Amir Johnson continues hot stretch
Amir Johnson continued his streak of impressive play for the Toronto Raptors, putting up 20 points and 13 rebounds in 41 minutes against the Hawks; that brings his five-game averages to 17.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.2 steals and 64 percent shooting from the floor.
Clearly, Johnson should be in fantasy lineups every night right now. Because he hasn't gotten hurt this season, he's crept up to the fringe of the top 50 on the Player Rater, but even based on per-game numbers, Johnson is well within the top 100. Amazingly, he's still available in more than half of ESPN.com fantasy leagues, probably because he's on the Raptors, a team no one outside of Canada seems to pay much attention to.
Johnson, however, isn't going anywhere. He's playing this well in the first season of a contract that will continue to pay him pretty big bucks until 2014-15, so the Raptors have a ton invested in him, and no reason to not let him keep improving in big minutes. As I pointed out on Wednesday in my Player Rater column, Johnson is an excellent bet to keep getting better as the season wears on, but should absolutely be owned in every fantasy league even if he levels off where he is.
Manny Harris had 19 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes for the Cavs in their loss to the Pacers after scoring 20 in each of the Cavs' previous two games. With Anthony Parker also looking good, it remains to be seen what kind of minutes he'll get going forward, but he could be worth a look in deeper leagues, considering Parker could get traded in the next few weeks. Trevor Ariza sprained his ankle for the Hornets against the Thunder and did not return; if he misses time, Quincy Pondexter (27 minutes, 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals against the Thunder) could be worth a look, but hasn't really done enough in his limited minutes to warrant a pickup quite yet. Toney Douglas had a nice night off the bench for the Knicks with 22 points on hot shooting. It was his first decent performance in a week and a half, and if Wilson Chandler misses any more time with his sore calf, Douglas might be worth a play. Marcin Gortat had 19 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in the Suns' win against the Bucks, and if the Suns are going to make a push for the playoffs, they're going to have to consider starting him over Robin Lopez pretty soon. Gortat should be in your lineup until something changes. C.J. Miles continued to fill in admirably for the plethora of missing Jazz (Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur), and belongs in your lineup any time Williams or Kirilenko isn't in the lineup. Miles is now averaging 16.0 points, 2.0 3s and 1.6 steals in his past five games.
The last time the Lakers faced the Spurs, it was in San Antonio, and the Spurs totally destroyed the defending champs, most notably holding Kobe Bryant to 8-for-27 shooting from the floor. Considering the way the Lakers have fared of late, it's hard to imagine that changing much in L.A. on Thursday night, especially with the Spurs coming off an embarrassing loss to the beat-up Trail Blazers. Based on the 151 total points scored the last time the Bucks faced the Warriors, you might think that the Bucks imposed their pace on the Warriors. Instead, both teams just missed a whole bunch of shots, with neither team shooting better than 35 percent from the floor. I would expect better shooting this time, and it's a great night to get any of your Bucks into your fantasy lineup. In particular, the recently-returned Brandon Jennings should be a good play.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.