Dwight Howard in rare slump

March, 23, 2008

With my NCAA bracket officially busted (USC, Connecticut and Duke ruined me) I officially headed back into the world of NBA hoops last night. This is a hard time of the year to pay attention to fantasy hoops. You've got your brackets to look after, your baseball teams to draft and a whole host of other things keeping you busy. Still, this is a crucial time, and it's important to ensure that you're paying attention to your fantasy hoops team. With that in mind, here are some quick thoughts on last night's action:

Not sure what's up with Dwight Howard on the scoring front. He's scored 3, 13 and now 11 points over his past three games. Despite his recent slump, Howard is still averaging more than 19 points per game this month. He should be fine, but you may not want to use him next week as the Magic play just two games coming up.

Joe Johnson continued his torrid March with 34 points, five rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one block and three 3-pointers in the victory over the Magic. Kudos to those who traded for JJ just after the All-Star break as he is now averaging 25.7 points, 4.6 boards, 6.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 3.2 3-pointers this month.

Vince Carter had a huge game for the Nets (27 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals) but it wasn't enough to stop Andre Iguodala (28 points, seven boards, five assists, three steals) and the Sixers. Nenad Krstic had a nice night, but he's still a long shot to have consistent value down the stretch. Meanwhile, Devin Harris remains one of the more underrated fantasy point guards with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists on the evening.

When healthy, Jason Williams is going to put up monster numbers for the injury depleted Miami Heat. Unfortunately, he and Ricky Davis are the only two you can count on right now until Shawn Marion returns. Earl Barron and Daequan Cook are intriguing additions, but both are long shots to provide anything other than fleeting value. Speaking of long shots, Stephane Lasme has the potential to be a dominant shot blocker for the Heat, and he's shown as much in his first two contests with five blocked shots. He won't do anything else, but if you're hurting for swats, Lasme may be an option in deeper formats.

Boston proved that they are still mere mortals with a loss to the Hornets. David West torched the Celtics with 37 points and Chris Paul had a typical performance with 19 points, seven assists, two steals and two 3-pointers. This game featured a lot of high profile names, but there was one intriguing player that might be on the wire in your league. That's right, I'm talking about Bonzi Wells, who scored 12 points and had eight steals. That's not a typo, Wells did have eight steals! There is a chance that he'll replace Morris Peterson in the starting lineup sooner rather than later, so be sure to keep close tabs on this situation.

Regular readers of mine know that I hate talking about the Knicks, but I will mention Wilson Chandler, who is seeing 28.4 minutes per game over his past five. Chandler didn't have his best night on Saturday, but he did score 12 points with a steal. Since he's seeing quality minutes, he's a fine addition in deeper leagues.

Ryan Gomes (26 points) Rashad McCants (24 points) both had huge nights for the Timberwolves, and although both tend to struggle with inconsistency, they can be a valuable additions in fantasy leagues while they're hot.

Sacramento can't seem to catch a break on the injury front, can they? Last night, Beno Udrih, Brad Miller and Ron Artest all sat out with injuries. In their place, Spencer Hawes (19 points, 12 boards, three blocks), John Salmons (12 points, six boards) and Anthony Johnson (seven points, two assists) earned replacement starts. Of the three, I like Salmons the best, though Hawes is an intriguing gamble depending on the severity of Brad Miller's injury.

There is no stopping Mike Dunleavy these days. Dunleavy had another great line with 25 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal and three 3-pointers, and it should be very interesting to see where he gets drafted next season. My guess is that he'll go in the third or fourth round, and I'm not sure how I feel about that right now. That's one I'll have to sleep on over the summer.

Ok folks, if you need steals you might want to think about adding Ronald "Flip" Murray. Flip is now fully entrenched as the starting point guard for the Pacers and is averaging 12.8 points, 3.8 assists and 2.2 steal per game over his past five games. Not great numbers, but definitely solid if you need the thievery.

If you were worried about Mo Williams' health for the remainder of the season, you can rest assured. He's fine, and his 29-point, five-rebound, 13-assist night is all the proof I need to declare him fully healthy. Charlie Villanueva, on the other hand, might not be fine. Yi Jianlian earned 29 minutes in the Bucks victory over the Cavaliers, and Charlie struggled with just five points and seven rebounds. Charlie V had been a great addition in recent weeks, but he can be dropped again now since Yi is starting to steal some of his minutes.

Jeff Green may seem like a nice pickup right now, especially after his 23-point, seven-rebound effort last night. I'm fine with picking him up, as long as you realize that he's fairly inconsistent, and he's not the all-around contributor many thought he'd be coming into the season. Over his past five games, Green is averaging 15.0 points, but just 3.8 boards, 3.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.8 blocks per game in 32.2 minutes.

Earl Watson had to leave last night's contest after 20 minutes with a right calf contusion. In his place, Luke Ridnour earned 36 minutes, but scored just 10 points and handed out four assists. Ridnour will have some short-term value if Watson has to miss any time with his latest injury.

With all their injuries, two players on the Clippers are becoming quite intriguing for the stretch run. After scoring 13 points and pulling down 10 boards on Saturday, Josh Powell is averaging 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds over his past five contests. Chris Kaman seems like a lost cause at this point, so Powell could have some nice value down the stretch. Meanwhile, as I suspected, Smush Parker is starting to earn some minutes as Brevin Knight struggles with injuries. Smush has now seen 28.5 minutes over his past two games and has averaged 9.0 points, 7.5 assists, 1.5 steals and a 3-pointer during that span. It might not be a bad idea to take a gamble on him if you're in need of assists, steals or 3-pointers.

Joel Pryzbilla had a monster 14-point, 25-rebound, one-block performance in the Blazers victory over the Clippers, and although I'm not too high on Przy, he is proving to be a solid source of rebounds and blocks right now. Przybilla has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in three of his past five games and has blocked a shot in each of his past five.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy baseball and basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Littlemac@TalentedMrRoto.com.



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