A WORD ON LAMAR ODOM
I enjoy interacting with readers, even if it’s hard to keep up with all the emails and tweets, because I subscribe to the belief that millions of heads are better than one. You guys keep me on my toes, point me in the right direction, and otherwise make this a dream experience. And this was the case last week when I used the column heading ‘boo hoo’ to describe Lamar Odom. If you don’t know, Odom has experienced quite a bit of death in his life recently and between that and the trade, he has gone in the tank. I had a kind reader point out that I shouldn’t make light of that, and I realized immediately how I hadn’t connected the dots to clearly explain that I think he’s childish in his inability to show up to work every day – and not to laugh at his expense.
He’s a pro athlete and fans are paying pro prices for those seats, and plenty of other athletes go through trying times and don’t pout their way through it. And spinning this into some fantasy analysis, I have talked a lot in the past few days about last Monday being a big night for him. I wanted to see if he cared, if his coach cared enough to back him, and if he was capable of playing decent minutes due to all the talk about his conditioning. He finished with 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting with four rebounds, two assists, and a 3-pointer in 24 minutes of action. More importantly he worked hard in warm-ups and during halftime. His coach rebounded for him as a show of support. I don’t think the talent left his body, and this is a pure mental issue for him. I think the game against the Lakers, the standing ovation, and the like was a weight off his shoulders. If it was a test to see if he could get his head out of the rain clouds, he passed.
Outside of Dirk Nowitzki, there are no sure things in the Dallas frontcourt. Odom is a player that can make them dynamic, and they’ll need ‘dynamic’ if they’re going to repeat. I grabbed Odom in a few places to see if he could bounce back. Monday was the first step. If he’s still slow-going in a week perhaps we’ll have our answer about him. I just couldn’t resist the chance to try to catch a comet.
FRANKLIN AND BASH
If you’re looking for mediocre talents in starring roles on a prime-time show, look no further than Channing Frye and Jared Dudley. Neither can create their own shot. Because the Suns offense is struggling, with everybody aging another year and only Marcin Gortat is playing at a high level besides Steve Nash, the result is a frumpy Frye and dudly Dudley.
Frye has probably been dropped in most 10-team leagues and 12-team league owners are well within their rights to do so as well, but the problem is that he is still starting and despite last night’s four-point, four-rebound effort in 18 minutes, rookie Markieff Morris wasn’t much better with matching marks on 1-of-7 shooting.
Morris, while admittedly in a bench role, has scored four or less points in 3-of-5 games now, while Frye all but erased his bounce-back effort last week with a 2-of-14 mark from the field in two games. The bottom line is that Morris has not definitively given Alvin Gentry reason to make a swap here, but Frye probably has about a week or two to get his act together, regardless. He is hitting 39 percent of his shots from the field and 31 percent from deep. The question isn’t if he’s going to improve on those marks, because he will, but rather can he do it fast enough to keep from losing his starting job. More to the point, I won’t be passing on a hot free agent right now to gamble that he can do it. Iman Shumpert, B.J. Mullens, Kawhi Leonard, the Chandler Parsons project are all waiver wire guys in the last week that would have caused me to pull the trigger. Unknown quantities or lower-upside guys like Marreese Speights, Trevor Booker, and J.J. Redick wouldn’t have made the cut. After all, if he can get it together there’s mid-round upside, which the latter group is going to struggle with.
As for Dudley and his slow start to the year, it’s not thrilling but I’m sitting on it in 8- and 9-cat formats. He’s producing top 100-120 value in those formats and Shannon Brown hasn’t done much to move in on his turf. Michael Redd is an awful basketball player if he isn’t standing in the corner taking wide-open threes. The Suns simply need to find an offensive combination that works and Dudley’s floor will rise. A 41 percent shooter from deep on his career, he has time that Frye doesn’t to improve on his current 33 percent mark.
FOUR QUARTERS OF FURY
1st Quarter: Eric Gordon hasn’t done any running or contact work and while Monty Williams wants him on the floor next week, he needs to get on the court this week to ensure that … I also wonder when the report that he’s out of cartilage comes out of the woodwork. Stephen Curry was held out of shootaround and one has to wonder if the decision to play him early in the year was just one of those things that slipped through the cracks … he didn’t participate in shootaround and the Warriors appear to be doing the right thing with their formerly franchise player … it’s almost as if they listened to the outrage. Dwyane Wade (foot) did not play on Tuesday and most believe he’ll play against Kobe on Thursday … me, I tend to wait until the report emerges before issuing a blanket ‘he’s gonna play because it’s the Lakers’ type of statement … that said, I think he’ll play so there you go. Bismack Biyombo was an early-season bust for me, if anything because most 12-team owners couldn't afford to wait and see if he would pan out. I've held him in two 12-team leagues, however, because I could afford to, and he finally showed some life with 11 points, 10 boards, and four blocks in 21 minutes ... on a team most certainly rebuilding that is thin in their frontcourt, he has a great late-season outlook. This isn't a sign he must (or should) be added, but if you have deeper benches or feel you have a grip on the situation, it is what it is. You will need massive patience in order to have a chance at JaVale McGee like upside.
2nd Quarter: Derrick Rose (toe) was held out, giving him until Friday to get back … fantasy owners should be rooting for these types of decisions. Chris Paul (hamstring) is now in the midst of a three-game week with the hopes that he goes on Wednesday against the Mavs … the Clips have been allowing Paul to push himself pretty hard in the ‘battle of Los Angeles’ and while I think he’ll want to play against the champs I’m sensing a slowdown at some point whether it’s knee related or not. Josh Smith is averaging 17.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks on a career-high 51.0 percent shooting, and yet he’s only providing fourth round value because of his 48.6% free throw shooting. That is going to rise, and if you have an owner that is frustrated their second round pick isn’t panning out you need to be right there to help them out.
3rd Quarter: Monta Ellis left Tuesday’s game after taking a shot in the face from Anderson Varejao, and while it appears he’ll escape serious injury he needs to be watched. Tyrus Thomas was walking the tight rope with owners before Tuesday’s dud … Thomas hit just 2-of-10 shots for seven points, two rebounds, two steals, and a block in 28 minutes, and while the defense is there the lack of rebounds is disturbing (3.8 per game on the year) … he’s droppable, if anything because Paul Silas may not want to deal with him, but if he gets it together he can be special … just don’t bank on it. J.J. Redick cooled off with five points on 2-of-9 shooting … he was providing late round value before J-Rich got hurt so I wouldn’t drop him until Richardson returns and moves him back to fringe status. Josh Howard (quad) did not play on Tuesday … I thought about grabbing him in a competitive big-money league as a stash, knowing he will be effective when healthy … then I realized I didn’t know if he would really be that effective and I didn’t know if he would ever be healthy.
4th Quarter: Corey Brewer is earning more minutes with his play, but his 22-point explosion came with Rudy Fernandez (Achilles) out … in 3-of-4 games prior to last night he had scored eight points or less … even in deep leagues I’m waiting for Rudy to return before taking notice. Spencer Hawes (Achilles) would not have played if there was a game on Tuesday, and along with his back injury owners have to be freaked out. I’ve mentioned here a bunch that I believe Hawes’ production is more a function of necessity with Elton Brand struggling than a huge step forward on his end. I know we’ve blurbed that Nikola Vucevic is not a threat to his playing time, but I’m just not in that camp. Doug Collins is holding the rookie back because of the shortened preseason and also because he’s not fully ready, but he can get ready real quick if that window opens wide enough. I’m not adding yet, but watching Vucevic closely for the next week or so.