Vasquez, Smith and Dirk surging

  • Brian McKitish [ARCHIVE]
  • Special to ESPN.com | January 7, 2013

You'll notice a bit of a shakeup in the top 130 rankings this week, so let's take a look at some of the big movers and fantasy storylines over the past week.

It only took Dirk Nowitzki about five games to prove that his conditioning is rounding into form after sitting out the first month and a half of the season with a knee injury. Dirk scored 19 points in a loss to the Heat on Wednesday before joining the starting lineup to post 20 points on Saturday against the Hornets. We already know what to expect from Dirk now that he's getting close to full strength: 20-21 points, seven rebounds, 1-plus 3-pointers and a handful of steals and blocks per game to go along with terrific shooting percentages. Kudos to those of you who were patient enough to stick with Nowitzki at the start of the season.

Can someone please tell me why in the world Pau Gasol is attempting 2.0 3-pointers per game since returning from knee tendinitis on Dec. 18? Maybe Pau or head coach Mike D'Antoni can fill us in? Gasol has a nice midrange jumper, but he's a player who had attempted just 112 total 3-pointers in 12 seasons prior to this campaign. It's not surprising, therefore, that Pau is shooting just 38.9 percent from the floor during this stretch. I know everyone wants to jump all over Pau these days, but he's actually performing better in fantasy than most people think; while he's only putting up 12.0 points per game over his past five contests, he's adding a versatile 7.2 boards, 4.4 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers per game during that span. And while I don't think Pau will be able to get back to providing top-30 value with this roster, I do think that he's better than he's played thus far. Those owners looking to send out buy-low offers might want to target Pau and hope that he and D'Antoni figure out a way to get him some shots closer to the basket.

Has J.R. Smith finally turned the corner in terms of consistency? He's scored at least 15 points in each of his past 15 games and although he still has some off nights with his 3-point shooting and steals, he'll offset that by putting up huge numbers the next night. Smith is averaging an impressive 22.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.8 3-pointers per game over his past 10 contests. He's had these kind of runs before only to sink back into his inconsistent ways, but he appears to be much more consistent in now his ninth NBA season.

We've spoken about Greivis Vasquez multiple times in this space before, but I have to mention that he's averaging 17.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 9.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.5 3-pointers over his past 10 games. He's absolutely filling up the stat sheet right now and has been a top-20 fantasy player over the past 15 games on our Player Rater. Vasquez has turned himself into a very good point guard, but he's likely to cool down a little at some point. That said, I've moved him up to 50th overall in the ranks, as I think he'll continue to be an extremely strong point guard option the rest of the season.

Eric Gordon has shown some rust with his shot in three games since his return from a knee injury, posting a solid 16.3 points, 4.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 3-pointers per game -- but shooting just 32.6 percent from the floor. Gordon's field goal percentage should round back into shape as he works off the rust, and he'll be a big fantasy asset for as long as he's healthy. However, I just can't shake the feeling that we haven't seen the last of his injury concerns this season.

I'm finally starting to see why I originally ranked DeMarcus Cousins in the low teens at the start of the season. Cousins has been a man possessed since returning from a two-game suspension, averaging 22.0 points, 14.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the line. This is exactly the kind of upside Cousins has shown in the past, but his owners know that he can just as easily slip back into his pre-suspension ways. About as high-risk, high-reward as they come, Cousins' owners have to be happy with the way he's playing of late. Now let's hope he continues to play with this sort of intensity the rest of the way.

Tristan Thompson has been terrific of late, posting four double-doubles while averaging 13.4 points, 13.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks over his past five games. It's nice to see the 21-year-old progressing, but how will he fare with Anderson Varejao expected to rejoin the lineup next week? Thompson's value is sure to decrease with Varejao back, but I still think he'll offer some moderate value in standard leagues for his double-double potential. I would love to see him get more blocks and hit more free throws, but I like his potential down the road.

As we expected at the start of the season, Toronto's two-headed point guard monster of Kyle Lowry and Jose Calderon is negating each guard's value. Calderon is averaging 8.0 points, 8.6 assists and 1.2 3-pointers in 27.0 minutes over his past five games while Lowry has posted 13.4 points, 7.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.8 3-pointers in 24.8 minutes during that same stretch. Both guards are obviously quality plays in standard fantasy formats despite the timeshare. Lowry is the more valuable fantasy commodity when both are healthy, but I have a feeling that these two will continue to limit each other's values as we progress deeper into the season.

I'm sure Russell Westbrook's owners have noticed that he is taking 4.0 3-point attempts per game on the season -- and that he's actually not shooting it too bad at 36.7 percent from downtown. Westbrook is having a truly brilliant fantasy season, particularly now that he's added the 3-point shot to his repertoire. Averaging 21.8 points, 5.1 boards, 8.6 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.5 3-pointers per game, the only negative in Westbrook's game this season is his 41.5 percent shooting from the floor (thanks mostly to the aforementioned 3-point attempts). But I'm sure his owners will gladly sacrifice the field goal percentage for the added 3-point field goals.

Brian McKitish's 2012-13 Fantasy Basketball Top 150

1 Kevin Durant, SF, OKC

2 LeBron James, SF, MIA

3 Chris Paul, PG, LAC

4 Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC

5 Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL

6 James Harden, SG, HOU

7 Kyrie Irving, PG, CLE

8 Serge Ibaka, C/PF, OKC

9 Nicolas Batum, SF/SG, POR

10 Stephen Curry, PG/SG, GS

11 Carmelo Anthony, SF/PF, NY

12 Marc Gasol, C, MEM

13 Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS

14 Joakim Noah, C/PF, CHI

15 Paul George, SF/SG, IND

16 LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, POR

17 Jrue Holiday, PG, PHI

18 Damian Lillard, PG, POR

19 Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL

20 Josh Smith, PF/SF, ATL

21 Al Jefferson, C/PF, UTAH

22 Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA

23 David Lee, PF/C, GS

24 Kevin Love, PF/C, MIN

25 Anthony Davis, PF/C, NO

26 Paul Pierce, SF/SG, BOS

27 Deron Williams, PG, BKN

28 Dwight Howard, C, LAL

29 Brook Lopez, C, BKN

30 DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, SAC

31 Zach Randolph, PF, MEM

32 Rudy Gay, SF, MEM

33 Mike Conley, PG, MEM

34 Kemba Walker, PG/SG, CHA

35 Steve Nash, PG, LAL

36 Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL

37 Tim Duncan, PF/C, SA

38 Ryan Anderson, PF, NO

39 Anderson Varejao, PF/C, CLE

40 Chris Bosh, PF/C, MIA

41 Greg Monroe, PF/C, DET

42 Al Horford, C/PF, ATL

43 Monta Ellis, PG/SG, MIL

44 Blake Griffin, PF, LAC

45 Tony Parker, PG, SA

46 J.R. Smith, SG/SF, NY

47 Goran Dragic, PG, PHO

48 Ty Lawson, PG/SG, DEN

49 Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, MIN

50 Greivis Vasquez, PG, NO

51 George Hill, PG/SG, IND

52 Wesley Matthews, SG/SF, POR

53 Kenneth Faried, PF, DEN

54 Kyle Lowry, PG, TOR

55 Klay Thompson, SG, GS

56 O.J. Mayo, SG, DAL

57 Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, DEN

58 Lou Williams, PG/SG, ATL

59 Pau Gasol, PF/C, LAL

60 Luol Deng, SF, CHI

61 Andre Iguodala, SF/SG, DEN

62 Roy Hibbert, C, IND

63 Joe Johnson, SG/SF, BKN

64 Larry Sanders, PF/C, MIL

65 Paul Millsap, PF, UTAH

66 Eric Gordon, SG, NO

67 Omer Asik, C, HOU

68 Tyson Chandler, C, NY

69 Ricky Rubio, PG, MIN

70 Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, BKN

71 Marcin Gortat, C, PHO

72 David West, PF, IND

73 Evan Turner, SG/SF, PHI

74 Kevin Martin, SG, OKC

75 Brandon Knight, PG/SG, DET

76 Thaddeus Young, SF/PF, PHI

77 Nikola Pekovic, C, MIN

78 Jeff Teague, PG, ATL

79 Kevin Garnett, PF/C, BOS

80 Jeremy Lin, PG, HOU

81 J.J. Hickson, PF/C, POR

82 Carlos Boozer, PF, CHI

83 Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL

84 Manu Ginobili, SG, SA

85 Nene Hilario, C/PF, WSH

86 Kawhi Leonard, PF/SG/SF, SA

87 Jarrett Jack, PG/SG, GS

88 Tyreke Evans, PG/SG/SF, SAC

89 Arron Afflalo, SG, ORL

90 John Wall, PG, WSH

91 Jamal Crawford, SG/PG, LAC

92 Jason Kidd, PG, NY

93 Amare Stoudemire, C/PF, NY

94 Dion Waiters, SG, CLE

95 JaVale McGee, C, DEN

96 DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, TOR

97 Nikola Vucevic, PF/C, ORL

98 Ersan Ilyasova, SF/PF, MIL

99 Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, DET

100 Jared Dudley, SF/SG, PHO

101 Marcus Thornton, SG, SAC

102 Raymond Felton, PG, NY

103 Jordan Crawford, SG, WSH

104 J.J. Redick, SG, ORL

105 Andre Drummond, PF, DET

106 Jose Calderon, PG, TOR

107 DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC

108 Gerald Henderson, SG/SF, CHA

109 Darren Collison, PG, DAL

110 Tristan Thompson, PF/C, CLE

111 Derrick Favors, PF, UTAH

112 Chandler Parsons, SF, HOU

113 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, CHA

114 Metta World Peace, SF, LAL

115 Isaiah Thomas, PG, SAC

116 Luis Scola, PF, PHO

117 Ramon Sessions, PG, CHA

118 Andrea Bargnani, C/PF, TOR

119 Andrew Bynum, C, PHI

120 Patrick Patterson, PF, HOU

121 Chris Kaman, C/PF, DAL

122 Derrick Rose, PG, CHI

123 Matt Barnes, SF, LAC

124 Alexey Shved, PG/SG, MIN

125 Bradley Beal, SG, WSH

126 Kyle Korver, SG/SF, ATL

127 Kosta Koufos, PF/C, DEN

128 Robin Lopez, C, NO

129 Ed Davis, PF/C, TOR

130 Ray Allen, SG, MIA

131 C.J. Miles, SF/SG, CLE

132 Jason Terry, SG, BOS

133 Jason Thompson, PF, SAC

134 Mo Williams, PG/SG, UTAH

135 Marco Belinelli, SG, CHI

136 Chauncey Billups, PG/SG, LAC

137 Shannon Brown, SG, PHO

138 Markieff Morris, PF, PHO

139 Luke Ridnour, PG/SG, MIN

140 Glen Davis, PF/C, ORL

141 Jason Richardson, SG/SF, PHI

142 Byron Mullens, C/PF, CHA

143 Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, UTAH

144 Andray Blatche, PF/C, FA

145 Carl Landry, PF, GSW

146 Kris Humphries, PF, BKN

147 Ben Gordon, SG, CHA

148 Antawn Jamison, PF, LAL

149 Alonzo Gee, SG/SF, CLE

150 Jonas Valanciunas, C, TOR

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