Aaron Bruski

The Daily Dose

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Some of us fly around doing the things we really want to in life, but most of us don’t.  Somewhere along the way we got sidetracked, whether by work, money, kids, or the like. 


It is the fear of success that usually lets us down.  The fear that we can’t be what we want to be, do what we want do, or think how we want to think.  The chorus of boos rains down upon us, telling us to take the safe play, and left standing is a caricature of ourselves – a compilation of who we were and what we have become.


Getting cut from two squads in one year, Jeremy Lin probably had plenty of reasons to call it a career.  Sure, he could play overseas ball and probably make a good living, but doing so is usually a death sentence for NBA dreams.  And while the money isn’t bad, it’s not all that great, either.  Basketball players don’t get rich, nor secure, sitting on the end of NBA benches or in overseas arenas – no matter how ridiculous that seems to the rest of us.  Surely, amidst the smiles and ‘go get em’ speeches he got from family and friends, the crooked mouths that can’t hide doubts had to hit him every day. 


‘You’re never going to make it.’  Said, but not spoken.  Sincerely, everyone.   


When he hit the game-winning 3-point shot last night with time expiring he sent the world one level deeper into Linception, and time in fact stood still. 


Huddled around the old Twitter box, glued to the TV, and for thousands of miles around the world – together – we waited with held breath.  Calderon gave him too much space, the shot stood still in the air.  In that split second all of our hopes and dreams hung in the balance.  For every time we took and missed a shot, and for every shot we didn’t take, the ball spun backward once toward the goal, though in suspended disbelief all we saw was the arc. 


We didn’t see the 12-year old ‘me’ that one day could play point guard for the Knicks, or the eight-year old ‘you’ that was going to pack the stadium full with the sounds of electric guitar.  All we saw was the clock, and Lin look over to his adoring coach, get the okay, setup, wait, rock and fire. 


When the ball went through the net the joy felt around the world was binding, but also reminding and at the same time chiding – could we have done it ourselves?  Could we have followed our dreams and made it from the couch to the pinnacle of our own sport?


Yes.  The answer is yes.  And that is what I have to say about the phenomena that is Jeremy Lin.




For a complete review of the Knicks with Amare Stoudemire back in the fold, and Carmelo Anthony returning in the next week or so, check out the last page


Also, to follow me on Twitter where all the magic happens, click here!

Lastly, I updated the last page with a letter from a reader who was at the game.  Click here to read it.




Jose Calderon got another night of free reign at point guard with Jerryd Bayless (ankle) a late scratch, and put up a huge night with 25 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, three steals, three triples, and a block, and I can’t scream sell-high any louder.  Yes, your trade partner knows that Bayless could ruin him, but there is enough ambiguity about Bayless’ ankle to pull off a deal.  Amir Johnson started and scored 10 points with four boards and five blocks, and has the ability to be a nice big man in fantasy leagues if he can pull it together.  Owners that choose to make an add here are hoping that Dwane Casey put him in the doghouse once and that’s all it’s going to take.  Linas Kleiza (15 points, 11 boards, 38 minutes) had a big night while James Johnson (six points, four assists, two steals, 17 minutes) got into foul trouble early.  Both guys are worth owning and I wouldn’t drop Johnson unless I absolutely had to right now.  He’ll see-saw right now, but looking long-term the arrow is pointing up. 




Nicolas Batum stepped into Wesley Matthews’ starting job last night and put up 33 points and a full stat line, as Nate McMillan grasps at straws to fix his suddenly floundering team.  But that wasn’t the news of the night out of Portland, as LaMarcus Aldridge went down with a sprained left ankle and has already been ruled out for tonight’s game.  Given the chance that Aldridge misses some time, Marcus Camby (13 points, 12 boards, two steals) should be owned despite his injury risk and beyond that there are only deep-league fliers Craig “Nasty Nate” Smith and old man Kurt Thomas.  The Blazers are going to move toward a small lineup with Gerald Wallace at power forward, which he may not like but is actually a great thing for fantasy owners as it will speed up the pace of play, and coincidentally that could be a stop-gap solution or spark to fix the problems in Portland.  Aldridge, while having a great year, is a ball-stopper and the lack of penetration by ice-cold Raymond Felton (four points, six assists, 2-of-5 FGs, 28 minutes) has bogged the offense down.  Felton hasn’t lost a step, per se, but defenses aren’t respecting his shot.  He was benched in the fourth quarter and needs to be held until he works things out, or falls much further off the cliff.  Jamal Crawford also struggled with three points on 1-of-5 shooting.  McMillan really has no choice but to keep running them out there in their current roles more or less, because Crawford is not the answer at point guard and there are no other options. 


In fact, the inspiration to move Nicolas Batum into the starting lineup was partially born out of McMillan’s inability to make a change at the point.  McMillan has reportedly been hesitant to pair Matthews and Crawford on the second unit because their games are not complimentary for reasons I’ll leave untouched, but this could be the best thing for everybody.  Matthews hit 6-of-13 shots for 15 points, three triples, and five boards, and he should be held to see if the move to the bench pays off or Aldridge misses time.  As the Blazers fell to the lowly Wizards on their home floor last night, the luster has worn off the job McMillan has done in Portland.  I started to come around this season, but I’ve long thought he was overrated and had trouble with personnel – and too many times he pushed the wrong button.   Pressure is going to mount and the Blazers are simply too good to fade away, so I think something has to give here, meaning keep an eye on low-end producers Felton, Matthews, and Crawford.  Their value is in the tank right now and that’s a recipe for a steal when things inevitably get better.  Just weeks ago they were Western Conference contenders.   




Kevin Martin (back) struggled to put on his own shoes after Sunday’s game, but really it’s unclear how hurt he is with Kevin McHale pulling on the strings in Houston.  McHale, a known jerker, has been at it to Nellie-like proportions lately and it’s anybody’s clue if it’s going to stop.  Martin played just 19 minutes and went scoreless with a near-bagel in the box score.  Luckily, the Rockets lost, which hasn’t been the case in the past week, as McHale surely gets emboldened and enabled with every win.  Anybody not named Kyle Lowry (24 points, six assists) or Samuel Dalembert (nine points, 10 rebounds, one block, 27 minutes) struggled mightily last night.  If Dally was somehow available in your league go run and pick him up, as he can only be held back so far with McHale’s roster devoid of centers.   Borderline guys like Chase Budinger (four points, 12 minutes) and Chandler Parsons (nine points, four rebounds, one three, 33 minutes) can be added and dropped as they oscillate hot and cold.  Luis Scola (nine points, five boards, five turnovers) has played better lately, but last night should be a reminder that he is not all the way back.  As for Martin, I’d buy him low right now as his owner is probably fed up to no end.  He’s simply too good of a player for McHale to ruin him all year.  The only caveat I would add is to watch for a more serious injury than anybody is letting on, but I really don’t think that is the case here. 




Tyreke Evans scored 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting (including a three) with eight rebounds, eight assists, and a block in Chicago last night, and DeMarcus Cousins had a whopping 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting (including a rare three) with 17 rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks, and six turnovers.  I had the opportunity to speak with Keith Smart after last Thursday’s big win over the Thunder, and as a Warriors fan I’ve already had the close up with him in Golden State.  I wasn’t entirely sold he could handle a more challenging locker room than the one he had with the Warriors, but I’m sold now.  We talked about Evans being the unquestioned point guard of the team, and over the last 2-3 weeks he has shown incredible progress limiting the number of wince-inducing plays handling the rock.  What has been an even bigger story has been the progress of Cousins, who Smart has connected with and empowered to control his own destiny.  I’m putting together a piece on it for ProBasketballTalk and it’s really a phenomenal turnaround for both guys and the team.  So, yes, I’m buying both of them as fantasy assets, when just two weeks ago I was fairly down on both. 


Marcus Thornton scored 23 points with three triples last night, too, and the kid has brass balls.  The only way he goes south is if the team does, in relative terms of course, and finally Sacramento has roles.  Jimmer’s development was stunted by the early issues and the lockout, and now he’s just a 3-point shooter off the bench – and that’s probably best.  Jason Thompson (eight points, 11 boards) is going to hold down the PF slot indefinitely, leaving Chuck Hayes on the outside looking in.  His shoulder and lack of time to gel with teammates are the culprits, here.  If you need a big man don’t be afraid to look at Thompson – he has a good amount of leash right now.  All-in-all, I like the direction this team is heading under Smart. 


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Aaron Bruski has covered hoops for Rotoworld since 2008 and has competed in national fantasy sports competitions for nearly two decades. You can also find his work over at ProBasketballTalk, where he received critical acclaim for his in-depth reporting of the Kings' relocation saga. Hit him on Twitter at Aaronbruski.
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