I’m a bit mad at myself for not having Crowder higher than the 136/99 ranking I gave him in my top 150 (8/9 cat), and also for not reaching a round earlier to grab him in a few of my leagues. I had him snaked from me by one pick on two occasions, and that really grinds my gears. He looked great when he was on the floor and deserved more than the 20 minutes he got, but Rick Carlisle probably doesn’t want to overload the youngster just yet. Crowder finished with eight points on 3-of-7 shooting, three rebounds, two assists, a steal, and two threes, and showed off his impressive defensive ability all night. He should be owned in all leagues, and I’m not really concerned about his long-term outlook when Dirk gets back. In a worst case with everybody healthy there is still a major need for Crowder’s defense and athleticism to be on the court, and Carlisle has been very forthcoming with his praise for the rook. He can defend everything from point guard to center (he was seen forcing Pau Gasol misses last night), and most importantly he takes care of the ball and is very savvy with his spacing and rhythm. When you factor in the injury risk of Dirk, Chris Kaman, and the older legs of Shawn Marion and Vince Carter – I’m all in. If you think his owner is looking at him as a short-term prospect, pick a slow night and try to trade a solid low-end producer in exchange for Crowder’s upside.
The Mavs took it to the Lakers last night, who appeared confused and lethargic while the younger Mavs weapons ran circles around them. Darren Collison put Steve Nash on an island and walked him like a dog, scoring 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting with two boards, four assists, and three steals. I was admittedly a tiny bit concerned that we’d see more of Indy Collison than Nawlins Collison, and I’m not giving anybody a ton of props when they destroy the wood-legged Nash, but I liked what I saw out of Collison’s fundamentals. Everything was balanced and polished, which bodes well for his long-term outlook, obviously.
O.J. Mayo struggled with a 4-of-13 mark from the field, scoring 12 points with three assists and a steal, and may have got caught up in the one-on-one battle with Kobe Bryant a bit too much for my liking. If he chills out and lets the game come to him, I think the potential for he and Collison to play off one another will create some really big games. In hero mode, it could go the other way.
Kaman (calf) will be sidelined until at least Saturday, and Brandan Wright (calf) started in his place and put up 14 points, five boards, and three blocks. He showed significant improvement last season and owners needing to shore up their big man depth can give him a look as a short-term play with injury upside. Elton Brand started at power forward and looked spry despite a 3-of-10 shooting line, scoring eight points with 11 boards, one steal, and one block, which is something for folks to get used to as long as he can stay healthy. Marion will outproduce his late-round ADP while Dirk is out, and was called the best player on the court by Rick Carlisle after an 11-point, nine-rebound, and four-assist night that included a steal and block. Carter is another guy that will pick up the slack with an ultra green light, and he put up 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting with four rebounds, two assists, and a steal in 27 minutes off the bench. I know we said in our blurbs that we’re not targeting him, but if you need a stable low-end producer in a 12-team league I think he’s a clear-cut add. Roddy Beaubois looked good last night, too, with 11 points, five assists, a steal, and a three in just 17 minutes off the bench, as he will absorb most of the minutes that were slated for recently departed Delonte West. West’s exit is also a dark horse factor in Crowder’s development, as 15-20 mpg got added to the team’s bucket.
Princeton Power Outage
Brace yourself for the onslaught of coverage about the Princeton offense, why it sucks or doesn’t suck, and the paint-by-numbers analysis that the Lakers will be fine when it counts. Now I’m not saying the Lakers aren’t getting back on track, because they will, but a column about Laker-land basically writes itself after last night’s disaster. The problems are numerous, so I’ll try to sum them up quick. Steve Nash isn’t touching the ball enough, deferring instead to Kobe and the high post game of Pau Gasol, who is entering the ball into Dwight Howard so he can eventually miss free throws. The whole offense is stagnant and the answer will be to let Nash run pick-and-rolls in an uptempo environment, but Mike Brown may be the worst offensive coach on this side of Scott Brooks so who knows how long it will take to figure out. The Lakers could also do well by treating Howard as a rim-runner until he proves that he deserves touches with his back to the basket, though he had a couple of decent conversions last night. The opposition is fine with entrusting the ball to Howard in one-on-one coverage for a reason, and discussion that Howard frees up space for 3-point shooters is drastically overrated.
Fantasy-wise, Kobe hit 11-of-14 shots for 22 points, but didn’t record a steal, three, or assist on the night. His foot injury didn’t appear to be a factor and his explosion is impressive at his age and mileage, so I don’t see any issues there, but the overall problems noted above and the eventual realization that Nash needs to tote the rock were concerns that had me drop Kobe to No. 23 on my 8-cat list. Nash had a really slow night and owners probably have buyer’s remorse, as he hit just 3-of-9 shots for seven points with only four assists. I really doubt that he falls off a cliff, though if anything could do it to Nash it would be Kobe’s inability to trust teammates. I didn’t have Nash highly rated (63 in 8-cat), and while some of that was due to age and injury risk, the early troubles were to be expected to some degree.
Howard hit 8-of-12 shots for 19 points, 10 boards, and a block, and hit just 3-of-14 freebies while everybody except Richard Simmons is teaching him foul shooting in L.A. A new method is something Howard has to consider if he has any designs on reaching his potential, but the early results could be something of a trainwreck. Gasol’s owners are probably the only ones in L.A. calling for the Princeton offense to continue, as Mr. Automatic put up 23 points, 13 boards, six assists, three blocks, and a three. I don’t think Howard is going to cut into his numbers appreciably, and talk that he is declining doesn’t give his value proper respect. I saw the big man slip into the late-second and early-third rounds at times, but had him No. 16 on my eight-cat list and expect him to have another big year. Metta World Peace (1-of-8 FGs, eight boards, four assists, three steals) and Antawn Jamison (five points, five boards, two assists) are capable of holding some value, but I’m not breaking my back to own either one of them.
Granger’s Owners Green with Envy
Danny Granger’s knee injury had caused him to plummet in my rankings, eventually dropping him to No. 100 and I feel like I should have had him lower, but I’ll live with the results. I can bask in the glow of owning Gerald Green on almost every fantasy team, and I wish I had gone even higher with his No. 103 ranking. Hopefully you guys got the point, nonetheless, which is that Green has been turning heads throughout the preseason and would have gotten a healthy 25 mpg even with Granger on the court. Granger isn’t going to be on the court for conceivably a long time, as the dreaded ‘second opinion’ usually doesn’t end well. If Green isn’t owned in your league, stop what you’re doing and grab him at all costs. Green was a top-100 value last season on a per-game basis in just 25 mpg, and he’ll be playing more than that for however long Granger is out and he is improving at a high rate.
Wednesday Night Nuggets
There was a report that rookie SG Terrence Ross “might not crack the rotation” early on, which seems a bit drastic, but it’s clear he needs more time in the oven. He’s stash material only right now. George Hill (hip pointer) couldn’t laugh without pain as recently as this past week, but he’s starting and owners will need to keep a close watch on him. We’ll see if D.J. Augustin can eclipse the 20-minute mark, which will be aided by Danny Granger’s knee issue, but it’s going to be hard to run Hill out there as a true starter and still get DJA his minutes. Danilo Gallinari (ankle) is a game-time decision and for now the injury isn’t being reported as serious, and I’d look at a guy like recently productive Corey Brewer over gimpy Wilson Chandler (hip).
Jason Smith (shoulder) will play, and if he can stay healthy it will take some of the wind out of Robin Lopez’s sails. Eric Gordon (knee) is a game-time decision and there is talk that he’ll come off the bench – great contract, New Orleans, great contract. Greivis Vasquez has the best job security in the NBA by default right now. Patrick Patterson (quad) is “iffy” to play and Terrence Jones has been getting the starts in his place during the preseason, and makes for an interesting plug-and-play in deeper formats but that’s about it. Andrew Bogut (ankle) practiced again yesterday, but his status for tonight’s game is still a mystery. On one hand the Warriors could opt to play it safe, but tell that to Stephen Curry’s owners last season that watched the team send him out there on a bad wheel. Speaking of Curry, he is set to play and owners should have both Jarrett Jack as a handcuff and a bottle of Tums on hand all year. I probably should have given it more run on the site (and used the idea myself), but those owners that drafted Curry with the intention of handcuffing him with Jack might have played things perfectly. Corey Maggette (calf) is “day-to-day” and questionable for tonight’s contest, which should only matter to Tayshaun Prince owners that are relying on his low-end value in a full-time starter’s role.
Ed Davis (hip) should play for the Raptors, making sure it’s a tight squeeze in the frontcourt but I still like Jonas Valanciunas to be productive in his debut. Manu Ginobili (back) didn’t travel with the team and that takes some of the risk away from using Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, though it’s hard to imagine the latter isn’t in most lineups. Thomas Robinson and John Salmons are both back with the team as the Kings get set to play the Bulls, but Robinson is the only one that should be anywhere near fantasy lineups and he’s a better fit for 14-16 team formats. Mo Williams (groin) has been practicing and barring something extremely unforeseen he should be a go against the Mavs. The Clippers will be without Grant Hill (knee), Chauncey Billups (Achilles), and Matt Barnes (suspension, ankle), and owners would be wise to consider Jamal Crawford an instant sell-high candidate after his expected solid production over the next few weeks. Just know that you’ll have to move fast to give owners enough meat to chew with that bone. Wesley Matthews (knee) is worth watching but we have no news to suggest he won’t play, and Meyers Leonard (head) should be good for about 13-18 minutes in his backup role.
Our thoughts are with the folks affected by Sandy, and some of the pictures have been pretty brutal. Here is a link to donate to the Red Cross. As for basketball, it appears the Thursday game between the Nets and Knicks at the new Barclay’s Center is set to go off. Stay tuned to Rotoworld for updates, as usual, and play your guys like you normally would.
News and Notes
Arron Afflalo (hamstring) looked good in Monday’s practice and I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays well in Friday’s opener. The Magic need him to. Amare Stoudemire (knee) is out for at least 6-8 weeks. This is my shocked face. Tyson Chandler (back) practiced yesterday and looks to be on track for Thursday’s opener, and I wouldn’t go overboard bumping him up due to Amare’s absence. My No. 33 9-cat play was going to get all he could eat down low whether Amare was there or not, and the player for owners to consider is Chris Copeland, who figures to start at 25 mpg with his play dictating where he goes from there. Copeland was pretty good during the preseason and sports a game similar to Andrea Bargnani, light on defense and rebounding and heavier on offense. Andrew Bynum (knee) has resumed “low-impact conditioning,” and we have pretty reliable information that conditioning is going to be an issue with him. The Sixers may choose to play him into shape, and whether they do that or not this is shaping up to be a nightmare scenario for owners spending an early pick.