I believe about zero percent of the report about George Hill challenging for the starting jobs of Darren Collison and Paul George. For one, the writer has been jocking Hill all year long, and second, Hill has done nothing to distinguish himself. This sounds like everyday coach-speak, with the writer getting a chance to cover his bum for a prediction gone wrong. Collison is getting back on track and scored 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting last night with eight rebounds and six assists, and though I’m not taking that particular report at face value, it would be crazy to suggest that Hill’s return isn’t at least a small threat. Plan accordingly.
George hit 9-of-20 shots and two more triples for 20 points, six boards, six assists, and two steals, and he’s literally a poor man’s Kevin Durant. Hold and target, maim if you have to. Roy Hibbert went off for a career-high 30 points with 13 boards and three blocks, and is quietly posting solid mid-round value.
IT’S ALL IN THE WRIST
Drew Gooden’s injured shooting wrist is a very real risk, mostly because he has been dealing with the issue all year and it finally caused him to take a break. He went to get a second opinion yesterday, too, which is often the kiss of death in the injury world. My take here is fairly pragmatic, which is to say that owners need to do everything they can to hold him through the All Star break. With nearly two weeks of rest under his belt, if he cannot come back to a full set of minutes it will be telling, nonetheless. And as we’ve noted many times, the injury reporting in Milwaukee is slim to put it nicely. But with all of that said, if you come across an Isaiah Thomas-like decision from last Sunday night – the upside justifies the drop, whereas the pickup of a low-end producer (e.g. Chandler Parsons) would not.
Joe Johnson (patella tendonitis) flew back to Atlanta and the AP has reported that he will be out through “at least” the All Star break, with the key information being that he was not healthy enough to return in Monday’s game. I’m not nearly as freaked out about the MRI considering the timing of the All Star break, but in general the prognosis here is rest, with immobilization of the knee for 3-6 weeks being the absolute worst-case scenario. Surgery is only performed if there is a full tear in most cases, but we would have known about that right away. Larry Drew has said he expects no issues with the knee, but coaches tend to stay optimistic until doctors or trainers give them a reason not to be. I’m not trying to create a panic here, because I do believe there’s a strong chance the injury isn’t serious – but it’s definitely time to hunt for clues.
Ekpe Udoh is still in play as the possible starting center in Golden State, as Mark Jackson said he was still contemplating the decision as of yesterday. Udoh’s knee injury is not thought to be serious, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jackson or the Warriors opt for Udoh to be fully healthy before naming him the starter. Along those lines, beat writer Marcus Thompson predicted that Andris Biedrins will be the starter tonight. Following Monday's game, in the Season Pass, I said that 12-team owners with a need for blocks or a big man should be making the add here, with everybody else taking a wait-and-see approach. The Warriors simply can’t give him big-time minutes in an undersized frontcourt, unless (crossing fingers) they decide to run like the wind. Biedrins (flu) participated in a light workout on Tuesday and, who knows, maybe this kicks his butt into gear. I’m not holding my breath until he starts shooting his freebies underhand, though.
WHERE THE BEER FLOWS LIKE WINE
Danilo Gallinari (ankle) said that he is targeting a return shortly after the All Star break, which is great news for owners after a sparsely mentioned overseas report quoted him as saying he’d be out at least a month. I wouldn’t roll out the Mission Accomplished banner just yet, but the fear of the words “at least” can probably be put to rest. This dampens a bit of the fun with Wilson Chandler, who I’ve added across the board for the most part, but keep in mind that the assumption when adding him needed to assume ‘life with Gallo.’ It’s also a sell-high indicator for owners of Al Harrington, Arron Afflalo, and Andre Miller. Chandler didn’t sound worried about getting a contract signed next week, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he suited up in the first or second game after the break.
Ty Lawson is listed as day-to-day and is a candidate to be sat through the All Star break, especially since his left ankle injury has been ongoing. Andre Miller is a must-start player for however long Lawson is out. Nene (calf) might play in one of the Nuggets’ next two games, but owners need to take that sentiment with a grain of salt at this time of year. They should be more worried about the report that he might not be healthy enough to play starter’s minutes this year, though I want to see how that story develops before putting a ton of stock into it. And even if it’s true, 25-30 minutes might be the sweet spot for him staying healthy and productive, albeit at a lower rate than owners wanted. Kenneth Faried probably has the rest of the week to put up numbers as a spot-play, but banking on anything beyond that is much too risky even with Nene’s health a question mark.
THREE TIMES AND IT’S A PATTERN
As mentioned the Spurs/Blazers game was a joke, with a hungry, brow-beaten Blazers team drawing the starting lineup of Cory Joseph, Gary Neal, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and DeJuan Blair. We’re guessing that Tony Parker and Tim Duncan return for Thursday’s game, but regardless the fantasy takeaways on the Spurs’ side last night are easy – there are none.
The Portland side gets a bit more complicated when you consider the shakeup at the PG position, with Jamal Crawford getting his first start in what Nate McMillan coined a “temporary decision.” Owners are going to have to be super vigilant here with their understanding of the Portland media and the situation in general. Raymond Felton has been standoffish with the press, in particular the Oregonian, while good-guy Jamal Crawford has charmed in general, and I don’t have to tell you which outlet is pushing hard against Felton. Set this against the backdrop of Felton’s bad play and his loss of confidence, and it’s a mess for fantasy owners. We even reported yesterday morning that the decision had a “permanent feel,” which was categorically wrong and a byproduct of all of the confusion. Both before and after the game there were multiple references by each of the involved parties suggesting that the move is far from permanent, so hopefully we get that straightened out in the blurbs today.
So here’s what we know. Crawford is an electric player and had a huge night with 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting, five threes, four rebounds, and eight assists, but he’s a ball-stopper on offense and a turnstile on defense. Is he capable of running the point in spurts? Sure. But the Blazers aren’t making noise in the playoffs with Crawford at the one, and if Nate McMillan felt any other way he wouldn’t have waited for Felton to fall all the way down the cliff before benching him. But before we bag on Felton too much, he had a nice night, too, showing once again that he’s a capable player with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, four triples, and four assists in just 21 minutes. He’s going to go to Vegas to clear his mind, so expect pundits to chase the low-hanging fruit there (and hey why not), but the real issue to me is the Nate McMillan show. Whether it was Andre Miller vs. Steve Blake, or Miller vs. McMillan, or managing a Brandon Roy-in-decline, Sergio Rodriguez, you name it – guys seem to be too wound up, not wound up enough, and for all the credit that McMillan gets (even by yours truly early this year), he sure does have a lot of problems coaching. My guess is that every problem the Blazers have right now is right in-between the ears, and one way or another that will get worked out – or somebody will have to go. If it does get worked out, the whole lot of them will have fantasy value. On a side note, Wesley Matthews injured his left ankle and it’s not believed to be serious.