Perkins rounding into fantasy force
Does it surprise you to hear that Perkins (63.7 percent) is not only pacing the field but also lapping his closest competitor, Marc Gasol, by more than 2½ percent? Kevin Garnett's knee injury has set the stage for Perkins to become a fantasy star, and by golly, he's delivering. Logging 37 minutes on Thursday, Perkins shot a typically efficient 5-of-9 from the floor, posting 14 points and 10 boards, his fourth double-double of the month. More importantly, he swatted five shots, the fourth time he's rejected three or more shots in January. He has rounded into a near double-double machine who's also averaging more than two blocks per game, and while it is surprising, it didn't necessarily come out of nowhere: Perkins is on pace to improve his scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking for a third consecutive season.
The only negative comes in the form of an ugly 60.5 percent from the free throw line, and indeed, Perkins went 4-for-7 versus the Chicago Bulls on Thursday. But for a player who was undrafted in most leagues, he has quickly asserted himself as a valuable fantasy contributor, and he is now one of the most-added players in ESPN fantasy leagues, too, up 5.3 percent in the past week. That still leaves him available in more than 30 percent of leagues, though, astonishing when you consider that only five active players average more blocks per game. Even when Garnett returns, Perkins should remain valuable -- he was leading the league in field goal percentage and averaging close to two blocks before Garnett was injured -- so be sure not to overlook the value of the Celtics' most underrated player.
Luol Deng, Bulls: 25 points (8-13 FG, 9-10 FT), 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks against the Celtics.|
LeBron James, Cavaliers: 36 points (12-20 FG), 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, 4 3-pointers versus the Jazz.
Joakim Noah, Bulls: 15 points (7-8 FT), 11 rebounds, 4 blocks against the Celtics.
Ray Allen, Celtics: 8 points (4-10 FG), one rebound, no 3s, assists or steals against the Bulls.|
John Salmons, Bulls: 5 points (2-9 FG), 5 rebounds, no assists or steals in 32 minutes versus the Celtics.
Mo Williams, Cavaliers: 10 points (4-12 FG), 4 assists, one 3-pointer against the Jazz.
The Spurs have been gradually climbing the ranks in defensive efficiency and now rank eighth, but the Bobcats are still holding strong as one of the league's elite defenses, ranking second in the NBA. Both teams excel in taking away extra points, be it beyond the arc or at the charity stripe, so you may want to bench any borderline plays. The Pacers will need Roy Hibbert's size against Brook Lopez and the Nets on Friday, and while the matchup could lead to foul trouble, in their previous two meetings Hibbert rose to the challenge, averaging 19.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks, despite averaging three fouls in 29 minutes. Kevin Martin is expected to return from a wrist injury Friday, and who better for the sharpshooter to make his return against than a 76ers team that ranks dead last in opponents' 3-point percentage (41.0 percent)? And on Saturday, the Kings head to Washington in what could be a track meet between two teams that rank in the top 10 in possessions per game, so it looks like a good idea to activate Martin immediately in daily leagues. Boris Diaw has been on a roll recently, and will face his former team, the Suns, on Saturday. Think there's not a little extra motivation to be had? Diaw averaged a whopping 26.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists in two contests against the Suns last season.
Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.