Roy Hibbert benefits from coaching change
Fantasy owners have it a little easier today, thanks to Indiana Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel.
Yes, it's only one game -- and one game where the Pacers almost blew a 20-point lead to a Toronto Raptors team that's now lost 12 straight -- but a tiny part of our world makes sense again.
On Sunday, the Pacers fired Jim O'Brien, whose indecipherable rotations had frustrated fantasy owners throughout his 3 1/2-season tenure. On Monday, the Pacers looked like the team we hoped they'd be all along. Vogel let Darren Collison (16 points, six assists, four rebounds and a pair of 3-pointers) screen-and-roll all night. The new coach planted Roy Hibbert (24 points, 11 boards, two steals and two blocks) in the post, and he let the unsure big man play through his mistakes. The result was his first 20-10 performance since Nov. 28. Danny Granger (11 points, nine rebounds, five assists) struggled, but he did somewhat offset a 3-for-15 shooting night with those boards and assists. The Pacers' three fantasy stars did combine for a whopping 15 turnovers, but again, it looks like this team is finally going to function as we'd figured.
A couple of other observations: Tyler Hansbrough (14 points, six rebounds) will apparently come off the bench for the time being, while Josh McRoberts (four points, six rebounds) will stick in the starting lineup. Hansbrough should see more minutes than the 15 he saw on Monday -- he'd missed the previous two games with pneumonia -- but his reserve status undoubtedly limits his fantasy value.
On the other hand, Paul George (16 points, four rebounds, two blocks) is definitely a free agent of interest now. Vogel was so impressed with the rookie he played him the entire fourth quarter against the Raptors. If George can continue to log around 25 minutes per game, he could average better than 1.0 3s and 1.0 steals while approaching 1.0 blocks. That'll play in leagues of at least 12 teams. George is currently available in almost all ESPN.com leagues.
• JaVale McGee (two points, three rebounds, two blocks) played just 13 minutes off the bench for the Washington Wizards. McGee had missed the previous game due to the flu, so it's logical to assume he's not returned to full strength. Yi Jianlian (14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals) seized the extra minutes, but he remains a long way from being any sort of fantasy factor.
• Brandon Jennings (12 points, three assists, two 3s) played 18 minutes off the bench in his second game back after missing five weeks with a broken foot. It's possible Jennings returns to the starting lineup on Wednesday, when the Milwaukee Bucks visit the Phoenix Suns.
• Randy Foye (20 points, 5 assists, 3 steals) continues to do a good job filling in for Eric Gordon (wrist), but the Los Angeles Clippers are now hopeful that their star shooting guard will return much sooner than expected. Gordon will be with the team when it starts its 10-game road trip on Friday against the Atlanta Hawks.
• With only four games on tap for Tuesday, there aren't a lot of fill-in candidates. But I'm thinking Rudy Fernandez could surprise some people when his Portland Trail Blazers host the San Antonio Spurs. Though Fernandez is shooting only 30.0 percent (9-for-30) in his past three games, he's averaging 1.8 3s and 2.5 steals in his past six. Despite their league-best 40-7 mark, the Spurs are allowing opponents to shoot 39.2 percent from beyond the arc, 29th in the league.
• Emeka Okafor (hip), who'd played in 306 consecutive games dating back to the 2006-07 season, will sit out when the New Orleans Hornets host the Wizards. The Hornets play again Wednesday, so consider Okafor iffy for that contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.