February 12, 2010

With the NBA All-Star weekend here, it's time to name this season's Fantasy All-Stars and give the players the recognition they deserve. The Fantasy Lab's Fantasy All-Stars are a bit different than the NBA's since we name not just the top producers but also the players who have demonstrated the most value to their teams based on when they were acquired. That's because owning these players is how you win in fantasy.

Moving right into the Fantasy All-Stars, the following players are the top producers at their positions. These are the top-ranked players in the game and there aren't many surprises here, meaning there weren't many value picks. Two top names you won't see are Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol because they missed enough games to have enough of a negative impact on your team. Here's the squad:

PG Chris Paul, New OrleansSG Kobe Bryant, LA LakersG Steve Nash, PhoenixSF LeBron James, ClevelandPF Dirk Nowitzki, DallasF Kevin Durant, Oklahoma CityC Chris Bosh, TorontoC Tim Duncan, San AntonioBN PG/SG Dwyane Wade, MiamiBN SF/PF Gerald Wallace, CharlotteBN PG Chauncey Billups, DenverBN F/C David Lee, NY Knicks

Not bad, right? If you have any chance of winning it all, you better hope you have at least two players listed there. And logic dictates you'll have at least one of the following players, as well, if you are a legit contender. These players weren't regarded very highly heading into the year, but they have blossomed beautifully and are incredibly valuable contributors, stars and even superstars.

Without any further ado, here are the Fantasy All-Stars based on value:

PG -- Tyreke Evans, Sacramento: The clear favorite for the Rookie of the Year award, Evans has already established himself as the cornerstone of the franchise. Not bad for a player who went undrafted in many leagues and had an average draft position (ADP) of 131. Now he's vying to be the fourth rookie in NBA history to average 20 ppg, 5 rpg and 5 apg.

SG -- Stephen Curry, Golden State: Drafted higher in fantasyland (123 ADP) than fellow rookie Evans, Curry suffered through a slow start before earning Nellie's love and a permanent spot in the starting five, though the rash of injuries the Warriors have endured also played a role. Nonetheless, Curry's game took off in January as he averaged 19.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.1 apg, 2.0 spg, 2.4 3pg on 48.7% and 2.2 FTM on 89.2%. He's going to be a serious asset in the fantasy playoffs and is a prime keeper candidate.

G -- Aaron Brooks, Houston: Despite a nice late season run last year as the starting PG, many fantasy players didn't trust Brooks (ADP 125) and expected an even timeshare with Kyle Lowry. That never materialized as Brooks grabbed the reigns of the Yao-less, up-tempo offense and sprinted out to averages of 19.4 ppg, 4.9 apg and 2.5 3pg. He seems to be getting more comfortable with each passing game evidenced by an increase in points, rebounds, steals and FG% each month from November through January.

SF -- Danilo Gallinari, NY Knicks: Following back surgery last year and being a young, foreign, and basically unknown prospect, fantasy players weren't too high on The Rooster (ADP 126). Then Mike D'Antoni labeled him "the best shooter he's ever seen" and people started taking notice in the preseason. Then he drilled 7 of 13 3-point attempts in 28 minutes off the bench in the season's first game and there was no looking back. Now he leads the league in 3PM and is also flirting with a triple-single (1 3pg, 1 spg and 1 bpg) for the year. Overall, the 21-year-old is ranked just outside the top 40 already and ranks first in Yahoo!'s MVP category appearing on an eye-popping 42.2 percent of the top 500 Public League teams. That's a whopping 15 percent higher than the third place player, Marc Gasol (who we'll get to shortly).

PF -- Carl Landry, Houston: Despite coming off the bench all season long, Landry has proven to be a consistently solid asset to any fantasy team that was lucky enough to dig up this gem on the waiver wire. Largely undrafted in standard leagues, Landry took a meteoric leap forward this season increasing his scoring average from 9.3 to 16.3 ppg in only 6 more minutes of playing time. He's doing it at helpful 54.6 percent clip and is even better from the line with 4.5 FTM on 84.1 percent shooting. He's not winning you weeks singlehandedly, but he might be the waiver wire find of the season.

F -- Zach Randolph, Memphis: Z-Bo had a well-earned reputation as a disruptive, me-first player that drove down his value despite a 20-10 season last year. Drafted late in the sixth round, Randolph has taken a leadership role for the first time in Memphis and it's translating to the hardwood as well. Randolph is now on the outside of the top 20 fantasywise thanks to his highest shooting percentage (49.8%) since becoming a starter. Couple that with the 11.6 rpg and he's become a dependable force capable of going for the occasional 20-20 game. Plus, he's helped his fellow big man make his way onto this list ...

C -- Marc Gasol, Memphis: Though he's one of the biggest beneficiaries of Z-Bo's effectiveness, the younger Gasol's success can be traced to a summer spent slimming down and refining his post moves. His improvement has been so drastic that he's probably the headliner of this fantasy All-Star squad. He's at the point that he's more valuable than more known big men like actual All-Stars Amar'e Stoudemire and Chris Kaman. Drafted at 119, Gasol is now producing at a top 25 clip on the strength of 14.9 ppg on a sick 58.8 FG%, 9.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.1 spg and 1.6 bpg. He's also third on Yahoo!'s MVP list as mentioned previously.

C -- Marcus Camby, L.A. Clippers: No matter how many years in a row fantasy pundits want to dismiss the Cambyman, he just keeps on producing at what seems like an unsustainably high rate, yet he continues to endure. He's been relatively healthy too, which is the No. 1 scare factor when owning Mr. Glass. Without Blake Griffin to steal his minutes, Camby, who had an ADP of 51, is ranked 19 on the year. Yet it's his dominance in the three defensive categories that makes him even more valuable; Camby averages 12.2 rpg, 1.4 spg and 2.0 bpg, and is capable of carrying your team in those categories with just one explosive game. Anyone who had the cajones to roll the dice on Camby is being rewarded handsomely right now.

BN F/C Channing Frye, Phoenix: Though Frye has recently lost his starting gig, there's no denying the unexpected positive impact he made to open the season. Barely drafted in standard leagues (ADP 129), Frye was a rare inside-outside force combining a deadly touch from distance (2.4 3pg on 43.2% in his starts) with a decent inside presence (6.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg in his starts). His stats are admittedly down since his demotion, but only relative to his decreased minutes, which could mean a turnaround is in store with a promotion to the starting five in the event that Amare is dealt.

BN C Sam Dalembert, Philadelphia: Perhaps inspired by the tragic earthquake in his home country of Haiti, Dalembert is indeed playing like the Haitian Sensation again (fantasywise at least). In spite of a slow start, Shmuel is now averaging 9.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per night along with strong percentages (52.3 FG% and 83.8 FT%) in the few instances when he actually shoots.

BN SF/PF Corey Maggette, Golden State: A switch clicked on for Maggette in mid-December and he suddenly became much more aggressive in driving to the basket with outstanding results. From that point, he reeled off a stretch of scoring 20 or more points in 19 out of 20 games including an NBA record streak of 9 straight games with at least 10 FTM and 24 points. Now a starter and no longer subject to Nellie's whims, Maggette is averaging 24.5 ppg on 54.4 FG%, 8.7 FTM on 86.1 FT%, 6.7 rpg, 3.0 apg and 0.9 spg in 27 starts. Those percentages win you weeks.

BN SF/PF Andrei Kirilenko, Utah: The Lab is agreeing in advance with you questioning AK-47's place on this list, but the resurgence in play here is hard to ignore. Drafted around 102 on averages, Kirilenko ranks just 55 on the season rater but is way up at 13 on last month's chart -- a trend which figures to continue based on his inspired play. Just like the switch that went off in Maggette's noggin, a similar situation took place inside that bowl-cut coiffed dome of Kirilenko's that made him start playing like the max-contract player he's being (over)paid to be. In the last month, he's demonstrated an all-around game with 15.5 ppg on a ridiculous 63.2 FG%, 4.7 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.9 spg and 1.4 bpg against just 1.5 tpg -- and the Jazz have gone 13-1 in that span.

That's all for this week's edition. Enjoy the All-Star break. Fantasy Ball Above All.

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