We’re knee deep into the NBA season and before you know it we’ll be talking about the trade deadline in wonder about where it all went. There are teams that are still tweaking rotations like it’s training camp, and there are other teams that are legitimately packing their seasons in to play the young guys. Somewhere, Billy Hunter and David Stern are laughing at us all.
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BLOCKED: THE SERGE IBAKA STORY
Serge Ibaka played 40 minutes and scored four points last night, but went off with a season-high 10 blocks and 11 rebounds last night. Check my prior work to get some back-story about the so-called defensive lapses that Scott Brooks and the local media have used as rationale for why his playing time has been stolen by ancient Nazr Mohammed, mediocre Kendrick Perkins, and a solid but fully-developed Nick Collison. You’ll hear more about it today, with reports about his changed defensive approach framing the story of why a third-year player is not being developed when he has the potential to be a game-changer in the playoffs. It's bunk. Meanwhile, I’ll keep on evaluating Ibaka’s fantasy value by Brooks’ willingness to play him, and not by some misguided explanation about a guy I’ve graded out as average-to-elite on 95 percent of his defensive possessions.
And on a separate note, any time Perkins gets a premeditated entry pass in the post, I immediately return my trust rating in Brooks’ coaching ability back to Rambis.
TOO HOT TO HANDLE, TOO COLD TO HOLD
LeBron James scored a season-high 40 points with four triples and a full stat line, but the Heat lost to the Bucks last night. Brandon Jennings traded blows with him and hit seven triples of his own, scoring 31 points on 9-of-25 shooting with four rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. I’m all but sure Jennings’ field goal percentage will revert back to career form, but the rest of the numbers we’ve been seeing have a strong chance of holding. That’s a recipe to sell-high in leagues where field goal percentage can hurt you, but by all means be terribly picky. I think he’s good enough and needed enough to avoid Scott Skiles’ machinations, after two solid weeks of staying Skiles-free with Beno Udrih around.
In other Bucks news, Ersan Ilyasova wants out of the NBA but he can’t stop producing low-end value, and had another nine points, 14 boards, and two blocks. Face it, you’re never, ever going to feel comfortable using him, but after three weeks of this productivity owners with a hole in their roster have no excuse for passing him up. Drew Gooden was awesome again with a 17-9-5 line, and is already on the shortlist for waiver wire pickups of the year. As for Stephen Jackson, he’s still in the doghouse and played just nine minutes. Bench and hold, unfortunately. Carlos Delfino was active in the 19 minutes Skiles granted him, scoring 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting (3-of-5 from deep) with a block and a steal. There’s potential there, but I have zero trust in the situation after the past two weeks of Delfino being jerked around.
NICK NOLTE APPROVED
Roddy Beaubois hit just 3-of-13 shots for nine points, four rebounds, and four assists last night, and we need to see better play out of him this week for any role change to take place when Jason Kidd (calf) returns. As of tonight, my guess is that Kidd’s minutes are not threatened. That said, owners need to hold Buckets until Kidd gets back for the right to find out. Ian Mahinmi got a start with Brendan Haywood (back) out, but scored just six points with nine boards and needs to do more in these opportunities to convince owners to make the add. I like him in the position battle, that’s only half the battle for Mahinmi. Dirk Nowitzki is still slumming it up, this time without a crazy woman involved, and wrapped up last night with a 2-of-15 shooting mark, eight points, and eight rebounds. Yes, he’s still a buy low target and is a better target with each passing dud. Delonte West backed up his season-high 25 points with just five points in 16 minutes last night, which illustrates the trouble with the guard slots in Dallas. One or two of them will be left out on most nights. Vince Carter struggled with eight points on 3-of-10 shooting and an otherwise respectable stat line, and still might be the most productive of the three remaining guards until Kidd gets back. And if you had Rick Carlisle punting a basketball into the stands like a poor man’s Nick Nolte, you are the amazing Kreskin.
ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO
Chris Paul scored a season-high 34 points with a fat stat line and Blake Griffin followed up his horrifying dunk on Kendrick Perkins with another nice night, scoring 31 points with 14 boards and three blocks. In 8- and 9-cat leagues Griffin has been a punter’s play, as his free throw shooting and blocks have dragged his overall value down. That may be changing, though, as he’s currently averaging 0.9 steals and 1.0 blocks per game and that makes him much more versatile in fantasy leagues. Punting more than one category sets owners up for trouble in my opinion, and this trend makes Griffin a much more manageable asset.
BULLS ON PARADE
Joakim Noah went 0-for-3 from the field and finished with two points, seven boards, and no blocks in 27 minutes, while Taj Gibson played 21 minutes and was productive. I’ve been blurbing at you guys to sell-high and hopefully you thought about it. In other Bulls news, C.J. Watson’s 20-4-4 line was a total fluke, but if you’re in a deep, deep league he has a shot at some value while Luol Deng (wrist) and Richard Hamilton (groin) are out.
Austin Daye played 11 minutes last night as the Pistons stayed big with Jason Maxiell at power forward instead of Ben Wallace (five minutes), and Jonas Jerebko played 31 minutes on his way to 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting (including a three). Jerebko has provided late-round value recently on the strength of 95% free throw shooting, 52.5% field goal shooting, and otherwise versatile, but unspectacular stat lines. The lack of counting stats is a bummer and so is playing off the bench, but give him a look if you need to plug a hole in your lineup. As for Daye, I wasn’t on that train and probably won’t be until the Pistons’ rotation thins out.
Danny Granger is back to being productive and had a nice little altercation with Kevin Love (21 points, 17 boards, no threes, one block), and the two might still be talking trash this morning. Granger hit 9-of-19 shots (including five treys) for a season-high 36 points with seven boards and the buy-low window is shut.
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