Martin Luther King Day is typically a wonderful day in the NBA and Monday was no exception, featuring games all afternoon and into the night, several of them excellent or at the very least interesting. This feels like a good time to ponder where we stand in mid-January.
It’s typically time to take stock of your team and make some bold moves to get in position for the stretch run of the season. In fact, this next month will be one of the craziest of the season, leading up to the Feb. 24 NBA trade deadline. I guarantee you have dropped someone or will drop someone who will end up being amazing in the final two months. I usually have about three or four of those guys a year. Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t be afraid to be bold. In fact, it is perfectly acceptable to lose a trade if you have to. By that I mean giving up a little bit more than you get back to secure some categories. As long as you trade your good players to teams that can’t hurt you down the road, pull the trigger. It’s a harder strategy to follow in head-to-head formats, where the goal is to sneak into the playoffs somehow and hope to have a healthy team that gets lucky. Reminds me of fantasy football. That’s why I’m a rotisserie league guy. May the best team win, I say.
Let’s pore over the box scores from Monday and take a look at some of my favorite stat lines as well as the more bizarre or interesting ones from the 13-game slate.
Blake Griffin – 47 pts, 14 reb, 3 ast, 19-24 FG, 9-11 FT vs. Indiana
I have to start with this beauty, a classic work of art from the league’s new Picasso. Griffin’s averaging a 24.3-14.5-4.2 in January and getting better and better. And the best part about this line was the free throw percentage. Griffin has been slowly improving in that area too, and while the steals and blocks aren’t there yet, the assists give him four plus categories for a power forward. Oh, and the Clips have won five of six.
Darren Collison – 30 pts, 8 ast, 3 stl, 10-17 FG, 2-4 3FG vs. the Clippers
Meanwhile, it’s about time, Darren Collison. Jim O’Brien has figured out that when used correctly Collison can shine and he has, averaging 17.9 points and 6.6 assists in January. Not enough credit for Collison’s turnaround goes to yours truly, who traded him seconds before he rediscovered his superpowers – to Tom Lorenzo no less. You’re welcome, Tom. And Darren.
Roy Hibbert – 4 pts, 4 reb, 12 minutes vs. the Clippers
Hibbert and the rest of the Indiana frontcourt were helpless against Griffin, but this line is sadly more and more common these days. Hibbert’s played more than 24 minutes just once this month, a month in which he’s shooting 34.4 percent from the field. The problem here is that we all saw how well Hibbert could play. Things could get good again if he can get his confidence back, both internally and from his coach, and stay out of foul trouble.
Vince Carter – 29 pts, 11 reb, 4 ast, 11-20 FG, 5-8 3FG at New York
There were 250 points scored in the Suns-Knicks game on Monday, and surprisingly Phoenix scored 129 of them. Nice win for them. This was Carter’s best game as a Sun, and he’s starting to look like the biggest beneficiary from Orlando’s shake-up last month. He’s bombing threes, and essentially playing the Jason Richardson role alongside Steve Nash. I don’t see anything getting in the way of Carter being a terrific option for the rest of the season; it’s not like he ever gets hurt.
Danilo Gallinari – 17 pts, 31 minutes vs. Phoenix
Gallinari returned from a knee sprain that caused him to miss six games. The Knicks got some decent bench help from Shawne Williams and Bill Walker in Gallinari’s absence, but it shouldn’t be long before he’s playing huge minutes and putting up nice fantasy numbers again.
Andray Blatche – 21 pts, 11 reb, 3 ast, 3 stl, 4 blk vs. Utah
Kudos to all the Wizards for a nice home win over Utah. So what if Washington is 0-19 on the road? I like to focus on the positives as you all know. For reals, though: the Wiz are looking decent lately, playing a tight rotation that features John Wall quarterbacking the red-hot Blatche and Nick Young, rim-defender JaVale McGee and the nation’s first reanimated corpse, Rashard Lewis. All five Wizards are fantasy plays right now. Say that out loud. Shocking, ain’t it?
Rudy Gay – 9 pts, 6 reb, 1-10 FG; Mike Conley – 5 pts, 2 reb, 6 ast, 2-6 FG vs. Chicago
Rough lines for these two Grizzlies. Gay just had an off-night, but Conley has been trending downward. He’s averaging just 10.9 points this month on 41.0 percent shooting, and is nowhere near where he was at the beginning of the season when he was doing a Chris Paul imitation every night. It appears the time to sell high on Conley was in November.
Boris Diaw – 25 pts, 11 reb, 11 ast, 8-14 FG, 4-7 3FG, 5-6 FT, 1 stl, 2 blk at Philadelphia
A candidate for the line of the day comes from an unlikely source. Certainly the absence of Tyrus Thomas (suspension) helped, but no one saw this one coming. Strangely, Gerald Wallace took just seven shots and had no steals or blocks in 40 minutes. Not strangely, the ever-cautious Stephen Jackson was 7-24 from the field.
Jose Calderon – 0 pts, 5 reb, 13 ast, 7 TO at New Orleans
This was just a wacky one from Monday, but honestly I don’t think it was as wacky as the guy he played against, Chris Paul, putting up a 6-3-11 of his own on 1-8 shooting. So the starting point guards combined to shoot 1 for 13 in an 85-81 game. Yuck. Let’s give props to Jarrett Jack, who lit up his old team for 17 points in 27 minutes. Jack, Marco Belinelli, Marcus Thornton and Willie Green are all cancelling each other in the New Orleans backcourt.
Corey Maggette – 25 pts, 11-18 FG, 39 minutes at Houston
Oh, Maggette’s starting now? Noted.
Jason Kidd – 0 pts, 1 reb, 13 ast, 0-7 FG at Detroit.
Kidd out-Calderons Calderon.
Greg Monroe – 16 pts, 9 reb, 4 stl vs. Dallas
Time to grab Monroe if he is somehow available. In his last seven games he is averaging 13.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and a marvelous 2.6 steals while shooting 58.7 percent from the floor.
Al Horford – 23 pts, 9 reb, 6 ast, 7 blk, 10-16 FG vs. Sacramento
He’s averaging 2.3 blocks this month and was putting up borderline first-round numbers without the shot blocking as it was.
Stephen Curry – 13 pts, 2 reb, 6 ast, 23 minutes vs. New Jersey
No, there wasn’t an injury. Curry was just in foul trouble, but this is alarming. He has played less than 30 minutes in four of his last five games. The Curry of last year is nowhere to be found right now, and it looks like the wild ways of Nellieball are missed.
Ryan Anderson – 16 pts, 8 reb, 2 blk, 4-6 3FG at Boston
Do we have a legit pickup in Orlando? Can you believe Anderson should be owned over Gilbert Arenas, Jameer Nelson and Brandon Bass? Believe it. Anderson is averaging 14.5 points, 7.5 boards, 1.3 blocks and 3.2 threes in his last six games. He has clearly earned a spot in the rotation, although we must warn that Stan Van Gundy still seems a bit unsettled with things and that there are enough gunners on this team to render Anderson useless occasionally. But until Orlando trades for a big man, Anderson’s minutes should be there.
And finally, this:
Jeff Andriesse covers fantasy basketball for RotoExperts.com and is a regular contributor to Damn Lies & Statistics. Get in touch with him by using the Contact Us form at the top of the website or follow him on Twitter.