Roy Hibbert's shot coming around
I'm guessing that most of our readers can barely touch the rim with a running start. I'm also guessing that at 7-foot-2, Roy Hibbert can touch the rim without leaving the ground. That's a big reason why he is getting paid millions of dollars to play basketball and we are not. It's also a big reason why we have been so frustrated with his inability to put the rock through said hoop on a consistent basis this season.
How bad has it been? The center has hit just 43 percent of his field goal attempts this season. That puts him below chucking guards like Russell Westbrook (43.7 field goal percentage) and Marcus Thornton (43.2 percent) and ties him with point guard Greivis Vasquez. Seriously, even horrible-shooting bigs like DeMarcus Cousins (45.5 percent) and Spencer Hawes (44.5 percent) are knocking shots down at a far better clip.
However, the big fella has shown some dramatic improvement in that department in recent weeks. Hibbert has hit at least half of his field goal attempts in all but one of his past 10 games, and that lone tilt was a 6-for-13 effort. In the five games prior to his one-game suspension for scrapping with David Lee, Hibbs had been underutilized, taking no more than nine shots in any of those games and twice playing less than 20 minutes despite, as I just noted, shooting well. Since the suspension, though, he has shot 53.2 percent on 11.2 shots per game (up from 10.0 in February), and averaged 14.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks. In a losing effort against the Miami Heat Sunday, Hibbert managed to knock down seven of his 14 shots for 16 points.
Prior to March, he had not topped 45.9 percent in any single month and had two months under 41.0 percent, which had made him particularly untenable to use at center in roto leagues. However, we should keep in mind that Hibbert shot under 50 percent in only one month during last season's condensed campaign, so we know that he can be effective in that department. If you still haven't passed your trade deadline and are scrapping in a roto league to bump your field goal percentage, Hibbert could be a quality acquisition to see if he can return to last season's form for the stretch run.
Now if we could just teach him how to rebound like he's a 7-foot-2 center.
• Speaking of bigs who aren't holding up their end of the deal on the glass, Chris Bosh pulled down just three rebounds against the Indiana Pacers Sunday. That's the 10th time in his past 11 games he had single-digit rebounds. Considering the Miami Heat's epic win streak and how well LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been playing, there's little reason to think the Heat will suddenly change their formula, which means Bosh is unlikely to suddenly become a big rebounding threat in the waning weeks. On the upside, though, he topped the 20-point mark for the first time since Valentine's Day, scoring 24 on 11-of-15 shooting from the field. At this point, Bosh is pretty much a one-trick pony, as he continues to rack up a terrific field goal percentage game after game.
• Thaddeus Young took flight this weekend. On Friday, he racked up 25 points (12 of 15 FG) against the Heat and followed that up with 26 points (13-17 FG) and a dozen rebounds against the Orlando Magic. In six games this month, he is averaging 19.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.7 SPG and shooting 60.0 percent from the field. Perhaps not coincidentally, Evan Turner's production has slipped during that stretch. Turner had 10 points (4-13 FG) Friday and six points (2-5 FG) Sunday. In six March games, Turner is averaging 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and shooting 37.5 percent, though he is maintaining some fantasy value with 4.8 assists per game. It's possible that Young's hot play will allow Turner a little more space to turn his numbers around, but I think it's more likely that Young will stay hot and push the struggling Turner to the back seat, statistically.
• Per ESPNChicago.com, Derrick Rose won't return to action until he can shake off soreness in his hamstrings and dunk confidently off of his surgically repaired left knee. It sounds like he could be a surprise starter at any given moment, but there is no need to stick him into weekly lineups until we know he is ready.
• Kyrie Irving left Sunday's game with a bruised left shoulder. He's still dealing with a sore right knee, too. He's been battling through that, but the combination of injuries could force him to sit out of some game action. The trouble for weekly lineup leagues is that the Cleveland Cavaliers play just thrice this week, so even one missed game could derail his week. Look for Shaun Livingston to start and for Dion Waiters to get a bump in production if Irving does sit.
• The Sacramento Kings play only two games this week, and Cousins may play in only one of them after elbowing Mike Dunleavy in the head Sunday. Cousins was ejected, and considering his lengthy history of shoddy behavior on the court, he well may be suspended by the league.
• Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko are getting closer to returning to game action. Kirilenko may well play this week, while Pek is just moving on to basketball-related activities. I'd keep Pekovic on your bench for Week 20 and keep your ears open for updates later today on Kirilenko to see if he may get back into the mix. The Minnesota Timberwolves play four games every week the rest of the way, so he's a nice add off waivers if some other owner gave up on him.
• Andre Drummond is not expected to return from his back injury this week. Perhaps we'll see him next week, when the Detroit Pistons have a stretch of games during which they have at least two days between games three times (and one back-to-back set next weekend). He's still worth a stretch-run roster stash in most formats.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
Picking your Fastbreak center for Tuesday evening should be a no-brainer. Dwight Howard has been playing quite well of late -- especially in points leagues, where his horrific free throw shooting can be covered up -- and he is headed back to Florida to face his old Magic teammates. You can make a case that he may well wilt under the pressure, and we can assume breakout fantasy stud Nikola Vucevic will do his best to keep D12 in check, but it's worth sticking Howard into your lineup to find out.