Samuel Dalembert a top-10 center?

January, 20, 2012

Samuel Dalembert has consistently been one of the most underrated fantasy performers in the NBA for many years now, but during the past week he's been in an entirely different stratosphere. Even when Dalembert's minutes have declined in previous years, he's been valuable in fantasy leagues because he's a phenomenal rebounder and shot-blocker who has also managed to shoot 70 percent from the free throw line during his career. Still, as good as he is in fantasy, I don't think anyone could have imagined he'd be this good for the Rockets this season.

Consider, first of all, that he's currently one of the top-10 centers on the Player Rater, but was the 21st center off the board on average in drafts. Then take into account what he's been doing since he entered the starting lineup in place of Jordan Hill; in the eight games he's started, he's averaging 11.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 0.8 steals and shooting 61.5 percent from the floor. If he can keep putting up numbers even close to that good, he'll be one of the top-10 centers in fantasy leagues all season, which is pretty good for a guy most people didn't want on draft day. If you can swing a trade for him, do it while you still can.

Looking Back

LeBron James fought through the flu and still managed to be the best player on the floor all night against the Lakers on Thursday night. Obviously, you already know LeBron is really, really good. You might not be aware, however, that he's shooting 53 percent from the 3-point line in his past five games. It's good that he's making 3s, but it also means he's been taking a lot (after hardly taking any to start the season), and it could mean his field goal percentage will start to come back down to earth once the 3s stop going in as often.

• It's not really fantasy-worthy news, but I feel obliged to report that Heat center Eddy Curry got into an NBA game for the first time since 2009 and managed to score six points in six minutes. Impressive, yes, but it's hard to imagine him carving out enough playing time to make his ability to score the ball relevant in fantasy leagues.

Jason Smith got another start at power forward for the Hornets and made the most of it, leading the team with 17 points in 29 minutes. He's averaged 1.8 blocks in his past five games, and has two straight double-digit scoring nights. Clearly, he's worth your attention, and if you're desperate for blocks, he's probably worth adding in most leagues already.

Shawn Marion had another nice night for the Mavericks, finishing with an efficient 22 points on 10-for-17 shooting from the floor. He's never going to be the elite fantasy player he was in the past, but if he can keep his field goal percentage up, he'll provide a nice combination of points, rebounds, steals and blocks without really hurting you anywhere.

Looking Ahead

Spencer Hawes could miss another game for the 76ers when they face the Hawks on Friday night, and if he does, it should mean big minutes for Thaddeus Young, who was fantastic in extended minutes against the Nuggets on Wednesday night. It could also mean we get another look at Nikola Vucevic, Philly's promising rookie center. Vucevic is not going to get enough minutes for fantasy any time soon, but could be a great option down the road when his playing time increases.

Rajon Rondo is expected to miss Friday night's game against the Suns, and his backup, Keyon Dooling, is questionable. There's really no one worth replacing him with on the Celtics these days, but it will be interesting to see if Avery Bradley can put together a complete game against the Suns, especially since the Suns have been getting shredded by opposing point guards for years. If Bradley can ever figure out how to actually play basketball, he could be a phenomenal source of steals given his tenacity on defense.

• With Jason Richardson doubtful for the Magic against the Lakers, it's a good night to play J.J. Redick. Redick will get at least 30 minutes, and has been averaging 13.8 points and 1.6 3-pointers in his past five games.

Chris Paul is questionable again for the Clippers, and Randy Foye is averaging 5.7 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.7 3s in his past three games filling in for CP3. Foye should put up similar numbers against the Timberwolves if Paul can't go, so if you need help in those categories and can afford a big hit in field goal percentage, he's a pretty good option.



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