Dwight Howard on rebounding tear
In three games since the Orlando Magic traded starters Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas, Dwight Howard has averaged 23.6 points and 21.0 rebounds. That includes two 26-point games and at least 20 bounds in each game (26 points, 23 boards last night). Working the glass like that isn't anything new for the big fella, but has the big trade turned Howard into a bigger scoring threat?
He's taking more shots per game right now (two more attempts per game so far this month than last month), but that's to be expected during the transition from the pre-trade lineup to the post-trade lineup. The new Magic players are going to have to find their spots in the rotation and the new squad is going to have to jell, so it makes sense that they'd lean on their best player during that process.
Still, it's not out of the question that he could score a couple of more points per game this season. Howard already is averaging a career-high 21.7 ppg, and all he'd need is a few more shots each night to boost it another point or two. Unfortunately, the trade isn't going to make him a better free throw shooter. He's currently hitting a career-low 56 percent of his career-high 11.5 attempts per game. To his credit, though, he didn't miss a free throw Tuesday night (4-for-4 FT) for the first time since March 9.
• Gerald Wallace missed his fourth straight game Tuesday due to his sprained ankle. The Charlotte Bobcats are off until Monday, so hopefully we'll see him on the other side of the weekend. In the meantime, my boy Tyrus Thomas keeps rotting away on the bench, averaging just 18 minutes per contest. To a fantasy hoops junkie there are few things as irritating as watching a talented player with a game built for a loose system stuck under the thumb of a dominating, textbook coach like Larry Brown. I can't help but have visions of Raymond Felton's fantasy game being freed from the dastardly grip of Coach Brown by moving to coach Mike D'Antoni's system with the New York Knicks. Until Thomas gets traded (it's rumored he's the only untouchable on their roster), or a trade forces Brown to give the youngster starter's minutes, he's going to remain a source of frustration in Fantasyland.
• Beno Udrih broke off a career-high 34 points (11-for-18 FG, 8-for-8 FT), to go with seven rebounds and four 3-pointers Tuesday evening. The caveat is that it came against the Golden State Warriors, who give up career bests like Rajon Rondo gives up dimes. Plus it comes on the heels of an ugly 0-for-7, 6-point performance on Sunday. With the ever-changing lineup in Sacramento, you can never really tell who's going to get the minutes from week to week. Right now, though, Udrih's starting and seeing plenty of floor time with the ball in his hands, so ride him while you can.
• I'll admit I really don't understand what the Phoenix Suns are doing. They have an aging superstar in Steve Nash, whose chances to win a championship before retiring are waning. So they let Amare Stoudemire walk away as a free agent and traded J-Rich and Turkoglu for an old and broken-down Vince Carter and a journeyman-type center (Marcin Gortat). I feel badly for Nash, especially as it turns out that Carter isn't even going to play alongside the point guard anytime soon. The good news is that he's not planning to have his sore knee scoped right now, but he's not expected to play until at least Sunday.
• It looks like the Detroit Pistons finally have come to their senses and are going to use Ben Gordon over Richard Hamilton as their starting shooting guard. It may actually have less to do with senses and more to do with a pouting captain who couldn't accept a reserve role. Whatever the reason, if fantasyheads were NBA coaches, this would have happened a long time ago. Hamilton is on the downside of his career and doesn't offer a lot in fantasy terms. On the other hand, Gordon is in his prime, has twice averaged more than 20 ppg for a season and can easily average a couple of 3s per night. He's popped up on waiver wires recently, so go make sure he's not on yours.
• The Portland Trail Blazers are going on their three-game road trip without the services of Brandon Roy. I discussed his trade value in yesterday's Grand Theft Roto, and obviously this news doesn't help it any. This means he won't set foot on the hardwood until at least Dec. 30 against the Utah Jazz.
Tom Carpenter is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.