Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Every day we are bombarded by what LeBron James did, Kobe Bryant accomplished, Kevin Durant posted or what Amar'e Stoudemire is doing in New York. But they aren't the only guys playing well every night and if fact, there are many players producing better than the "media-hyped" superstars.
In my NBA Yahoo League, Durant ranks fifth, Stoudemire 10th, James 11th and Bryant is just 21st best. Below are the guys performing better than "the best."
The first thing you will notice about the top players is that they all shoot at least 80% from the free throw line (expect for Stoudemire). They are also stats-fillers. Chris Paul may be just 6'0" tall, but he pulls down 4.3 rebounds per night. Pau Gasol is a seven-footer, but is also a great passer and dishes out four assists per game. The remainder of the leaders help you in every category, be it rebounds, assists, steals or blocks.
Chris Paul, New Orleans - Paul's numbers are actually down from 2008 and 2009, but that just goes to show you how great he played in those years. By next week he will equal the total number of games he played in an injury-filled 2009 and he'll likely get his scoring touch back. If he's not on your roster, he'll likely be impossible to trade for, but ask anyway. Maybe his current owner is only looking at his slide in PPG and APG and will give him up.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers - Kobe gets the "ink" but Gasol is a huge part of the Lakers' success. He doesn't put up flashy numbers, but he's solid across the board. He was picked at the end of the first round on Draft Day, but he's producing top-five statistics.
Kevin Love, Minnesota - Love was a fourth-round selection and is a top candidate for the "Best Bargain Award." With Al Jefferson in Utah, Love is a starter averaging almost nine more minutes per game than in his sophomore season and his statistics have exploded. His scoring has jumped from 14.0 ppg to 21.1 and his rebounds has skyrocketed to 15.8 rpg. He's also improved on his 3PT% and FT% to become a top-10 fantasy star. He has 25 consecutive double-doubles.
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio - Most fantasy owners thought Ginobili was on the downside of his career, having played too many games for the Spurs and his native country - Argentina. But he's healthier than he has been in a few years and it's showing in his numbers. He's scoring at a 19.1 ppg pace, his best average since 2007 and contributing in all categories.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City - Durant's numbers are actually down from 2009 in every category except assists. That's not to say he's playing badly, because he is playing great, it's just that he set awfully high standards last year. You probably won't be able to trade for him no matter what you offer.
Al Horford, Atlanta - For a guy who is really a power forward, Horford is doing a great job as a center. He's got 20 double-doubles and is averaging a career-high 16.1 ppg. He's a bargain as a mid-third round pick and might still be a trade target because he usually slips under the radar while Joe Johnson or Jamal Crawford get the media attention.
Rudy Gay, Memphis - Gay's numbers are up in all eight statistical categories and he's setting career marks in seven of the eight. He's become a fantasy superstar but one that might still be available in a trade deal because he doesn't get much media coverage playing in Memphis.
Paul Pierce, Boston - Pierce's numbers are down from the days when he carried a bad Celtics team on his back, but he's still an eight-category contributor. Considering he was a fourth-round selection (ADP 38), you are getting solid value.
Deron Williams, Utah - I have to admit, I'm biased when it comes to Williams, he's my favorite fantasy player. His scoring continues to climb, to a career-high 21.9 ppg this season, while he continues to dish out around 10 assists per game.
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