Adam Levitan

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Horford's Horror

Friday, January 13, 2012


On the surface, Al Horford was in the midst of a down year. His 12.4 points per game were his lowest since 2008-09 and his 7.0 rebounds were a career-low.

However, Horford always has sneakily elite fantasy value and this year was no different. He was still a top-25 player, according to ESPN’s player rater, thanks to his ability to contribute across the box score. Things were only going to get better as the year moved along.

Horford won’t be around for savvy owners anymore. He tore his pectoral against the Pacers on Wednesday night and will need surgery. He’s hoping to get back for the playoffs.

The immediate add here is Zaza Pachulia, who projects as the Hawks’ starting center for the rest of the season. Pachulia played nearly 32 minutes against the Bobcats Thursday night, recording 10 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and one block.

Heading into last night, Pachulia had started 170 career NBA games. He averaged 10.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks in those games. That’s a reasonable expectation for owners. We know the minutes are going to be there.

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NEWS OF THE DAY #2
It was only a matter of time before impressive third-year center Byron Mullens cracked the starting lineup. The true 7-footer that spent just one year at Ohio State is clearly the best big man on the Bobcats’ roster, and coach Paul Silas knows it.

"We didn't have a center...It's time to give him 25-30 minutes and see what he can do,” said Silas.

In his first career NBA start Thursday night, Mullens played nearly 33 minutes, posting 21 points and four rebounds. It’s not a fluke. Although Mullens was playing just 19.3 minutes per game coming into Wednesday, he was averaging 11.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 0.6 blocks.

Perhaps the best stat to illustrate Mullens' skill-set is his Mark Price-like free-throw shooting. On the season he’s 25-of-27 from the line, also known as 92.5 percent. Consider Mullens a strong add in all formats, one with way more upside than Pachulia.

NEWS OF THE DAY #3
The Bucks decided to shake up their starting five as well on Thursday. Ersan Ilyasova is out as the starting power forward and second-round rookie Jon Leuer in in.

Leuer promptly responded with 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks while playing 31 minutes against the Pistons Thursday night. The assists are a little fluky, but he’ll be able to sustain the blocks thanks to his 6’10" frame. Now looking at 28-32 minutes per night, Leuer should be owned in most 12-team formats.

THURSDAY NIGHT GAME THOUGHTS
Carmelo Anthony left early with an ankle sprain. He‘s listed as day to day. … Dorell Wright was a late scratch due to a knee contusion. Brandon Rush started at small forward. … Rodney Stuckey (groin) returned, but Brandon Knight still started. There’s going to be a timeshare here. … Tyrus Thomas started at small forward and blocked three shots. … Rudy Gay played through a hip pointer to the tune of 26 points. He’s going to be a beast with Zach Randolph (knee) out. … Iman Shumpert has no conscience, which is a good thing for fantasy owners. He jacked up 20 shots and had four steals. … Shannon Brown started the second half in place of Grant Hill (quad). Michael Redd also got 19 minutes for the Suns. It’s getting crowded here. ... Jason Richardson left in the second half with a knee injury. J.J. Redick could really be something special if J-Rich misses time.

INJURY FAST BREAK: GUARDS
Stephen Curry (ankle) may be held out for the Warriors’ entire four-game road trip that starts Saturday. … Marcus Thornton (quad) participated fully in practice Thursday. … Steve Blake (rib) is likely out a couple games. … Ty Lawson (foot) remains questionable for Friday’s showdown with the Heat. … Deron Williams (ankle) is a go for Friday. … Derrick Rose (toe) was held out as a precaution Wednesday. He’s questionable for Friday. … Richard Hamilton (groin) is reportedly “very close” to a return.

INJURY FAST BREAK: FORWARDS AND CENTERS
Kwame Brown (pectoral) is out three months. Andris Biedrins is a weak add as a blocks/boards specialist. … Trevor Ariza (groin) did some light running and shooting Thursday. … Spencer Hawes (back) is a game-time call for Friday. … Michael Beasley (foot) is out for at least two more games. … Andray Blatche (shoulder) is headed to see a specialist in New York. … The results of Andrea Bargnani’s calf MRI won’t be known until Friday.



Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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