Headlines from the Fantasy Hardwood – January 21, 2008

Compiled By FantasyFanatics.com Lead Expert Rob Shaw

On the Rise
Nick Collison – Power Forward/Center – Sonics – Collison has thrived since Chris Wilcox went down with a sprained knee in late December. Collison has averaged 13.3 points and 13.4 rebounds in his last seven games. The real test will be what happens when Wilcox comes back full strength. Unfortunately, Collison’s strong play has not translated into wins for the Sonics, as they have lost seven straight games, signaling that more changes may be on the way. Collison seems to be more of the solution than the problem, especially his knack for offensive rebounding.

Kevin Martin – Shooting Guard – Kings – Martin came back from a groin injury and did not miss a beat. He scored 25 points in his first game back and scored 39 in the game after that. I am going to go on a limb and guess that the 84% field goal percentage he shot in those two games will not last. However, it is nice to have one of the league’s top scorers back.

On the Way Down
Ricky Davis – Shooting Guard/Small Forward – Heat – Davis has had a very “un-Ricky Buckets” type run of late. He is on his fourth single digit game and counting. What stings most for those that have him on their fantasy team is that prior to this cold spell, Davis was putting up some great games. So what happened? A losing streak, that is what. The Heat made some changes in their rotation, resulting in a couple games of playing time in the mid twenty minutes for Davis. Coincide that with a shooting slump and your have Davis’ fantasy stock taking a hit.

Raymond Felton – Guard – Bobcats – The ascent of Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson in Charlotte has left Felton as the odd man out a little in their offense. His scoring, field goal percentage, and steals have gone down in each month so far this season. On the bright side, he is pumping out assists like a mad-man, averaging nine a game in January. However, you probably drafted Felton with more in mind than assists, so he has so far disappointed to some extent.

THE FANTASYFANATICS.COM ONE ON ONE

Josh Childress vs. Martell Webster

The History: Josh Childress came to the league from Stanford after his junior year with two trademarks: his afro and the funky release of his jump shot. Since arriving to Atlanta, he has proven that his unorthodox jumper can be effective, shooting a career field goal percentage of over 51% and over 35% from downtown. He has also proven that he can rebound at a respectable rate, despite his wiry frame. Childress has had to learn to thrive in his role off the bench. Martell Webster was selected right out of high school. He came out with a Glen Rice-type upside as a shooter. He has not lived up to those high standards yet. His field goal percentage in his first two years in the league was sub-40%. Webster would have benefited from at least a year in college, as he was over-matched, physically and mentally, prior to this season.

The Numbers: Childress has taken his shooting accuracy to a new level, shooting over 59% from the field this season. He is also deadly from the free throw line, shooting better than 86% for this season. He is still able to find his offense, even as a reserve, posting a double digit scoring mark. Childress is an underrated rebounder, with a career average of almost six boards a game. Webster started the season as though he was going to live up to his lofty potential. However, his season has hit a few bumps along the way, statistically at least. He is posting career highs in all important fantasy categories so far this season, including a scoring average of over 11 points and a rebound average over four. The encouraging sign with Webster is that he is getting more comfortable with his three point shot, shooting 39% from beyond the arc this season.

The Current Situation: Childress has established himself as a perennial candidate for “Sixth Man of the Year”. Still, coming off the bench does not always guarantee the minutes will be there every game. He would benefit statistically going to a team where he would start. Childress’ role seems on solid ground as he is getting 30 minutes a game on an improving Hawks team. Webster’s minutes are not as assured in Portland. He has one of the stronger benches in the league backing him up in Jarrett Jack, James Jones, and Travis Outlaw. The Blazers seem committed to giving Webster ample opportunity this season, so he should be fine for around 30 minutes a game the rest of the way.

The Fantasy Winner – this season: Josh Childress. I like his reserve role better than I like Webster’s starting one. His slight edge in rebounding and steals and his huge edge in field goal percentage give him the advantage.

The Fantasy Winner – career: Martell Webster. The upside on Webster’s game is far and away superior to that of Childress. At age 24, Childress is still early in his prime. However, I just do not see him or his numbers getting dramatically better than he is posting right now. Webster has the makings of an all-star caliber player.

Top 10 Fantasy Ballers as of Week 10:

RANK LAST WEEK

1) Chris Paul 1
2) Shawn Marion 2
3) Baron Davis 6
4) Kobe Bryant 3
5) Caron Butler 5
6) Kevin Garnett 4
7) Marcus Camby 9
8 ) Chauncey Billups UNRANKED
9) Dirk Nowitzki 7
10) Allen Iverson 8

NO LONGER RANKED LAST WEEK
11) Yao Ming 10

Baron Davis climbs the latter from 6th overall to the top three thanks to a couple of key performances. On Wednesday he blocked two shots, managed 7 steals, and did not commit one turnover. On Friday, Davis knocked down 6 three-pointers en route to 40 points. Not only has Davis improved from a fine 2006-07 season, but he has managed to stay healthy all season. It might be a good time to trade him before his next big injury. The normally brittle Marcus Camby also went up a few spots thanks to a Thursday performance that might rank as one of the best ever. The Nuggets center score just 8 points, but he did grab 24 rebounds, and block 11 shots. He even came up with two steals in that contest as Camby is currently the highest rated center in fantasy basketball.

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