NBA studs and duds of Week 15: Kobe recalls vintage "Vino"
By WILL LAWS
With the All-Star break quickly approaching – seriously, it starts this week – some players are in better form than others. Every "stud" mentioned this week set a season high in points over the last seven days, while several guys sorely need a break from the hardwood.
See who's heading into the All-Star break in style with the help of PointAfter visualizations, so you can end the first half of your fantasy basketball season on a similar high note.
Note: The statistics in this article cover games played between Feb. 1-7. Players who missed portions of games due to injury were not considered.
Stud Guard: John Wall, Wizards
Key stats: 24.8 points, 9.5 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 three-pointers in four games
John Wall has kept the underachieving Wizards afloat this season, and that didn't change last week.
Washington endured a rough stretch consisting of three losses and a lone victory over last-place Philadelphia, but its star point guard was productive throughout. Wall recorded a triple-double (18 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) against the overmatched 76ers, and averaged 27 points against the Thunder, Warriors and Hornets.
He's now riding a three-game double-double streak, completing the feat against Charlotte and Golden State, whom he also lit up for a season-high 41 points on 68 percent shooting.
Wall shot 52.8 percent on the week, converting 38-of-72 attempts. While his mid-range game was dreadful, he converted a blistering 80 percent of his chances in the restricted zone and knocked down 8-of-16 threes.
Note: You can hover over different shooting zones to see Wall's statistics in the corresponding area.
Dud Guard: Monta Ellis, Pacers
Key stats: 11.0 points, 37.8 field goal percentage, 4.0 assists, 4.3 turnovers in four games
Monta Ellis was the worst version of himself in Indiana's two close defeats to Eastern Conference foes last week – an inefficient chucker who cost his team games.
The combo guard was a combined 9-for-31 with six assists and 10 turnovers against Cleveland and Atlanta, whom the Pacers lost to by a combined 11 points. After pouring in a season-high 32 points against Denver to conclude last week, Ellis scraped together 31 combined points from Indiana's final three games this week.
Ups and downs are part of the Monta Ellis Experience, as his fantasy owners must know by now. The last four games were simply a trench in the unpredictable ride.
Stud Forward: Kobe Bryant, Lakers
Key stats: 30.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 three-pointers in three games
Kobe Bryant wasn't exactly efficient in his first three February contests, sinking just 39.7 percent of his field goals. But he led the Lakers to close triumphs over New Orleans and Minnesota by cashing 41.7 percent of his three-pointers, including a 7-of-11 showing from deep against the Timberwolves in a vintage 38-point performance.
Long-range accuracy is a key factor for Bryant and the Lakers, now that "Vino" is firing a career-high 7.0 treys per game.
That strategy hasn't worked throughout the season, but it did for one fleeting week as Los Angeles emerged victorious in their first two games in February. The Lakers did the same in January, only to go 1-14 to finish out the month.
Does another free fall await in February, or will they climb out of the Western Conference cellar behind a rejuvenated Mamba? Coach Byron Scott recently reduced Bryant's workload in practice to keep him fresh for games, so perhaps Bryant's increased output will persist.
Dud Forward: Ryan Anderson, Pelicans
Key stats: 10.5 points, 37.2 field goal percentage, 0.8 three-pointers in four games
When Ryan Anderson was the "stud" forward here last week, I mentioned Ryno's status as a barometer for New Orleans. The 27-year-old has shot 51.3 percent in Pelicans victories, and 39.2 percent in their losses.
Well, Anderson was off the mark this week (16-of-43 overall, 3-of-16 from downtown), and the Pelicans went winless in four contests. The low point was Anderson going 2-of-11 from the field and 0-for-5 from downtown against Cleveland in a flat 99-84 loss. His output of six points in that clash were the fewest he's registered in a game in 2016.
Stud Center: LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
Key stats: 26.0 points, 59.7 field goal percentage, 90.9 free throw percentage in four games
Another repeat mention, Aldridge has turned around his fortunes after being classified as a "dud" in this space last week. He's responded extremely well from a horrible night against Golden State (2-of-9, five points, three rebounds) to guide San Antonio during Tim Duncan's absence (knee soreness) over the club's last seven games.
Aldridge went 9-of-13 from the field and 10-of-12 at the charity stripe to log a season-high 28 points against Orlando on Feb. 1, then topped himself with 36 buckets versus New Orleans two nights later on 12-of-20 shooting overall and a perfect 12-for-12 record from the line.
San Antonio's splashy summer signing has averaged 21.3 points during Duncan's recent time off, and has excelled in the mid-range niche usually occupied by The Big Fundamental.
If you own Aldridge in fantasy, it's a perfect time to sell high on the former No. 2 overall pick. Though his long-term future in San Antonio appears a bit brighter after this productive spell, it's unlikely this torrid pace will sustain once Duncan returns, which should happen after the All-Star break.
Dud Center: Chris Bosh, Heat
Key stats: 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 38.0 field goal percentage in four games
No one blinked when Chris Bosh was named to his 11th consecutive All-Star Game on Jan. 28. But the 31-year-old hasn't played like someone deserving of the bid since then.
Bosh hasn't even made half of his shots in a game since All-Star Game reserves were announced, a six-game span that's tied for his longest such skid of 2015-16.
He also hasn't posted a double-double since Jan. 13, a 13-game streak, after compiling 15 of them in Miami's first 39 games. Bosh would rank above Draymond Green with 20 double-doubles had he kept up his previous pace, but is instead stuck on 15 amid a run of poor effort on the boards.
Note: This article was originally published on Yahoo Sports.