Andre Miller enjoying strong season
The Portland Trail Blazers still find themselves in the unforeseen situation in which Andre Miller is their best player. That is even after coming off a huge, impressive win at home against the Orlando Magic on a night in which Dwight Howard went for 39 points and 15 rebounds,
Yes, I know Brandon Roy is better when he's healthy (if he's ever totally healthy again); LaMarcus Aldridge has more talent; Marcus Camby has had a better career; and Nicolas Batum might be better down the road. But none of those players, in real life or in fantasy, provide what Miller has been providing for years and years: consistent, high-level production on the offensive end.
Coming into this season, I had Miller pegged as something of a bust. I was thinking we'd see a bounce-back year out of Roy, and all the talk about Wesley Matthews being able to play some point guard made me think it was only a matter of time before Miller became irrelevant. Nothing unusual even happened. Roy continues to be hurt, and guys around him continue to fall a little short of their supposedly-great potential. Meanwhile, Miller is submitting one of his best seasons in recent memory. He's averaging his most assists in four years, and he is turning in career-high totals in steals and free throw percentage.
All in all, especially in fantasy, Miller has been great. He's currently 11th on the Player Rater among point guards based on per-game average, ahead of guys such as Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd -- older players Miller should by all rights be slowly declining with. Miller, though, is simply not declining, and his recent one-game suspension was the first game he's missed since 2003, when he was doing time on the Clippers.
Miller had 22 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals against the Magic while shooting 9-for-15 from the floor against one of the league's best defensive teams, and the Blazers won on a night when Roy and Aldridge hardly gave them anything. If you have Miller on your fantasy team, you can probably expect a few more nights like this during the remainder of the season, and while other point guards are getting all the credit you'll know where the real value is.
Considering Howard had nearly half of the Magic's 83 points Thursday night, there weren't many other fantasy bright spots for the team from Orlando. J.J. Redick, however, did have another nice shooting night. That's two promising performances since coming back from his bout with the flu. Perhaps his shooting woes from earlier in the season are becoming a distant memory. As I expected, Kris Humphries had a nice night statistically for the Nets in their loss to the Mavs. Humphries finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. As I wrote yesterday, Humphries is near the top of the league in rebound rate, so when he plays big minutes he's going to put up big numbers. What can you say about the Mavs at this point? They're winning games with some of the least interesting fantasy lines I've ever seen. Still, it's nice to see two 8-for-10 shooting nights on the same team, courtesy of the always-efficient Dirk Nowitzki and the feast-or-famine Shawn Marion. Rajon Rondo played 47 minutes for the Celtics in their one-point win against the 76ers in Philly on Thursday night. I'm encouraged, for one, because it would seem that he's healthy, but for another, because Doc Rivers managed to get Nate Robinson 21 minutes on a night when Rondo played 47. Robinson, it should be noted, came through with the obligatory three 3-pointers, but not much else. "Big Baby" Glen Davis, meanwhile, seems to have realized this season how to avoid getting his shot blocked to the point that he's shooting a career high 50 percent from the floor. That's allowed him to average 14.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals in his past five games off the bench, numbers good enough to slide into the end of your fantasy lineup for as long as he keeps getting 25 or more minutes per game. As far as injuries go, Devin Harris managed only nine minutes and left the game with a sprained left shoulder for the Nets. Considering he's only recently returned from a knee injury, it might make sense to pick up Jordan Farmar, if Harris misses any games.
Given the numbers people have been putting up against the Warriors, I'm excited to see what the Heat will be able to do in their first crack at Golden State. Mostly I'm looking forward to seeing whether Mario Chalmers can continue his slow climb back into fantasy relevance. My guess is he'll have a few 3s but nothing else too special on the night. Derrick Rose gets his first look at what has been a lackadaisical Lakers defense of late. If he's living in the lane, that's going to open up a lot of space for Carlos Boozer to have a bounce-back game. After Andrea Bargnani's 41-point explosion the other night reminded us all (as if we could possibly forget) that people have huge games against the Knicks, the Wizards get them tonight. John Wall is listed as questionable, but I'd find it hard to not have him in my lineup in case he goes. It's probably also a good night to make sure you play the big men, such as JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche. The Knicks, of course, are winning these days, but between their poor defense and their fast pace they're still a great fantasy matchup for most players.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.