Blake Griffin's star not as bright in fantasy
Blake Griffin was the talk of the weekend after dropping 25 points and 15 rebounds on Thanksgiving, 20 and 14 Friday and 35 and 14 on Sunday. He's become the clear front-runner in the Rookie of the Year race and is on pace to surpass basically every statistical expectation people had for him this season. Despite his unimaginable athleticism and ability to perform feats on the court that nobody else in the league is capable of doing, he's a much, much better actual player than fantasy player. This is because of his 58.5 percent free throw shooting on 7.9 attempts per game and his paltry 0.5 blocks per game. Those free throws make him the second-most harmful player in the category behind Dwight Howard and is the primary reason he's ranked 79th on the Player Rater, despite averaging 20.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. He could creep into the top 50 if he keeps dropping 4.8 dimes and blocking a shot per game, as he has in the past five contests, but he's simply not a top-tier fantasy player yet, and I wouldn't hold your breath expecting his fantasy game to mirror his actual dominance anytime soon.
Josh Smith's career year continues, as he dropped a delightful triple-double Sunday, with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, to go along with three steals and two blocks. On the surface, his numbers aren't even crazy-better than last season, although the slight improvement in free throws, blocks and 3-pointers has him ranked fourth overall on the Player Rater. With his skill set and clear progression as a basketball player (he's actually averaging 2.2 fewer minutes per game than last season with better numbers), I wouldn't consider him a sell-high player and see him remaining in single digits on the Player Rater all season. Tayshaun Prince had an excellent night Sunday, dropping 31 points with 8 boards and 7 dimes, marking his third productive outing in his past four contests. He won't blow you away with many huge games like this, although he does provide a bit of everything, and is worth owning in deep leagues if you're in need of a glue-type player with low turnovers. Tim Duncan's 21 points Sunday marked his highest total since Nov. 3, and he's averaging a career-low 14.0 points per game this season. The Spurs are too deep and too focused on winning to worry about giving him much more than his 29.4 minutes per game (also a career low), as they'll want him fresh for the playoffs. So, even though I see his numbers increasing a little bit as his shooting percentage creeps above .500, he's not the fantasy player he once was. Jarrett Jack scored two points in 15 minutes of play on Sunday, and is averaging 15.8 minutes per game for the Hornets. If you haven't done so already, Jack is a must-drop in all formats, as there's surely a better option available on your waiver wire. Serge Ibaka continued his dominant field goal shooting after going a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor Sunday against the Rockets. He's now shooting 60.3 percent from the floor with 2.0 blocks per game this season and is ranked 43rd on the Player Rater. It's scary to think about the type of numbers he'll put up when he gets more minutes and becomes more polished, although he's already established himself as a must-start fantasy player in his second season. Kyle Lowry continues to be a short-term must-start with Aaron Brooks out. Lowry posted a solid line of 14 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 3-pointers and 1 steal against the Thunder Sunday. Brooks should return in the next week or two, so get value out of Lowry while you can.
With four games on the docket for Monday, you won't be pressed into any difficult "who to start?" conundrums, although John Wall is questionable with his bruised knee as the Wizards face the Heat. Andrew Bogut will sit for the Bucks, and Drew Gooden and Corey Maggette are questionable, so look for Brandon Jennings, John Salmons and Ersan Ilyasova to pick up the slack. The Jazz allow opponents to shoot just 28.7 percent from downtown, the best mark in the league, so with that and their injuries expect a rough fantasy night for the Bucks overall.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.