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Courtside Seat: Looking back to look forward

Senior Fantasy Writer
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We're seven weeks into the Fantasy Basketball season, and because of the lockout, we're almost at the halfway point in most leagues. This feels like a good time to look back on what went right and wrong on Draft Day.

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I play in three leagues -- an eight-category head-to-head league with 30 owners, a 12-team head-to-head league in total points and a 12-team average-based league -- with a variety of formats. We're going to compare the Top 12 players in those formats to the Average Draft Position on CBSSports.com.

For those owners looking to make trades, this should help you in judging players who are underperforming or might be playing over their heads. Ricky Rubio, for example, is a Top 12 guard in two leagues, and many owners want to know if he can keep this up. And that's among the things we're here to help you find out.

Here are the Top 12 players drafted this year in order:

1. LeBron James, SF, Heat
2. Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder
3. Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls
4. Dwight Howard, C, Magic
5. Chris Paul, PG, Clippers
6. Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder
7. Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers
8. Dwyane Wade, SG, Heat
9. Deron Williams, PG, Nets
10. Kevin Love, PF, Timberwolves
11. Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers
12. Amar'e Stoudemire, PF, Knicks

Here are the Top 12 players in an eight-category head-to-head league:

1. Dwight Howard, C, Magic
2. Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder
3. LeBron James, SF, Heat
4. Kevin Love, PF, Timberwolves
5. Kyle Lowry, PG, Rockets
6. Brandon Jennings, PG, Bucks
7. Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies
8. Ricky Rubio, PG, Timberwolves
9. Josh Smith, PF, Hawks
10. Andre Iguodala, SF, Sixers
11. Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers
12. Deron Williams, PG, Nets

Despite all the trade speculation, Howard is still having a monster year with a career-high in rebounds (15.1), assists (2.0) and steals (1.5). When you add in his scoring (20.1 points) and blocks (2.2), it overshadows his poor free-throw percentage (48 percent) and turnovers (3.2). Lowry has been a statistical beast, and he should remain hot all season. He is averaging 14.9 points, 8.0 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and shoots 86 percent from the foul line with 39 3-pointers. Jennings is a sell-high candidate because his shooting percentage (43 percent) and assists (5.3) should begin to decline with Andrew Bogut (ankle) out. He's also averaging a career-high 19.2 points, which might not last. In his past two games, Jennings has scored 11 points combined against Chicago and Phoenix. Rubio has been the best surprise this season at 11.2 points, 9.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 steals. He has also made 19 3-pointers and is shooting 82 percent from the foul line. He should be able to keep this up barring an injury, so don't plan on trading him unless it's a great deal.

Here are the Top 12 players in a head-to-head standard total point league:

1. LeBron James, SF, Heat
2. Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers
3. Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder
4. Dwight Howard, C, Magic
5. Kevin Love, PF, Timberwolves
6. Deron Williams, PG, Nets
7. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Trail Blazers
8. Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder
9. Tony Parker, PG, Spurs
10. Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls
11. John Wall, PG, Wizards
12. Ricky Rubio, PG, Timberwolves

Aldridge was woefully undervalued coming into the season since he was drafted at No. 19 overall based on his ADP. He is a first-round talent and is averaging a career-high 23.7 points with 8.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists. By comparison, Stoudemire is averaging 18.2 points and 8.1 rebounds, and Aldridge should play better than Stoudemire the rest of the season. Parker is someone to sell high because his stats will decline once Manu Ginobili (hand) returns, which should be soon. Parker is averaging a career-high 7.7 assists, but his scoring average of 18.2 will go down with Ginobili healthy. He is averaging 26.3 points in his past four games, and he will struggle to keep that up going forward. Wall was someone I mentioned earlier this year to buy low on because his rough start to the season was not going to continue. He is averaging 16.4 points, 6.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals in his past five games, and he has 20-5-5 potential if he can score at a higher clip. Wall should only get better as the season goes on, so don't plan on trading him without a stellar offer in return.

Here are the Top 12 players in an average-based head-to-head league:

1. LeBron James, SF, Heat
2. Dwight Howard, C, Magic
3. Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder
4. Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers
5. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Trail Blazers
6. Kevin Love, PF, Timberwolves
7. Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers
8. Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers
9. David Lee, PF, Warriors
10. Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder
11. Monta Ellis, SG, Warriors
12. Pau Gasol, PF, Lakers

By the end of the season you will see Wade, Paul and Rose in the Top 12 of most formats, but injuries have hurt them to start the year. Paul, for example, is a Top 10 player in this league over the past 21 days, so his value is on the rise. The one player in this group to sell now is Bynum, and it's only because of his injury history. He has been awesome this season with 14 double-doubles, and he is averaging 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in his past five games. But Bynum has played more than 65 games just once in his seven-year career, and you have to be concerned of a potential injury looming. That would help Gasol, who is still producing at a high level despite his scoring down two points last year from 18.8 to 16.4. Lee and Ellis will not remain as Top 12 options, but they won't slip far. They will just get passed by Wade, Paul, Rose, Williams or Marc Gasol, who has also been a solid Fantasy option this season with Zach Randolph (knee) out.

Each week we will take a look at a variety of topics around the NBA. We will look at guys to trade, trade for, add off the waiver wire and also answer some of your social media questions, among other things. It's our CBSSports.com potpourri look at Fantasy Basketball.

Hornets trying to improve

The Hornets are a mess with the worst record in the Western Conference at 4-21, but coach Monty Williams is trying to get a feel for his roster for the rest of the season and the future. Along with injuries, Williams is getting to look at several players, which has impacted Fantasy owners.

"We are evaluating talent, and we're trying to figure out who can play," Williams said following a recent visit to Miami. "Any time you get a chance to play in the NBA, you better make the most of it. That's what we're looking for from our young guys."

Injuries to Eric Gordon (knee) and Jarrett Jack (knee) have allowed Greivis Vasquez to shine. He is averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds in his past five games. Jack is on the verge of coming back, but Vasquez should remain relevant until Gordon returns, which is likely by the end of the month.

Carl Landry (knee) is out until the end of February, which should give extended minutes to Jason Smith and Gustavo Ayon. Smith is dealing with a concussion, and Ayon started Monday against Sacramento. He finished with four points, nine rebounds and two blocks in 32 minutes, and he could be worth adding in deeper leagues depending on how long Smith is out.

Emeka Okafor is one of the few veterans getting extended minutes, and he's having a down year with a career-low 9.7 points and 7.8 rebounds. Still, Okafor remains confident in his game and expects to play well to close the season.

"I'm doing all right," Okafor said. "I'm just trying to get better. I just have to keep on working hard and wait for the opportunity to come."

Free agent watch

Here are five guys I am looking at in my leagues:

Arron Afflalo, SG, Nuggets
Owned: 37 percent of leagues

Reggie Williams, SG, Bobcats
Owned: 34 percent of leagues

Linas Kleiza, SF, Raptors
Owned: 29 percent of leagues

Randy Foye, SG, Clippers
Owned: 25 percent of leagues

Bill Walker, SG, Knicks
Owned: 3 percent of leagues

By now, Jeremy Lin (76 percent ownership) and Nikola Pekovic (72 percent) should be owned in most competitive leagues. If not, run out to grab them because they could be solid for the rest of the year. Williams would be the next player to add because he has played well with Gerald Henderson (hamstring), Corey Maggette (hamstring) and D.J. Augustin (toe) out. Williams has 42 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in his past two games. Afflalo and Foye should also be solid for the foreseeable future due to injuries as well. Danilo Gallinari is out with a fractured ankle, which should give Afflalo more scoring chances. And Chauncey Billups (Achilles' tendon) is out for the season, which will help Foye. Walker is a short-term add with Carmelo Anthony (groin) out for two weeks, and Kleiza also is taking advantage of Andrea Bargnani (calf) being out. Kleiza has scored 62 points in his past three games with 13 rebounds.

Social media corner

@NELaker on Twitter wants to know: Should I give up Jrue Holiday and Hedo Turkoglu to get Mo Williams and Stephen Jackson?

There is definitely more upside in Williams and Jackson, so yes make the deal. Holiday has struggled this season, and Turkoglu is no longer a must-start Fantasy option. Williams should see an increase in production with Billups out, and Jackson finally escaped the doghouse in Milwaukee with 30 minutes against Phoenix on Tuesday. Hopefully he will continue to see increased minutes or get traded away from the Bucks.

@jordaneisner on Twitter wants to know: Anthony Morrow or Trevor Ariza for the rest of the year?

It depends on what you need and in what format, but Ariza does more than Morrow, who is strictly a scorer. Ariza also has more job security since Morrow will lose minutes once MarShon Brooks (toe) returns. He could also lose production when Brook Lopez (foot) is back in action. The safer option is to stick with Ariza.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyNews . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Nuggets' Ty Lawson returns to starting lineup after one-game absence
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:59 pm ET) Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson will be back in the starting lineup Sunday against the Wizards, coach Brian Shaw said.

Lawson was not suspended, but did not play in Denver's last game after being arrested for DUI Friday. Lawson is averaging 16.7 points and 9.9 assists per game.

The Nuggets are currently 3 1/2-point underdogs against Washington.


Celtics' Kelly Olynyk dealing with torn ligaments, out at least two weeks
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:37 pm ET) Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk is dealing with a few torn ligaments in his ankle, which are typical to a bad sprain, coach Brad Stevens said Sunday.

Olynyk twisted his ankle after going up for a rebound and landing on another player's foot. Olynyk, who is averaging 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds, is expected to miss a couple of weeks because of the injury.


Thunder guard Russell Westbrook nears triple-double in loss Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:25 pm ET) Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook scored 22 points and dished out 11 assists in Oklahoma City's 108-98 loss to the Cavaliers Sunday.

Despite struggling to find his shot, going 7 of 26 from the field, Westbrook grabbed his ninth double-double of the season. He pulled down nine rebounds, coming up one short of his second triple-double of the season.


Thunder forward Kevin Durant scores 32 points in losing effort
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:22 pm ET) Thunder small forward Kevin Durant scored 32 points on 12 of 23 shooting in Oklahoma City's 108-98 loss to the Cavaliers Sunday.

Durant also dished out nine assists and grabbed six rebounds in the loss. It was the third time in his last six games Durant scored at least 30 points. He and the Thunder will look to get back on track Monday against the Timberwolves.


Cavs' Tristan Thompson doubles up Thunder in win Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:17 pm ET) Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson scored 10 points on 3 of 4 shooting and grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds in Cleveland's 108-98 win over the Thunder Sunday. Coming off the bench, it was Thompson's season-high for rebounds in a game. It was also his 11th double-double of the season.

Thompson blocked three shots on the evening.


Cavaliers' LeBron James scores game-high 34 points in win
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:11 pm ET) Cavaliers forward LeBron James scored a game-high 34 points on 11 of 25 shooting from the field, including 10 of 13 from the free throw line, in Cleveland's 108-98 win over the Thunder.

James a bit of everything on Sunday, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out five assists and blocking two shots. Since returning from injury, James is averaging 30.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists in eight games.


Timberwolves' Nikola Pekovic will start Sunday at Atlanta
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic will make his return to the starting lineup for Sunday's game at Atlanta, the team announced.

Pekovic has played the last two games after being out since Nov. 15 with a right wrist fracture.

The Timberwolves are 18-point underdogs to the Hawks.


Suns center Brandan Wright out for Sunday's game with heel injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:39 pm ET) Suns center Brandan Wright will miss Sunday's game against the Clippers with a sore left heel, the team announced pregame.

Wright has played in six games since being traded to Phoenix and is averaging 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in 17.6 minutes per contest.


Raptors' Amir Johnson available to play Sunday vs. Pistons
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:35 pm ET) The Raptors announced forward Amir Johnson will be available to play in Sunday's game against the Pistons.

Johnson is dealing with a strained shoulder, but will remain in the starting lineup. In 40 games, Johnson is averaging 9.6 points and 5.9 rebounds.

The Raptors were 7 1/2-point favorites, but the line has moved to 8-points.


Blazers list Nicolas Batum as questionable for Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:30 pm ET) Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum is listed as questionable for Monday's game against the Nets with a wrist injury, the team announced Sunday.

Batum, who told reporters he tore a tendon in his wrist during a Dec. 17 game against the Bucks, is averaging 9.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. If he is unable to go, Allen Crabbe or Will Barton would start in Batum's place.

The Blazers are currently 6-point favorites against Brooklyn.


 
 
 
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