YOU WON'T FIND many people who would describe Kevin Martin's game as pretty--not with that hitch in his jump shot--but you will find even fewer who would call him ineffective. At week's end the Kings' wispy 6'7" shooting guard already had two 30-point games (or as many as the man he replaced in the lineup, Bonzi Wells, had in the regular season last year) and was averaging 23.8 points on 54.7% shooting. That's the kind of production that the Kings hoped for when they chose not to re-sign Wells, who wound up in Houston. "I told my guys you can't sleep on this kid," says an NBA assistant coach whose team has played Sacramento this season. "You can see [the Kings] starting to feature him more prominently in their offense." Another reason for fantasy owners to like Martin: Center Brad Miller is expected to be out another three weeks with a foot injury. In the first three games Miller missed, Martin averaged 25.0 points.
CATS' MEOW Small forward Gerald Wallace has so far kept No. 1 pick Adam Morrison on Charlotte's bench, which means that fantasy owners should keep AmMo on theirs as well. While Morrison will ultimately be the more prolific scorer--at week's end he was averaging 11.8 points to Wallace's 12.0--Wallace did pour in a respectable 15.2 points per game last year. He also has a knack for stuffing the stat sheet: In 2005--06 Wallace shot 53.8%, averaged 7.5 rebounds and became the first player in 14 seasons to rack up at least two blocks and two steals per game. "No one knows how good he can be," says an Eastern Conference scout. "I swear, one of these days he's going to add a three-point shot and be really dangerous."
TRIPLE THREAT The record for three-point percentage in a season is held by Steve Kerr, who hit 52.4% from beyond the arc for the Bulls in 1994--95. The 76ers' backup small forward, Kyle Korver, is on pace to obliterate that mark, connecting on 60.0% of his threes through six games. The 6'7" Korver has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners; he's also 19 for 20 from the free throw line.
LITTLE BIG MAN Wizards coach Eddie Jordan surprised more than a few people before the season when he chose Etan Thomas over Brendan Haywood at center. Generously listed at 6'10", Thomas had started only 34 games in his first five seasons, while the 7-foot Haywood had been Washington's starting center for the last four. The move has paid off, however, as Thomas--one of the league's most physical players--was averaging 8.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.33 blocks at week's end. "He's got that hungry look in his eyes right now," says one scout. "He's waited years for this opportunity. You don't think he thinks he has something to prove?"
November 20, 2006
When asked to assess ANTOINE WRIGHT, a second-year swingman for the Nets, one team executive says, "Last year he couldn't hit the ocean when he shot the ball. This year he's much better." A 35.8% shooter last season, Wright was up to 46.2% at week's end while averaging 8.2 points off the bench, and now he's in line for some extra minutes while Richard Jefferson recovers from an ankle sprain. With Vince Carter eyeing free agency, Wright might even develop into a fantasy keeper.
DON'T EXPECT a prolonged adjustment period for new Suns forward Jalen Rose. Phoenix likes the ex-Knick's ability to play multiple positions, and if history is any indication, playing alongside Steve Nash will help Rose's productivity.
KEEP AN EYE on Bulls rookie Thabo Sefolosha. The Swiss guard started the season as Chicago's 12th man but has a strong ally in coach Scott Skiles. Through Sunday, Sefolosha was averaging 6.8 points and 1.0 steals in limited minutes (16.7) off the bench.