Yes you’ve undoubtedly already heard that the arcade classic NBA Jam is making a comeback (though only on the Wii ), a game we all fondly remember for its fast game-play, towering dunks, flaming balls and an abundance of hidden characters. Not only that but the commentary, rife with catchphrases that are still regularly uttered today, was the most memorable in-game commentary there’s ever been in a sports video game.

In this column I’ll be taking a look at who’s rising and falling in fantasy circles and grouping them according to a famous NBA Jam phrase (all stats shown are those for January 2010).

He’s Heating Up!

Andris Biedrins
62.1% FG, 0.0% FT, 5.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.9 bpg, 0.4 t/o
The recent increase in minutes may have been enforced upon him due to the multiple Golden State injuries, but at least Biedrins is (very) slowly starting to turn things around. Now’s the time to grab him if he’s on your Free Agent list and reap the FG%, rebounding and block benefits.

Corey Brewer
44.6% FG, 64.0% FT, 14.5 ppg, 1.3 3pg, 3.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.9 bpg, 2.3 t/o
The FG% is now bordering on manageable as Brewer tries to cement himself as the Wolves’ 3rd scorer. There is much to worry about though, from the poor FT% to the abysmal assist to turnover ratio. He may be a risky player to have on your fantasy team long term but he’s had my favourite dunk of the season so far so at least he’s got that going for him.

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Baron Davis
43.8% FG, 84.6% FT, 17.1 ppg, 0.4 3pg, 4.0 rpg, 9.4 apg, 2.0 spg, 3.7 t/o
A fantastic start to the month by Baron, particularly for owners in non-turnover leagues. The 3 point attempts are down and the FG% is up…I feel there’s lesson to be learnt there somewhere. That said the last time Davis went at least 43/84 in a month was November 2004 so you know he’s not gonna sustain this level of shooting for much longer. A sell high option.

Boris Diaw
45.8% FG, 80.0% FT, 10.9 ppg, 1.1 3pg, 6.1 rpg, 5.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.4 bpg, 1.9 t/o
The main casualty of the Stephen Jackson acquisition, Diaw is now starting to find his feet in January and it’s no coincidence that the Bobcats have won 7 of 8 games during that stretch. It’s been a combination of increased integration into the Charlotte offense (causing a rise in assists) and increased effort (causing a rise in rebounds, steals and blocks). Scour your league’s FA list as he may well have been dropped by a frustrated owner in December.

George Hill
57.1% FG, 75.0% FT, 8.7 ppg, 0.9 3pg, 2.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.9 t/o
The numbers may not look good on the surface but he has scored in double digits in 4 of last 5 games. Tony Parker is struggling with plantar fasciitis so Hill is worth a look in deep leagues.

Kirk Hinrich
45.5% FG, 72.7% FT, 13.3 ppg, 2.3 3pg, 3.3 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.5 t/o
Captain Kirk is a Bulls starter once again and he’s certainly making the most of his increased playing time. He should be a solid multi-cat contributor and viable 3rd PG for fantasy teams the rest of the way. If he’s sitting on your FA list and you’re wondering whether you should pick him up, well, take your advice from Arnie. As he so eloquently put it in Predator: “C’Mahn! Do it Now!!!”

What are you waiting for?!? Do it now!”

Luke Ridnour
42.2% FG, 95.0% FT, 12.3 ppg, 1.1 3pg, 1.3 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.6 t/o
Try as they might, Charlie Bell, Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino and Hakim Warrick have all been too inconsistent in attempting to fill the statistical hole left by Michael Redd, hence the pending signing of Jerry Stackhouse. Standing above this flotsam and jetsam has been Luke Ridnour whose passing proficiency (certainly better than Jennings at setting up Bogut on offense) makes him someone you should add to your watch list.

Derrick Rose
50.6% FG, 70.6% FT, 22.8 ppg, 0.0 3pg, 5.0 rpg, 7.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 2.8 t/o
Guess who’s back? Rose has recaptured his explosiveness while his underrated mid-range jumper remains as solid as ever. Surprisingly the assists have increased despite the insertion of Kirk Hinrich into the Bulls starting lineup. There are still glaring holes in his fantasy arsenal (namely the lack of 3’s and steals) but owners can finally feel comfortable having Rose as their #2 PG.

He’s On Fire!

Wilson Chandler
51.3% FG, 89.5% FT, 17.3 ppg, 0.4 3pg, 6.9 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.9 t/oMike D’Antoni has tightened his rotation (meaning bit parts for Nate Robinson and scraps for Larry Hughes). This has allowed Chandler to be the main wing scorer and he has responded by shooting over 50% last 2 months while also improving on the boards. Add to that his ability to contribute the odd 3, steal and block and Chandler has become an unfairly overlooked fantasy player.

Sam Dalembert
75.0% FG, 90.0% FT, 12.4 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.7 spg, 2.7 bpg, 1.1 t/o
He always had the potential to do this, but the rebounding and blocking numbers are finally off the charts for Sam. He’s been able to finish around to basket too and consequently has pushed Marreese Speights into fantasy irrelevancy.

Monta Ellis
46.8% FG, 76.2% FT, 28.7 ppg, 1.3 3pg, 4.0 rpg, 5.9 apg, 1.9 spg, 4.1 t/o
OK, so Monta is leading the league in turnovers but his offensive output just about makes up for it – he’s even been putting up the 3-ball without hesitation. The Warriors are an absolutely horrid team with Nellie appearing reluctant to expend much effort as he heads towards an undeserved all-time coaching wins record, but it’s time we recognised how much load Ellis has been shouldering for this injury-plagued team.

Randy Foye
45.2% FG, 92.3% FT, 15.2 ppg, 1.0 3pg, 2.6 rpg, 5.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 1.7 t/o
Hopefully you were the owner who raced to the FA list and snapped up the main beneficiary of Arenas’ suspension. Washington’s new starting PG has an impressive assist to turnover ratio has and has been solid from the field thus far for a career 42% shooter.

Antawn Jamison
50.6% FG, 72.7% FT, 26.6 ppg, 1.9 3pg, 11.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.1 t/o
Jamison’s career month is being overshadowed by the Wizards chaos but his fantasy owners must be loving it right now. Throughout the adversity, Jamison has picked up his game like a true leader. Sure, he’s leading the team to losses but he’s leading them nonetheless.

Kenyon Martin
48.6% FG, 48.4% FT, 15.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.9 bpg, 1.5 t/o
The uptick in points and rebounds were borne out of Carmelo’s recent absence due to a knee injury. Now that Anthony is back the points will drop down a little but I think the increased rebounds will be here to stay. A good time to hand off Kenyon to another owner if that’s been your inclination throughout the season.

Andre Miller
51.1% FG, 77.8% FT, 18.6 ppg, 0.1 3pg, 4.1 rpg, 8.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 2.9 t/o
Martell Webster
50.5% FG, 62.5% FT, 18.9 ppg, 3.7 3pg, 6.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.7 bpg, 0.4 t/o
Two players who have stepped up amongst all the Blazer injuries. Webster’s assists and steals are pretty poor but he’s been killing it from behind the arc and is still worth a pickup if you have deadweight on your roster. Steve Blake only recently returned from injury so Miller may not be as effective for the remainder of the month but the increased production is nevertheless encouraging.

Can’t Buy A Bucket!

Trevor Ariza
40.4% FG, 69.6% FT, 15.6 ppg, 1.9 3pg, 5.0 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 3.0 t/o
His lack of a wide-ranging offensive repertoire is being exposed as his FG% remains awful. That’s too bad because he otherwise has plenty to offer: If you add up a player’s averages in 3’s, steals and blocks (which embarrassingly enough I did) then you’ll find that Ariza is 2nd only to LeBron on the season.

Channing Frye
38.0% FG, 83.3% FT, 9.8 ppg, 1.8 3pg, 5.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.4 bpg, 0.6 t/o
The bubble has burst like we knew it eventually would as this month Frye has started to look less like Andrea Bargnani and more like, well, Channing Frye with four consecutive single digit scoring games and counting. On the plus side, at least he’s been giving owners at least 1 block and steal per game this month. On the verge of being droppable in 12 team leagues.

Devin Harris
38.7% FG, 80.5% FT, 13.8 ppg, 0.3 3pg, 3.7 rpg, 6.7 apg, 1.5 spg, 2.3 t/o
I’m one of many frustrated Harris owners who expected 3rd round value (at least) from the PG on a team that is on track to be the worst in NBA history. Over at FourPointPlay (a site worth reading if you need a daily fantasy fix) Henry has been advocating getting rid of Devin. I, on the other hand, am not so sure. Yes, the shooting is horrible but the rest of his game seems to be coming around – the assists, the steals, the effectiveness at the free throw line. So maybe I should hold on to him and reap the benefits when he starts to knock down his shots…or maybe I should just take Henry’s advice and look to offload him so that I can sleep easier at night? Actually, I shouldn’t be thinking about Devin Harris at all when sleeping at night! Aarrgh!!!

Josh Howard
33.7% FG, 79.3% FT, 12.0 ppg, 0.7 3pg, 3.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.7 spg, 1.4 t/o
The horror season continues for Howard but keep an eye on him – he was recently inserted in the starting lineup for the first time since early November with Dallas desperately needing another scorer to relieve the offensive burden that Dirk has been shouldering. Overcoming the niggling injuries may be a long process but it should be worth the wait. It might just be time to grab Howard if he’s somehow still on your league’s FA list.

Brandon Jennings
28.4% FG, 88.5% FT, 11.6 ppg, 1.5 3pg, 3.5 rpg, 6.5 apg, 1.5 spg, 2.8 t/o
It’s amazing just how far his FG% has continued to plummet. In fact, it’s safe to say that Jennings is the biggest drain on FG% for fantasy teams: He is to FG% what Dwight is to FT%. Theoretically, Jennings should be stepping up his offensive game in the absence of Redd but his only good scoring game since then has been against an accommodating Warriors team. Alarm bells should be at deafening levels right now for Jennings owners. Unfortunately it may be hard to find a willing buyer.

Rashard Lewis
40.0% FG, 72.2% FT, 11.7 ppg, 1.8 3pg, 3.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.8 bpg, 1.8 t/o
One of the biggest fantasy disappointments. He’s getting squeezed out of the Orlando offense. The shooting % is something he can eventually overcome, but more concerning are the steady decrease in rebounds and non-existence of assists (a very similar affliction affecting Jeff Green at the moment). Will the Magic will sort out their recent problems by making Rashard more of a focal point? A risky buy low candidate and a temporary benching for your roto team.

Hedo Turkoglu
35.4% FG, 60.7% FT, 10.6 ppg, 1.6 3pg, 4.9 rpg, 4.9 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.6 t/o
Hedo has continued his passive play this month and it’s evident he’s not comfortable in sharing the playmaking role with the Toronto point guards. It’s seems as though everyone on the Raptors (besides Bargnani and Bosh) are just getting in the way of each other’s fantasy production. Someone needs to tell coach Triano to stop thinking about wins and instead concentrate on a way for everyone to get their fantasy numbers!!!

At The Buzzer…

We’ve already heard this commentary line a number of times this season:

Damien Wilkins:

Kevin Garnett:

Kobe Bryant:

Sundiata Gaines:

Is It The Shoes?

Anthony Morrow
43.5% FG, 100.0% FT, 8.7 ppg, 1.6 3pg, 1.6 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.6 t/o
His numbers have been awful and he’ll miss the next couple of weeks with a sprained knee, so Morrow is obviously not worth a spot on your fantasy roster. However he did manage to score a healthy 24 points in a recent game against Miami – in fact it was his first 20 point game in over a month. How was Morrow able to come up with such a good game in the middle of a month long slump? Well, here’s what he happened to have on his feet that night:

Top Ten

The announcement of NBA Jam’s return has resulted in numerous internet forums and columnists providing their 2 cents on who they think would be the best NBA Jam teams today. And while I like to consider myself a bastion of originality I know that in reality I’m not above ripping off an idea, hence I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and present my Top 10 NBA Jam pairings (with a fantasy take on each team of course):

10. Boston – Ray Allen/Paul Pierce
These guys don’t dunk anymore but shooting has them in the top 10. Their NBA Jam strategy would be to fake the dunk and pass the ball off mid-air to the teammate for an open jump shot. (Note: If Big Head mode is returning in the latest version of the game then it’d be hard to leave Shelden Williams off the Boston team).

Fantasy take: Allen’s has finally found his shooting touch (particularly from beyond the arc) but his remaining cumulative stats are pretty unspectacular. Pierce has bounced back from an ordinary December. I’d still recommend shipping out these 2, particularly in H2H leagues.

9. Indiana – Danny Granger/Troy Murphy
Not much better at dunking than the Celtic pair, but they’re longer and stronger and in love with the 3 point shot, pushing them into 9th position.

Fantasy take: Health is the big issue here. Granger’s FG% has been hurt by his affinity to throwing up shots at every opportunity (blame Jim O’Brien’s game plan for this). Murphy will be subject to a lot of trade rumours as the trade deadline approaches. If he somehow stays with the Pacers I think he’ll have a solid finish to the season.

8. Denver – Carmelo Anthony/J.R. Smith
Anthony is a no-brainer selection and Smith’s game seems more suited to NBA Jam than the actual NBA, thus keeping Billups off the team.

Fantasy take: Anthony has picked up from where he left off pre-injury and his career year will continue to roll on. Smith is notorious for starting the season slow but finishing strong (check the pre and post All-Star splits from the last couple of seasons). Owners will have to hope history repeats itself as his shooting has been poor enough so far to earn him a spot on the bench on roto teams.

7. Toronto – Andrea Bargnani/Chris Bosh
The best big men pair in the game, harkening back to the Sonics Kemp/Schrempf combo of the past.

Fantasy take: Andrea is off to a strong start in the new year. Rebounds are the main area of concern and hopefully his efforts on the boards in the last few games are an indication of things to come. Like Bargnani, Bosh has been an extremely valuable fantasy commodity as he continues his highly efficient season. Hold onto these guys if you own either of them.

6. Lakers – Kobe Bryant/Pau Gasol
They’re only ranked this low because they’d get outrun by the teams above them.

Fantasy take: Kobe’s FG and FT %’s have unsurprisingly fallen off since the finger injury as has the rest of his game. He should seriously consider taking some time off and the worry is that this time off will come during your H2H playoffs. The next time he strings together a couple of good games you might want to consider moving him.

Gasol had a decent first game back from injury and should return to providing 1st round value soon. Andrew Bynum is actually the player facing the acid test with Pau’s return. His numbers are markedly different in the presence of the bearded Spainard.

5. Atlanta – Jamal Crawford/Josh Smith
No Joe Johnson? Well, I reckon Crawford’s speed and streakiness makes him more valuable in the NBA Jam arena. Josh Smith is an obvious addition – his dunk rating would be at the max.

Fantasy take: Crawford is the league’s most valuable non-starting fantasy player because win or lose he always gets his minutes. He’s obviously loving life in playoff bound Atlanta, currently shooting above 45% for only the 2nd time in his career. Smith is settling into his role after a rough a December with FT% being the only downer.

4. Memphis – Rudy Gay/O.J. Mayo
The defense would stink but on offense they’d have all the options (which of course in NBA Jam means either dunk, jumpshot or awkward looking layup). The Memphis pair might also have the best combined quickness of all teams.

Fantasy take: How about some props for the entire Grizzlies team? Above .500 and in the thick of the playoff race. Gay has continued (and should continue) his understated yet effective play while Mayo’s stats are practically identical to his rookie season, with a bump in FG% up to 46% being the only significant change. If you own any Grizzly your best bet is to hold.

3. Orlando – Vince Carter/Dwight Howard
We know Vince hates contact and driving into the paint nowadays. NBA Jam’s format would let Dwight do all dirty work while Vince just lays backs and shoots his preferred jumpshots.

Fantasy take: The Magic have hit a rough patch and a lot of it stems from not getting the ball into Dwight’s hands. That said, Howard needs to learn a few counter-moves in post to back up his favoured running hook in the middle of the lane. A disappointing season offensively but at least the hustle stats are still around the mark.

Carter’s shot has been off the entire season and he currently sits at career low 38.9% from the field. An unnecessary headache that fantasy owners would rather not have.

2. Cleveland – LeBron James/Mo Williams
LeBron would be a huge threat in this game, knocking over guys on defense and jumping over guys on offense. Mo’s favourite shot is the fast break pull-up jumper which suits NBA Jam to a tee.

Fantasy take: LeBron keeps on keeping on (so far shooting an extraordinary 55.4% in January) while Williams owners may want to note that his numbers have continued to slowly dip as the season has progressed.

1. Phoenix – Steve Nash/Amare Stoudemire
The obvious pairing for the Suns, Nash would constantly be on fire while Stoudemire is the ideal mobile, dunking big man for the game. Jason Richardson is perhaps unlucky to miss out on a spot but we haven’t seen much high flying exploits from him recently.

Fantasy take: Nash has shown no signs of slowing down as he has averaged 20/10 in the last couple of months. Of course, it seems like he’s not even bothering to play much defense anymore with the steals at their lowest since his rookie season. The Suns have had a tough January so far but that’s through no fault of Amare. The rebounding has picked up in the last 2 months and the scoring is slowly creeping up as well. Fantasy owners should now be satisfied with Amare after a shaky start to the season.

Other Games
Finally, here’s who would make the cut if these other classic video games were to be remade:

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