It’s rare that a coach just comes out and says a certain fringe player is going to start for the rest year, period. But in the last week, it’s happened twice.
On Monday, the Warriors officially promoted Ekpe Udoh to their starting center spot. I detailed his outlook in Rotating Rotations earlier this week, and the early returns are good. Udoh is averaging 11.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in his three starts this week.
On Wednesday night, coach Doug Collins similarly came out and said Evan Turner will start the rest of the way. Collins also said this:
“He needs the ball in his hands. When he has the ball in his hands, he's a totally different player. ... Evan’s a point guard. At the end of the day, he’s a point guard.”
That’s great and all, but there’s one problem: The Sixers already have a point guard in 21-year-old Jrue Holiday. Ummmm…
OK, here’s what Turner does well: He’s one of the best rebounding guards in the league. He has an impressive handle and passing ability for someone that’s 6’7/205. He can defend point guards, as he showed while shadowing Rajon Rondo on Wednesday.
Here’s what he doesn’t do well: Shoot the ball. Despite working with shot doctor Herb Magee in the offseason, Turner has one of the worst jumpers in the league. We can safely ignore Wednesday’s career-high 26-point outburst on 11-of-19 shooting as a fluke. In his career, Turner is a 42.3 percent shooter from the field and is at 29.0 percent from 3-point range. That will be the norm.
So what we have is a point guard that needs the ball to push and penetrate. That’s just what Holiday needs. Look for these two to both hover around 31-35 minutes, but the overlap is going to lead to inconsistency. Those expecting to get the Turner of Wednesday night going forward have another thing coming and there’s not much light at the end of the tunnel for Holiday.
NEWS OF THE DAY #2
It’s been a long haul for Andrea Bargnani owners this season. He burst out of the gate, averaging career-highs in points (23.5), rebounds (6.4), assists (2.1), field-goal percentage (47.6) and free-throw percentage (84.3). Oh, he was also making 1.4 3-pointers and blocking 0.7 shots. Bargnani was going to have a top-15 fantasy season with ease.
Then, Bargnani pulled his calf muscle and missed six games. He came back for two games, but then aggravated it worse than before. Owners have since been stashing the 2006 No. 1 overall pick for more than six weeks. We’re about to get the payoff.
Bargnani finally returned to a full practice Thursday and says he is 100 percent pain-free. He’s expected to play in one of the Raptors’ two games this weekend. While Bargnani will be eased in slowly at first, he shouldn’t have a problem ramping back up to his previous levels. Aaron Gray, Amir Johnson and Ed Davis will all see their minutes squeezed.
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NEWS OF THE DAY #3
Some owners might be panicking after Bismack Biyombo’s two-point, zero-block dud on Wednesday. Don’t. Coach Paul Silas is sick of players not playing hard, being out of shape, and not working out the right way. He slammed Boris Diaw publicly and is playing Eduardo Najera over Tyrus Thomas. Yeah, that Eduardo Najera.
So when Silas says something like this, we know Biyombo is going to have a long leash.
“He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever seen and he’s tough,’’ Silas said of Biyombo. “Before he came, he could hardly make a shot. Now he’s turning around and making them.’’
Ride through the raw Biyombo’s rough patches and get rewarded in the long run.
NEWS OF THE DAY #4
Kyle Lowry’s groin was so sore and painful after Wednesday’s game that he needed an MRI. The test showed no significant damage, but the soreness is lingering. Lowry is also under the weather, leaving him very questionable for Saturday’s game against the Nets.
Normally, impressive backup Goran Dragic would be an auto-add as a handcuff, but he’s dealing with a bruised foot. Dragic is questionable for Saturday as well, leaving Jonny Flynn as the Rockets’ only healthy point guard. We’ll know more after Friday’s practice, but owners need to stay on their toes here.
NEWS OF THE DAY #5
Check out my upcoming trade deadline preview for more on all the trade candidates, but I wanted to give Chris Kaman his own special spot here.
Reportedly, the Pacers have Kaman on top of their wish list. It remains to be seen if a deal can get worked out, but this highlights how much Kaman’s fantasy value could take a hit by this time next week.
Over the last 10 games, Kaman is averaging 34.2 minutes and 16.0 field-goal attempts for the injury-ravaged Hornets. In Indy, he’d be a mere reserve behind Roy Hibbert and David West. Kaman isn’t a lock to get traded, but fantasy owners are taking a risk by not testing the market right now.
THURSDAY NIGHT GAME THOUGHTS
Luol Deng complained about wrist pain after the loss to the Magic. He admitted he might have to take a couple games off, putting Kyle Korver back on the radar. … Jason Richardson rolled an ankle late. We all know what J.J. Redick can do when given a chance to start, make the add. … Brendan Haywood (ankle) didn’t play and remains day-to-day. … With the Mavs in the midst of a back-to-back-to-back, explosive Roddy Beaubois is going to get plenty of run.
INJURY FAST BREAK: GUARDS
Stephen Curry (foot) didn’t practice, instead undergoing a precautionary MRI. He’s not at 100 percent, but the Warriors say there has been no setback. .. Richard Hamilton (shoulder) is nowhere near a return. Complicating matters is the fact the damage is on his shooting side. … Stephen Jackson (hamstring) returned to a limited practice, but it would be a surprise to see him back in action with the Bucks. The most likely outcome here remains a trade.
INJURY FAST BREAK: FORWARDS AND CENTERS
DeMarcus Cousins (illness) will be back Friday, returning Chuck Hayes to the bench. … … Blake Griffin (ankle, knee) says he’s going to play Friday. He’s officially questionable. … Nikola Pekovic (foot) practiced and is on track to return Friday. He’ll immediately get the starting gig back from Darko Milicic. … X-rays on Gustavo Ayon’s foot came back negative. He’s simply day-to-day.
DEPTH CHART FAST BREAK
Chris Kaman is reportedly still on top of the Pacers’ wish list at the trade deadline. He’d take a massive hit in fantasy value while playing behind Roy Hibbert and David West. … Mike Dunleavy is expected to remain a reserve although more changes to the Bucks lineup could be coming. … Coach Frank Vogel said slumping Darren Collison will remain the starter as George Hill is playing better at the two right now. … Josh Smith has reportedly requested a trade out of Atlanta yet again. It’s hard to see one going down. … Boris Diaw has likely played his last minute as a Bobcat.