Greg Monroe finishes strong January
Greg Monroe started the season slowly and it appeared as if he wouldn't be prepared to contribute as a rookie, averaging 3.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in November. But after Sunday night's explosion of 15 points, 17 rebounds and 2 steals against the Knicks, Monroe is averaging 10.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game in January, shooting 60.2 percent from the floor. Those are numbers worth starting in any format, and his ability to accrue steals from the center position is nearly unmatched, as Andray Blatche is the only center-eligible player with more steals per game in the past month than Monroe. The Pistons are looking pretty pathetic and have no reason but to continue giving Monroe as many minutes as he can handle as they figure out what they have for the future, and cultivate any young talent on their roster, so look for his success to continue. He doesn't block many shots, but his production in the steals category somewhat offsets that fact, and he's rebounding and scoring at such an efficient rate that he's become a viable starter in most formats. He was dropped in many leagues after a handful of rough outings recently, although those types of rookie growing pains are to be expected. This means he's owned in just 19.3 percent of leagues, but is playing well enough to warrant a number much higher than that. If you're looking for a big man and Monroe is available, snap him up ASAP, especially if you're in need of help in the steals department, as he provides them from a relatively atypical position for that category and is poised to contribute for the rest of the season.
Marcin Gortat went off for 25 points on 9-for-10 shooting from the floor and 7-for-7 from the stripe Saturday, including 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. Echoing what I wrote in this week's Working the Wire, Gortat is a stud on a per-minute basis, and since he's consistently earning more playing time than Robin Lopez and averaging 25.2 minutes per game in the past five contests, he's become a reliable starter if you're in need of center help. Chris Bosh returned Sunday and played 36 minutes, dropping 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting with seven boards. He appeared to be unhindered by his recent ankle injury, so be sure to get him back in your lineup immediately, as he should go back to putting up around 19 and 8 on a regular basis with fantastic percentages. Timofey Mozgov came out of nowhere to notch 23 points and 14 rebounds Sunday night with Wilson Chandler and Shawne Williams sidelined for the Knicks. He hadn't played in a game since Jan. 9, so don't look for him to suddenly get tons of minutes based on one strong performance, although it could at least get him back in the Knicks rotation since it provides a glimpse of what he's capable of when playing his best. Kendrick Perkins had just two points and six rebounds with no blocks Sunday afternoon, but most importantly played 28 minutes off the bench. As he rounds into shape, he should be able to provide help in rebounds and especially blocks, where he's averaged 1.7 and 2.0 per game the past two seasons, respectively. He's also incredibly efficient from the floor, shooting 60.2 percent last season, so if you're locked in a close field goal percentage race and need some blocks, Perkins should be able to provide assistance after a few more games of shaking off the rust and getting his legs back under him. He's currently owned in just 14.0 percent of leagues, a number sure to increase during the next couple of weeks, so pounce now if the type of numbers he put up last season are the kind that are helpful for your team's needs.
Brandon Rush is out with a sprained right ankle for Monday's game against the Raptors, so look for Mike Dunleavy's recent success to continue. Also monitor the initial playing time distribution of new Pacers' head coach Frank Vogel, who will man the helm for the rest of the season. With O.J. Mayo out serving his suspension, Tony Allen becomes a strong play during the next couple weeks, and boasts the ability to be incredibly helpful in steals, averaging 1.7 per game in just 15.4 minutes per contest. He played a season-high 34 minutes on Saturday, and is a strong short-term start. Deron Williams is questionable for Monday's game against the Bobcats, after missing the past two contests with a sprained wrist. It will be a game-time decision, and Williams obviously warrants a start anytime he's going to sniff court time, so monitor the situation before the game and insert him if there's any chance he'll return.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.