After a record-breaking day for news and just about everything else on Monday, last night was thankfully light. Folks talk about the players suffering from the lockout, but in the nobody cares department NBA writers have been put through the ringer after an endless (and busy) offseason of non-news news stories. That was followed by a three-week preseason that included four months’ worth of news, and fast-forward to today the action comes in flurries and it doesn’t really stop. I said before the season that the experienced and aggressive fantasy owner would clean up in this cornucopia of basketball hysteria, but what I failed to mention is that we all might go crazy in the process.
And my guess is that next year when the action slows down we’ll miss every second of it.
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The Thunder visited the Warriors in one of the better games of the year, and like when the Patriots and Saints get together there will be a number of fantasy matchups won on the strength of this game.
Monta Ellis scored a career-high 48 points on a ridiculous 18-of-29 shooting (including three treys) with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block, Stephen Curry hit 7-of-9 shots for 16 points with seven boards, 10 assists, two steals, and a three, and David Lee became the first Warriors PF since Chris Webber to triple-double with 25 points, 11 boards, 10 assists, and one block for good measure.
Not to be outdone, Kevin Durant had 33 points, 10 boards, seven assists, a steal, a block, and two threes, while Russell Westbrook had 31 points on 12-of-21 shooting with seven assists, two steals, a block, and a three. Westbrook also had nine turnovers, which is what happens when you tell a 23-year old shooting guard playing point guard to attack relentlessly, but also to play like Scott Skiles would. James Harden scored 19 points with a full stat line, and Daequan Cook hit 6-of-8 shots for a season-high 17 points with five 3-pointers and three rebounds in Thabo Sefolosha’s (foot) absence. I’m not too worried about Serge Ibaka’s 27-minute, seven-point, six-board, blockless night. He got wrecked on Ellis’ late-game and-one, but jumping on him for that would be like saying Kendrick Perkins was a difference-maker on a night his man scored 39 points. I mean, who does that?
Darren Collison hit 10-of-14 shots for a season-high 25 points with four rebounds and five assists, and yes, now is the time to move him while the going is good. I’m not scared about George Hill stealing his job when he returns, but he’s a near-lock to cut into Collison’s value a little bit and gives Frank Vogel somebody to turn to if DC hits the skids.
Paul Silas did everything he could to publicize Reggie Williams for fantasy owners, and Williams is still floating around some 12-team leagues after a 21-point night that included three rebounds, five assists, and two 3-point shots. Yes, he has threats in the form of D.J. Augustin (toe), Gerald Henderson (hamstring) and Corey Maggette (hamstring), but only Augustin is close to returning and Williams fits the mold of Charlotte’s game plan going forward. And given how much Silas loves him, fantasy owners should, too.
Steve Nash (18 points, 11 assists) hit a game-winning layup on his 38th birthday and that has to be an NBA record. He’s paying off owners that stayed faithful after his slow start. Jared Dudley scored 19 points with four boards, three assists, and three treys, and looks to have turned the corner after a rocky start, too.
Drew Gooden got back in owners’ good graces with a season-high 25 points and a block, though he only had four rebounds. He’s about as stable as one can get in Scott Skiles’ rotations and is a must-own player until further notice.
Nikola Pekovic started for injured/ineffective Darko Milicic (ankle), scoring 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting with 10 rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Kevin Love (suspension) was out, but Pekovic should really be sending Ricky Rubio portions of his meager paycheck. Easy buckets and putbacks will keep Pekovic putting up solid numbers all year, and only Craig “Nasty Nate” Smith would scare me more if an NBA player was chasing me. Michael Beasley scored 17 points with 14 boards with Love out and this definitely qualifies as a sell-high moment. I don’t doubt that Beasley will have his moments this season, with ‘moments’ being the operative word.
I’ve been driving the sell-high bandwagon on Brandon Jennings around here for three reasons. First, his now 43.1 percent field goal shooting has already reverted back toward his 38.7 percent career average and I expect it to continue. Second, he has a nice backup PG playing behind him in Beno Udrih. Third, Scott Skiles has no problem putting the youngster in check.
Let’s add a fourth reason. Jennings reportedly criticized Scott Skiles, albeit in an indirect manner, but he wanted Stephen Jackson on the court and not on the bench last Saturday. This news hit the wire yesterday, and later in the evening Jennings went 1-for-4 for three points in an uninspiring effort. Beno Udrih played 19 minutes and scored six points on 3-of-6 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, and a steal. Owners need to hope this is a blip on the radar and he comes back with a big game on Wednesday against horrible defender Jose Calderon. If you’re looking for reasons to sell the precocious Jennings after he gets back on track, there are four of them.
While we’re making love to Milwaukee, Stephen Jackson (12 points, two rebounds, four assists, two threes) finally got back on the court and played 30 minutes. I started him last week and benched him this week, fully ignoring my gut-instinct that he was going to get back on the court. Though it felt like Skiles couldn’t bench him further without incurring damage from both inside and outside of his house, donuts don’t work so well for me. There is no analysis that anybody can provide here outside of Skiles telling us that Jackson will play this much going forward, and even then there are no sure bets. I think you have to hold him in most cases for the chance he gets traded and provides value in the meantime, but in shallow formats it’s another story.
I’m buying Ersan Ilyasova’s overall value proposition to owners in 12-team leagues and he had another 17 points, 12 boards, two blocks, and a three last night, but owners will want to make the add with a side of whiskey or Maalox, or both. I’m selling Mike Dunleavy’s 17 points and four treys unless you’re looking for spot help.
LARRY, YOU HAVE PAUL ON LINE TWO
Paul Pierce scored 15 points with eight boards, nine assists, and two threes last night as he passed Larry Bird to become No. 2 on the Celtics’ all-time scoring list. It’s an incredible honor and Pierce will be a lock for the Hall of Fame, but allow me to rain on his parade by telling owners to sell-high. The days of offense running mostly through him will be over once Rajon Rondo (wrist) is right.
ALL WE NEED IS A LITTLE PATIENCE
Bismack Biyombo was announced as the starting center for last night’s game and has been added in a bunch of leagues, but managed just three points, two boards, and no blocks in 22 minutes against the Celtics. I’ve held Biyombo all year in my deeper 12-team, big money league and managed to add him in a few others, and I’ll tell you guys what I’m telling myself – cut him if you must but otherwise ride the waves. It’s hard to imagine a better scenario than he has in Charlotte.
Alonzo Gee started at small forward last night and scored 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting with one rebound, one assist, two steals, a block, and a three in 35 minutes. I added him in the aforementioned league ($35 of $1,000) when my higher priority FAAB plays weren’t rich enough, and over the past two weeks he is providing mid-round value on the strength of 12.4 points, 0.9 threes, 4.6 boards, 2.0 steals, and 50 percent field goal shooting in 30 minutes per game. Sure, there’s a handful of risks in the form of Daniel Gibson (neck), Anthony Parker (back), and Omri Casspi, but Byron Scott has taken Gee under his wing and all of this adds up to a near must-own value in 12-team leagues. Gee fits the profile of a guy the Cavs will want to develop, assuming he continues to hold up his end of the bargain.
MR. BIG SHOT
Chauncey Billups was ruled out for the rest of the season due to his Achilles’ injury, but said that he would be back on an NBA basketball court next season. I’m going to bet on that happening, and I’ll take a long-shot bet that he hits a big shot late in the next year’s Western Conference Finals – for the Lakers.
In the meantime if you haven’t added Randy Foye you’re probably too late, and I like him to put up late-round value with a hint of upside while Mo Williams flourishes with the increase in touches.