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It's been a busy week for sports fans, and at this stage of the season, fantasy basketball has perhaps taken a back seat to NCAA brackets and fantasy baseball drafts. But with just under a month left to play in the NBA regular season, there is still plenty of hoops to be played. As we inch closer to the end of the year, you will notice some major movement in the Top 130 rankings as injuries and hot/cold streaks carry more weight in a shorter time span. With that said, let's take a look at some of the biggest movers in this week's rankings update.
|Tyler Hansbrough is showing glimpses of the play that made him a star at North Carolina.|
Tyler Hansbrough, PF, Indiana Pacers: Hansbrough has been on a tear for a few weeks now, averaging 19.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 50.8 percent from the floor in 12 games this month. At first, his offensive explosion looked like it could be a fluke, but good things happen to players who play with a constant motor the way Hansbrough does. And with the Pacers fighting to hold onto the final playoff spot in the East, we will be seeing a lot of Hansbrough down the stretch.
Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, Portland Trail Blazers: Wallace has looked tremendous since joining the starting lineup on Tuesday, and is averaging 12.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.6 blocks and 0.6 3-pointers over his past five games. This is exactly the type of multi-categorical goodness we hoped Wallace would bring all season long, and we might just see it now that he's found his niche in Portland.
Eric Gordon, SG, Los Angeles Clippers: Not much to explain here, as Gordon jumps all the way up to 23rd in the ranks after returning from a wrist injury Saturday. Normally I wouldn't bump an injured player right back to their previous ranking until after I see a couple of games, but Gordon proved his health by posting 29 points with six 3-pointers in 41 minutes in his first game back. Remember, Gordon ranks 20th on our Player Rater when sorted by averages, so there is quite a bit of value here if he can keep himself healthy the rest of the way.
Serge Ibaka, C/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder: I've been accused of overrating Ibaka for much of the season, and that might be true, but it will be hard for the Ibaka haters to argue after seeing him average 8.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 blocks over his past five games. No, that's not a misprint. Ibaka has blocked at least two shots in eight consecutive games before coming up empty on Sunday, and has taken command since the Thunder sent Jeff Green to the Boston Celtics. Kendrick Perkins returned to action this week, but Ibaka is locked into the starting power forward role, and has proven that he can still be dominant even with Perk in the lineup.
C.J. Miles, SF, Utah Jazz: Miles has quietly had himself a solid season off the bench in Utah, averaging 13.1 points, 1.5 3-pointers and 1.0 steals per game, but he's been anything but quiet since joining the starting lineup earlier this week. There's a lot to like about Miles as a starter, and he is averaging 21.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 2.2 3-pointers per game over his past five games.
Deron Williams, PG, New Jersey Nets: It's always hard to drop a player of Williams' stature, but after hearing his comments about his wrist injury, it's hard to feel confident about his chances of returning this year. I would be very surprised if he weren't shut down for the season, but since there is still a small chance that he'll return, he sticks at the bottom part of the Top 130. Of course, if Williams does shut it down, Jordan Farmar becomes a top-100 player the rest of the way.
Rajon Rondo, PG, Boston Celtics: Clearly not healthy, Rondo has seen his minutes and production plummet over the past week. Averaging just 3.4 points, 6.2 assists and 1.4 steals in 28.2 minutes over his past five games, Rondo may need a few days off before he gets back to his typical production, and his owners will have to hang tight during this rough patch.
Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers: I don't want to be a nitpicker, but it's hard not to notice the mini rookie wall Blake Griffin has hit in recent action. Averaging 18.5 points and 8.9 rebounds over his past 10 games, Blake has struggled to put up the dominant numbers that we became accustomed to for much of the season. He's still ultra valuable in the fantasy game, but he needs to be more dominant in points and boards to retain his value, particularly since he doesn't do much for us in free throw percentage, steals or blocks.
Chris Kaman, C, Los Angeles Clippers: Unable to wrestle the starting gig away from DeAndre Jordan, Kaman has averaged a pedestrian 13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks over his past 10 contests. The Kaman/Jordan timeshare reminds me a little bit of what happened with Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry earlier this season, as Jordan has played well enough to retain his starting gig for the time being. Both players are worth owning, but as long as they are healthy, their upside will be limited by the timeshare situation.
Amir Johnson/Ed Davis, PF, Toronto Raptors: I'll applaud head coach Jay Triano for trying to win games by giving Reggie Evans minutes, but I wish he wouldn't do it at the expense of his two young up-and-comers in Amir Johnson and Ed Davis. Johnson is just returning from an ankle injury, but he appears to be safer than Davis (who has dropped out of the rankings completely). Either way, their fantasy prospects will be limited as long as Evans continues to see 25-30 minutes per night.
Al Horford, C/PF, Atlanta Hawks: I'm not going to worry too much about Horford's averages of 12.8 points and 6.0 rebounds over his past five games. He should be just fine once he fully recovers from a nagging ankle injury, and if his last game is any indication, he should be just fine very soon. Horford put up 18 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks in Sunday's win over the Pistons.
Chauncey Billups, PG, New York Knicks: Billups has struggled to find his rhythm since returning from a quad injury, but some rust was to be expected after sitting out for six games. Billups is beginning to shake off the rust with 12.8 points per game over his past four games, and should be good to go moving forward.
Steve Nash, PG, Phoenix Suns: After throwing his owners a scare by missing a few games with a pelvic injury and then posting some mediocre stat lines, Nash returned to play 35, 37 and 35 minutes on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, respectively, this week. Nash's first game back (8 points, 10 rebounds) was concerning, but his 17 points and 10 assists on Friday night, followed by a 23-point, 13-assist outburst on Sunday helped ease some fears about his prospects the rest of the way. We're not completely out of the woods yet, but it's looking like Nash might be alright to have a respectable finish to the season.
Samuel Dalembert, C, Sacramento Kings: Averaging 18.2 points, 12.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks over his past five games, some might want to see Sammy D a little higher in the rankings, but I have a hard time moving him up when we know about his inconsistency issues. Roll with Dalembert while he's hot, but do not be surprised when he comes back down to earth.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com, and was recently named the Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bmckitish.