With just a month and a half left in the season, it's time for owners to start preparing themselves for the stretch run. For some of you, that might mean you'll have to take more risks than you're used to. If you are still hovering in the middle of the pack or lower this late in the season, you will have to make some drastic moves to get back into the race.
The Top 130
Note: Brian McKitish's top 130 players are ranked for their fantasy value from this point forward in the 2010-11 NBA season. Previous rank is indicated in parentheses.
1. Kevin Durant, SF, OKC (1)
2. Chris Paul, PG, NO (2)
3. LeBron James, SF, MIA (4)
4. Deron Williams, PG, NJ (3)
5. Pau Gasol, PF/C, LAL (5)
6. Dwight Howard, C, ORL (6)
7. Amare Stoudemire, C/PF, NY (7)
8. Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC (8)
9. Kevin Love, PF, MIN (9)
10. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, GS (10)
11. Monta Ellis, PG/SG, GS (11)
12. Derrick Rose, PG, CHI (14)
13. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL (12)
14. Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA (15)
15. Al Jefferson, C/PF, UTA (21)
16. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL (13)
17. Josh Smith, PF/SF, ATL (16)
18. Carmelo Anthony, SF, NY (17)
19. Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS (18)
20. Al Horford, C/PF, ATL (20)
21. Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, PHI (28)
22. Brook Lopez, C, NJ (35)
23. Zach Randolph, PF, MEM (24)
24. Blake Griffin, PF, LAC (23)
25. Chauncey Billups, PG, NY (25)
26. Steve Nash, PG, PHO (19)
27. John Wall, PG, WAS (26)
28. Joakim Noah, C/PF, CHI (27)
29. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, POR (29)
30. Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, CHA (36)
31. Paul Pierce, SF/SG, BOS (34)
32. Dorell Wright, SF, GS (32)
33. Kyle Lowry, PG, HOU (69)
34. Jason Kidd, PG, DAL (31)
35. Manu Ginobili, SG, SA (37)
36. Andrew Bogut, C, MIL (38)
37. Kris Humphries, PF, NJ (81)
38. Kevin Martin, SG, HOU (39)
39. Andrew Bynum, C, LAL (58)
40. Nene Hilario, C/PF, DEN (44)
41. David Lee, PF/C, GS (43)
42. Danny Granger, SF, IND (22)
43. David West, PF, NO (42)
44. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, ATL (30)
45. Andrea Bargnani, C/PF, TOR (40)
46. Luis Scola, PF/C, HOU (41)
47. Marc Gasol, C, MEM (45)
48. Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS (46)
49. Chris Bosh, PF/C, MIA (47)
50. Tim Duncan, C/PF, SA (48)
51. Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL (52)
52. Jose Calderon, PG, TOR (65)
53. Devin Harris, PG, UTA (49)
54. Carlos Boozer, PF, CHI (33)
55. D.J. Augustin, PG, CHA (50)
56. Luol Deng, SF, CHI (55)
57. Paul Millsap, PF, UTA (51)
58. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, POR (57)
59. Elton Brand, PF, PHI (59)
60. Serge Ibaka, C/PF, OKC (60)
61. DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, SAC (74)
62. Michael Beasley, SF/PF, MIN (53)
63. Andray Blatche, PF/C, WAS (54)
64. Ray Allen, SG, BOS (61)
65. J.J. Hickson, PF/C, CLE (66)
66. Andre Miller, PG, POR (62)
67. Marcin Gortat, C, PHO (70)
68. Lamar Odom, PF/SF, LAL (56)
69. Greg Monroe, PF/C, DET (71)
70. Tony Parker, PG, SA (73)
71. Mo Williams, PG, LAC (83)
72. Marcus Thornton, SG, SAC (102)
73. Emeka Okafor, C, NO (67)
74. Roy Hibbert, C, IND (64)
75. Wesley Matthews, SG/SF, POR (63)
76. Jrue Holiday, PG, PHI (75)
77. Mike Conley, PG, MEM (80)
78. Tyson Chandler, C, DAL (78)
79. Beno Udrih, PG, SAC (77)
80. Baron Davis, PG, CLE (92)
81. Nick Young, SG, WAS (86)
82. Jason Richardson, SG, ORL (96)
83. Shawn Marion, SF/PF, DAL (103)
84. Jamal Crawford, SG/PG, ATL (84)
85. JaVale McGee, C/PF, WAS (85)
86. Ty Lawson, PG, DEN (127)
87. Randy Foye, SG/PG, LAC (104)
88. James Harden, SG, OKC (121)
89. Raymond Felton, PG, DEN (94)
90. Chris Kaman, C, LAC (88)
91. Jason Terry, SG, DAL (89)
92. Landry Fields, SG, NY (98)
93. Hedo Turkoglu, SF/PF, ORL (90)
94. Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, DET (68)
95. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, DEN (76)
96. Amir Johnson, PF, TOR (87)
97. Kirk Hinrich, SG/PG, ATL (97)
98. DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR (99)
99. Wilson Chandler, SF/SG, DEN (100)
100. Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL (105)
101. Chase Budinger, SF, HOU (110)
102. Ed Davis, PF, TOR (NR)
103. John Salmons, SG/SF, MIL (106)
104. Samardo Samuels, PF, CLE (111)
105. Samuel Dalembert, C, SAC (107)
106. Carlos Delfino, SF/SG, MIL (109)
107. Marcus Camby, C/PF, POR (72)
108. Vince Carter, SG/SF, PHO (124)
109. Gerald Henderson, SG, CHA (113)
110. Tyler Hansbrough, PF, IND (NR)
111. Rudy Gay, SF, MEM (118)
112. Boris Diaw, PF/SF, CHA (93)
113. Anthony Morrow, SG/SF, NJ (119)
114. Tayshaun Prince, SF, DET (115)
115. Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, UTA (91)
116. Ryan Anderson, PF, ORL (116)
117. C.J. Miles, SF, UTA (117)
118. DeJuan Blair, PF, SA (95)
119. Francisco Garcia, SF/SG, SAC (NR)
120. Jodie Meeks, SG, PHI (NR)
121. Toney Douglas, PG/SG, NY (NR)
122. J.R. Smith, SG, DEN (122)
123. Brandon Roy, SG/SF, POR (120)
124. George Hill, PG/SG, SA (112)
125. Eric Gordon, SG, LAC (123)
126. Kendrick Perkins, C, OKC (NR)
127. Tracy McGrady, SG/PG, DET (NR)
128. Tyrus Thomas, PF, CHA (NR)
129. Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, SAC (129)
130. Channing Frye, PF/C, PHO (79)
That may include dropping players who aren't getting the job done, even if you've relied on them all season. I don't know about you, but if I'm within striking distance of the leaders and still have some ground to make up, I'm not going to be waiting around for players who aren't getting it done when there are plenty of viable options waiting on the waiver wire.
Unfortunately, the trade deadline has already passed in most fantasy leagues, so the only way you can improve your squad is through the waiver wire. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the big movers in this week's Top 130.
Danny Granger appears to have lost his motivation since the All-Star break, averaging just 18.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.4 3-pointers over his past 11 games. Those aren't terrible numbers for your average player, but we expect more from someone of Granger's stature, particularly when he's shooting just 37.2 percent from the floor during that time. He still ranks 41st overall on the Player Rater over the past 15 days, but his owners have to be worried that he'll continue to sleepwalk through the rest of the year.
Ditto for Joe Johnson, who has averaged only 15.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.5 3-pointers in 11 games since the All-Star break. After averaging at least a steal per game in each of his past seven seasons, JJ's lack of thievery has been evident from the start of the year, but his owners have to be frustrated now that his scoring, assists and 3's have dipped as well. Johnson is still producing enough to be a valuable fantasy asset, and he's talented enough to break out of this slump, so his owners will have to hang tight and hope that he turns things around.
You will notice that Darren Collison did not make the cut in this week's Top 130 thanks to his averages of 9.6 points, 3.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 3-pointers over his past five games. Collison looked like he was turning things around in the middle of the season, but has struggled mightily since the All-Star break to the point where he's now borderline droppable in most standard formats. He'll go down as one of this years biggest draft-day busts.
One would have thought that Boris Diaw would step up his game after the Gerald Wallace trade, but Diaw has posted just 8.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.7 3-pointers in his past 10 games. He still brings some multi-categorical goodness to fantasy lineups, so his owners may want to hold onto him, but he's certainly on the chopping-block bubble.
Like Diaw, Andrei Kirilenko can still contribute in multiple categories, but has struggled with a back injury and averaged just 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 0.8 blocks over his past five games. He was able to log 34 minutes on Saturday, so it appears that his back is starting to feel better. Still, his owners will have to keep an eye on how effective he is before making a decision on whether to hold him or add a hot pickup.
I have a hard time dropping a player of Rodney Stuckey's talent, particularly when he's had some nice games over the past few weeks, but his owners have to be getting tired of coach John Kuester's inconsistent rotations. With Kuester playing roulette, Stuckey's value has dropped off the table to the point where he's averaged only 9.8 points, 6.0 assists and 0.8 steals over his past five games. Hang tight for now, but be ready to drop him if the inconsistency keeps up.
Marcus Camby is still useful for boards and blocks, but his scoring has disappeared since returning from a knee injury eight games ago. Though some of that has to do with the addition of Gerald Wallace, one has to wonder if Camby's knee is still affecting him. I've heard some folks grumbling about wanting to drop Camby, and I'd be fine with that as long as you aren't in need of rebounds or blocks. For as bad as he's been, Camby is still putting up 8.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game over his past five.
Channing Frye holds onto the last spot this week's Top 130, but only by a thread after injuring his shoulder earlier in the week. A 2-3 week timetable puts him back with around the start of April, but the injury is to his shooting shoulder and there is no guarantee that he'll return to full strength. If you have solid options on the wire, feel free to cut Frye loose.
Struggling with a pelvic injury, Steve Nash missed Sunday's contest against the Orlando Magic and has averaged just 8.6 points, 11.0 assists and 0.6 3-pointers over his past five games. The good news is that he's still handing out assists, the bad news is that we'll have to temper our expectations until we're sure he's 100-percent healthy. Listed as day-to-day at the moment, Aaron Brooks will see a big spike in value if Nash needs to miss extended time.
We touched on this topic last week, but Andre Iguodala has really turned up his fantasy game since embracing the point forward role for the Philadelphia 76ers. Averaging 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.6 blocks and 1.6 3-pointers since the All-Star break, AI2's numbers are looking LeBron-esque, minus the big scoring numbers.
It took him long enough, but Brook Lopez is finally producing like the player we drafted in the early second round at the start of the season. I'm willing to forgive and forget what Lopez did to his owners up until this point, what matters now is how he's going to perform going forward, and if his numbers since Deron Williams joined the team are any indication, he'll be an absolute monster. With 24.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game since the All-Star break, Lopez is primed for a big finish to the season.
Has anyone been paying attention to what Lopez's teammate Kris Humphries has been doing lately? With 15.6 points, 14.4 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 1.6 blocks since the All-Star break, Humphries has turned himself into one of fantasy's better big men. Although I moved him up the ranks rapidly following the Deron Williams trade, I'll admit that I didn't move him up nearly high enough.
Speaking of not moving players up in the rankings enough, Kyle Lowry moves up to 33rd overall after going off for 16.6 points, 6.9 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.8 3-pointers over his past 10 games. We knew Lowry would be a top point guard option once Aaron Brooks was shipped to the Phoenix Suns, but he's outperformed even our loftiest expectations, and looks like a top-40 player for the rest of the year.
I'll always be concerned about Andrew Bynum's injuries, but he is on an incredible hot streak with 12.8 points, 15.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks over his past five games and has looked strong since the All-Star break. If he can continue to stay healthy, he should be able to ride this streak right on through the end of the season.
My ranking of Tyreke Evans at 129 overall tells you that I have little faith that he'll return to action this season, and Marcus Thornton should continue to put up big numbers for as long as Evans is out. Thornton has put up a brilliant 19.2 points, 1.6 steals and 1.8 3-pointers over his past five games and his owners from last year know that he can continue to play like this as long as the minutes and opportunity stay constant.
As expected, James Harden has come on strong since the Oklahoma City Thunder dealt Jeff Green to the Boston Celtics, as he's averaged 18.2 points, 2.2 steals and 2.0 3-pointers over his past five games. Harden is playing a bit over his head right now, so we can expect him to come back down to earth shortly, but there is no denying that he's a top-100 player the rest of the way even if he does.
Listed multiple times in this space as a potential breakout second-half breakout candidate, rookie Ed Davis is finally starting to prove his worth with 9.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.2 blocks over his past 10 contests. He looks great as a future fantasy prospect and should get plenty of run for the Toronto Raptors over the final month and a half of the season, particularly if Amir Johnson's injury lingers.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com, and was recently named the Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bmckitish.