Rookies Isaiah Thomas, Leonard shining

March, 29, 2012
03/29/12
10:24
AM ET
A couple of rookies put on a show Wednesday night, but it wasn't Brandon Knight and Kyrie Irving (though both of them did fare well in the Pistons' win over the Cavaliers). Rather, the most impressive rookies of the night were Isaiah Thomas of the Kings and Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs.

Thomas continues to play a ton of minutes for the Kings, following up a 48-minute performance against the Rockets on Monday with 41 minutes against the Spurs. He had a career-high 26 points Wednesday on 11-for-19 shooting to go with 10 assists, and was clearly the Kings' best offensive option for much of the game. He's definitely someone worth holding on to for the rest of the season, and he might even have some value in keeper leagues heading into next season if he remains the Kings' starting point guard.

As for Leonard, he has been improving all season and finally seems to be a dangerous fantasy player on a regular basis. Before the season started, I thought Leonard had a chance to turn himself into a 3-point shooter, and that has been playing out nicely of late, as he's making 0.9 3s per game on 39 percent shooting for the month of March. But he excels in other categories: After posting 19 points and nine rebounds against the Kings, his averages this month are 11.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 54.3 percent shooting from the floor and 87.9 percent shooting from the line. Amazingly, he's available in nearly 80 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues, and should definitely be picked up ASAP.

Looking back

• With Ben Gordon out and Rodney Stuckey leaving the game after just seven minutes because of a hamstring injury, there were plenty of minutes available for the aforementioned Knight, who didn't have a phenomenal game but did bounce back from two poor performances with 16 points, four rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers in a win over the Cavaliers. He should definitely be in your lineup most nights, especially when Gordon and Stuckey are banged up.

• In that same game, the big story was Tayshaun Prince, who had a great night with 29 points (including four 3-pointers). Still, Tayshaun has been terrible of late, and I don't see one good game turning him into a valuable fantasy option overnight.

Baron Davis looked pretty good in the Knicks' blowout win at the Garden over the Magic, and if Jeremy Lin misses any more time because of his sore left knee, you might want to look to Davis if you're desperate for assists. Baron is averaging 6.5 dimes in 29.5 minutes over his past two games, which is more than you'll get anywhere else on the waiver wire; however, if your league counts turnovers, you may want to look elsewhere, as he's averaging nearly as many turnovers as assists over his past five games.

• With the news that Amare Stoudemire will be out 2-4 weeks for the Knicks, one would think there would be a little more playing time available for sharpshooting reserve forward Steve Novak. Novak's minutes stayed pretty steady at 23 against the Magic, but it's hard to judge future playing time based on a blowout. As always, if you need 3s, you could do worse than Novak, who knocked down four 3s en route to 16 points Wednesday.

Gordon Hayward bounced back for the Jazz after a tough night against the Nets, putting up 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks in a loss to the Celtics in Boston. Hayward is turning himself into a great all-around fantasy option; in his past five games, he is averaging 15.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.6 blocks, 1.2 steals and 83 percent shooting from the line (on 5.8 shots per game).

Gerald Green continues to be productive for the Nets, as he managed 14 points, three steals and two 3s against the Pacers. He's certainly not an elite player, but with all the injuries the Nets are facing these days, Green should keep getting significant playing time over the next week or so.

Looking ahead

• With Nene and Trevor Booker both questionable for the Wizards for Thursday night's game against the Pacers, it should be a good night to play Kevin Seraphin, who has been averaging a modest 10.2 points and 5.0 rebounds over his past five games. He also can throw in a block or two, especially if he gets plenty of run, which he should Thursday. Opponents are averaging 5.9 blocks per game against the Pacers this season, and that's among the worst figures in the league, so Seraphin should have plenty of opportunities to block shots.

Jason Terry has been on a bit of a roll lately, and he has a good chance of keeping it up against the Heat. The Heat are great on defense, but Terry was a major scorer for the Mavericks in last season's NBA Finals against them and when the two teams met on opening night this season (23 points in just 29 minutes). Make sure he's in your lineup Thursday night.

• The Lakers are rightly excited about the play of their brand-new point guard, Ramon Sessions, but it's worth pointing out that Matt Barnes is playing some sneaky-good basketball of late. He's coming off an 18-point, 10-rebound performance against the Warriors (just his second double-double of the season), and in his past five games, he's averaging 10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.0 3s and 1.4 blocks. The Lakers will certainly need him against Kevin Durant & Co. on Thursday night, so you might want to get him in your lineup, too, as it's pretty difficult to find guys who can get you both 3s and blocks.

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