Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
While it's true that the NBA All-Star break isn't the halfway point of the season (teams have played 50-55 games) it's a convenient time to look at what has taken place year-to-date.
So let's look at each position and see who has been the best overall and the best fantasy bargain.
PG - Chris Paul, New Orleans
Until Paul tore the meniscus cartilage in his left knee (January 29), he was having another stellar season. Still, in the 38 games he did play, he averaged 20.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 11.2 apg and 2.3 steals. He'll miss 1-2 months and won't win this award at season's end, but his body of work was good enough to take top honors at the halfway point.
"Best Bargain Award" goes to second-round choice Chauncey Billups (ADP 15) who has played like a top-five guy. He's shooting better from the field and from three-point range and has raised his average by almost two points-per-game (17.7-to-19.5) while helping the Denver Nuggets to the second-best record in the Western Conference.
SG - Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
While LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, Kevin Durant has outscored him since the beginning of the year. No one can stop the former Texas Longhorn who is averaging 31.9 ppg since January 1st and scored at least 25 points in 21 consecutive games. He's been a top-three performer.
Sacramento rookie shooting guard Tyreke Evans (ADP 133) is threatening to become a 20-5-5 guy. That's rare in the NBA and even more rare for a first-year player. For that reason he is the leading candidate for the "Best Bargain Award" at shooting guard.
SF - LeBron James, Cleveland
He's simply the best player in the NBA and his statistics show it. James is averaging 29.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 8.3 apg, 1.6 spg, 1.0 bpg while shooting over 50% from the field. He fills the stats page from top to bottom and is worth every penny you paid for him.
The "Best Bargain Award" goes to the underrated Golden State Warrior Corey Maggette. Since the move to northern California three years ago, Maggette's overall statistics have increased dramatically yet somehow his ADP was still at 127 on Draft Day. That means every fantasy owner passed on selecting him at least nine times...shame on you.
PF - Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
Nowitzki does everything well as he carries the Dallas Mavericks to yet another winning season. His rebounds are down about two-per-game from his earlier years, but at 24.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 2.4 apg he's still a formidable weapon at the power forward position.
Who would have thought that the addition of Zach Randolph to the Memphis Grizzlies lineup would have turned them into a winner, certainly not me. But when Randolph brought his 20.5 points and 11.6 rebounds to Tennessee it "clicked" and he's been a great addition to Memphis and my starting lineup. Not bad for an ADP of 77.
C - Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
Gasol, last year's TSN Fantasy Player of the Year in the NBA has continued to thrive in Coach Phil Jackson's triangle offense. He's been even better since Kobe Bryant went down with an ankle injury averaging 21.5 ppg and 19 rpg over the past two games. For the season Gasol is averaging 17.2 ppg, 11.2 rpg and 3.5 apg while shooting 52.4% from the field and 80.9% from the free-throw line.
Pau Gasol's brother Marc Gasol has thrived with the arrival of Randolph in Memphis and has improved his statistics across the board. He's now averaging 14.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.6 bpg while shooting 58.8% from the field and 70.2% from the line. By next season he may be challenging his brother for the top center award, but for now he'll have to settle for "Best Bargain" with his preseason ADP of 134.
Fantasy Rookie of the Year - As indicated earlier, Evans is having a great rookie campaign, and is the leading candidate for this award averaging 20.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 5.1 apg. Stephen Curry is at least keeping him honest by playing great in the wide-open Warriors offense, averaging 14.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg and 4.9 apg.
Most Improved Fantasy Player of the Year - New York Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari has improved in almost every category, helped by an increase in playing time from 14.7 minutes-a-game to 32.2 minutes. He's more than doubled his points-per-game from 6.1-to-14.3 with corresponding increases in rebounding, assists, steals and blocks. With a preseason ADP of 166 (that's a 14th-round selection in a 12-team league), Gallinari edges out Marc Gasol for the award who increased in six of seven categories.
Most Disappointing Fantasy Player of the Year - At the moment, the "leading" candidate for most disappointing is Devin Harris of the New Jersey Nets. After such a huge improvement from 2007-08 to 2008-09, Harris was expected to be a mainstay in fantasy lineups everywhere. Instead he's been mediocre at best, averaging 16.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg and 6.4 apg, all decreases from 2008-09. He was drafted in the third round (ADP 24), but he is giving you eighth-round value.