Darren Collison up, Roy Hibbert down

January, 18, 2011

Darren Collison and Roy Hibbert may play for the same team, but their fantasy fortunes have zig-zagged in different directions throughout this season.

After floundering for two months, Collison is finally looking like the top-40 player much of the fantasy world thought he'd be this season. Since Indiana Pacers head coach Jim O'Brien refined his offense, giving Collison the freedom to play his familiar pick-and-roll game, the second-year pro has thrived. In his past eight games, Collison is averaging 17.9 points, 6.5 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.0 3-pointers and just 1.0 turnovers while shooting 46.9 percent. Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers may have been his best performance as a Pacer; Collison scored a season-high 30 points and added eight assists and three steals.

But in the same game, Hibbert's struggles continued. Limited to 12 minutes because of foul trouble, Hibbert managed only four points, four rebounds and two blocks. The shot-blocking is keeping him in fantasy lineups, but the 24-year-old is killing his rejection-dependent owners by averaging 9.0 points and shooting a miserable 34.0 percent in his past 17 games. It's hard to believe this is the same player who averaged almost 17 points and 10 boards through November. Hibbert, by the way, plans to visit a sports psychologist at the conclusion of the Pacers' current four-game road trip.

Looking Back

• Not only have Blake Griffin's scoring, rebounding and assist numbers climbed each month, the kid may finally be figuring it out at the line. While scoring 47 points -- a single-game high in the NBA this season -- Griffin went 9-for-11 from the stripe. In seven January games, Griffin is making 70.2 percent of his free throws. He's also averaging 27.6 points, 14.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists this month.

• While Marcus Camby played just seven minutes due to knee pain, Monday was mostly about injured players getting healthy. Kevin Garnett (19 points, eight rebounds), Danilo Gallinari (17 points, four rebounds) and Michael Beasley (12 points, four assists) all returned for their respective teams. KG had missed nine games with a leg injury, Gallinari was out six games with a knee sprain, and Beasley missed two with an ankle problem.

Sasha Vujacic (16 points against the Golden State Warriors) has quietly crept into the New Jersey Nets' rotation. I say quietly because the ex-Laker is virtually unowned in ESPN.com leagues. Vujacic is averaging 14.0 points and 2.0 3s this month while playing at least 22 minutes in each game. The fact that the career 37.0 percent shooter from distance is only 32.7 percent from downtown in January suggests he may have room for improvement. In any event, Vujacic at least seems like a more reliable option for deep-leaguers than, say, J.J. Redick (three points in just 18 minutes versus the Boston Celtics).

DeMarcus Cousins may be a head case, but fantasy owners have few complaints about the rookie at the moment. After going for 20 points and eight boards against the Atlanta Hawks, Cousins is averaging 17.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 1.0 steals in January.

• With Linas Kleiza (knee), Leandro Barbosa (hamstring) and Jerryd Bayless (ankle) all sidelined, the Toronto Raptors essentially went with seven players against the New Orleans Hornets. First-round draft pick Ed Davis (11 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks) is one who's seized the available minutes. Even with Amir Johnson (17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) playing well, owners in leagues of at least 12 teams should consider Davis, who's averaging 1.7 rejections this month.

Looking Ahead

Taj Gibson (10 points, 7 rebounds, 6 blocks) filled in nicely for Carlos Boozer to start the season, and he did it again on Monday. With the Chicago Bulls one of only four NBA teams in action on Tuesday, and with Boozer (ankle) doubtful for the game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Gibson is a nice fill-in for those owners who can make daily roster changes. Did I say nice? I mean great -- no team gets more shots blocked than the Bobcats. Gibson is available in about 75 percent of ESPN.com leagues.

LeBron James (ankle) and Chris Bosh (ankle) are both questionable, though James seems the more likely of the two to suit up against the Hawks. Mike Miller, who's played 33 and 26 minutes in the two games LeBron has missed, should see decent minutes again.

Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.



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