The Hoops Lab
Kevin Garnet, BOS (11.6 PER allowed): Garnett is giving up by far the lowest PER in the league among big men. He is not only the lone interior defender with a PER allowed under 12 - he is the only interior defender with a PER allowed under 13! With his excellent length, timing and athletic ability Garnett has long been one of the best defenders in the NBA. Now that he's on a Celtics team next to a solid defensive center with aggressive perimeter defenders and a good defensive philosophy, he's far and away the toughest big man to put up stats against.
Manu Ginobili, SA (11.3 PER allowed): Ginobili is surrendering the lowest PER of any regular player in the NBA. Ginobili uses his length and quickness, as well as many a well-timed flop to prevent opponents from being able to drive or get off open shots against him.
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, BOS (11.4 and 12.2 PER allowed): Neither Pierce nor Allen have been known for their defensive prowess through the years, but each are visibly putting in more effort this season as well as playing on one of the best defenses in the NBA. It should be noted, though, that because I first did this research two weeks ago I can compare their respective PER allowed with Garnett as opposed to without him. Two weeks ago Pierce led NBA regulars in PER allowed at 11.2, Allen was second at 11.5, and Tony Allen off the bench (too few minutes to qualify for this team) had a ridiculous 9.8 PER allowed. With Garnett out, Pierce's PER has increased slightly, Ray Allen's has increased even more, and Tony Allen's is up a full point and a half (11.3 PER allowed). In other words, the Celtics swingmen apparently owe some of their defensive intimidation to the presence of Garnett, so if he's out it could make a difference in whether or not you should start your own swingmen against them.
Chauncey Billups, DET (12.3 PER allowed): Billups is the only point guard in the NBA with a PER allowed under 13. He is routinely stronger than his opponents with enough quickness to close out on their shots and funnel them into the teeth of the strong Pistons interior defense.
Dwight Howard, ORL (13.0 PER allowed): Howard is the center for our all-defense team, as he's the only other big man regular besides KG with a PER allowed under 14. He is an athletic phenomenon that out-muscles, out-quicks, and out-jumps his opponents to shut down the paint while gobbling in the rebounds.
Allen Iverson, DEN (12.5 PER allowed)
Kobe Bryant, LAL (12.6 PER allowed)
Stephen Jackson, GS (13.2 PER allowed)
Tayshaun Prince, DET (13.2 PER allowed)
Cuttino Mobley, LAC (12.6 PER allowed)
LeBron James, CLE (13.3 PER allowed)
Situations to Watch
George blocks Kidd: My All-Defense team article was almost blocked by a huge trade for the second week in a row, before Devean George exercised his trade-blocking clause to prevent Jason Kidd from heading to Dallas in exchange for Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse and pieces. Apparently the trade is not completely dead, but for now it's on life support. Fantasy-wise this would have been an interesting deal for the Nets, as it would have set up Harris and/or Marcus Williams for increased production in Jersey and would have made Stackhouse someone to watch in case the Nets followed up with a Vince Carter deal. As it is, owners of all players involved should keep an eye on this, as a deal could still happen at any time.
Returns after the Break?: There are some big names nursing injuries leading into the All-Star break that could return soon after it ends. Kevin Garnett (ab strain), Gerald Wallace (foot), and Caron Butler (hip) are three huge impact players that could be returning soon. The entire Bulls perimeter scoring three-some (Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon) could be back to their usual roles before the end of the month. Even players with long-term injuries like Elton Brand, Andrew Bynum and Gilbert Arenas could be returning to practice and/or game action within a couple weeks of the break. Keep all of this in mind as you make plans for potential trades and free agent moves, as an influx of healthier superstars could change the fantasy landscape.
Rasheed Wallace fantasy All Star: Whether he likes it or not, Wallace is an NBA All Star as a replacement for Kevin Garnett. But is he a roto All Star as well? He only averages 12.8 points and 7.1 boards per game, so on first glance the answer might seem to be 'no'. But he is averaging at least 1.4 treys, steals, and blocks per game (the only player in the NBA to do that) which keeps him consistently in the top-30 on the Yahoo! fantasy rater. His outstanding Garbageman-type numbers do, indeed, make him a roto All Star.
Corey Maggette: Maggette has been coming on strong lately, averaging more than 25 points on 55 percent shooting from the field and 88 percent shooting from the line over the past month. Maggette is a great example of a young veteran that is rapidly approaching the end of his contract on a bad team that could put up career-numbers for the second half of the season. Because he's missed some games due to injury/sickness his season ranking is not as good as his recent production indicates, so he could make a good trade-for target.
T.J. Ford effect on Jose Calderon?: Ford returned from injury last week and played in four games before missing Wednesday's game with a wrist injury. Though Calderon's minutes fell slightly to 32 mpg with Ford back, his production still stayed strong at 16 points (on excellent percentages), 10 assists, two treys and a steal per over those four games. Ford's health appears to be a question mark for the foreseeable future, so it appears that Calderon should remain an elite roto point guard until further notice.
Miller time: Brad Miller, Andre Miller and Mike Miller are all right on the verge of being fantasy elite these days. Brad may be the biggest surprise, as just last season he appeared to be physically eroding, and his role as one of the offensive hubs seemed to have disappeared with Rick Adelman's departure. But he's found his groove this season, averaging 15.4 points (52% FG, 83% FT), 11.7 boards, 4.1 assists and 1.4 steals over the last month. Andre has also been playing great of late, helping to carry the Sixers back into the playoffs hunt with averages of 18.2 points (52% FG), 7.5 assists, 4.3 boards and 1.1 steals over the last month. Mike is in the most limbo among the Millers, as it appears that the Grizzlies are going with a youth movement, and rumor has it that he could eventually be traded. Nevertheless, in the meantime he's averaging 18.4 points, 5.7 boards and 2.4 treys over the last month to help keep it Miller time in the NBA.
Dorrell Wright/ Mark Blount: Both Blount and Wright have taken advantage of the turmoil in Miami by grabbing starting jobs and producing. Both are good athletes that can run, which fits well in the new up-tempo Heat attack around Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion.
Earl Watson: Watson is averaging nine assists over his last five games to go with 11 points and four boards. In his last three games he has one triple-double and one 14-assist effort, and at his price that's difficult to beat.
Fred Jones: Jones has been surprisingly effective for the Knicks of late, averaging 14 points with five boards, four assists and more than two treys in 39 minutes per game over his last five.
Leon Powe: Powe has taken full advantage of the injury absences of Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, with three efforts of at least 16 points and eight boards in his last four games. His value is tied directly into the health of Garnett and Perkins, so if both return after the All-Star break Powe's value would suffer. But in the meantime, he provides great production for cheap.
Article first appeared 2/14/08