By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
A Budding Superstar in Portland
If you missed the Blazers thrilling 124-119 victory over the Suns last Thursday, you missed Brandon Roy's ascension to superstardom. In a nationally televised game, Roy poured in a career-high 52 points with five rebounds, six assists and five three-pointers.
The 52-point effort puts a capstone on Roy's recent string of strong performances - the third-year guard set a Blazers' record with 182 points in a five-game stretch. During his record-breaking run, Roy has averaged 36.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and five assists.
The reason for Roy's surge has been a newfound aggressiveness that he has lacked in the past. Roy has always been a player who would let the game come to him - now he looks like a player who wants to put his stamp on every game he plays.
This new mindset has Roy attempting four more shots per game than his career average, and more importantly, it has enabled Roy get to the charity stripe far more frequently. Roy is averaging 13 free-throw attempts per game during his scoring surge – up from 5.1 attempts from the line in his career. The ability to pick up bonus points from the free-throw line is something that all of the NBA's top scorers have in common. If Roy continues this aggressive play, he will continue to climb up the leader boards.
Around the League
Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 every now and again - unless they're extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time or role or skill level.
Rajon Rondo (BOS) – Only seven teams in NBA history have had the fortune of having four players named to the All-Star game. Three of those squads were Celtic teams (1953, '62 and '75). Rondo's doing his best to give Boston their fourth such squad. In 10 December games, Rondo is averaging 14.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 2.7 steals. The third-year guard from Kentucky is quickly becoming a fantasy stud. And if he ever develops a three-point shot, he will become a fantasy All-Star.
Aaron Brooks (HOU) – Brooks has started three straight games in place of Rafer Alston (hamstring). In those three starts, Brooks has averaged 15.3 points, five boards, 5.3 dimes and 2.3 treys. Alston is expected back this week, so Brooks' value will probably be short lived. But if the Alston has a setback, look for Brooks to continue his run of productivity.
Marco Belinelli (GSW) – Thanks to Don Nelson's infuriating rotations, a Warrior or two always make an appearance on the Barometer. This week's nominee is Belinelli. He has started three straight games at shooting guard and is averaging 20.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 threes. It's anyone's guess how long Nelson will stick with Belinelli, but he should hold plenty of value while starting.
Andres Nocioni (CHI) – I've pimped Nocioni in the past, and the returns weren't too good. But he's seen an uptick in production the past three games (17.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg), and an increase in run should be looming with Drew Gooden (ankle) and Tyrus Thomas (concussion) both sidelined. While Nocioni may not be a long-term solution, he should provide solid scoring and threes until the Bulls' big men get healthy.
Louis Williams, Marreese Speights and Thaddeus Young (PHI) – The loss of Elton Brand (shoulder) for the next month has spurred an increase in value for all three of these youngsters. Williams is resuming his role as scoring punch off the bench that was integral to the Sixers late playoff push last year. He's attacking the basket more frequently, resulting in 17.1 ppg in nine December games. Speights' role has also increased with Brand out, as he's the first big man off the bench. In two games without Brand, Speights is averaging 14.5 points and three blocks in 23 mpg. Young's production hasn't jumped yet, but he's moved back into the starting lineup. His numbers were down across the board during his four-game sojourn on the bench, but he should start posting numbers similar to when he was starting earlier this season.
Beno Udrih (SAC) – The Kings starting point guard left Friday's loss to the Rockets with a sore hamstring and was a no-show for Saturday's matchup against the Hornets. He's currently listed as day-to-day and will be a game-time decision on Monday, but Udrih has hinted that he may miss more time.
Kevin Martin (SAC) – There still isn't a timetable for Martin's return from an ankle injury he suffered on Nov. 9th. He has missed 17 games due to the injury and is still feeling general pain and discomfort in the entire region surrounding the tendon. At 7-21, the Kings don't have much to play for, so don't be surprised if they are cautious with their star shooting guard.
Stephen Jackson (GS) – Jackson (hand) practiced on Sunday, but isn't expected to suit up for Monday's game against the Magic. He hopes to make a return for Friday's contest against Boston.
Chris Kaman (LAC) – After suffering through 12 games without the sixth-year center, there's finally some good news for Kaman owners. Coach Mike Dunleavy expects Kaman to return in the next week or shortly after the New Year.
Chris Bosh (TOR) – Ever since the Raptors parted way with Sam Mitchell, Bosh has seen a dip in production. In 11 games this month, Bosh is averaging 18.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 0.6 blocks. Those numbers aren't too bad from a fantasy perspective until you look at Bosh's production earlier this season – he averaged 26.4 points, 10.2 boards and one block in November. The main reason for Bosh's drop in production is that he's averaging seven less minutes per game under interim coach Jay Triano. Unless Bosh starts playing over 40 mpg again, look for his numbers to gravitate towards his career averages instead of the career-best numbers he put up in November.
Carmelo Anthony (DEN) – When Melo poured in 33 points in one quarter against the Timberwolves on Dec. 10th, it looked like owners would be able to laugh at the reported elbow woes bothering Denver's superstar. Unfortunately, Melo's elbow problems have flared up again. After struggling for two consecutive outings, the Nuggets have decided to shelve Anthony for the next two games. His scoring average of 20.5 ppg is a career-worst, so hopefully the time off will give Anthony plenty of time to heal.
Anthony Parker (TOR) – Parker has been a glue guy for the Raptors and fantasy lineups the past couple seasons, never putting up eye-popping numbers but always contributing solidly across the board. After missing two games with an ankle injury, Parker has returned but has lost his starting spot in the process. Triano is going with Jason Kapano at shooting guard, and Parker's production and minutes have taken a hit. In five games since returning from injury, Parker is averaging 5.4 points. As long as he's riding the pine, Parker's fantasy value takes a significant hit.
Article first appeared on 12/22/08