After running our trade deadline coverage for the second straight year, I have to admit I have been feeling pretty raw over the past week or so. For anybody providing comprehensive fantasy analysis, this is already a 24/7, 60-80 hour per week job, and adding the deadline coverage I didn’t sleep all that much. It’s okay, though, as I recharged this weekend with some St. Patty’s Day debauchery and a hibernation for the ages. If I didn’t get to your Twitter or email, I can’t say that things will get better in the long-run as fantasy basketball traffic continues to obliterate records, but I doubt the inquires will be coming in faster than I can answer like they were last week.
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BAYLESS PLAYS LESS
Jose Calderon (ankle) returned from a five-game absence on Tuesday, and had 11 points and nine assists in a surprising 35 minutes. During that five-game absence, Jerryd Bayless averaged 21.8 points, 2.4 threes, 3.6 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.8 steals, and 2.6 turnovers while shooting 54 percent from the field and 84 percent from the line. During that time Bayless was a top-7 play in 8- and 9-cat leagues. Clearly, Bayless can hold his own on the offensive end, and defensively the comparison to Calderon isn’t even close. Calderon ranks 295th in the league according to Synergy Sports in giving up 0.91 points per possession, and he allows opposing players to shoot 40.5 percent from the field (a high number in their measuring system) and 40.9 percent from distance. Compare those numbers to Bayless’ corresponding marks of 0.83 PPP (ranked 164th), 36.8 percent, and 28.6 percent and you can see the gap is massive.
Bayless was held to 13 minutes last night, but of course he still managed seven points, three rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He also suffered a hip pointer that didn’t really change the tenor of the position battle, and would have only added 5-10 minutes at most to his playing time. The injury doesn’t look too serious, but we’ll have to wait until sometime today to get an update.
Setting the injury aside for a moment and considering the disparity in what each player brings to the table, we’re really only left to speculate about whether or not Dwane Casey is willing to have a changing of the guard. Or, is he subscribing to the theory that a player (Calderon) can’t lose his position to injury or some other erroneous evaluation of personnel.
For now, owners have to look at their rosters and determine if they can stash Bayless away. His upside is tremendous, Calderon is an injury-prone guy, Bayless is the better player, and the Raptors are going nowhere with Calderon long-term. Similarly to Scottie Brooks, Casey gets little to no pressure in Toronto to justify his decisions, so we’ll be waiting game-to-game to see if Bayless can knock Jose out, assuming the hip pointer is minor as the local rags thought it was last night. I’ll be waiting it out in the fistful of places I own him, but if I were fighting for a playoff spot I wouldn't be passing up a hot free agent to do it.
DON’T RE-ENACT SCENES FROM PLATOON WITH CHARLIE SHEEN
Darren Collison (four points, two assists, 25 minutes) has taken up cliff diving for the Pacers, and finally George Hill (15 points, four rebounds, six assists, 6-of-7 FGs, 3 3PT) has shown us something after the Pacers gave up Kawhi Leonard for the right to acquire Hill during the draft. Hill is definitely the player to own going forward, though I don't have a ton of confidence in either guy. Tyler Hansbrough (17 points, three rebounds) was hot and David West (three points, two rebounds) was not, but we need to see Psycho T do it again before opening the power forward position up to discussion. Similarly, I’ll need to see Paul George (seven points, six rebounds, 24 minutes) fall off a cliff before I’ll plan on it happening. Leandro Barbosa (12 points, one three, 18 minutes) could complicate matters, but does Frank Vogel really want to turn to platoons this close to the playoffs?
Ramon Sessions isn’t starting yet, but he may as well be as he took the lion’s share of minutes last night. Sessions put up 14 points, two boards, four assists, and a steal on 6-of-9 shooting in 29 minutes, while “starter” Steve Blake had just two points and three assists in 19 minutes. I know there has been some talk about Sessions not starting, and even if it’s just a planned decision to put more playmaking on the second unit I’m not concerned. Add another five minutes to tonight’s totals and that’s what owners can expect nightly.
ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION
The Blazers are still a mess in reality, but the change away from Nate McMillan and trade of Gerald Wallace has been a blessing for anybody not named Nicolas Batum (12 points, five rebounds, one steal). Jamal Crawford also struggled last night with three points on 1-of-8 shooting, but that’s not totally out of character for a guy that runs hot and cold at times. I’m not overly worried about either of them, and I’m just loving my buy low candidates from earlier in the year Raymond Felton (18 points, nine assists, one steal, one block, six turnovers) and Wesley Matthews (21 points, nine rebounds, five threes, two steals, and one block). The problem wasn’t the talent, and even in the case of Felton the conditioning was a distant second to a broken locker room. I’m not going to say that Felton and his teammates didn’t help to make the mess, but he isn’t the first guy to report in one way or another that McMillan had issues pushing the right buttons (Jesus Shuttlesworth was).
A PAIR OF NICKELS
Tony Allen is going to be a popular add for the Grizzlies’ upcoming pair of five-game weeks, and after his 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, three rebounds, two assists, and three steals last night owners might as well make the move. Yes, there is some risk there, but it’s mitigated risk and he could also end up being a monster. Zach Randolph isn’t going to be rushed back into being ‘the man,’ and he avoided a scare last night after tweaking his knee in a pile-up with DeMarcus Cousins. He stayed in the game and finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, and two steals, so owners should be cautiously optimistic. Just remember that he approached rehab with a tremendous amount of caution. Similarly, Rudy Gay’s owners don’t have to panic that Z-Bo will steal their thunder just yet, as Gay continued to surge with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting, six boards, and two assists. You can add O.J. Mayo to Allen’s boat in the five-game weeks, even after disappointing owners with six points in 17 minutes. His averages of 12 points, four boards, three assists, and 1.6 threes over his last five overrule one bad night.
IT’S BIODIGITAL JAZZ, MAN
Raja Bell (adductor) is out through at least Thursday and Josh Howard (knee) is out for the year, and I’ve been riding the Gordon Hayward (11 points, eight rebounds, two steals, block, 3PT) train more or less so you know I’m not stopping now. C.J. Miles, starting next to Hayward, scored 10 points with five rebounds, two assists, and three steals, and is an average-looking speculative add in 12-team leagues. Al Jefferson (16 points, six boards, four assists, one steal, one block) is back and Derrick Favors (seven points, nine rebounds, one steal, three blocks, 22 minutes) is back to being an inconsistent option in 12-team formats.