The NBA wraps up the season's first half in style with a great double header tonight on TNT. At 8pm Eastern, its the Thunder hosting the Miami Heat in Oklahoma City, followed by the battle of Los Angeles featuring the Clippers and Lakers. The "Grammy" break is over and both LA teams are road weary and ready for a return to the Staples Center. NBA fans won't be without the game as All-Star weekend in Houston tips off on Friday.
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LA Clippers- Chris Paul fantasy owners are glad to finally have the MVP candidate back from injury, but those that have been riding Eric Bledsoe are out of luck. Those that own Paul would be best served to get Bledsoe as a handcuff, protecting for future injury. Grant Hill has returned from injury, both his magical fantasy years ended decades ago. There was alot of talk about Kevin Garnett possibly heading west, but the Celtics center has ended those rumors, indicating he wants to end his career in Boston. Chauncey Billups has also returned from injury, but the presence of Jammal Crawford (and Bledsoe) really waters down the Clippers backcourt numbers. Matt Barnes was a fantasy favorite last month, but Caron Butler has stepped up his game at Barnes' expense.
Golden State- The two most important positions in fantasy baskeball are, arguably, point guard and center. The Warriors have lots of talent in Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut, but both are very brittle and subject to frequent injuries. Jarrett Jack has carved out a spot, not only in the Warriors rotation, but on fantasy rosters nationwide. Rookie Harrison Barnes is slowly improving his game and may be worthy of a gamble down the fantasy stretch. Klay Thompson is money from long range and a valuable fantasy commodity. Saving the best for last, power forward David Lee has been simply lights out this season. The former Florida star is averaging nearly 19 points and 11 rebounds per contest. Amazingly, he has a shot at becoming the only 20/10 player in the Association this season.
LA Lakers- Where to we begin? Kobe Bryant has been carrying the load offensively and at the same time trying to light a fire under the embattled Dwight Howard. Howard and Pau Gasol have had a hard time co-existing in the paint, but that has been solved for now with Gasol's foot injury. Metta World Peace is having one of his best season's in years, but is nothing more than fantasy fodder. The Lakers have never had a fantasy stud alongside Kobe in the backcourt, but were hoping Steve Nash would be that man this season. Nash was out for an extended period and with Steve Blake also down and out, ole Showtime had alot of trouble in the backcourt. Antawn Jamison has been an invaluable acquisition as he can still score in many ways. The surprise of the Western Conference this season? How about Earl Clark. College basketball fans know Clark well from his days at Louisville, but after all but disappearing in Orlando, he was a throw-in, added to the Dwight Howard deal.
Sacramento- We went through several weeks this season, with most of the trade rumors involving DeMarcus Cousins. While the Kings probably need to shake things up, they would be foolish to trade Cousins without getting a King's ransom in return. I managed to pry Cousins away in my league, getting him straight up for Rudy Gay. I had turned down a trade for Zach Randolph (for Gay) earlier in the season and had been regretting it. With Gay going off upon arrival in Toronto, I was offered Cousins for Gay and jumped at the offer. I also have Tyreke Evans who was battling injury for several weeks, but seems to have settled back in with his best play since his Rookie of the Year season. Isiah Thomas seems to have fought off all comers and holds down the point and is a worthy fantasy asset. Rookie Thomas Robinson has shown brief flashes, but he just isn't getting enough minutes to make a fantasy mark. The Kings might have playoff potential if Robinson makes a move and they draft a combo forward with range. Ersan Illyasova would be a nice fit on this team.
Phoenix- When the Suns let Amare Stoudamire walk without compensation, it was quickly downhill in the Valley of the Sun. I thought Phoenix got nice value in Luis Scola in free agency and I remain a believer in Michael Beasley. It appeared the Suns were ready to move Marcin Gortat, but management reportedly is asking far too much for the big man. Goran Dragic has been everything and more for the Suns, since being given the keys to the point. Kendall Marshall is the heir apparent when the eventually decide to move Dragic to a contender. Jared Dudley had a terrific couple of weeks, but the swingman is an overachiever and you aren't going to get any more. Shannon Brown is playing much better the second time around and forward Markieff Morris has a future with the club. Minnesota dumped Wesley Johnson on the Suns and thus far he has to be one of the more disappointing lotterry picks in recent memory. Hard to imagine he was such a stud at Syracuse.
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Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics.
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