LaMarcus Aldridge a pleasant surprise

January, 6, 2011
01/06/11
9:46
AM ET

It seems to be going largely unnoticed, but LaMarcus Aldridge has been holding the Portland Trail Blazers together of late (27 points and 13 rebounds in their win against the Rockets on Wednesday night). Considering the loss of Greg Oden, it was essential that Aldridge finally take a step forward in his game, and the result is that Aldridge is posting a career high in PER, even though he's struggled a bit shooting the ball in the early going.

Aldridge is, of course, also having the best fantasy season of his career. He's finally rebounding the way we have always expected him to (eight double-digit rebounding games in his past 11 contests), and he is averaging career highs in steals and blocks. A quick look at his shooting stats on hoopdata.com will show you that he's been shooting an abnormally low percentage on 2-point jump shots -- shots that have long been his bread and butter. Those numbers should come back up as the season goes along, possibly turning him into a top-35 overall fantasy option. If you drafted Aldridge (probably in the fifth or sixth round in most leagues), it appears you've found a real steal.

Looking Back

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan may be inconsistent, but in the aggregate, he's starting to look like a pretty great fantasy player. Forget the 5-plus blocks in three straight games, Jordan is averaging a double-double with nearly four blocks per game in his past five contests and belongs in all lineups every night unless he starts going through a dry spell. • Christian Eyenga had a nice night in his second NBA game, finishing with 16 points in 28 minutes for the Cavs against the Raptors. The Cavs definitely need talent, so he's worth keeping an eye on (even if he's certainly not worth picking up quite yet). • Derrick Favors got the start for the Nets in their win against the Bulls, but played only nine minutes and picked up four fouls; considering the fact that Kris Humphries put up 20 points and 11 boards off the bench, it's probably worth holding onto Humphries a little while longer while Favors feels out his new role. • Jrue Holiday is playing some inspired basketball of late for the 76ers, and his 26 points, 9 assists and 2 steals against the Wizards did nothing to change that; he's been increasing his percentages -- especially on 3s -- during the past month or so, and at this point he's approaching point guards such as Jason Kidd and Tony Parker in the fantasy rankings. • Kevin Love had yet another performance that would be called dominant if his team could find a way to win the game, finishing with 35 points and 15 rebounds against the Bobcats. He's a top-15 fantasy guy, and it's going to stay that way for a long, long time.

Looking Ahead

With Dirk Nowitzki still listed as questionable for Thursday night's contest against the Thunder, it might be a good night to make sure Shawn Marion is in your lineup. With Dirk out, Marion is getting more minutes at power forward (while DeShawn Stevenson plays small forward), which should allow him to be pretty productive. • When the Nuggets and Kings met in Denver on New Year's Day, it was pretty much all Nuggets, and there's no reason to expect that to change much when they meet in Sacramento this time around. DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson were able to put up pretty efficient numbers against the Nuggets even in the loss, though; Cousins, at least, should be in your lineup again on Thursday.

Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

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