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2012 Fantasy Basketball: James Harden, Chris Paul, Rudy Gay, Ersan Ilyasova and More

Line of the Night: There were some gaudier looking lines last night to be sure, but no one matched the efficiency of James Harden (2.99), who scored a career-high 30 points and hit 4 threes on 8-12 shooting from the field and 10-11 from the line. He also added a couple steals and blocks for good measure in the 115-104 win over the Suns. Not only was this Harden’s best game of the season, it’s his first really good fantasy game since he dropped 25 on the Warriors in the middle of February. Here’s hoping that we don’t have to wait another three weeks for Harden’s next great game.

Honorable Mentions: Harden’s teammates had some big games all-around (well, not Daequan Cook). Russell Westbrook (2.50) finished with 31 points, 3 threes, 10 assists, and 4 steals as the Thunder rallied from 16 back in this game. Kevin Durant (1.95) dropped 30 points, but no one was gaudier (in a good way) than Serge Ibaka (1.75), who scored 18 points and grabbed 20 boards with 3 blocks. Nice to see Ibaka getting 40 minutes of run in this game.

Chris Paul (2.76) filled up the box score in a last-second 101-100 loss to the Nets. Paul put up 22 points, 3 threes, 6 rebounds, 10 assists, and 5 steals in the game. Blake Griffin (1.34) scored 28 points and grabbed 17 boards, but again, was a dismal 10-17 from the line. Jordan Farmar was the hero with a last second three to win the game, but Deron Williams (1.06) led the team for fantasy purposes with 21 points, 6 boards and 10 assists.

Rudy Gay (2.63) was a beast against the Warriors, scoring 26 points and adding 12 rebounds and 5 assists. It’s his second double-double in three games and maybe it’s a sign that he’s turned a corner on a slightly disappointing season.

Ersan Ilyasova (2.44) just continues to put up insane fantasy line night after night (what a lucky grab if you were able to get him off waivers). He scored a career-high 32 points (going 14-18 from the field) with 10 rebounds against the Bulls. Ilyasova now has 4 double-doubles out of his last 6 games.

Speaking of the Bulls, they got some great performances out of Derrick Rose (2.04) – 30 points (14-14 from the line), 8 rebounds and 11 assists – as well as Joakim Noah (1.97), who finished with 20 points (on 10-14 from the field), with 10 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Last night was apparently about what you could so to fill up the box score. Rose also knocked down the game winning shot at the buzzer, although I’ve yet to see a fantasy league that counts gaming winning shots as a category (although I wouldn’t be surprised if there was one).

The Lakers blew a 21 point lead to the Wizards (no, that’s not a joke), but stats-wise Kobe Bryant (2.34) was solid, scoring 30 points, with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals while playing 40 minutes.

Al Jefferson (2.22) took Bismack Biyombo to school, scoring 31 points as Biyombo fouled out of the game. Jefferson also added 9 rebounds and 5 assists in the win. For the Bobcats, if you are looking to win the FT% category, Corey Maggette (1.30) is your man. He finished with 25 points and hit 13 of 14 from the line in the game.

With 13 games last night, there were plenty of more great fantasy performances like Kevin Love’s (1.68) 29 and 16 and LeBron James’ (1.77) 31 and 11, but in the interest of time let’s move on to…


Benching of the Night: Bye-bye Boris Diaw. Diaw sat for his second straight game last night and looks like he could be done with the Bobcats for good. Paul Silas says he “doesn’t know” if Diaw will play again this year and that “had he played all out — the way he should have played — it would have been a much, much better club.” Diaw has reportedly asked for a buyout from the team, but that won’t happen before the March 15th trade deadline at the earliest. If you happen to still be a Diaw owner, he can be dropped in all leagues.

I know it’s the Bobcats and all, but will anyone benefit from Diaw’s absence? More on that in the waiver wire section.

Waiver Wire Line of the Night:Zach Randolph isn’t back yet, and Marreese Speights (1.92) wants to make sure you know that. Speights scored 18 points, adding 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals in only 27 minutes against the Warriors. With the return of Randolph imminent (he’s participating in full practices) Speights is going to be pushed to the back end of the rotation very soon, so keep him away from your fantasy team unless you’re looking for a very short term play in deeper leagues.

Pick Up Lines: With the possible exception of Darko Milicic, no NBA player has logged more minutes with less of a fantasy impact this season than Wes Johnson (1.85), who has been starting at SF for the Wolves for a good chunk of the season (free Derrick Williams!). But last night against the Blazers, Johnson scored a season-high 19 points, hitting 3 threes, and going 8-11 from the field. This is Johnson’s best game of the season by far, so it doesn’t matter that he’s a starter, leave him on waivers for now.

Our good friend Byron Mullens (1.66) is back from the dead. Boris Diaw’s recent departure has opened up minutes for both Mullens and new starter D.J. White. But only Mullens has taken advantage of the situation, scoring 16 points and blocking 5! shots last night against the Jazz. Mullens has actually strung together three decent games in a row now and has gotten 25 minutes of run in each. While he’s never going to block 5 shots again, he’s worth a look in deep leagues if you need a big man that can score.

Gee! In his third straight start for the Cavs, Alonzo Gee (1.55) scored 19 points, with 7 rebounds and 4 steals in 32 minutes. With his recent strong performance, Gee has likely locked up the starting SF spot from Omri Casspi permanently and I think he’s worth an add in nearly all leagues at this point. He’s sort of a do a little bit of everything type of player so his numbers rarely pop out at you, but because of that he’s especially worth owning in roto leagues.

J.R. Smith (1.47) is back from the dead as well. I know Smith was starting to get dropped in a lot of leagues because he was third on the Knicks’ SG depth chart and the minutes weren’t there for him. So it should come as no surprise for those of you who dropped him that Mike D’Antoni decided to shake up his rotation last night by starting Iman Shumpert over the slumping Landry Fields. A byproduct of that move was that Smith saw 22 minutes off the bench (his most in four games) and scored 18 points, hitting 4-7 from three.

What should you do with Smith? Well, 22 minutes still isn’t a ton for fantasy purposes and he’s fighting for minutes with Shumpert and Fields, as well as trying to fill the same role as Steve Novak. If you still own Smith, I’d hold onto him for a couple more games to see if this rotation change results in more minutes and consistent lines. If you dropped Smith, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. Unless Shumpert and Fields both crash and burn or one of them gets hurt, Smith Is still going to be squeezed for minutes in New York.

Speaking of crashing and burning, Iman Shumpert (-0.45) was horrible in his start, scoring 2 points on 1-5 shooting in 29 minutes. Long-term though, if he can remain in the starting lineup, he should again be a very nice source of steals for most leagues.

Speaking of back from the dead, Chandler Parsons (1.39) is also back, scoring 19 points and adding 3 steals in nearly 42 minutes as the Rockets got blown out by the Raptors. Really, blown out by Toronto? The minutes are a bit of an abnormality for Parsons, however, it’s his 4th straight double-digit scoring game, and he’s back to putting up some nice all-around numbers. He’s worth another look in most leagues.

Andray Blatche who? In a crazy comeback game against the Lakers, Trevor Booker (1.35) was the only Wizard starter to see more than 30 minutes on the court. He responded with 18 points and a career-high 17 rebounds to help spark the comeback and takedown Los Angeles. Funny enough, Booker has been playing very well since Blatche returned to the lineup and isn’t giving the team any reason to play Blatche more than 10-15 minutes a night. I’d consider adding him and riding the hot streak as long as he’s playing well and in the starting lineup.

Breakout game for Evan Turner (1.08)? Turner’s second start of the year went much, much better than his first as he scored a career-high 26 points on 11-19 shooting, adding 9 rebounds in 37 minutes. As I said the other day, by assuming the starting role Turner could be one of this season’s second half breakout players. Add him if he’s available.

A day after I recommend that everyone pick up Bismack Biyombo (-1.62), he fouls out of the game against the Jazz, turning the ball over 5 times. Meanwhile, Ekpe Udoh (1.02) finished with 9 points, 6 boards and 4 blocks against the Grizzlies. I think Udoh has shown he’s by far the more consistent player over Biyombo (being about 5 years older helps), and while Biyombo’s upside is certainly intriguing, if you can’t deal with those wild game-to-game swings, Udoh should be your man over Biyombo.

Despite the bad performance, I still like Biyombo as a fantasy pickup. He’s got to be the rawest player in the league right now and any skilled big man (take Al Jefferson for example) is going to carve him up, but against the right matchup he’s going to dominate. Jefferson just took him to school last night.

If Dorell Wright were to get straight up benched (more on that below) Klay Thompson (0.99) and Brandon Rush (0.12) would stand to benefit with additional minutes. Thompson – who had 16 points and 6 boards against the Grizzlies last night – has the more intriguing upside, but Rush appears to be Mark Jackson’s preferred guy to fill in for Wright and would probably benefit the most with additional minutes.

Biggest Loser: The Wizards came back from 21 down to stun the Lakers, but it was the bench that took it home, not John Wall (-0.93) and the starters. Wall played less than 30 minutes, and finished with 4 points and 9 assists, but also turned the ball over 5 times and shot 1-8 from the field.

Does Dorell Wright (-0.88) even need to be mentioned here anymore? We’ll give Wright a dishonorable career achievement award and you can just assume that anytime the Warriors play, he’ll be here. Anyway, Wright was benched after playing 10 minutes against the Grizzlies, finishing with 0 points, 0 rebounds and 1 assist. It’s time to straight up drop the guy in a lot of leagues, because you can’t trust him enough to stick him in your lineup on a nightly basis.


Daily rankings and stats come from the GMTR H2H Player Rater (beta version). They are based on the stat Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) an estimate of the number of wins a player produces per week in H2H leagues over a replacement (waiver wire) player.

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