Robin Lopez shines as starter

January, 19, 2010
01/19/10
9:34
AM ET

Channing Frye was one of the nicer sleeper picks in this season's draft. But the most intriguing free-agent find of the moment happens to be his replacement.

After two games of double-digit scoring off the bench, Robin Lopez was the Phoenix Suns' starting center Monday in Memphis. I'll cut to the chase: It looks like Lopez can get you blocks in bunches. He finished with three rejections against the Grizzlies, giving him 12 blocks in his past three games. Lopez also produced 19 points (on 8-of-10 shooting) and seven boards, though he did foul out after 29 minutes of action.

So what happened to Frye? Mostly, opposing defenses began to give him more attention on the perimeter, which caused his numbers to suffer. (Frye had 20 points total in his previous four starts.) And when that happened, Frye's lack of defensive acumen really started to bug the Suns.

With his more imposing presence in the paint, Lopez certainly has a chance to hold onto his starting gig, and he's certainly worth an add if you have an expendable player on your roster. As of this writing, Lopez is available in 99 percent of ESPN.com leagues, but by the time this hits the web, I imagine that number will be noticeably lower.

Lopez isn't the only new addition to the Suns' lineup, either. Leandro Barbosa replaced Jason Richardson on Monday, a move that Suns coach Alvin Gentry curiously said isn't an indictment of J-Rich's play, but an effort to get Barbosa going. As it happened, Barbosa's numbers versus the Grizzlies were fairly Richardson-esque: 14 points, three rebounds and a couple of 3-pointers on 6-of-16 shooting. Richardson himself had only eight points on 4-of-11 shooting. Both players logged 24 minutes. Call this an uneasy time-share.

Looking Back

MONDAY, JAN. 18
HIGHLIGHTS
Andrew Bogut, Bucks: 18 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 blocks against the Rockets.
Tyreke Evans, Kings: 34 points (13-20 FG), 7 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals versus the Bobcats.
Josh Smith, Hawks: 18 points (6-6 FT), 12 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks against the Thunder.
LOWLIGHTS
Kobe Bryant, Lakers: 11 points (4-19 FG), 5 rebounds, 7 assists against the Magic.
Vince Carter, Magic: 9 points (3-11 FG), 5 rebounds, 3 3-pointers versus the Lakers.
Kevin Martin, Kings: 9 points (3-9 FG), 6 rebounds against the Bobcats (on bench for fourth quarter).
Andris Biedrins, who's actually available in more than 15 percent of ESPN.com leagues, is starting to look like his old self. He grabbed 19 boards and swatted away a remarkable eight shots in 39 minutes against the Chicago Bulls. Pathetically, even his 1-of-7 showing from the stripe is a season's best. Biedrins went into Monday 0-of-7 from the line this season.

• Sticking with the center theme, Chris Kaman made a successful return to the Los Angeles Clippers' lineup after missing the previous four games with back problems. Kaman finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and three blocks against the New Jersey Nets.

• Though Brandon Roy said he would play against the Washington Wizards, Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan decided to hold out Roy and his bad hammy for another game. In his absence, Andre Miller (22 points on 10-of-16 shooting) was again productive, though Jerryd Bayless (eight assists to Miller's two) did most of the dishing. The Blazers visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.

• Coming off of an eight-point outing versus the Kings, Randy Foye was solid (19 points and five assists) against the Blazers. For fantasy owners, the most encouraging aspect of Foye's play in the seven games since he replaced Gilbert Arenas is his 7.1 dimes per game. Foye averaged 4.3 assists last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Though he's the most-added player in ESPN.com leagues, Foye remains available in close to 45 percent of leagues. Speaking of the Wizards, Mike Miller contributed 13 points in 24 minutes off the bench. Once Miller gets completely healthy, you have to expect he'll dislodge DeShawn Stevenson and start alongside Foye in the backcourt.

• There are two names to watch in leagues of at least 12 teams: Recently acquired Kris Humphries had 21 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench for the Nets. Humphries played 27 minutes in his previous game, finishing with 15 points and eight boards against the Indiana Pacers. And Marcus Thornton contributed 16 points for the New Orleans Hornets. It's the rookie's sixth straight game in double figures, and he's averaged 1.8 3-pointers in that span.

Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

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