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Thursday, November 15, 2012
Kemba Walker becoming a premier guard


Kemba Walker had another great game for the Charlotte Bobcats in their two-point win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he's starting to look like a premier fantasy guard. He had 22 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals and is now averaging 18.6 points, 5.6 assists, 3.2 steals and 84 percent shooting from the line on five attempts per game over his past five games.

In particular, the number of free throw attempts is impressive. He's in the top 20 in attempts per game, and because he's shooting such a high percentage from there, he's quite valuable in that category in fantasy leagues. This isn't just a case of him getting more minutes this season, either; he's simply getting to the line with far more frequency overall, which bodes well for his scoring numbers as the season wears on. Walker's average draft position was 92.3, and at the moment he's looking like a lock to make the top 50 in fantasy leagues. Now, that's great value.

Looking Back

Rajon Rondo managed to keep his streak of games with 10 or more assists going in the Celtics' win over the Jazz, but he left the game in the third quarter because of an ankle injury. He walked off under his own power but didn't return, and his status should be monitored.

Kyle Singler had a productive 40 minutes for the Pistons in their blowout win over the Sixers, finishing with 16 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor. That said, most of his playing time was due to Rodney Stuckey's missing the game because of flulike symptoms. Singler doesn't provide enough fantasy production outside of the scoring categories unless he's playing starters' minutes with regularity.

• In the buzz surrounding James Harden on the Rockets, it might be getting lost that Omer Asik is also putting up some big numbers. With 15 points (6-for-10 from the floor) and 12 rebounds in a win over the Hornets, Asik had his fourth double-double in his past five games. He's averaging 13.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and, remarkably, 82 percent shooting from the foul line over that stretch.

• For the Hornets, Greivis Vasquez seemed to finally find his shot Wednesday, finishing with 24 points on 8-for-15 shooting from the floor. He also had nine assists. Vasquez is still shooting just 33 percent over his past five games, but this is a good sign moving forward.

• Another guy who seemed to find his shot was Rudy Gay; the Grizzlies forward scored 28 points on 12-for-21 shooting. Gay is rebounding and racking up blocks and steals at a higher rate than in past years, and he has a chance to put together one of his best seasons if he can start knocking down shots with a little more regularity.

• Warriors forward Harrison Barnes had the first really good game of his young career in a home win over the Hawks, finishing with 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the floor and 13 rebounds. He's the Warriors' best answer for a real small forward, so he's going to get plenty of minutes as long as he can string together some decent performances, and the 13 rebounds is a hint of what kind of player he can be as a 6-foot-8 small forward with great athleticism.

Looking Forward

• This probably doesn't come as news to anyone, but the Nets have been getting slaughtered by opposing power forwards this season -- post defense isn't exactly a strength for them -- so if you have Brandon Bass on your fantasy roster, now is a good time to get the Celtics forward into your starting lineup.

• It's going to be interesting to see how the Spurs' offense looks against a Knicks defense that has been the best in the league in terms of efficiency this season. The Spurs have a big front line, which could bother the Knicks, but those bigs will have their hands full trying to stop Carmelo Anthony. Given the fact that no Knicks opponent has scored more than 94 points in a game this season, it's tempting to advise sitting guys like Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, who aren't obvious fantasy studs, but we're too early in the season to make any rules based on the small sample size.

Jamal Crawford just keeps scoring tons of points for the Clippers. The Clips beat the Heat largely on the strength of Crawford's 22 points in just 23 minutes. You could quibble with his six turnovers if you're in a league that counts such things, but he also had three steals and was an efficient 7-for-11 from the floor. Despite playing fewer than 30 minutes per game on the season, he's averaging better than 20 points. I would normally predict that it can't last, but I didn't see it coming in the first place, so for now let's just say all bets are off.

Fastbreak Player of the Night

It's hard to pick against LeBron James going up against a Denver Nuggets defense that has been mediocre so far this season, so I won't. But I will mention that I love the matchup against the Spurs for Carmelo Anthony if the Knicks go small. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Melo go for 30 points and 10 rebounds when it's all said and done.