By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
Fantasy All-Star Starters
The starting squads for the All-Star Game were revealed last Thursday, and it appears the fans did a fine job this year, with Allen Iverson's selection the only choice causing uproar.
For fantasy purposes the selection process is much easier. I don't have to worry about the much debated team success aspect of the All-Star equation, as anyone who owns these players in fantasy is probably doing pretty well in their leagues. All I have to do is look at the stats.
Based on the average stats for the season in a standard nine-category league, the following players should be starting in Phoenix next month.
Point Guard: Mike Bibby (ATL)
Most of you probably thought Devin Harris would occupy this spot, but in standard nine-category leagues, Bibby's averages are actually better. A career-high in three-pointers (2.5), solid percentages and lower turnovers give Bibby the slight edge over Harris. Don't look now, but Bibby is having his best fantasy season since his glory days in Sacramento.
Shooting Guard: Danny Granger (IND)
I really thought Dwyane Wade would be slotting in here, but Granger barely edges him out due to his league-leading 2.7 threes per game.
Small Forward: Lebron James (CLE)
The only knock against King James entering this season was his difficulties from the charity stripe. Well, he's up to 77-percent from the line this season. The dude is only 24 and has improved every season. I can't wait until he flirts with a triple-double for an entire season, a la Oscar Robertson.
Power Forward: Kevin Garnett (BOS)
Even though this isn't the Garnett who used to challenge for fantasy supremacy, he's still the top-ranked power forward in the East based on his averages. Solid percentages and all-around contributions on the defensive end give him the edge over Rashard Lewis and Chris Bosh.
Center: Chris Bosh (TOR)
The nice thing about fantasy is that players are eligible at multiple positions. Bosh couldn't beat out the Big Ticket at the four, but he takes the center slot for the Eastern Conference Fantasy All-Stars. And for all of you Dwight Howard supporters, not a single owner of Superman in any of the leagues I partake in is atop the standings. Howard's nice to own in head-to-head formats, but his free-throw percentage will kill you in rotisserie leagues
Point Guard: Chris Paul (NO)
CP3's the best player in fantasy for the second year running. And he's only getting better.
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant (LAL)
Despite his lowest scoring average (26.4 ppg) since the 2003-04 season, Kobe is still one of the top players in fantasy.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant (OKC)
Durant's improvement since being switched from shooting guard to small forward has elevated him to another fantasy stratosphere. In the past 30 days, he's averaging 26.7 points, nine boards, 1.3 treys and 1.5 steals.
Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki (DAL)
Dirk started the season slow, but has bounced back and is still in the top 10 in fantasy production. The Mavericks aren't as deep as in years past, so Dirk should keep it up in the second half.
Center: Marcus Camby (LAC)
The Cambyman is the top ranked center in all of fantasyland. But the problem remains the same – he can't stay healthy. Yao Ming was a close second.
We'll take a look at the Fantasy All-Star reserves next week.
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.
DeAndre Jordan (LAC) – With Marcus Camby (ankle), Zach Randolph (knee) and Chris Kaman (foot) all on the shelf, the MASH unit known as the Clippers has been starting Jordan at center. In four starts, Jordan is averaging 10.5 points, 12.3 boards and three blocks. His value hinges on the health of the Clippers frontcourt, but with their injury history and Jordan's string of solid performances, he should be in the mix for minutes from here on out.
Peja Stojakovic (NO) – Injuries to David West (back) and Tyson Chandler (ankle) have caused the Hornets to lean more heavily on Stojakovic. In the past three games, he's averaging 21 points, 5.3 boards and 3.7 threes.
Ramon Sessions (MIL) – To stick with the running theme... a season-ending knee injury to Michael Redd (more below) has opened up 36 minutes of action per game, and Sessions figures to get himself a handful of that action. Charlie Bell (ankle) should factor into the mix when he gets healthy, but Sessions is the player we'd peg as the biggest beneficiary.
Kevin Love (MIN) – Love has finally earned playing time in the Twin Cities, logging over 20 minutes of action in 11 straight games. He's having his best month of the season, with averages of 12.1 points and 10.4 boards in January.
Carmelo Anthony (DEN) – Reports have been good out of Denver, and it looks like Melo will make a return from his broken hand on Friday against the Bobcats.
David West (NO) – West has missed three games with back spasms and is expected to miss Monday's tilt against the 76ers. No worries though, as he should make a return before week's end.
Yao Ming (HOU) – Yao suffered a bruised right knee in Friday's game against the Pacers and sat out Sunday's tilt against the Pistons, but is expected back soon. The Rockets just got Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest back, so they could afford to rest the big man if they felt so inclined. Keep an eye on the situation.
Michael Redd (MIL) – The previously mentioned Redd left Saturday's win over the Kings after suffering a torn ACL and MCL of his left knee. The injury will cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Including the remaining 35 games on the Bucks schedule, Redd will have missed 88 games the past three seasons. It might be time to slap the injury-prone label on him.
Tyson Chandler (NO) – Chandler's ankle injury turned out to be worse than it originally appeared, and he's now expected to be sidelined until the All-Star break. Before you toss him to the free-agent heap, keep in mind that the Hornets have the best schedule for head-to-head playoffs in most standard leagues.
Al Horford (ATL) – When Horford's bruised knee was first announced, the common thought was that he would miss three games. Well, he's up to eight no shows and won't join the Hawks for their next two games on the road. There hasn't been any encouraging news coming out of Atlanta concerning the injury, so downgrade him for the time being.
Article first appeared on 1/26/08