Wade has been the best option in fantasy

March, 15, 2009

I fully expect that sometime in May, LeBron James will receive his MVP trophy before a Cavaliers home playoff game. Everything is in place for it to happen. He's amazing, and his Cavs probably will win the Eastern Conference, or at least end the regular season with the best record in the conference. The best players on the best teams become NBA MVPs. That's just how it is.

• Dwyane Wade, Heat: 50 points (19-for-39 FG), 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 3-pointers, 4 steals and 2 blocks versus Jazz.
• Deron Williams, Jazz: 30 points (12-for-24 FG), 13 assists and 5 rebounds at Miami.
• Jermaine O'Neal, Heat: 28 points (10-for-19 FG), 8 rebounds and 5 blocks versus Jazz.
• David West, Hornets: 10 points (4-for-14 FG), 4 rebounds and 2 blocks at Chicago.
• Derrick Rose, Bulls: 4 points (2-for-9 FG), 7 assists and 4 rebounds versus Hornets.
• Jason Richardson, Suns: 6 points (3-for-9 FG) and 5 rebounds versus Thunder.

But there's still a race to determine the MVP of fantasy hoops, and the front-runner is Dwyane Wade.

During the past month, Wade's tremendous season has crossed the threshold into otherworldliness. After Saturday's 50-point performance in a triple-overtime win over Utah, Wade is averaging 37.2 points, 10.4 assists, 5.9 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 1.4 blocks in 13 games since the All-Star break.

D-Wade is just in a zone. Although he's a career 48.4 percent shooter, Wade is shooting 55.3 percent from the floor during this torrid stretch. And where did the 3-pointers come from? Until 2008-09, Wade had never made more than 22 triples in a season. But since the break, he has 26 3s, an average of exactly 2.0 per night.

Wade is on the brink of averaging 30 points, eight assists, five rebounds, two steals and a 3-pointer. I did a very quick check, and I couldn't find anyone who has done this for a whole season. LeBron was in the ballpark last season, falling short (if you can call it that) with 7.2 dimes and 1.8 steals. Michael Jordan was close a few times, too. But there's no one else.

The scary part is, after his injury-marred 2007-08 season, Wade slipped out of the top five in many, if not most, fantasy drafts. With Dwyane Wade in 2009, you're looking at a historic season -- and, even as a first-round fantasy pick -- a huge draft day bargain.

Under the boards

Is Renaldo Balkman for real? He is, as long as Kenyon Martin is hurting. It's hard to find a definitive word on Martin's condition, but we know that when given minutes, Balkman cleans some serious glass as he did during his 14-point, 14-rebound and 2-steal showing versus the Thunder. If you're convinced you won't miss the last guy on your roster, sure, add Balkman, who has averaged 10.7 points and 12.7 boards in his past three games. This week's soft schedule -- New Jersey, at Memphis and Washington -- gives the Nuggets incentive to rest Martin. … If you're in a league that counts turnovers, you take a hit with Wade, who averages 3.6 this season. Of course, with D-Wade, it's a small price to pay. But how much are Russell Westbrook's turnovers worth? After eight more giveaways at Phoenix, the rookie is averaging 4.5 turnovers since the break. That, coupled with 41.0 percent shooting, really puts a damper on Westbrook's other postbreak numbers (19.5 points, 5.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals). … If you're wondering where D.J. Augustin's 18 points (his highest output since Feb. 11) came from, back spasms limited Raymond Felton to 28 minutes. Felton's condition doesn't seem serious, but if you hear anything about his missing games, pounce on Augustin. The Bobcats play the Raptors twice, along with the Kings and Pacers, this week. … More well-rounded options are probably available to you, but Michael Finley and Kyle Korver continue to rack up the 3s. Finley sank five treys (for the second straight game) at Houston, while Korver buried four from downtown in the marathon at Miami. Utah plays only two games this week, but the first is Tuesday versus Washington, the league's worst team in 3-point defense. Finley, who has averaged 3.2 3s in his past five games, is a threat as long as Manu Ginobili remains sidelined. … Zach Randolph missed the Clippers' game at Denver because of his father's funeral, but apparently he'll play Sunday versus the Nets.



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