News and Notes
Iman Shumpert (knee) pretty much ruled out a return in December and said January or February, which is more good news for owners of J.R. Smith. Even when Shumpert returns, I don’t know if he’ll be able to cut into Smith’s load. Andrew Bynum (knee) still doesn’t have a timetable for a return. Shocker. Chauncey Billups (Achilles) is targeting Thanksgiving for his return. Jamal Crawford owners shouldn’t panic but they also have a red-hot asset that can be turned into somebody that might not have the threat of a log-jam. Between Chris Paul, Eric Bledsoe, Crawford, and Billups, not to mention the other misfit pieces they have, something has to give at least a little bit right?
Wednesday Night Madness
PHO @ CHA: Gerald Henderson, who showed signs of versatility before succumbing to a foot sprain, will now be out 2-4 weeks. Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be the primary beneficiaries along with Kemba Walker, who will get Sessions out of his hair a bit. MKG is in his own category as a defensive stat stuffer sitting on the periphery of 12-team value, with his minutes being tied to how he looks on a given night. But the remaining minutes will be more of a battle between Sessions and Gordon, and I like Sessions to hold more value in this Henderson-less segment. We’ll be watching Jared Dudley closely to see if he can break out of his funk, and conversely if Shannon Brown can get a bit more funky. I get a lot of Byron Mullens drop questions. This is the type of opponent he could have his coming out party against. I’m not in the drop Mullens camp, but if you are then you may want to wait and see how tonight goes.
BKY @ MIA: Gerald Wallace is out for at least a week by the look of things, but there has been no real clear beneficiary unless you want to count C.J. Watson and MarShon Brooks. I like Watson over Brooks in deeper formats. Kris Humphries was very low on my board coming into the year and we’re seeing why. He plays for a good team with plenty of talent instead of a bad team with a lot of guys missing. This isn’t rocket science. The Heat buzz-saw has been interesting to watch this year, as Mario Chalmers has flashed assist potential and Ray Allen has been a big producer. We’ll learn a lot about both players this week.
IND @ ATL: Lou Williams left Tuesday’s practice due to a migraine headache, but nobody seems too concerned about his status. Josh Smith (ankle) returned to a limited practice yesterday, but is still iffy to play. Our blurber said that Anthony Tolliver would have no value, but you can never rule that guy out when he’s getting minutes in a starting role. On the Pacers side, they have been awful. While George Hill has put up numbers recently, he has to do a better job of dictating the flow of the offense. Gerald Green is going to pop one of these days, but like a lot of his teammates he’s taking bad shots because of the confused environment. I still haven’t cut him anywhere, for what it’s worth.
WAS @ BOS: Jordan Crawford (ankle) is a game-time call and if he misses the game you can all but guarantee serviceable outings out of A.J. Price and Bradley Beal. I hope you didn’t sleep on Kevin Seraphin as he’s fittin to make his mark on the NBA. No, he’s not going to be a top-tier player, but he proved that he is a player against the Celtics and by virtue of that he is on an even faster track than I had him on a few weeks ago. The Celtics are a pretty easy team to figure out other than the Brandon Bass/Jared Sullinger thing, which hopefully you have avoided. Courtney Lee has yet to show up and Jason Terry will slowly improve and plane out right before Avery Bradley returns. From there, it’ll be a three-way position battle for 48-60 minutes. Also, calling Jeff Green…calling Jeff Green.
MEM @ MIL: John Henson (knee) practiced on Monday and might make his debut tonight, which could rain on the parade of Larry Sanders, Samuel Dalembert and Ekpe Udoh owners. Who knows, with the slow start of Ersan Ilyasova it might impact him, too, though I think we should wait in general before discussing any demotions or doomsday scenarios with Ilyasova. If he doesn’t pick it up this week, though, then the sky might be falling a little bit. Beno Udrih (quad) is out, so look for Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis to get all the run they can handle. The Grizzlies are one of the league’s most consistent fantasy units, and will also be a common thread on championship rosters.
ORL @ MIN: There were Dante Cunningham and Chase Budinger sightings on Monday, and those were the originally intended beneficiaries of the Kevin Love injury, along with the team’s other producers in general. Derrick Williams has been a massive disappointment and probably needs a change of scenery, and Nikola Pekovic needs to show his owners a few more rebounds. Andrei Kirilenko is on fire and should be in all lineups. The Wolves’ backcourt is a bit of a mess, with Luke Ridnour, Brandon Roy, and J.J. Barea all inconsistent to start the year and Alexey Shved joining the party.
DEN @ HOU: The Rockets are beasting right now behind James Harden and Jeremy Lin’s playmaking ability, with Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik, Patrick Patterson, and Carlos Delfino all holding some sort of late round value in 8-cat formats. Everybody in that last group but Delfino has slid a bit in 9-cat leagues but it’s too early to make any sort of blanket statement about any of them. Parsons is playing heavy minutes, Asik is a rebounding machine, Patterson has started to shoot threes, and Delfino is a boom-or-bust guy coming off the Rockets’ bench.
PHI @ NO: Anthony Davis is doubtful with a concussion and this is yet another notch on Monty’s injury confusion belt. Williams went on the offensive about the league’s handling of Davis’ concussion and the policy in general, essentially saying the policy is too rigid. But now Davis is missing an additional game, which necessarily weakens Williams' position on the matter. If he’s hurt and at risk then he shouldn’t play, if he’s not at risk then he should. It should be pretty simple, right? None of this is a surprise after Williams said last year he doesn’t talk to his players about injuries, and at one point last year he didn't have a clue what Emeka Okafor's injury situation was at all. Whatever the case may be, nothing is ever simple on the injury front in New Orleans. Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez, and Al-Farouq Aminu will be well-positioned to continue producing. Jason Richardson (ankle) looks to be out for the Sixers, so Dorell Wright will be a solid bet for serviceable production. Kwame Brown (calf) is out indefinitely, and when he returns owners shouldn’t go overboard predicting an impact on the rotation.
TOR @ DAL: Jae Crowder seems to be being held back by Rick Carlisle, who if I had to guess doesn’t want to overwhelm the rookie so early in the year. To each their own I suppose. Now that Shawn Marion is out for a week or more, Crowder is set to start and it’s time to give him a hard look again. He has posted low-end value in 9-cat, 12-team leagues in his limited role, but in 8-cat leagues where his low turnover rate doesn’t help he has been just a top-180 play. I expect him to improve at least incrementally this week with a bit of upside, too. Roddy Beaubois (ankle) is still without an update, and if he doesn’t go expect another big-minute outing of the red-hot backcourt of O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison. Chris Kaman (calf) is still getting back to 100 percent but he’s producing and is worth consideration for your lineup. Brandan Wright has been posting mid-round value and I just added him to a loaded team in a 12-team format. I can take those kinds of risks on a loaded unit.
LAL @ UTA: Kobe Bryant (foot) says he’ll be at 90 percent, and probably replays Michael Jordan’s flu game every night as he goes to sleep. He’ll probably put up 40 (kidding, sort of). If you’re playing Steve Blake you’re desperate, and you don’t need me to tell you that even if I just did. I’ll personally be watching to see if Gordon Hayward continues his ascent after a slow start, as I had him ranked much higher than anywhere else I saw (including our general rankings). Derrick Favors will tell us a lot about his standalone value this week, as he is posting 14-16 team value thus far and any slippage there will make him much harder to hold as a lottery ticket. Al Jefferson is making me look good for having him low on my board so far, but I expect him to improve and be a top-tier center regardless. Mo Williams is beasting right now and I don’t really see any reason why he should stop. I know we were on top of him as a site but even my bullish No. 79 8-cat ranking seems woefully off base.
DET @ SAC: The Kings are a total mess. Their offense is awful and their defense has been terrible, no matter how many times Keith Smart says the latter has been intact. And sure, the Kings have seen opponents shoot a very bad percentage, but the hometown fans and writers are so jaded by years of nuclear disaster level defense that their eyes mislead them. And aside from that eye test, each team they’ve faced this season (Bulls, Wolves, Pacers, Warriors) has seen its writers go on the offensive about how awful their team’s offense has been for some or all of the year. Unforced errors and lack of effort has been the culprit for the Kings’ opponents, but Smart gets no flak for owning a largely empty achievement.
And that’s because he doesn’t get flak for anything. I won’t get into the details, but let’s just say Keith Smart owns the press room at Sleep Apnea Arena. Why does this matter? For fantasy purposes guys aren’t getting the job done. Isaiah Thomas needs to be given the car keys for there to be any cohesiveness on offense, Tyreke Evans needs to be told to play two-dribble basketball, DeMarcus Cousins needs to be told to plant his butt in the post and not move, and Jason Thompson needs more plays run for him. They all need to be told to shutup. Marcus Thornton – he’s cool. He can just keep doing what he’s doing. Aaron Brooks can come in and score like crazy for 20-25 mpg and everybody should theoretically be happy and winning (relatively).
But that doesn’t happen, because Smart is tinkering and he isn’t demanding specific performance, and the media is so cozy and unwilling to ask the hard questions that they just regurgitate what the team-sponsored channels say. Until you see pressure mount on Smart to stop doing what got him fired in Golden State, expect a bumpy ride for all of them.
CLE @ GSW: We don’t know how Tyler Zeller’s face evaluation went after he took an elbow in Monday’s game, but if he plays he’ll be an interesting desperation option in 12-14 team formats after a 15 and seven night the last time out. If he doesn’t go, then Tristan Thompson should be a good bet for a nice game against the marshmallow core of the David Lee show. Also, I hope Stephen Curry tapes his ankles real good, because they’re bound to be broken by the backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. I don’t know if I’m kidding when I say that this is a legitimate concern of mine. Alonzo Gee is getting serious pub as an elite defender in the league, and I think he is a must-own player right now as a result. Carl Landry was inexplicably ‘cooled’ by Mark Jackson in Sacramento on Monday, and Andrew Bogut is causing me ‘drop’ questions because he looks really, really hurt right now. The Warriors need to sit him and they may end up learning the hard way. Again. Speaking of that hard way, Curry is going to need a letdown from the Cavs after their big win because he can’t shake Cleveland’s athletes. He, David Lee, and Klay Thompson are must-start players, and look for Thompson to play angry after he missed the game-winner in Sac on Monday. Jarrett Jack was forgotten about in Monday’s loss, but I have a feeling he plays big minutes, if anything for defensive purposes tonight.
SA @ LAC: Blake Griffin added a neck strain to his right elbow bursa sac issue, but neither seems overly serious at least right now. Both squads are rolling along for the most part, and guys are who we thought they were. That is, except for the aforementioned Jamal Crawford. That dude is ballin. Manu Ginobili said his back felt better on Monday but owners should still be in wait-and-see mode until he proves he’s at 80-90 percent. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and even Danny Green should all be in lineups, as should Chris Paul and Griffin. From there Caron Butler is worth a look for 3-point shooting and DeAndre Jordan is a boom-or-bust blocks and field goal percentage play.