Who will be a second-half star?

Over the last eight games Mike Conley has averaged 14.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 6.2 apg.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The All-Star break is over and it's time to start the final push towards your NBA fantasy championship. Like most owners, you are probably searching high and low for that final piece of the puzzle to put you over the top.

Usually that piece is a player who comes from out of nowhere (a.k.a. the bench) and explodes onto the scene in the second half.

Last year, the two players with the best second-half improvement were Randy Foye and Hakeem Warrick.

Foye averaged a miniscule 8.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.8 apg before the break, not fantasy-worthy, and 14.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 4.8 apg afterwards. Warrick averaged 8.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 0.4 apg pre-All-Star break and his numbers jumped to 16.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 1.2 apg after the break making him a viable fantasy starter.

Kevin Durant also took a giant leap in the second half. His points-per-game jumped from 19.4 ppg to 21.9 ppg and his shooting percentage went from 40% to 47%.

Who will it be this year?

Here are four possible answers.

Mike Conley, G, Memphis - Conley has averaged 8.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.6 apg so far this season. Over the last eight games, however, he is averaging 14.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 6.2 apg. When Lionel Hollins was installed as coach for fired Marc Iavaroni, he put Conley in his starting lineup and told him to go out and play ball. That's exactly what Conley has done and it is working.

D.J. Augustin, G, Charlotte - Augustin is a rookie out of Texas who is averaging 12.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg and 4.0 apg. for the season. But over the final three games before the break, his numbers jumped to 22.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.3 apg. as he started for the first time since mid-December. Those stats should make any owner happy.

Andre Iguodala, F, Philadelphia - Since mid-December, Iguodala has averaged 21.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.7 apg to carry the 76ers after Elton Brand went down with a season-ending injury. The team has gone more to the running game that made them so exciting in 2008, but which they curtailed at the start of the season to help Brand blend in to the team more easily.

Charlie Bell, G, Milwaukee - Bell averaged just 7.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg and 2.0 apg for the first half of 2008-09, but with Michael Redd (remainder of the season) and Luke Ridnour (four weeks) out Bell and Ramon Sessions have prospered. Session, who I wrote about last week, has been spectacular over the last three games (28.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 12.0 apg), but Bell has also benefited from the additional playing time. Bell has posted back-to-back 20-point games and is averaging over 27 minutes on the court.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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