Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Calling the past four days a busy weekend for Los Angeles sports would be a bit of an understatement.
Since Thursday, the Staples Center has hosted two Los Angeles Kings' NHL playoff games, two Lakers games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and two Clippers matchups versus the San Antonio Spurs.
And if that wasn't enough to make you lose your mind, only four miles down the road from the Staples Center, the Dodgers were hosting the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals Friday through Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
The only L.A. team not in town this weekend was the Angels, who instead traveled two hours south to take on the San Diego Padres.
This whole Los Angeles sports hullaballoo over the weekend got me thinking: who are the very best fantasy players the City of Angels has to offer?
There are plenty of fantasy studs to choose from in La-La Land, but here are my Top 10:
10. Albert Pujols, First Baseman, Los Angeles Angels: Even if Pujols had gone 0-for-a-trillion with the Angels, he'd still be a first ballot Hall of Famer based on the monster numbers he put up during his tenure with the Cardinals. But fantasy owners who drafted Pujols first or second overall this season were hoping for a little more than that. This season, 134 players have swatted more homers than Pujols, who is hitting just .211 through 41 games. Pujols gave his owners a glimpse of hope by bashing home runs in consecutive games last week, but he followed up those performances with a 2-foor-12 showing against the Padres this past weekend. When Pujols is on his game, he might be No. 1 on this list, but for now, we'll slot him at No. 10.
9. Blake Griffin, Forward, Los Angeles Clippers: Griffin might be the most exciting player in Hollywood, but high-flying dunks don't necessarily translate into fantasy success. Griffin played well in Year 1 of the Lob City Era (20.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg), but his numbers still weren't quite as good as the ones he posted in his rookie season (22.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg). This year in the playoffs, Griffin averaged 19.1 ppg and hauled in an average of 6.9 boards per game while dealing with knee and hip injuries.
8. Anze Kopitar, Center, Los Angeles Kings: The eighth-seeded Kings are one win away from their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since Wayne Gretzky was on the team, and Kopitar's brilliant season is a major reason why. Kopitar finished 15th in the NHL in scoring with 76 total points, including a career- high 51 assists. The two-time All-Star has been just as strong in the playoffs as he was during the regular season. Kopitar has recorded five goals and a team-high nine assists in 13 playoff games against the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes.
7. Andrew Bynum, Center, Los Angeles Lakers: If Griffin is the best dunker in Los Angeles, Bynum has to be the city's premier shot-blocker. He's averaging 3.4 rejections per game in the postseason, including 10 in one game in the first round against Denver. But Bynum's value isn't limited to just shot- blocking. He's an explosive scorer in the low post (18.7 ppg in the regular season) and he gobbles up rebounds with the best of them (racked up a career- high 11.8 boards per game in 2011-12). He's a bit of a headcase and his enthusiasm wavers from time to time, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a more dominant fantasy center than Bynum.
6. Jered Weaver, Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels: Most seasons, an 18-8 record, 198 strikeouts and a 2.41 ERA would make you the favorite to win the Cy Young award. Unfortunately for Weaver, he posted those numbers in a year when Justin Verlander was equally untouchable (24-5, 2.41 ERA, 250 Ks). Weaver will have to beat out Verlander again this year if he wants to win the award, but an early season no-hitter against the Minnesota Twins can't hurt his chances.
5. Clayton Kershaw, Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers: Kershaw wasn't just the top pitcher in Los Angeles in 2011, he was the best in the entire National League. Kershaw captured the elusive pitching triple crown by leading the NL in wins (21), ERA (2.28) and strikeouts (248). He's off to another stellar start in 2012, with four wins and a 1.90 ERA while holding opponents to a .193 batting average. He'll enter Friday's start against the Houston Astros having fired 22 consecutive scoreless innings.
4. Jonathan Quick, Goaltender, Los Angeles Kings: Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Quick are two of the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy and figuring out who is more worthy of the award is not an easy task. Their regular-season stats are shockingly similar: Lundqvist held a slight edge in save percentage (.930 to Quick's .929) while Quick finished the season with a slim advantage in goals against average (1.95 to 1.97). If these two netminders wind up playing each other in the Stanley Cup Finals next week, we might have the lowest-scoring NHL Finals in league history.
3. Kobe Bryant, Guard, Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are clinging to dear life as they head into Monday night's game trailing the Thunder three games to one. But without the Black Mamba tossing in 30 points a game, the Lakers would already be on summer vacation. Even if Monday is the last we see of Bryant in 2011-12, it will still go down as one of the finest seasons of his illustrious 16-year career. Only Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (28.0 ppg) averaged more ppg than Bryant (27.9) this season.
2. Matt Kemp, Outfielder, Los Angeles Dodgers: Kemp has been on the disabled list with a strained hamstring for over a week, but before the injury he was devouring NL pitching like Garfield guzzles down a plate of lasagna. The 27- year-old has averaged 31 home runs, 105 RBIs and 31 stolen bases a year over his last three seasons while hitting at a .290 clip. This season, David Wright, Josh Hamilton and Paul Konerko are the only hitters in baseball with a higher average than Kemp's .359 mark through 34 games. Kemp is a fantasy titan and easily the best hitter in Los Angeles (or at least until Pujols rounds into form).
1. Chris Paul, Guard, Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers' season ended on Sunday, but you can't pin their downfall on Paul. Sure, the former New Orleans Hornet was rather unremarkable against the Spurs in the second round of the playoffs (12.8 ppg), but he was playing hurt and even with all the bumps and bruises, Paul still generated high assist totals (9.3 apg in the series). Overall, it was a great season for the Clippers, who won their first playoff series since 2006, and Paul was a huge part of their success. Expect Paul, the third-highest scoring point guard in the league behind Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams this season, to be even more successful in Year 2 of Lob City.
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