Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to All-Star week!
Think back to the five-month lockout for a second and realize that we were very, VERY close to A) Not having a season, and B) Not having All-Star weekend. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the fact that we are now covering basketball instead of the business of basketball.
So enjoy All-Star weekend from Or-LIN-do and be sure to check out all the coverage on NBA TV, TNT and NBA.com.
Before we dive into the waiver wire, I have to tell y’all about a blockbuster trade I just pulled off in League Freak (12-team, 8-cat, head-to-head). I traded Danny Granger, Paul George and Serge Ibaka for Rajon Rondo and Andre Iguodala.
I have been desperately searching for a second guard all season, running through Chauncey Billups, Jameer Nelson, Brandon Knight, Paul George and Jeff Teague. All of those guys have had their moments, but none of them is the final piece to a championship puzzle. To wit, through eight weeks my squad is 33-31, good enough for fifth place. Not good enough.
My new starting lineup is: C Marc Gasol, F Josh Smith, F Andre Iguodala, G Rajon Rondo, G Stephen Curry, and sixth man Ryan Anderson.
While I like Granger, George and Ibaka, Granger’s 39 percent from the field is killing me, George is firing only 9.5 shots per game and Ibaka … and Ibaka … OK, I didn’t want to trade Ibaka, but you have to give to get in fantasy trades.
Sadly, I am not starting Rondo this week because I fear a one- or two-game suspension for tossing the ball at an official in Sunday’s loss to the Pistons. That said, Rondo is going to be fresh and frisky, and playing with a Boston-sized chip on his shoulder in the second half.
Rondo + chip = GOODIES!
I’ve always been a big fan of Iguodala and he’s having a strong all-around season, ranking 41st on the 8-cat chart with 12.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.1 threes, and 0.5 blocks. Bolstered by his first All-Star experience, and inspired by the 76ers’ push for home-court advantage in the first round, I see even bigger numbers from Iguodala in the second half.
Tell me what you think about this trade @NBATVRICK on twitter. But first, it’s time to hit the waiver wire…
Hopefully you were watching NBA TV last Tuesday when Batum got the start over Wesley Matthews and went off for 33 points. Batum is averaging 22.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.5 threes in four games since getting the starting job.
Given the poor seasons from Matthews and Raymond Felton, and with Father Time creeping up on Gerald Wallace, the Blazers desperately need Batum’s offense and activity. And when you consider the fact that Batum is in a contract year … giddy up!
If you haven’t seen the NBA’s second-best revelation this year (behind Jeremy Lin), then you don’t know about his incredible size and strength, you don’t know he can beat most centers up and down the court, you don’t know about his soft hands and sweet feet, and you don’t know about his consistency. Allow me to break it down for you.
Pek is the Wolves’ new starting center and barring injury, there is no way Darko Milicic is getting his gig back. Last week in four games, Pek averaged 21 points on 58 percent shooting, 11.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. In 11 starts this year, Pek is averaging 16.3 points (61 percent from the field / 72 percent from the line), 10 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 31 minutes.
Again, if you haven’t seen him, you’re probably thinking those numbers have to come back to earth. But take it from a Wolves’ fan who watches every game — Pek is already one of the best centers in the NBA and the 26-year-old from Montenegro gets better with every game.
Injuries have opened up an opportunity for Brewer, who has finally found a home in Denver. Over the last five games, Brew is playing 32.8 minutes and turning the PT into 14.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.4 steals, and 1.2 threes. Enjoy it while it lasts, however, because Brewer’s going back to the bench once Danilo Gallinari is healthy.
Can you tell the Kings are desperate? They are now starting the 60th pick in the 2011 Draft at point guard. But I’m not mad at Thomas, who rocked the No. 1 pick in the 2011 Draft (Kyrie Irving) to the tune of 23-8-11 in 43 minutes on Sunday. Word on the street is that Thomas is going to keep the gig, so pick him up and see if he can keep it up.
Not too many people know about Ayon, so strike while the iron is hot — and under the radar. Ayon is a 26-year-old rookie from Mexico with double-doubles in his last two games. At 6-10, 250 pounds, Ayon has legit NBA size and his hustle is leading to fantasy goodies. With Carl Landry and Emeka Okafor out with knee injuries and Chris Kaman likely to be traded before the deadline, Ayon is good to go for at least the foreseeable future.