By Matt Rochinski
January 28, 2013
As the Bobcats begin their five-game road trip tonight in Chicago, they’ll be preparing to play those five games in 10 days. While it’s not a patented West Coast trip, that doesn’t mean it’s any less brutal with stops in Chicago, San Antonio, Houston, Miami and Cleveland before the Cats head back home to Charlotte. Long road trips don’t often play well for your roster in fantasy basketball, but aside from Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions having to be in your lineup, take another look at Gerald Henderson if you’re looking for some backcourt help.
Henderson sent the Cats out on a high note and had Time Warner Cable Arena® rocking when he hit the game-winning 3-pointer on January 26 against Minnesota. Now, one shot does not a fantasy player make, but a look at Hendo’s stats shows a potential fantasy Cat who has played well on the road this season. He’s averaging 12.2 points on the road (one point off of his home average) but bringing down more rebounds (3.5 to 3.1), dishing out more assists (2.2 to 2.0) and shooting better from the field (45.0 percent to 41.6 percent) and free-throw line (83.3 percent to 78.1 percent) away from the Queen City. With three road games this week, finding the right Bobcat to play in your fantasy league could provide your team an unexpected boost, and Henderson could be that guy.
Joakim Noah and Luol Deng will be representing the Bulls at the All-Star Game in Houston this season, but another fantasy player to keep an eye on tonight against the Bulls is veteran Carlos Boozer. After a surprisingly disappointing fantasy season last year in Chicago, Boozer has re-gained his form in 2012-13. He’s currently second on the team in scoring (15.9 points) and rebounds (9.8) while dishing out 2.1 assists from the post. He’s playing at his best right now and was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on January 21 after averaging 23.0 points and a league-leading 14.8 rebounds wile leading the Bulls to a 3-1 record from January 14-20. This former fantasy bust is finding his way again.
Speaking of fantasy revival, it’s hard not to take note of what Tim Duncan is doing in San Antonio this season. Duncan is playing some of his best basketball in years, averaging 17.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.74 blocks while shooting 50.5 percent from the field and a career-best 82.6 percent from the line. He was recently named to his 14th NBA All-Star Team, becoming just the eighth player in league history to do so 14-or-more times (joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 19 selections, Shaquille O’Neal, 15, Kobe Bryant, 15, Kevin Garnett, 15, Michael Jordan, 14, Karl Malone, 14 and Jerry West, 14). In his most productive fantasy season since 2007-08, Duncan is making fantasy owners who took a chance on him this season very happy to see the stars at night big and bright deep in the heart of Texas again.
But Duncan isn’t the only star in Texas, and the one shining brightest might be Rockets newcomer James Harden, who has stepped out of his sixth-man role in Oklahoma City and flourished as a starter in Houston. Harden currently ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring (26.0 points) but has solid fantasy numbers across the board with 5.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.87 steals while leading the NBA in free throws (391) and free throw attempts (454). Fantasy owners might be a little disappointed in Harden’s 43.6 percent shooting from the field and 32.9 percent shooting from long range – both down more than five percent from last season – but they’re willing to take those percentages when Harden is lighting things up at Toyota Center this season to the tune of 26.1 points per game.