The Trending Ten
By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Welcome to "The Trending Ten" in which I take you through (you guessed it) 10 things happening in fantasy basketball lately.
1) Thaddeus Young's insane stretch - Young reportedly asked to be traded from the 76ers, and what better way to facilitate that than to increase your desirability? Young has averaged 26.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 3.0 steals, 0.7 blocks and 2.0 threes over his last seven games. He's suddenly a 3-point threat, making 40.8 percent of his 2.5 attempts per game this season after hitting just 33.2 percent of his 1.0 attempts per game his first six.
2) Down goes CP3 - Clippers point guard Chris Paul will be sidelined six weeks with a Grade 3 AC joint separation, leaving Darren Collison in charge of Los Angeles' offense. Collison is a must-add in all leagues, but don't expect him to come anywhere close to Paul's production. With Paul out, look for Los Angeles to lean even more heavily on Blake Griffin, who has averaged 26.3 points and 10.8 rebounds in his last 11 games. However, Griffin's production will probably wane just a bit without Paul setting him up.
3) Sanders vs. Neal, who ya got? - Bucks teammates Larry Sanders and Gary Neal exchanged heated words in front of reporters after Saturday's game, with Neal telling Sanders something fantasy owners have been thinking all season: earn your money. Sanders signed a four-year, $44 million contract extension in the offseason but has had a disastrous season. He has been limited to eight games due to a torn thumb ligament he suffered in a nightclub fight in early November. The center has averaged 30 minutes, 9.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.8 blocks in five games since returning from his injury. The 6- foot-11, 235-pound Sanders against the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Neal doesn't seem like a fair fight, but Neal at least has the benefit of having Sanders' nightclub brawl on tape for scouting purposes. In case things get hairy in the Bucks locker room again, Neal should have a bottle of champagne handy to pour on the floor. During Sanders' previous battle, a slick floor caused by spilled beverages rendered him as clumsy as a baby giraffe trying to stand up for the first time.
4) Gerald Green's resurgent season - Green shot a miserable 36.6 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from 3-point range with the Pacers in 2012-13, but he's been an ace marksman with the Suns this season. He's averaged 13.4 points and 2.6 threes per game overall, and in 14 starts he's produced 15.9 ppg 1.4 spg and 2.9 3pg. Eric Bledsoe will miss at least three more games with a sprained knee, which will allow Green to stick in the starting lineup after scoring 24 points with five steals and four threes Saturday.
5) Kendall Marshall taking advantage of his opportunity - The Lakers are down to their sixth option at point guard with Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant and Xavier Henry all on the shelf, but Marshall has looked like A-number-one in the Lakers backcourt since taking over as the starter two games ago. He's put up 14.5 points, 16 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 threes per game in that stretch, once again proving that Mike D'Antoni indeed can make any point guard fantasy-relevant.
6) Ricky Rubio's terrible shooting and fast hands - Rubio may go down as the worst shooter in NBA history. He has a .357 field-goal percentage over his first 131 NBA games, including .351 this season. But Rubio has kept his fantasy value afloat by both giving and taking at a high level. The Timberwolves point guard is averaging 8.3 assists and an NBA-high 2.9 steals per game this season, as well as 4.7 rebounds, tied for fourth among point guards.
7) Bye bye Bynum - The suspension of Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum has led to Anderson Varejao getting the starting job back as well as inheriting a chunk of Bynum's minutes. Over the last seven games (six starts), Varejao has averaged 33 minutes, 9.3 points, 14 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. In his previous 27 games, the Brazilian averaged 28.5 minutes, 7.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 0.7 blocks.
8) Protecting their investment - After sitting out nearly a month with a stress injury in his fibula, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal has found himself on the bench more often since he returned to the lineup. In nine games since he made it back, Beal has averaged just 27 minutes and 13.1 points per game. The Wizards will reportedly continue to restrict Beal's minutes for "a few more weeks," according to J. Michael of csnwashington.com.
9) Wish you left sooner - Ditching Rudy Gay, a player shooting 38.8 percent from the field and taking 18.6 shots per game, was bound to make Toronto's offense better, but the Raptors also have improved due to the play of Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross. With averages of 17.4 points, 8.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 2.4 threes over 14 games, Lowry has been a top-five overall fantasy option in the past 30 days. And to think, he was nearly traded to the Knicks in late December. Ross, the No. 8 overall pick in last year's draft, has averaged 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 2.7 triples in 13 games since taking over Gay's starting job.
10) No leap for Leonard - After averaging 37 minutes, 13.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.1 threes in the playoffs last season, Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard looked to be the next fantasy star as the team was expected to expand his role in 2013-14. However, he's actually played fewer minutes per game than last season -- 31 to 28.5 -- and is averaging 11.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.7 threes. His averages last season: 11.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 threes. He's failed to score more than eight points in four of his past five games while averaging 7.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.0 apg and 1.2 spg in that span.
01/06 18:49:25 ET