Last night was just one of those ho-hum 13-game Wednesday nights, so we’re going to get right into it. You may want to check our player news page for any tidbits that are not a part of the game action, and also check out my live chat later tonight.
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Mullen It Over
If I had a dollar for every Byron Mullens drop question I got this past week, I’d have $53 exactly. The Bobcats hadn’t played that much and Mullens was sort of a mixed bag, so I understood the questions, but it was soooo early for a guy that had shown solid upside during the preseason. Well, we saw it all come together in that breakout game I predicted in yesterday’s Dose, as Mullens put up 24 points with six 3-pointers, eight rebounds, and a steal. That makes him a top-25 play in 9-cat formats and a top-40 play in 8-cat formats at this early stage. Hold tight for a little while longer, will ya?
Ramon Sessions (17 points, nine assists, one trey, 2-of-10 FGs, 12-of-14 FTs) was also the preferred play over Ben Gordon (12 points, five assists, two treys, 5-of-14 FGs, steal, two blocks), but it wasn’t by much. Jeff Taylor started but played just 10 minutes and wasn’t a factor, as expected. Kemba Walker (17 points, eight assists, 6-of-14 FGs, one steal) is still hot, but his shooting could easily drop by five points on the FGs and 10 points on the FTs to his marks from last season. Who knows, maybe it won’t, but I'm moving him on the upswing if it all makes sense.
Of course, the Bobcats and their opponent from last night, the Suns, are both shaping up to be fantasy matchups to target. The Suns had a field day with the exception of Jared Dudley, who was merely 'serviceable' with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two treys as he tries to pull himself back up to respectability. I mentioned his slow start last season, and yes, Shannon Brown did go nuts for 24 points and six threes last night, but I tend to look at the long view and note that the Suns are a shallow team. Add in the fact that Brown is a streaky player and I’d probably hold Dudley after an effort like that, especially given last year’s history. As for Brown, you almost have to pick him up after an outing like that, but realize that even with that solid effort he is barely on the cusp of 12-team value on the year. I had him just outside of 150 on my draft board entering the year, and taking the excitement away from the big night it looks like he might go just north of that – which was where I had him before a tepid preseason knocked him down.
Marcin Gortat is a machine right now, posting 23 points with 10 boards, a steal, and seven blocks. It’s early, but it sure looks like owners can light a cigar for that pick. Goran Dragic isn’t shooting as well as he is capable of, but he’s still putting up solid numbers otherwise and had another 16 points, eight assists, and three treys last night. Michael Beasley went off for 21 points, 15 boards, seven assists, one steal, and three blocks, though a 7-of-21 mark from the field and just one three kept it from being a truly epic night.
The Spurs have been a part of two blowouts in a row now, once on each side of the line, and it has cooled everybody off. Kawhi Leonard had four points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals last night, and Danny Green scored 12 points with three treys. No starter played more than 24 minutes, so even guys like Tony Parker (four points, six assists, CP3) and Tim Duncan (10 points, six boards, no blocks) struggled. The Clippers, for their part, did not struggle and played their starters well into the fourth quarter. Blake Griffin’s neck and elbow didn’t hurt his production last night, as he went for 22 points, 10 boards, three assists, and a block. The book on him is pretty simple – capable of this on any night and hampered by a decidedly unfriendly fantasy game. The elbow issue continues to gain traction but with each passing report we’re told there’s nothing to worry about. At this time, I have no reason to distrust the reports. DeAndre Jordan had a breakout night with season-highs of 20 points and 11 rebounds, and also chipped in with two steals and four blocks.
Doc is convinced that Chauncey Billups (Achilles) is done and/or not going to be able to cut into Jamal Crawford’s (10 points, two threes, no FGA until late in Q3) minutes whenever he returns, and he’s generally right about these things so I’m moving toward that camp. Of course, the news that Billups has pushed his return date from Thanksgiving to December emboldened him and he was already all in. Still, that may only be adding a week or two to a hazy-to-begin-with return date, and late last night a report trickled in that said Billups was dealing with calf, back, and general conditioning issues and that his Achilles’ was fine. Billups said he wants to come back and be healthy, instead of having setbacks. When presenting that info to Doc, his response? “Toast.”
I’ll probably hedge my bets and predict an incremental decrease in JC’s production when Billups returns.
Golden State’s Flu Game
The entire Warriors squad appears to have the flu, but the Cavs were the ones that looked like an underdog that won in L.A. on Monday. Stephen Curry (21 points, 8-of-14 FGs, full line) sniffled through his postgame interviews, and during the game he glided effortlessly into open spaces created by a lax Cavs defense. Regardless of the D, Curry is moving into healthier territory and now just needs to keep it up. Owners taking the plunge are officially winning as of right now, but it’s a long season.
David Lee and Jarrett Jack were somewhat questionable with that same flu, but both played, and Lee destroyed a banged up Cavs frontcourt with 22 points, 14 boards, six assists, and three steals. It’s safe to say there won’t be a large scale drop-off this year but he’s still a guy to watch in case the local pressure mounts on Mark Jackson to play Lee less and Carl Landry more. Landry was back to being productive with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting with nine boards and a block in 26 minutes. He’s being held back by Jackson, but the good looks like it’s going to outweigh the bad at this time. He should be owned in 12-team formats. I’m holding off on Harrison Barnes’ 14-point outing and need to see more. Andrew Bogut continues to gimp around on his 20-minute limit, and after zero points and two shot attempts I’m cool with dropping him unless you have a real deep bench or can otherwise afford it.
You win some and you lose some
The Cavs, coming off a big win against the Clippers at Staples, looked flat against the Warriors and were also without Anderson Varejao (knee) and Tyler Zeller (broken cheek). Varejao bumped knees with Ryan Hollins in that game and the injury doesn’t appear to be serious, nor does Zeller’s face injury according to beat writer Jason Lloyd. Lloyd said that the return home was more so the Cavs’ staff could get a look at him and fit him for a mask. Tristan Thompson, who I’m not fully convinced can take the next step, put up 11 points and 10 boards without a block. His penchant for disappearing and low shooting percentages have me less bullish than others, though he certainly has breakout potential.
Samardo Samuels was a beat writer favorite this preseason, but he hasn’t been a favorite of Byron Scott’s so far this season. When pressed into the starting job last night he surfaced with 11 points, seven boards, and a block. Give him a look for spot duty if the aforementioned continue to stay out. Dion Waiters came back to Earth with 12 points, two threes, and five assists, and couldn’t put any weight on his right leg after sustaining a bruised thigh. Nobody seems to be overly concerned about it, though, so for now I’m not projecting an absence. And yes, he should still be owned in all formats. Kyrie Irving didn’t break Steph Curry’s ankles but did break the box score with 28 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and four treys. Cha-ching.
Writer’s Note: Last night’s Pickup of the Day article in our Season Pass included reviews of 39 players posted just minutes after the last game ended. If your league has a first-come, first-serve waiver system and in general, this is your one-stop shop for add information the night of the game. That’s one small part of what we do there, so click the link to find out more.