IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?
John Wall nearly missed a triple-double last night with 21 points, nine boards, 11 assists, three steals, and two blocks, and is offering first- and fourth-round value in 8- and 9-cat leagues, respectively. Congratulations if you bought low after a bumpy start, though I don’t blame you if the Wizards’ awful attitudes have you on edge. Nick Young’s (6-of-23 FGs, 17 points, four threes) shot selection barely qualifies as news in the nation’s capitol. Jordan Crawford’s shot selection is twice as bad, as the duo feeds the ego-driven nonsense with each ill-advised shot. Crawford posted 32 points on 12-of-19 shooting with three triples, two rebounds, four assists, and one steal last night, and is a strong-add in 8-cat leagues, but in nine-cat leagues he barely has late-round value over the last two weeks (including last night’s big effort). When head-case Andray Blatche returns, though, there’s little chance that Crawford can stay consistent without an injury to one of the team’s Foolish Five.
None of them compare to the fifth member of the boy band, JaVale McGee, who added yet another submission to the Darwin Awards last night. Yes, the talent and production are there, and in fantasy leagues he’s a must-start player with everything an owner wants. But, hot damn, he took a shot attempt that had been gliding down toward the hoop for at least a full second and spiked it seven rows deep, in a close game, to the bewilderment of all. Randy Whitman, who I pray for every night, understandably yelled at McGee, who could have cared less about the score. McGee then openly disrespected him, ignoring Whitman the entire time, and finally took a seat on the bench.
The only solace that Wizards fans can take is that somewhere out there, Doctor J has a big fat smile on his face.
BANG THE DRUM
Bismack Biyombo opened owners’ eyes with nine points, 10 boards, and six blocks in 33 minutes last night, and I feel kind of stupid for the 2-3 week period earlier in the year that I wasn’t banging the drum. I have him stashed in about half of my leagues and when I’m done writing I’m going to make sure he’s not available in 8- and 9-cat formats. The Bobcats are awful, he’s a specimen, and the frontcourt has nobody for him to truly contend with. The roller coaster ride will slowly trend up as the year goes on.
D.J. Augustin (15 points, 4-of-12 FGs, three treys, three assists, 31 minutes) took over starting duties for Kemba Walker (14 points, 4-of-11 FGs, two treys, five assists, two steals, 29 minutes), and both should be owned in all 12-team formats. Walker is undoubtedly going to take a hit coming off the bench, and also when Gerald Henderson (hamstring) returns in the near-future. But, as I mentioned a few weeks back, this upcoming 2-3 week period of instability will be followed up by an unfettered run of minutes down the stretch, particularly in fantasy crunch time. Drop him if you must when he slows down, but you do so at your own risk.
BAGELS AND JUICE
Rodney Stuckey nearly bageled the box score in 18 minutes, and Ben Gordon scored just six points in 18 minutes, in what appeared to be an early night off in advance of the break. I have yet to learn who was the brainchild of that, and if it was a Lawrence Frank-sanctioned activity. Either way, it’s not a big deal as both are expected to resume their roles after the break. Greg Monroe kept owners on the juice, scoring a season-high 30 points with 14 rebounds, a steal, and two blocks.
James Harden (ankle) returned from his one-game absence and got right back on track with 17 points, four rebounds, and seven assists, and teammates Kevin Durant (28-9-6 line) and Russell Westbrook (31-5-6) were their normal dynamic selves. Of course, nothing comes easy for Serge Ibaka’s owners, as the Celtics sported a small lineup featuring Paul Pierce at power forward. And since Kendrick Perkins had a good game in his last contest, in addition to a date with his former mates, there was no way Sam Presti and Scott Brooks were going to sit him for this one. And while Ibaka is more than capable of covering Pierce, Brooks decided not to exploit the small lineup. It’s hard to argue with his decision since the Thunder won, but a win over the Celtics with their entire frontcourt busted up isn’t anything to write home about.
There were some nice lines in this laugher of a game, as Ray Allen had 21 points, seven assists, and three triples, Avery Bradley pitched in with 12 points, five assists, and a nice dunk on KD, Kevin Garnett (personal) started at center and scored 23 points with 13 rebounds and a full line, Mickael Pietrus had 16 points, seven boards, two threes, and a block, and Paul Pierce put up 23 points, five rebounds, eight assists, and a 12-of-16 mark from the foul line. On the other side, Perkins was serviceable with eight points, 10 boards, and a block, and Daequan Cook scored 17 points with five rebounds and three triples. Nick Collison (quad) did not play, further angering Ibaka owners, who sad to say will likely deal with this crap all year. The Oklahoman had no comment on Ibaka’s lack of minutes, either, highlighting how comfortable they are with Brooks sitting one of the league’s best defensive players.
TODAY IN TORONTO
Jose Calderon (six points, eight boards, 15 assists) owners are on red-alert notice, though opinions vary around here, but my preference is to move the potential trade candidate before he gets sent to an uncertain situation. Then there’s the Jerryd Bayless issue. Bayless (ankle) returned to action and came off the bench for 21 minutes, scoring seven points on 2-of-6 shooting (including a three) with two rebounds, four assists, and a block. He’s a better defender than Calderon by leaps and bounds, and while some have tried to stick up for Calderon, all the tape I’ve seen shows a guy who looks like he’s on stilts. Bayless isn’t the pure point guard that Calderon is, and the margin is significant, but he’s not a slouch, either. Calderon is playing well offensively and is the glue that keeps this team together right now, particularly with Bayless’ ankle still iffy, but if I had to bet money I’d bet that Bayless would win the job outright by the end of the year.
James Johnson played over 40 minutes last night and was recently pumped up by Dwane Casey, who said he’s almost a “core player,” and with the minutes and his 15 points, three rebounds, one steal, and three blocks he shouldn’t be available in any 8- or 9-cat, 12-team formats. His upside is tremendous. Amir Johnson scored 11 points with four rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes, and he has been posting mid-round value over the past two weeks on the strength of 8.2 points, 7.3 boards, 0.5 steals, 1.8 blocks, and near-70 percent shooting from the field. Any owner with a need for a big man should have rostered him by this point, despite the bumpy start. It’s possible he learned whatever lesson Casey was teaching.