By Matt Rochinski
April 1, 2013
Trivia time. Name the best fantasy backcourt in the NBA in the month of March. I’ll give you a second… alright, time’s up. The answer comes to us right here in the Queen City where Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson had fantasy months to remember and just might have led your squad a little bit further along in your fantasy playoffs. In the last 30 days, both Walker and Hendo were ranked in to the top 50 fantasy player list, and while many teammates do show up on said list – Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City), Paul Milsap and Al Jefferson (Utah), Josh Smith and Al Horford (Atlanta), Deron Williams and Reggie Evans (Brooklyn), Paul Pierce and Jeff Green (Boston), J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony (New York) – none are a backcourt tandem.
How good have Kemba and Hendo been? Through 16 games in March, Walker averaged 16.9 points, 6.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.44 steals. While his shooting percentages may have been lower than fantasy owners would like – 38.4 percent from the field and 75.3 percent from the line, many owners can look past that when their point guard is stuffing four columns in the box score every night.
Speaking of impressive stats, Henderson’s March was one to remember. He averaged a team-best 20.1 points to go with 4.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks while shooting 47.2 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from 3-point range and 83.9 percent from the charity stripe. He also had two career-best performances with 35 points against the Celtics on March 12 and again in New York on March 29. Add to that a 34-point night on March 27 against Orlando and there were probably a lot of teams in your league wondering just where this came from. Henderson has always had the ability to have nights like this, but it’s been his consistency that is key, and he was locked in last month.
April is always interesting in fantasy basketball as minor injuries can slow down a team’s star with the NBA playoffs right around the corner. This is an opportunity to get some top players some much-needed rest before the second season begins, but it can also sabotage your fantasy success. So which of the Cats opponents are we watching this week?
Keep an eye on Ersan Ilyasova in Milwaukee on Monday. The Bucks big man had a triple-double (29 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists) on Saturday against Oklahoma City and has recorded double-doubles in six of his last seven outings. Over that span, he’s averaged 21.1 points, 12.3 rebounds (including 4.1 offensive boards) and 1.14 steals.
When the 76ers come to town, Cats fans get the chance to see first-time All Star Jrue Holiday take the court in a great matchup with Walker. Holiday has led the way in Philly this season, averaging a team-best 18.4 points and 8.5 assists to go with 4.3 rebounds and 1.62 steals. However, much like Henderson prior to March, Holiday’s consistency is the real issue – he had nine games of 15+points in April and seven games under 15, including four in single digits and a two-point game on March 20 at the Los Angeles Clippers.
When the Heat visit on Friday, the real question might be who is going to suit up for Miami? LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers all sat out the Heat’s 88-86 win on Sunday in San Antonio, and it’s uncertain if this could happen with regularity as the season wraps up. With the potential of their top scorers sitting, keep an eye on Ray Allen, who had some big games in the past with the Celtics against the Cats and is benefitting from his role in Miami this season. Allen leads the Heat’s reserves with averages of 10.7 points, while also chipping in 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He scored in double digits in 11 of Miami’s 18 games in March, so he still has the ability to be an impact player on the court and on your fantasy squad.
While Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace usually get the fantasy fanfare in Brooklyn, take a look at what Reggie Evans has been doing for the Nets recently. In his last three games, he’s posting 13.7 points to go with 19.3 rebounds, including an unbelievable 8.3 offensive boards – there are guys who don’t get eight offensive boards in a week! Good fantasy owners will tell you winning isn’t just about points and Evans is a clear case of that.