I have spent a considerable amount of time over the past 10 years or so being thankful that I wasn’t a Knicks fan. Isiah Thomas, Eddy Curry, Stephon Marbury, James Dolan, Jerome James and Anucha Browne Sanders are just a few of the many names that make Knicks fans cringe, but Jeremy Lin has suddenly helped wipe away years of ugly memories in two short weeks. Lately, I’ve become envious of Knicks fans, but things are about to get dicey again. Lin had another nice game on Monday, but was simply outplayed by an angry Deron Williams, who torched the Knicks for 38 points and eight 3-pointers, and New York has now lost two of their last three games. Carmelo Anthony finally returned to action from a groin injury and had 11 points and six turnovers on 4-of-11 shooting in 37 minutes, Iman Shumpert (knee), Bill Walker (elbow) and Toney Douglas didn’t play, Landry Fields double-doubled, and J.R. Smith led the bench brigade with 24 minutes.
In fantasyland, I think we’re going to see a hodge-podge from the Knicks the rest of the way, with Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Lin all taking turns as the high scorer from night to night. Melo looked tentative last night and was also rusty after missing seven straight games, and still hasn’t really had a chance to practice with Lin. Eventually the two will be on the same page and Lin, Melo and Amare will serve as the Knicks’ version of the “Big 3.” Melo is already averaging just 21.8 points per game this season and with the emergence of Lin, my guess is that’s about where he’ll end up for the season, while Lin is going to have to cool off after 20 or more points in nine of his last 10 games. Stoudemire benefits from having Lin around and should continue to be a very productive fantasy player, and while there will be some inconsistency, all three remain must-starts, for the most part. In weekly head-to-head leagues, many of these guys are going to be on benches next week due to the Knicks playing just two games in Week 10. Anthony is going to play nice and share the ball for a while in hopes of not ticking off the Knick faithful, who have fallen in love with Lin, but his instincts will eventually kick in and take over, meaning he’ll lead the team in scoring on most nights once the honeymoon period is over. But even so, if I own any of the Big 3 Knicks, I’m leaning toward holding on tight and riding this thing out. If nothing else, the Knicks have quickly become must-see TV, and owning those guys should be an entertaining ride the rest of the way, even if a storybook ending may or may not be in the cards. And as for J.R. Smith, just like every other year, he’s going to have some big games, some bad ones, and will likely bounce on and off the waiver wire in fantasy leagues for the rest of the year.
Derrick Rose returned from a back injury and had 23 points, six dimes and five boards on Monday. If you rolled the dice on him this week, so far, so good.
Emeka Okafor’s knee injury isn’t bad and he’s expected back soon, but likely won’t play until after the weekend.
Danilo Gallinari is in the same boat with his ankle sprain, and is also targeting a return shortly after the break. If he was dumped in your league, it’s time to move on him.
Manu Ginobili will miss about two weeks with a strained oblique, and I expect Gary Neal, who had 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting last night, to pick up the slack in his absence. Tiago Splitter will miss a couple weeks with a calf injury and DeJuan Blair will benefit, and had 15 points and four boards on Monday.
Arron Afflalo tweaked an ankle last night, but played through it and finished with 20 points and a decent stat line, although he didn’t hit a 3-pointer. He’s finally playing well, but owners will have to hope his ankle didn’t swell up overnight.
Nikola Pekovic left last night’s game with a sprained right ankle, but says it’s not too bad. Consider him questionable for Wednesday, when the Wolves host the Jazz. If he’s out, Michael Beasley, Brad Miller and (possibly) Darko Milicic will pick up the slack. Darko was out with a stomach illness, allowing Miller to log some minutes.
Kendrick Perkins suffered a foot injury last night and didn’t return, but isn’t doing enough to be starting in fantasy leagues anyway. James Harden (ankle) and Nick Collison (quad) were both out for the Thunder on Monday, leaving them iffy for the rest of the week. Daequan Cook and Serge Ibaka will be the primary beneficiaries if the duo misses more time.
Rajon Rondo served the first of a two-game suspension last night, meaning his week ended before it even started. Hopefully you had him on the bench. Kevin Garnett was out against the Mavericks for personal reasons and it’s unclear if he’ll be back for Wednesday’s game. Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma will help fill the void left by KG, while Avery Bradley will get another start for Rondo on Wednesday. Chris Wilcox suffered a strained right abductor last night and could miss some time, while Jermaine O’Neal suffered a wrist injury. If they miss time, and they probably will, Stiemsma might be worth a short-term look in deeper leagues.
Raja Bell sat out for the Jazz with a strained right abductor and Josh Howard scored 12 points in a start. Howard is worth a look, but his next injury could be just around the corner.
Stephen Jackson’s not hurt, but was a DNP-CD on Monday. He should be on fantasy benches and can actually be cut if you need a player with a pulse in your lineup. The hope is that he’ll eventually be traded, but if he stays with the Bucks, it could be a lost season for one of the league’s most potent scorers.
Jason Richardson was out with a virus on Monday and J.J. Redick started and had 11 points and three 3-pointers. If you rolled the dice on JJR this week, it might pay off. Quentin Richardson left last night’s game with a quad injury and didn’t return, but isn’t worth owning in the first place.
Iman Shumpert missed Monday with a knee injury and his role takes a hit with the return of Carmelo Anthony. Bench Shumpert, and consider cutting him now that the Knicks are at full strength. Tyson Chandler played through his sore wrists on Monday, but should be considered questionable for Wednesday and Thursday at this point. Baron Davis finally played for the Knicks last night, but had just three points on 1-of-2 shooting in 10 minutes. As long as Jeremy Lin is in uniform, Davis should be ignored in fantasy.
Anthony Morrow lost four teeth thanks to Carmelo, but played through the pain. Consider him likely for Wednesday unless we say differently between now and tomorrow’s tip off. He’s so inconsistent it’s not even funny, but is still worth owning.
Ty Lawson left Monday’s game after aggravating his left ankle sprain and didn’t return for the Nuggets. It’s possible he could be out through the All-Star break, meaning Andre Miller should have a couple big games before the weekend. He had 12 assists, was 0-for-8 from the floor, and was ejected late on Monday. Rudy Fernandez was out with a back injury and could be shut down through the weekend.
Andris Biedrins was out with the flu on Monday, allowing Ekpe Udoh to start and have a career night, finishing with 19 points, eight boards and two blocks. There’s been talk of a youth movement in Golden State, and it’s possible that Udoh starts the rest of the way over Biedrins. He’s still not a must-own player, but if you’re thin at center, picking Udoh up makes a ton of sense. Just keep in mind that Udoh hurt his knee last night and it forced him from the game. It doesn't sound serious, but is worth keeping an eye on.
Marvin Williams missed Monday’s Hawks’ loss for personal reasons, while Joe Johnson left with a sore knee. Marvin should be back Wednesday at New York, but my guess is Johnson is done for the week. Jannero Pargo had 19 points in his absence, while Tracy McGrady, Willie Green and Vladimir Radmanovic should help pick up the slack if Joe is shut down for the next couple games.
Drew Gooden’s status is still up in the air for the rest of the week with a wrist and knee issue, but it does sound like he’ll be back soon after the break, if not before. I’m reluctant to drop him, but we simply need more information before being able to make an informed decision.
Linas Kleiza (knee) is targeting at Wednesday return, which is the only game on the schedule for the Raptors this week. But once Kleiza is healthy and playing again, he’s worth adding in most leagues.