The NBA and NFL are apples and oranges in the fantasy sense. In football you have mini one-week seasons, each with a different story that has a beginning, middle, and an end. Fantasy basketball, on the other hand, mimics the ebb-and-flow of the action on the court. One night can yield enough breakout stars to count on multiple hands, while on other nights the clouds slowly form – waiting to pour opportunity onto the proactive owner. Wednesday night was the latter, and now that the table is set let’s get to feasting.
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Dwyane Wade played through his possible case of plantar fasciitis in a fun little game against the Clippers in the nightcap, and after the game talk of PF was all but dismissed. He scored 17 points with seven boards, three steals, and two blocks, capping his night with a feat of athleticism to give the Heat extra life late on a loose ball. He leaped over and around DeAndre Jordan to knock the ball into Jordan while he was standing out-of-bounds, retaining possession for the Heat in a ill-fated attempt to bail his buddy out. We could talk about LeBron’s game-deciding missed freebies at this point, but I’ll leave it to the shock bloggers and the ESPN 1st and 10 crew to grab the low-hanging fruit.
More interesting is how Norris Cole has put a jolt in Super-Nintendo Chalmers, who scored 18 points with four 3-pointers, four rebounds, and five assists last night. LeBron chews Chalmers out about five times per night, and one has to think that’s how Cole has become a favorite of the Heat's – he’s the anti-Chalmers. But Chalmers, while inconsistent, has responded and won the position battle as of late. He should be owned in most leagues while he’s putting up usable lines like this.
Chris Paul took matters into his own hands last night, and almost won the game in regulation on a sick crossover that he couldn’t convert on, but led the Clippers to a win in overtime anyway. He hit 11-of-21 shots for a season-high 27 points with six rebounds, 11 assists, three steals, and most importantly we haven’t seen or heard anything about his knee. I’ve mentioned in various spaces around here that my concern for his knee is mostly for next year and most certainly the year after that, but I’d tend to see no evil and hear no evil for now. Jordan, aside from being part of Wade’s highlight, was a monster with six blocks, eight points, and 11 rebounds, showing why he cannot be dropped.
SHOULDERING THE LOAD
Al Horford left last night’s game with a left shoulder strain and looked to be in a good amount of pain at the time. Look no further than Chuck Hayes’ 3-4 week timeline to get a sense of where this could head. This, of course, will lead to more looks for the rest of the crew, especially since it’s possible that the Hawks will be without one or more of Marvin Williams (ankle), Tracy McGrady (back), and Horford for Thursday’s game and beyond. Look for Jeff Teague (five points, two boards, three assists, two steals, one block, 2-of-10 FGs) to bounce back after getting manhandled by Roy Hibbert and Co. in an ugly loss.
Ty Lawson (foot) did not play on Wednesday against the Nets. I’d crack a joke about the mascot taking nights off against the lowly Nets, but he clearly didn’t. Andre Miller complained about not being the starter, which is interesting but not important, and filled in nicely with 12 points and 12 assists in the win. Nothing has or will change here barring injury to Lawson, as Miller will continue to provide low-end value and is a decent trade deadline candidate already. Nene played through his heel injury yet again, and the nine points, nine rebounds, two steals, and three blocks in 30 minutes should create a sense of cautious indifference for owners. He’s playing like a guy dealing with a heel injury. Arron Afflalo finally showed some signs of life, too, hitting four 3-pointers for 19 points and giving owners a reason to hold on. I tend to think he’ll slowly get it together after being a late arrival to workouts due to his contract.
BARGNANI TO THE INFIRMARY
Andrea Bargnani lost four games to a left calf injury last year, and he hurt it again on Wednesday night with an MRI on the way on Thursday. He doesn’t know how he hurt it and the injury doesn’t appear on the outside to be overly serious, but in this lockout-inspired season anything is possible. Bargnani has exceeded expectations this season, so it’s hard not to root for him to get back on the court. If he misses time, look for Ed Davis to try to get back into the swing of things. He had just six points and six boards in 14 minutes last night, so he’s only a risky, speculative add in 12-team leagues pending Bargnani’s prognosis. Amir Johnson gets a bit more security if Bargs misses time, but his issue isn’t minutes, it’s foul trouble.
More than likely, though, guys like DeMar DeRozan and Leandro Barbosa will pick up the scoring slack. DeRozan slowed down this week and wasn’t spectacular on Wednesday, scoring 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting with no threes and three rebounds. He’s still a guy I’m buying and not selling simply due to his newfound 3-point shooting touch. Barbosa scored a season-high 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting with two 3-pointers in 24 minutes, and is a desperation add in 12-team leagues that will be bumped up to a short-term add if Bargnani misses time. Linas Kleiza also returned to action after knee surgery ended his year last season, scoring 10 points with three rebounds and an assist. If Kleiza plays well it could be the final straw for James Johnson and his owners, so pay attention if you’re in that camp.
DECISION TO DEPLOY
Jameer Nelson finally showed up with 16 points, four rebounds, five assists, a steal, and two threes, showing why you can’t just dump this guy. He’s starting with a full boat of minutes, and you simply can’t find this type of upside on the wire. Deciding to deploy him is another story until he shows consistency, however.
WHO NEEDS DERRICK ROSE?
Derrick Rose apparently doesn’t have turf toe, but instead some form of flexion sprain and is being called day-to-day. Nobody is overly worried, but we’ll be watching. John Lucas started in his place with C.J. Watson (elbow) still out and did his best Rose impression with a career-high 25 points on 11-of-28 shooting with eight rebounds, eight assists, a steal, and a three. If Rose continues to miss time owners almost have to use him in a spot-start if they’re in need after that performance. Of course, Lucas will have no value beyond that.
Joakim Noah left briefly due to a strained left thumb, but the real story is that he is losing minutes to Omer Asik and Taj Gibson. Noah finished with four points, four boards, and a block in 18 minutes. It’s just a guess, but even if his body is betraying him I think there’s something going on between the ears here, too. Noah is an excitable, moody, and difficult guy at times, and stories of him clashing with Tom Thibodeau are likely on the way. Asik had a nice night with eight points, 14 boards, and five blocks, and took advantage of a hapless Wizards squad. It’s fair to say he won’t be this productive when Stella gets her groove back.