What's gotten into Spencer Hawes?
The fifth-year pro is off to a fast start, averaging 12.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, fours assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. He was likely scooped up quickly after missing a triple-double in his first game by an assist. A few things have broken the right way for Hawes. First, he's getting plenty of minutes, averaging what would be a career-high 33.3 per game. And while three-pointers are a nice fantasy bonus from a center, he's ditched the long-range shots, which will help improve his field-goal percentage. If there's a red flag to his game, it's his struggles at the free-throw line. He's typically shot about 66 percent, though last season he had a mark of 53.4 percent. The good news is he doesn't typically attempt that many free throws and improved confidence along with consistent minutes could help bolster that percentage. Either way, if you were quick to snag him off the waiver wire or used a late-round pick on him, nice work.
Remember when Aaron Brooks was the starter in Houston? That seems like a long time ago, and Kyle Lowry has had a lot to do with that fading memory. While it's been a whole four games, Lowry leads the league in assists with 12.5 per game and his per 48 minutes mark (17.0) is 3.2 higher than Rajon Rondo who has the second-highest mark. Those who drafted Lowry likely wisely checked out his post-All-Star stats to find he averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 threes and 1.1 steals. Outside of assists and steals, each one of those stats was better than Rajon Rondo's or Chris Paul's season averages. Lowry also shot 85 percent from the charity stripe in the second-half and is 19-for-21 to start this season. Again, he'll be another player who will greatly out-produce his draft spot.
Each week we'll look at players who have received increased minutes. An uptick in minutes doesn't always translate into improved fantasy stats but at the very least offers some players to put on the radar.
James Anderson, G, SA - It looks as if Anderson will be the beneficiary of the broken hand suffered by Manu Ginobili. Gregg Popovich has already anointed him the starter while Ginobili is out the next 4-6 weeks. Anderson, a former Big 12 Player of the Year, had his season somewhat derailed last year after suffering a hairline fracture early in the season. For now, watch to see if he can turn the extra minutes into relevant fantasy numbers.
Markieff Morris, F, PHO - Morris has received more minutes than expected to start the season for the Suns. Taking out a one-minute affair in which he picked up two quick fouls, Morris averaged 25 minutes over his other four games. Morris, at 6-foot-10, has the skill set to hit the three while still being a strong rebounder. The 13th-overall pick in last year's draft, "Keef" was selected just in front of his twin, Marcus. Monitor his playing time and hope Morris gets some run with Steve Nash.
Jonas Jerebko, F, DET - Jerebko has seen plenty of playing time, averaging 34.2 minutes in the Pistons' first five games. He's put up decent numbers, averaging 12.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest so far. Charlie Villanueva could cut into Jerebko's playing time, so monitor that situation once he returns.
Each week we'll look at certain players who can help your fantasy team in the nine categories most leagues use. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a certain category, there's no guarantee they will contribute in other areas.
Greg Stiemsma, C, BOS - In case you're wondering why you hadn't heard Stiemsma's name until the last week, it's because he was busy racking up frequent flier miles playing in Turkey, South Korea and the D-League. Stiemsma has provided the Celtics with a presence in the paint by blocking 12 shots in his last four games despite only averaging 17.5 minutes a contest. Jermaine O'Neal is shockingly banged up which could help increase those minutes. Stiemsma needs to work on the fouls; he's averaged a foul every 5.3 minutes to start the season.
MarShon Brooks, G, NJ - Outside of a stinker against Cleveland (of all teams), Brooks has scored at least 17 points in each of his last four games. How good of a scorer is the rookie out of Providence? Brooks holds the Friars' single-game scoring record after dropping 52 on Notre Dame last February. He finished the game 20-for-28 and scored 11 points in the final 50 seconds. The rookie finished with 468 points last season for Providence, breaking Donyell Marshall's single-season record. Brooks might be one of the diamonds in the rough out of what was supposed to be a weak rookie class.
Jordan Hill, F, HOU - Hill was going to be an excellent sleeper for this season had the Rockets not signed Samuel Dalembert. Even with Dalembert and Scola to compete with for rebounds, Hill managed a game-high 15 boards on New Year's Eve. He should continue to get minutes coming off the bench and would be an interesting add in almost any format should something happen to the starters.
Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies.
Derrick Favors, UTA - Now eligible at center
Nene Hilario, DEN - Now eligible at power forward
Amir Johnson, TOR - Now eligible at center