Thornton, Dragic, Afflalo drop 3s

January, 26, 2010

Monday's minor NBA trade between the New Orleans Hornets and Chicago Bulls could be a good deal for some fantasy owners.

The players on the move are veteran Devin Brown and backup big Aaron Gray. But for fantasy owners, the player to watch is the Hornets' Marcus Thornton, because Brown's departure puts the rookie into the starting lineup at shooting guard. Thornton came through in his first career start, as he produced 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting -- including 3-of-5 from downtown -- against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Thornton, an LSU product, had been contributing off the bench for the Hornets. In his previous nine games he'd averaged 12.4 points and 1.8 3-pointers. Given his ability to hit treys, Thornton -- who's available in 99 percent of leagues -- has fantasy value in leagues of at least 12 teams. But those in standard leagues can probably do better, given Thornton's apparent inability to accumulate numbers in any counting categories beyond points and treys. For instance, on Monday in Portland, he managed but one rebound and one assist in 38 minutes.

It will be interesting to see what Thornton does with this opportunity. He looked good early this season -- from late November into early December, Thornton produced five games of 19 points or more -- before going cold and dropping back down in the rotation. If he keeps hitting shots, opponents will quickly start paying more attention to him. But on a thin Hornets roster, Thornton should stick as a starter. And his upcoming schedule is pretty promising. Among their nine games remaining before the All-Star break, the Hornets face the Golden State Warriors (on Wednesday), followed by the Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers. The Warriors allow a league-high 111.1 points per game, while those other opponents are all in the NBA's bottom third at defending the 3-pointer.

Looking Back

Carlos Boozer, Jazz: 21 points (7-10 FG), 20 rebounds, 3 steals against the Suns.
Dwight Howard, Magic: 27 points (9-11 FT), 15 rebounds, 6 blocks versus the Grizzlies.
Josh Smith, Hawks: 22 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 blocks against the Rockets.
Rudy Gay, Grizzlies: 15 points (7-17 FG), 3 rebounds against the Magic.
Kenyon Martin, Nuggets: 6 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists versus the Bobcats (ejected in second quarter).
Joakim Noah, Bulls: 11 points, 5 rebounds against the Spurs.
• Thornton isn't the only 3-point specialist to recently emerge. The Suns' Goran Dragic shot 10-of-13 en route to 32 points and six triples against the Utah Jazz. That makes 52 points in two games for the 24-year-old, who was averaging just 7.4 points prior to last weekend. Dragic's fantasy prospects might actually be slightly better than Thornton's. He's certainly a good plug-in for Tuesday, when the Suns host the Charlotte Bobcats. Not only are the Suns without Leandro Barbosa, but Grant Hill might not play either after bruising his heel early in Monday's game.

• Speaking of 3-point specialists, it might be time to take Arron Affalo seriously. He now has 11 treys in his past two games after raining six triples on the Bobcats (to go with 24 points and seven assists). In January, Affalo is averaging 12.8 points and 2.4 3s on 55.2 percent shooting. That's ridiculous accuracy, but success from downtown isn't completely unprecedented for Affalo. In his limited action last season with the Detroit Pistons, Affalo shot 40.2 percent from beyond the arc.

• While I still see Robin Lopez as one of the season's biggest free-agent finds, it's clear that Channing Frye will play if his shot is falling. That was the case Monday, when Frye scored 21 points (including five 3s) in 27 minutes against the Jazz. Lopez, meanwhile, was limited to eight points in 24 minutes.

• Stars sat on Monday -- namely Carmelo Anthony, Eric Gordon and Brandon Roy. Melo sprained his left ankle during the weekend and missed the game with the Bobcats, but is expected back on Wednesday when the Denver Nuggets face the Houston Rockets. Gordon (toe) missed his third straight contest, and is considered day-to-day. And as The Oregonian notes, Roy continues to receive treatment on his strained right hamstring, and is scheduled to be reevaluated on Thursday.

Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for



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