Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
We all expected Amare Stoudemire to play great this season and the Phoenix power forward/center has done exactly that. So have Olympians Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard. But what about the surprises, both good and bad, at the center position?
The Good -
Nene Hilario - Nene missed 62 games last year and averaged just 5.3 ppg in the few he did play. As a late eighth-round fantasy draft choice, Hilario has put up numbers better than he ever has. He is averaging a surprising 15.1 ppg while still keeping his rebounding numbers over seven-per-game. He has also improved his FT shooting to over 75% and his blocks-per-game to a career-high 1.7 a game.
Spencer Hawes - Hawes has improved his scoring three-fold from 2007-08 and doubled his rebounds-per game. It certainly helps that he is averaging just over 29 minutes on the floor versus 13 minutes last year, but at 12.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.5 apg and 2.1 bpg, Hawes is now a viable fantasy player.
Rasheed Wallace - Rasheed may be 100-years-old, okay he's 34, but he's playing better than expected. His 9.2 rebounds per game is the best of his career and his .394 3-pt shooting is the best since 1998-99. He is also scoring at a 13.4 ppg clip and there is no reason to think any of the numbers will slide.
Andris Biedrens - Playing in Golden State automatically means your numbers will be high, but 16.1 ppg, and 12.9 rpg is stunning for an average fifth-round selection. As long as he averages 35 minutes-per game, his statistics should stay up there.
The Bad -
Emeka Okafor - Most players improve over time, but Okafor's numbers have stayed stagnant for four years. Now in 2008, his scoring is down significantly...from 13.8 last year to 9.9 this year. That's just not enough for a guy with his talent or for a fourth-round fantasy pick.
Tyson Chandler - I thought Chandler had finally figured it out last year when he averaged 11.8 ppg and 11.7 rpg playing alongside Chris Paul. But he is significantly down in almost every fantasy category - points, rebounds, assist and steals. For a 26-year-old, athletic seven-footer in the prime of his career with a player like Paul feeding him the ball - double-doubles should be automatic. He has two this season.
Greg Oden - Is he the next "Sam Bowie?" He can't seem to stay on the floor and averages 8.5 ppg along with 7.1 rpg in 20 minutes of action. I think some Portland fans are beginning to look longingly at Kevin Durant. And I think the fantasy owners who selected him in the sixth round aren't happy either.
Andrew Bogut - Australian Andrew Bogut had increased his scoring and rebounding in each of his three NBA seasons. So it's frustrating for fantasy owners to see this year's slide. His 11.4 ppg is almost three points less than last season and his assist per game is lower than even his rookie season. Most owners were expecting his numbers to improve to 16 points and 11 rebounds. He's done that in only one game to date.