-pointers while averaging over 35 minutes a contest. He'll continue to see 30-plus minutes a contest and is a good source of scoring and threes.
Every league has different rules regarding eligibility. Always check your rules to make sure your league recognizes the new position a player may be eligible to play.
J.J. Hickson, CLE - Now eligible at power forward and center.