On Thursday, the state of North Carolina took a punch to the stomach when Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall all declared for the 2012 NBA draft. D.J. Augustin’s recent struggles have barely registered on the Richter scale.
But for coach Paul Silas and fantasy owners, the situation has major implications. Over the last five games, Augustin is shooting 5-for-26 and Silas is showing frustration. If it’s the tendinitis in his right knee that’s the issue, Silas wants Augustin to say so.
“One thing D.J. will not do is tell you (when he’s hurting),” Silas said Thursday. “I’ve told him you cannot do that. If you’re not feeling good and you’re hurting, you have to say so.”
Augustin did not practice Thursday, leaving him questionable for Friday’s game against the Nuggets. But even if DJA ends up in uniform, Silas admitted that he doesn’t know who will start. After all, it’s hard to trot a guy out there that’s shooting 19.2 percent with zero wins in his last five.
All this brings us to Kemba Walker, the Bobcats’ No. 9 overall pick this season. Over the last 15 games, Walker has been off the radar as he’s averaged just 22.6 minutes. But when he’s gotten the starting nod this season, he’s been an elite fantasy performer. In Walker’s 17 starts, he’s averaging 15.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.5 treys and 1.1 steals while playing 35.3 minutes per game. Wowzers.
With Augustin headed for restricted free agency this offseason and Walker obviously the future, Silas’ move should be easy here. Augustin’s knee injury only makes it easier. Walker is going to be a major fantasy factor over the next 10 days at least.
NEWS OF THE DAY #2
While we’re on the subject of highly athletic rookie guards, Iman Shumpert has a big up arrow next to his name as well.
With Amare Stoudemire (back) likely done for the regular season, coach Mike Woodson has committed to going small. Carmelo Anthony is his starting power forward and Shumpert is the starting shooting guard.
"We'll stay with that for a while because you know teams have got to match up to us," Woodson said. "You're not going to find very many teams that have really big fours that we'll match up against coming down the stretch.”
The other thing Shumpert has going for him is his defensive skills. Unlike Mike D’Antoni, Woodson actually cares about defense. Shumpert is already one of the better perimeter defenders in the league. He "changes the game from a defensive standpoint,” as Woodson put it.
In 20 starts this season, Shumpert is averaging 9.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 treys. He has the talent to improve on those numbers.
NEWS OF THE DAY #3
Whenever Rodney Stuckey sits, Ben Gordon is set up for a big game. When Gordon sits, Stuckey gets a boost. When they both sit? The universe might explode.
Stuckey (hamstring) and Gordon (groin) are both highly questionable for Friday’s game against the Bulls. Assuming they both sit, Austin Daye will likely get the nod next to Brandon Knight in the backcourt. Daye’s career has been marred by wild inconsistency, but he does have an extremely roto-friendly game thanks to his 3-point ability and length defensively. Deep-leaguers should be monitoring.
NEWS OF THE DAY #4
The Hornets’ injury situation is turning comical. Let’s get through this as quickly as possible.
Eric Gordon (knee) is nearing a return but wasn’t quite ready Thursday. He’s still a stash in all formats. … Emeka Okafor (knee) remains out indefinitely, probably for the season. … Chris Kaman (flu) was too sick to play for the fourth straight game Thursday. … Gustavo Ayon’s wife had a baby and he’s away from the team. … Trevor Ariza (ankle) is not expected back any time before Wednesday. … Jarrett Jack (ankle) was a late scratch Thursday. The severity of his injury is unknown.
Jason Smith, Carl Landry and Grievis Vasquez all deserve fantasy spot-start consideration when starting. If everyone ever gets healthy, I’d expect the starting five to be Jack, Gordon, Ariza, Smith and Kaman. Will that ever happen? Doubtful.
RANDOM NUMBER OF THE DAY: 2.6
That’s the number of blocks per game Greg Stiemsma has racked up over his last 10. He’s also getting 1.3 steals during that span. It doesn’t get much better when we’re talking about cheap category hunting.
THURSDAY NIGHT GAME THOUGHTS
Trevor Booker (knee, foot) looked fine on his way to 11 points and two blocks in 29 minutes. … Kevin Seraphin is a really nice prospect. Give him a look whenever Booker or Nene sits. … LeBron James’ finger was never a threat. The dude is a monster. … Delonte West only played eight minutes in his return, but it was enough to limit Roddy Beaubois to 14 minutes. Move along. … J.J. Hickson has become the first big off the bench in Portland. There’s deep-league appeal as he’s getting 25-28 minutes now. … As expected, the Andrew Bynum benching was water under the bridge. He was beastly Thursday, posting 25 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in 40 minutes.
INJURY FAST BREAK: GUARDS
Jeremy Lin (knee) may be cleared for one of the Knicks’ two games this weekend, but his minutes are expected to be limited. … Kyle Lowry (bacterial infection) is eligible to start exercising again, but is nowhere near a return. He’s still on an antibiotic cycle through April 7. … Derrick Rose (groin) is running on the court again, but he’s still not close. … Kevin Martin (shoulder) still doesn’t have a timetable. The Courtney Lee party rocks on. … Ray Allen (ankle) remains a game-time call for Friday. He’s with the team in Minnesota. … Anthony Morrow (shoulder) is expected back Friday, cluttering things for Gerald Green and MarShon Brooks.
INJURY FAST BREAK: FORWARDS AND CENTERS
Carlos Delfino (groin) won’t play Friday, but hasn’t been ruled out for Saturday just yet. Give Mike Donleavy a boost in the meantime. … Grant Hill (knee) is going under the knife, opening up the door for Shannon Brown. … Amare Stoudemire (back) may need offseason back surgery. He’ll never be on one of my teams again, the injury risk is far too great. … Tyrus Thomas (elbow) missed practice again Thursday. D.J. White is the extreme deep-league add here. … Andre Iguodala (knee) is a game-time call, but did practice Thursday. … Ersan Ilyasova (back) practiced Thursday and is ready to rock. … Danilo Gallinari (thumb) is hoping to be back in practice early next week. … Spencer Hawes (Achilles) has been cleared to play in back-to-back games and can now play in 7-8 minute stints. He’s feeling healthy.