Not to be confused with DJ Mbenga, my new favorite player is Cavaliers swingman Christian Eyenga. The Congolese sharpshooter can do a little bit of everything and has quietly been filling stat sheets with regularity since being inserted into Byron Scott’s starting lineup a few weeks ago.
Has anyone seen this guy? He is listed as being 21 years old, but I believe he earned a Purple Heart along with Greg Oden in the War of 1812. He has scored in double figures in four of his last five games, converted a 3-pointer in six of his last seven, averaged 1.8 steals over his last six and 1.7 blocks over his last eight. There is currently no one pressing him for his starting job, and being from the most war-torn part of the world prepared him well for the post-LeBron era in Cleveland. If he is mysteriously available in your league, hop on him like a cheap suit.
While an Eyenga lovefest has swept the nation, there were plenty of other happenings in the League of Extraordinarily Tall Gentlemen. Let’s take a look-see at some of last night’s eye-opening lines.
Ramon Sessions, PG, CLE – You read it here a few weeks ago in Fox Unbalanced. Fantasy dynasties are built with Ramon Sessions as your point guard. Mo Williams remains out with myriad hip, groin and psychological issues and Sessions has been silly, while playing big minutes for the Cadavers. Last night he totaled 20 points (7-11 fg), six rebounds, 12 assists and five steals, despite the team’s 26th straight defeat. Williams is expected back after the all-star break, but he could very well be moved, leaving Sessions by his lonesome.
Roy Hibbert, C, IND – My on-again, off-again affair with Hibbert is back on. I hate seeing any coach who was a decent human being get fired, but what in the wide, wide world of sports was Jim O’Brien doing benching this talented behemoth? Last night he put up 29 points (12-19 fg), 10 rebounds and two rejects and has been playing with renewed confidence with Frank Vogel at the helm. Ride him to the promised land, people.
Aaron Gray, C, NOR – A few months ago I touted Jason Smith as a deep, deep sleeper in the instance Emeka Okafor went down with an injury. Well, Okafor is out until after the All-Star break, and last night in New Jersey, Aaron Gray played 40 minutes in the pivot while Smith saw a measley six minutes. Gray recorded an itty-bitty double-double (10 pts., 11 rebs), but by no means is this a recommendation. Mbenga, by the way, played only one minute, but did indeed shower after the contest.
Kris Humphries and Sasha Vujacic – The sultry Kim Kardashian and the incandescent Maria Sharapova were obviously not in attendance at the Rock last night as their boy-toys went nuts. Vujacic popped in 25 big ones with five threes, while Humphries registered 14 points and 15 boards. With the return of Anthony Morrow, Vujacic is not worth owning. Humphries, on the other hand, has notched 15 double-doubles this season and is averaging a shade under a block a game. He is useful and should sustain a 25-30 minute role the rest of the way.
Jodie Meeks, SG, PHI – The second-year man out of Kentucky has been lighting it up from long range lately and is worth a look for those in need of threes. Last night, he played 37 minutes and tallied 17 points and eight rebounds in a loss to Orlando, his second straight 37-minute outing. What was most intriguing were the nine 3-point attempts. He is shooting 40 percent from deep and 89 percent from the line, and it appears obvious that he doesn’t need to work on his confidence.
JaVale McGee, C, WASH – I’m growing to really like this incredibly athletic big man. His numbers have been kept in check recently, primarily due to illness, but last night he exploded for 16 points, 17 rebounds and three blocked shots, and did so against a tough Andrew Bogut. He is capable of huge boards and blocks in the future and is someone to target.
DeJuan Blair, PF, SAS – I started Blair for two straight weeks after Anderson Varejao went down for the season and I think he averaged 0.5 points and 0.3 rebounds. I may be inflating his numbers a little. Desperate for a center, I then proceeded to trade a monstrous Zach Randolph for Andrew Bynum, who has been nothing short of mediocre for me. Blair, now wasting away on my bench, immediately became a beast. Last night he produced another ho-hum 28 and 11 (14-21 fg) with two blocks and a steal. things are coming together for him and as Tim Duncan crawls to the All-Star break, Blair should be started with regularity.
Amir Johnson, PF, TOR – I was beyond high on Johnson at the beginning of the season, and he is finally living up to my lofty expectations. Of course I don’t have him in my league, but that’s a story for a different psychiatrist. In last night’s loss to San Antonio, he posted 12 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks and has scored in double figures in 17 of his previous 23, hauled in 10.8 rebounds over his last seven and averaged 1.9 swats over his last eight. With Linas Kleiza done for the year and Sonny Weems starting at small forward, the starting power forward gig is his and his numbers aren’t going anywhere.
Timofey Mozgov, C, NYK – Another in a long line of mediocre players to register big numbers on a Mike D’Antoni team, Mozgov has busted out of his coach’s doghouse and been a great find for owners desperately looking for a big body. Yesterday, the seven-footer erupted for 18 points (8-9 fg), six boards and a block and should remain a fixture in the rotation for at least the next few weeks… or at least until Ronny Turiaf returns from his latest injury.
Andrei Kirilenko, PF, UTH – Mozgov’s countryman harkened back to his first-round days, exploding for 13 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and two steals in yesterday’s loss to the Bulls. These games are now few and far between for the man who once did this nightly.
Peja Stojakovic, SF, DAL – Peja is the starting small forward in Dallas and has played 20 minutes in each of his first two contests. He’s officially made of glass, and one wrong turn could put an end to his career. But, if you need a 3-point specialist for the time being, he might be worth an addition.
Dorell Wright, SF, GSW – Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and is anyone in the league going to receive more love poems than Wright from his giddy owners? We’ve spoken enough about this man in these pages, but his game of the night (23 pts, 11 reb, 8 ast, 4 st, 4 3-pt) is worth a mention.
Unless he is stricken with the same ingrown toenail that affected him in the second grade, Fox Unbalanced will appear in these pages every Thursday. If you or someone you know views a Grizzlies/Raptors game as a religious experience, this could be the perfect destination for you. Feel free to chime in with some feedback.