Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Welcome to "The Trending Ten" in which I take you through (you guessed it) 10 things happening in fantasy basketball lately.
1) Ibaka surges - When Russell Westbrook tore his meniscus during the 2013 postseason, Ibaka failed to take his offensive game to a higher level to replace some of Westbrook's production. As a result, Oklahoma City was bounced in Round 2. This season, he has made the necessary jump with Westbrook on the sideline following a third knee surgery. During the Thunder's 11-1 stretch, Ibaka has averaged 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game while making 61.6 percent of his field-goal attempts.
2) Crawford raises game - Darren Collison's serviceable play at the point guard position and Blake Griffin's continued excellence are big reasons why the Los Angeles Clippers have gone 11-5 without Chris Paul, but don't overlook the contributions of sixth man Jamal Crawford. Crawford has scored 21.5 points in 29.4 minutes per game with Paul out, and he also has stepped up his distributing with 4.9 assists per game in that span. Prior to CP3's injury, Crawford handed out 2.4 assists per game.
3) Dirk owns the charity stripe - In addition to making his 12th All-Star team, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has averaged 25.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.0 threes over his last 12 games while leading Dallas to an 8-4 record. During that stretch, Nowitzki has averaged 6.1 ppg from the free-throw line alone by making 73-of-77 (.948).
4) Wiz over .500 - With a win over the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night, the Washington Wizards moved above .500 for the first time since Oct. 31, 2009, eight months before they drafted John Wall. It took an 8-4 run for the Wizards to finally break through the mediocrity line, and Wall averaged 20.6 points, 8.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.1 threes and 0.7 blocks during that timeframe. As far as I know, the district of Washington did not throw any celebrations resembling those that Washington state put on Sunday night after the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII.
5) Lakers come back - The Los Angeles Lakers had to turn to failed Phoenix Suns first-round pick Kendall Marshall after their first five point-guard options suffered injuries, and Marshall has been good for 10.5 points, 9.6 assists and 1.8 threes in 19 games with the team. However, the Lakers will get back Steve Nash and Steve Blake Tuesday night and Marshall will be coming off the bench. Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said Marshall will still get 20-25 minutes per game, but fantasy owners can expect that to drop once Los Angeles loosens Steve Nash's minutes restriction and Jordan Farmar returns from his hamstring injury.
6) Smith gets it together - After being benched for untying opponents' shoelaces and then benched again for complaining about his playing time, it appears New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith learned the best way to stay on the court is to simply play better ... and to keep his hands on his own shoes. Smith has made 47.4 percent of his shots (.485 3PT) and averaged 17.1 points per game over his last 12 games after shooting 34.8 percent and scoring 11.3 points per game his first 29. Smith had a season-high 30 points Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks, and I think I even spotted him lacing up Larry Sanders' shoe as an act of good sportsmanship.
7) Wade finds form - It wasn't easy to endure Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade missing five of seven games when he only managed to put up eight points in each of the three games he did play from Jan. 15-26, but we've seen Wade return to top form lately. He has played at least 32 minutes in each of his last three games and averaged 26 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.0 steals while shooting 67.6 percent from the field in his last two.
8) Jennings rewards patience - Fantasy owners who didn't drop Jennings in a rage or trade him straight-up for Josh McRoberts when he shot 40 percent or worse in 10 straight games (.267 in that span) have enjoyed six straight 20- point games from the Detroit Pistons guard. Jennings still isn't having great success from the field but he has attempted 9.0 free throws per game during the streak, up from his season average of 4.8.
9) Center deserves attention - The Golden State Warriors are known for their 3-point gunning and fast-paced offense, but they also have the fourth best defensive rating (the number of points allowed per 100 possessions) in the NBA. Golden State's man in the middle Andrew Bogut is a big part of that success. After playing just 44 games the last two seasons combined, Bogut has played 47 of the Warriors' 48 games this season. The center has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in 10 of the last 13 games and blocked 3.6 shots per game over his last seven.
10) Lowry snubbed - Along with Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Lance Stephenson, Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry was one of the most deserving players left off the 2013-14 All-Star teams. Lowry has been the 11th most valuable player in yahoo.com fantasy leagues this season and averaged 18.3 points, 7.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 threes and 1.5 steals over his last 27 games, during which time the Raptors went 18-9.