This writers' strike is killing me.
Reruns are lame. Reality/game shows already inundate the television schedule. And when the final new episodes of the few good shows remaining are spent, it's going to get worse. Are we but weeks away from "Who Wants to Date Their Sibling?" Or a celeb-reality show starring Bea Arthur, chronicling her geriatric hijinks?
In fantasy hoops, however, watching reruns can be beneficial. Each preseason, we evaluate the previous season's statistics and attempt to predict the future. One of the most difficult tasks is determining whether or not a player's unexpected or first-time effectiveness will be replicated. This week, the guys with the upward arrow next to their names surprised owners last season and again have high rankings on the Player Rater. Reruns, but in a good way.
The players with the downward arrows are those whose Player Rater ranking has dropped over the past 15 days. Will their value stay down?
Michael Redd, SG, Bucks: His offseason dedication and experience with Team USA have paid off; Redd is averaging career highs in rebounds, assists, steals and free-throw percentage. As Andrew Bogut improves, Yi Jianlian adjusts, and he and Mo Williams grow increasingly comfortable sharing the backcourt, Redd will continue to shine. He's in line for a career year. He already has a 41-point scoring night this season, and his ability to put the ball in the hoop has never been an issue, but the increase in peripheral stats is paying dividends to those who drafted Redd. Just check out his near triple-double from Wednesday night: 27 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two 3s. Redd has really developed his all-around game.
Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, Sixers: He took two steps forward last season. Early in 2006-2007, he asserted himself offensively and improved upon the numbers from his sophomore season. Then Allen Iverson was traded, and Iggy took off statistically despite dips in his field-goal percentage and turnovers. This season, his points, rebounds, assists, steals and percentages are about the same as last season, but his blocks (0.9, up from 0.4) and 3-pointers (1.0, up from 0.6) have improved. If he can improve his mark from the floor, Iguodala will qualify as a true eight-category player, and those who drafted him with their third or fourth pick will be happy with the results. Iguodala is also the type of player whose game will improve when he's surrounded by other high-caliber players, so if there's ever a point in which somebody better than Andre Miller is the No. 2 option for the Sixers, his numbers could improve even more. Wednesday night's line -- an efficient 25 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and two 3s – displays his all-around capability.
Leandro Barbosa, PG/SG, Suns: The Brazilian Blur wowed as the Suns' sixth man last season, pouring in 3s, steals and an impressive four assists per game from a non-traditional point guard/shooting guard role. He has continued to do the same this season, with one problem: He's shooting 69.4 percent from the stripe. He's a fine shooter, albeit with an unconventional stroke, and a career 80-percent free-throw shooter. It's safe to say his current mark will trend toward his career mean. If he's on a team whose owner is worried about free throws, see if you can get him at a discount, even if your free throws are weak. It's likely he'll shoot around 80 percent from now on, and he's a top fantasy player without even starting for his team.
Kevin Martin, SG, Kings: Calm down, I know he's hurt. After bursting on the scene last year and becoming one of the best fantasy players on the planet, Martin was playing even better this season (24.5 points per game) until suffering a groin injury. I believe he'll return strong and once again be a dominant fantasy player this season. If you have some depth, try offering a few mid-level players for Martin, and then stash him on your bench for the next month. If your roster can handle it, you'll be greatly rewarded by the impending return of one of the most efficient scorers in the league.
Mo Williams, PG, Bucks: His scoring is down a bit after his career year last season, but he's 10th in the league in assists with 7.1 per game, ahead of guys like Raymond Felton and Andre Miller. Williams also provides steals, 3s and great percentages, and is quietly one of the better point guards in the league.
Daniel Gibson, PG/SG, Cavaliers: It's difficult to compare his numbers to last season since Gibson's emergence really happened at the very end of the regular season and in the playoffs. But LeBron needed a second fiddle in the Cavs' backcourt, and even though Gibson isn't the distributior at point guard that many think James needs, he's deadly from long range (2.5 3s per game) and soaks up some of the opposing defense's focus. His percentages are also excellent -- 47.3 percent from the field and 82.6 percent from the line -- and even though he'll have his ups and downs during his first full season of significant playing time, Gibson is rewarding those owners who were shrewd enough to add him after he dropped six treys in the second game of the season.
Anthony Parker, SG, Raptors: Many folks tabbed Parker as the best non-NBA player in the world before last season, and he proved it when he arrived in the league, averaging 12.4 points, 1.6 3-pointers and 1.0 steals, while shooting 47.7 percent from the floor and 83.5 from the stripe in his rookie campaign. He's putting up nearly identical numbers in fewer minutes this season, and although Parker won't wow you in any category, he is averaging 14.5 points, with two 3s and 1.5 steals, per game in December. He should be owned in all formats.
Joe Johnson, SG/SF, Hawks: JJ is just asking to be bought low. Other than his assist totals and free-throw percentage, Johnson's numbers are down across the board, notably in points and field-goal percentage. There is an obvious correlation between these two categories, and if he's shooting 40 percent from the floor instead of his 47.1 mark from last season, his points will take a hit. That 47.1 percent was the best of his career, so assuming he'll shoot that again isn't wise. But he'll likely end up around his career mark of 44 percent. The improvement in percentage will bring up his point average, and the increase in assists is a good sign. Again, buy low.
Chris Duhon, PG, Bulls: He has received significant attention lately, nearly replacing the struggling Kirk Hinrich as the starting point guard of the Bulls, although his statistics have been lackluster. His career 38.7 percent from the floor is his biggest weakness, and although he'll contribute some 3s and assists, his skill set isn't such that he'll be much of a fantasy player even if Hinrich continues to falter. By the way, I still like Hinrich as a buy-low candidate.
Kendrick Perkins, C, Celtics: Perkins hasn't scored in double digits since Nov. 27th and has yet to notch a double-digit rebounding game all season. With just two blocks in all of December and a troubled toe that has him currently sidelined, he shouldn't be part of your fantasy team. It didn't help that he was replaced in the starting lineup Wednesday by Glen Davis, who posted a respectable 16 points and nine rebounds in the game.
Desagana Diop, C, Mavericks: Diop started the season playing some of the best ball of his career, but he has been consigned to bench duty behind the resurgent Erick Dampier (who has averaged 8.3 boards and 1.8 blocks over the past four games) and now has value only if you're desperate for blocks. And by desperate, I mean "hit on the drive-thru attendant at Arby's" desperate. Yep.
J.R. Smith, SG, Nuggets: After nine double-digit scoring efforts in November, Smith has just one in December. Even though he hasn't started a game this season, he was previously gaining value off the bench, and he handled point-guard duties for a stretch. But he has played a total of 25 minutes in the Nuggets' last two games combined, and now that Anthony Carter has added some stability to the point guard slot for George Karl and the Nuggets, Smith is back to low-minute totals and is relegated to a 3-point specialist role.
Shawne Williams, SF, Pacers: We were drooling at his 3-point prowess for a guy who stands 6-9, but a healthy Jermaine O'Neal and Troy Murphy make it difficult for Williams to get more than 20 minutes per game, a feat he hasn't attained since Dec. 2. He's still a name to stash away and pay attention to if injuries ravage the Pacers, especially since O'Neal is reportedly playing with pain in his surgically repaired right knee. For now, his fantasy game is as nondescript as his surname
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.