Marcus Thornton should finish strong
It took almost an entire season and a change of scenery, but Marcus Thornton is back to the level he was at the final two months last season. The Kings guard is averaging 21.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.9 steals and 2.2 3-pointers in his 14 games with the team (just 10 of them starts).
He's been gobbled up, of course, in just about every fantasy league, but there's still the question of whether he can keep this up. Right now, it seems like he can. He'll lose some playing time if and when Tyreke Evans returns to action, but on Monday night Pooh Jeter and Jermaine Taylor split 26 minutes off the bench, so it's not as though there aren't plenty of minutes to go around. In addition, Thornton scores at such a high rate (21 points per 40 minutes this season) and makes so many 3s that he doesn't need a ton of playing time to be a valuable fantasy contributor.
At this point, the question becomes one of judging how good a keeper Thornton might be heading into next season, and that's what we'll learn in the coming weeks as the season comes to an end.
Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo seemed to snap out of their respective funks Monday night against the Knicks, with Pierce going for 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting and Rondo finishing with 13 points, 12 assists and two steals. Former D-Leaguer Sundiata Gaines had 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals off the bench for the Nets in a close loss to the Pacers. Gaines isn't a great long-term play but could be decent if you're desperate with Deron Williams out of the lineup. Dwight Howard continues to play MVP-level basketball for the Magic; he finished with 28 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and four steals while shooting amazingly well both from the floor and the line. He's even making a late-season push against Kevin Love for the rebounding title (though it seems like he won't quite get there). The Spurs beat the Warriors without the services of Tim Duncan, who sprained an ankle after just four minutes of action. X-rays were negative, and while he's expected to miss some time, it's unclear how long Duncan will be out. In the meantime, it's worth noting that Tiago Splitter had 10 points, 14 rebounds and three steals off the bench. With Raymond Felton and Arron Afflalo both out, the Nuggets were still able to destroy the Raptors on Monday night, getting a near triple-double out of J.R. Smith, who continues to put up extremely valuable fantasy numbers most nights off the bench for the Nuggets. The Jazz lost Devin Harris and Derrick Favors to a strained thigh and a sprained ankle, respectively, in their loss to the Grizzlies. You'll want to keep an eye on their status for Wednesday.
With the NCAA tournament in between rounds, Tuesday night gets some added attention this week. The Hawks and Bulls meet up for the third time in the past couple of weeks, and that can't be welcome news for Joe Johnson, who is averaging just 14 points on 34 percent shooting against the Bulls this season. That's terrible enough that you have to at least consider sitting him if you have any other options. If you're looking for 3s, you might want to consider playing Jared Dudley against the Lakers; the Lakers have been great of late, of course, but Dudley has made 1.7 3s per game against the Lakers this season while shooting a high percentage, and had 21 points, six rebounds and two steals the last time the teams met.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.