Adam Levitan

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Babbling Brook

Friday, January 20, 2012


There are a few things in life that make us feel really, really good. A piping hot steak off the grill. The love of a beautiful woman. A new high score in Temple Run. And of course, picking someone up off waivers and having him turn into an every-night beast.

Owners that have been stashing Brook Lopez (foot surgery) can taste a similar feeling. In competitive leagues and/or those with an IL spot, Lopez has almost certainly been on a roster all or most of the season. So getting him back on the court will be akin to adding an elite fantasy center.

On Thursday, Lopez was out of his walking boot dressed for Nets practice. He was doing shooting drills and even some light rebounding. His arms reportedly “look muscular” thanks to the weightlifting he did following surgery. And most importantly, the Nets say he is still on track with that 6-8 week timetable. That means Lopez is expected back in 2-4 weeks.

Lopez will be eased in initially, but let’s not forget how special of a talent this guy is. The true 7-footer is a career 50.4 percent shooter from the field and 80.1 percent shooter from the line. Those are the difference-making numbers. And over the final 25 games of last season, he averaged 22.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He had never missed a game in his NBA career before this season.

If Lopez returns in three weeks, he’ll play in roughly 35 games. That’s a nice, meaty portion of the season to chew on.

Editor’s Note: For exclusive columns, chats, pickup advice, weekly rankings and much more, check out the Season Pass!

NEWS OF THE DAY #2
Rajon Rondo is downplaying his wrist injury, but the Celtics were concerned enough to send him for an MRI on Thursday afternoon. Coach Doc Rivers is already on the record calling his point guard “doubtful” for Friday’s game against the Suns.

There’s a little extra concern here because the damage is to Rondo’s shooting wrist. The good news is that Rondo can get by just shooting layups and floaters. Look for Avery Bradley to start Friday with Keyon Dooling (knee) in doubt, but Rondo’s injury doesn’t appear overly serious.

NEWS OF THE DAY #3
Marcus Camby (ankle) will return to the starting lineup Friday after practicing in full again on Thursday. We can safely expect the same role and production Camby had before going down: 8.2 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 21-25 minutes.

The other issue here is the playing time of uber-talented Nicolas Batum. In games that Camby has been active for this season, Batum is averaging just 10.2 points and playing 24 minutes a night. His two best games of the year came with Camby sidelined. Batum’s eye is fine, but his arrow is pointing sideways at best right now.

THURSDAY NIGHT GAME THOUGHTS, HEAT POUND LAKERS
LeBron James has played without Dwyane Wade (foot, ankle) four times this year. He’s averaging 32.2 points, 10.0 assists and 7.0 rebounds in those games. Wade remains without a timetable for return. … Shane Battier started in place of James Jones so he could check Kobe. Battier ended up with 11 points in 34 minutes. … Mike Miller only played 20.3 minutes per game last year. Not sure why anyone thought he would play more this year after the Heat added Battier. Miller got 14 minutes Thursday, even with Wade out. … Andrew Bynum is as strong and healthy as he’s ever been. Again, the Matthew Stafford of the hoops season.

THURSDAY NIGHT GAME THOUGHTS, UNDERCARD
The Hornets’ power forward spot is going to be based on game flow. Jason Smith had it going on Thursday, so he got 29 minutes. It could be Chris Kaman, Carl Landry or even Gustavo Ayon next game. … Trevor Ariza’s groin may still be balky, but he logged 45 minutes. … Devin Harris has a big problem: He can’t shoot and has lost confidence in his shot. … I’ve been burned by Roddy Beaubois many times before. The Mavs just don’t trust him as anything more than a spurt scorer. One game won’t change that. … No, Shawn Marion isn’t back. Don’t overreact to one game when a guy is 33 years old. … Derrick Favors got ejected for throwing the ball in frustration. He hasn’t topped 25 minutes in a game since Dec. 30.

INJURY FAST BREAK: GUARDS
Chris Paul (hamstring) is questionable for Friday. He did work out for an hour prior to Wednesday’s game. … Derrick Rose (toe) is headed for a game-time call. C.J. Watson is the handcuff. … Stephen Curry (ankle) is doubtful for Friday. Nate Robinson will rock on. … Vince Carter (foot) is out at least through Saturday. … Anthony Parker (back) practiced Thursday. The Daniel Gibson party is likely over already.

INJURY FAST BREAK: FORWARDS AND CENTERS
Andrea Bargnani (calf) did not practice Thursday. He may be targeting Sunday for a return. … Josh Howard (quad) is targeting Saturday or Wednesday for his return. He’s got a long way to go to earn a starting job. … Michael Beasley (foot) is not traveling with the Wolves on their two-game trip. … Spencer Hawes (Achilles) is a game-time decision for Friday.

DEPTH CHART QUICK SLANTS
The Kings are going to roll with a “partnership” at power forward between starter Jason Thompson and J.J. Hickson. Chuck Hayes (shoulder) will only make this situation worse once he returns. … Coach Flip Saunders is now praising Andray Blatche for team play. He’s locked into huge minutes again. … The dust-up between Stephen Jackson and Scott Skiles is water under the bridge now. Jackson should start Friday. … Nikola Pekovic is not likely to be named the starter, but has earned 15-20 minutes per game.



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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