Tuesday, February 15, 2005

New! Updated! Top 20!

A big change at the top, and some familiar faces coming back from dead…

Tier One

1. LeBron James, SF – There, I said it. We’ll discuss KG in a sec, but LBJ has every right to be number one here. He’s 7th in the league in points, 2nd in steals, 4th in assists, plus he gives you 3’s, blocks, and boards. You’d like to see a nicer FT%, but whatever.

2. Kevin Garnett, F – I blame this entirely on the tag team of Sprewell and Cassell, whose poor attitudes have killed the T-wolves this year. But KG’s February has seen him fall off in nearly every category, and with a sore knee it’s going to be interesting to see how much Mr. Reliable is going to play, particularly if they fall out of playoff contention.

3. Dirk Nowitzki, FC – Perhaps the biggest story no one is talking about is Nowitzki, who despite losing Steve Nash, having year-long turmoil at the PG spot, and dealing with an aging Mike Finley, Dirk has led the Mavs to a 33-16 record. He’s putting up career highs in points (26.9), blocks (1.5), and assists (3.1) in the process.

4. Shawn Marion, SF – Really, the stats say that he should beat out Nowitzki for the 3rd spot. But between Dirk’s center eligibility and the acquisition of Jim Jackson and Walter McCarty to cut into Marion’s minutes, we’ll put him 4th. Still the most complete player in the game, though.

5. Kobe Bryant, SG – When the going gets tough … well, you know. These next 2 months will be where Kobe has to prove he can do it without the Diesel. He has all the motivation he needs with his team clinging to a playoff spot, and if there’s one guy with a chance to average 35 points in the next couple months, it’s Kobe.

6. Tim Duncan, FC – Did you see those 9 assists he got the other night against the Nets? Ridiculous. With the new ‘small ball’ strategy in San Antonio, he might be in line for even more nights like that.

7. Allen Iverson, G – He leads the league in scoring, is top 5 in assists, and 3rd in steals. It’s a shame that his team is so terrible, but that doesn’t matter in fantasy. He probably went in the 2nd or 3rd round this year, and he’s been everything his owners could have possibly hoped for, and more.

8. Tracy McGrady, SG – For some reason, in February, he’s completely forgotten how to shoot the ball, or steal it for that matter. But his assists (7.5) have taken a nice bump.

Tier Two

9. Jason Kidd, PG – He’s baaaaack. Plus, as the clear #2 scorer on the Nets, he’s taking (and making) more 3’s than ever before. I mean, if someone told you in September that come February, Kidd would be playing great ball for the Nets, and teaming up with Vince Carter to lead them in a push for the playoffs, well, you’d have called them crazy.

10. Vince Carter, GF – Unbelievable. If I’m a Toronto fan, this guy is the devil. Can you believe that all the Nets gave up was Zo (waived) Eric Williams (demanding a trade, not playing) and some other junk for VC? Steal of the century. Almost 30 points, 2.1 3’s, over 5 boards and assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks on 48% shooting over the last month makes him a Top-10 player right now, for sure.

11. Gilbert Arenas, PG – OK, I waited as long as I could. Since Larry Hughes went down with a busted thumb last month, Gil has been on fire, and his last months stats (29.1/ 4.1/5.9, 2.8 3’s, 2.3 steals) are amazing. The only reason he isn’t at 6 or 7 is because Hughes will be back right after the All-Star Break, and his stats will suffer because of it.

12. Andrei Kirilenko – Since his return to the starting lineup, his steals, 3’s and boards have all been below last year’s levels, and his blocks (2.4) have fallen from his absurd pre-injury numbers (4.4) as well. Plus he hurt himself last night and may miss a game or two.

Tier Three

13. Steve Nash, PG – This is where things get murky, but since I’ve been championing Steve Nash for MVP since November, he’ll get lucky number 13 on the list. His assists are incredible, yes, but how about shooting over 50% as a PG?

14. Amare Stoudemire, FC – He just keeps getting better – averaging 11.7 boards in his last 7 games.

15. Elton Brand, PF - He got left off the list last time, but he’s averaging 2.7 bpg since the new year, which was my main beef with him last time. Plus his scoring and rebounding is up over the last month and a half, too.

16. Brad Miller, C – The more time his teammates miss, the more he’s gonna rack up the stats. His value may be a little over-inflated at this point, but not by much.

17. Chris Webber, PF – Fine. FINE. He may be getting almost a triple-double every night he plays, but I still don’t like the injury risk, and he’s posting a career low in blocks. Yes I traded him a month ago, no I’m not bitter.

18. Quentin Richardson, SF – Yeah, I’m putting 4 Suns in the top 20. But you know what? Q’s 3.1 3pg is absolutely dominant, plus he helps in boards, steals, and FT%.

19. Peja Stojakovic, SF – I don’t like these injuries that keep coming up, but Peja, when he plays, is awesome from the line, hits 3’s regularly, and scores almost 20 ppg. A disappointing season, though, for Peja and his owners.

20. Dewayne Wade, PG – On the player rater, he’s a plus in every category except 3’s and boards. If he ever expands his range, he’s a top-10 player.

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