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Fantasy Fix: Hoops at the Half

If you were completely ignorant of history, you might have good reason to assume that the inventor of the game of basketball was Martin Luther King, Jr., for it is only on MLK's birthday that we can enjoy 12 straight hours of hoops on TV.

So it's a good day to assess the state of the basketball season, not only because everyone in the league is playing on the same day, but also because it falls roughly at the halfway point of the season. Though the NBA All-Star Game isn't until Feb. 20, here are my first-half fantasy stars:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

PG: Chris Paul, New Orleans.

Leads the league in assists and steals and is second in assists-to-turnovers ratio. Still, just doesn't score enough for my tastes and always goes to high in fantasy drafts.

Backup: Deron Williams, Utah. Scores more than Paul, but steals are lacking.

SG: Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers.

Yes, another obvious choice, but though his numbers are slightly down across the board, he has been healthy and consistent enough this season to be locked on a race for the scoring lead with Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

Backup: Monta Ellis, Golden State. The position's best points and assists package.

SF: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City.

Overall, I would call his first half slightly disappointing for a guy taken first in many fantasy drafts, but he has been shooting the lights out since 2011 began.

Backup: Rudy Gay, Memphis. That's right, no 'Melo

PF: Kevin Love, Minnesota.

Probably the most deserving All-Star of all, he's getting very close to making himself a top 10 pick next year. Leads all Western PFs in points and rebounds.

Backup: Blake Griffin, LA Clippers. As amazing as Love has been, Griffin makes it a hard choice and could make it even harder with a better second half.

C: Pau Gasol, LA Lakers.

I could make an argument for Love or Griffin here, but Gasol has 81 blocks while Love has only 13 and Griffin 25 - and Gasol leads the position in assists.

Backup: LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland.

Nostalgia says Tim Duncan, but Aldridge's 20.7 PPG say otherwise.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

PG: Derrick Rose, Bulls.

I wasn't going to disappoint here, and neither has Rose. Conference position ranking is second in points and rebounds to Dwyane Wade (I have other plans for Wade), third in assists, and like Love in the West, he has earned his way into the top 10.

Backup: Raymond Felton, NY. 18 PPG, 8.8 APG is six more points and three more assists per game than last year.

SG: Dwyane Wade, Miami.

His woeful 2.4 APG proves he's a SG as much as his glittery 25.1 PPG. James and Bosh have stumbled at times, but Wade almost beat the Bulls without them last Saturday night, proving he's still MVP-good.

Backup: Paul Pierce, Boston. SG is a really thin position in the East.

SF: LeBron James, Miami.

No arguments to be made for anyone else, and showing he may perform even better when fueled by fan hatred. Recent injury could slow him down for a bit.

Backup: Danny Granger, Indiana. Really, a toss-up between Granger, Atlanta's Josh Smith and DePaul product and Knick Wilson Chandler.

PF: Amar'e Stoudemire, NY.

He has nudged his game up a notch both offensively and defensively since coming to New York. Conference position rankings make him top scorer and shot-blocker.

Backup: Josh Smith, Atlanta. Really n SF, but 8.8 RPG and 1.9 BPG per game make him a sound fit.

C: Dwight Howard, Orlando.

Started slow for the second straight season, but the big Orlando trade rejuvenated him, and 21.7 PPG and 13.3 RPG is above his career line.

Backup: Chris Bosh, Miami. Doesn't have the defensive numbers I like my centers to have, and has been a true disappointment, averaging six points and almost three reobunds fewer per game than last year. Basically, I have no case for this one.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! NBA Skinny hands out mid-season awards to the biggest fantasy draft payoffs. Calling Dr. Love.

* Bleacher Reports has a look at the trade rumors percolating in advance of the trading deadline. No surprise that Carmelo Anthony leads the pack.

* The Faster Times says it's time to pick up Ramon Sessions, at least as a short-term fix for the flagging Mo Williams.

* ESPN's Fantasy Basketball Blog reports on Carlos Boozer coming up lame. Is it really time to pick up Kurt Thomas?

* SLAM Online still rates 'Melo a "buy low", and with good reason - he is having his worst season.

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Comments welcome.

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For more Dan O'Shea, check out his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

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