Eddie Winslow vs. Perkle
Zach Randolph had already achieved his seventh straight double-double with 20 points and 11 boards before being ejected for a dust-up with Kendrick Perkins last night, which turned into an altercation in the tunnels after the game. Before I get into all that it’s worth noting that Z-Bo has quickly secured his place in the ‘old guys you probably shouldn’t bet too heavily against’ club. This year’s board of governors: Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett.
This is going to be an interesting situation for the league with DeMarcus Cousins getting suspended for two games for seeking out Sean Elliot to give him a piece of his mind. This is especially true because Elliot has not made any statements for the record to explain how Cousins said or did anything wrong, and plenty of sources have doubts that Cousins crossed any punishable lines. Here you have two players about to come to blows with plenty of witnesses, whereas in the Cousins case it’s unclear if there were any witnesses to hear the non-physical interactions between he and Elliot. Of course, Cousins has a reputation and that’s what a lot of this is about, but it will be interesting to see how the league walks the tight rope and Randolph’s owners need to be on red alert for a suspension.
Yes, there was a game
As for the game itself, the hard-fought game left only one true winner on the Grizzlies side other than Randolph, and that was Rudy Gay. Gay had a season-high 28 points on 12-of-21 shooting with six rebounds, five assists, and two threes, which brings him a few rounds away from his draft day ADP. Tony Allen is droppable in 12-team formats after another sub-20 minute night, but he’s still producing for the 14-16 team crowd. It’s a testament to his fantasy friendly game that he can do that while posting relatively miserable numbers by his standards. Be ready to move if he can improve his role.
On the OKC side it was same ol’, same ol’. Russell Westbrook played well by many observers’ standards, but hit just 6-of-19 shots to provide fuel for criticism once again. Never mind the fact that he scored 17 points with six rebounds, 13 assists, and two steals. Kevin Durant scored 34 points with 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks, and it was elementary that he wouldn’t stay quiet for long.
The interesting thing for me is watching media slowly figure out the Scott Brooks situation, as Kevin Martin was cooled by the game plan once again. Martin scored seven points with three rebounds in 33 minutes, and it’ll probably take two years for everybody to figure out that Brooks did the same thing to James Harden in Game 1 of the Finals. And look at how that turned out. The same exact thing is happening with analysis of Serge Ibaka (17 points, eight boards, one steal, four blocks, 39 minutes), as writers are in awe of his newfound defensive approach and scoring ability. I said it the other day and I’ll say it again, he’s the same exact dude. Rotoworld readers may want to go out of their way to show the basketball Twitterati where the bathroom is, too.
Fear and Loathing
The Pacers are at the Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing stage of rock bottom, as they simply can’t put the ball in the hoop. It’s pretty baffling when one thinks about it. They have two decent point guards in George Hill (three points, 1-of-10 FGs, four rebounds, four assists) and D.J. Augustin (three points, 15 minutes), Roy Hibbert (seven points, eight rebounds, two blocks, 25 minutes), David West (seven points, nine boards, 23 minutes) and up-and-coming Paul George (12 points, 5-of-17 FGs).
This isn’t a team that should just roll over, but that’s exactly what they’ve done and the local rag is now teeing off on Frank Vogel. I’ll admit, watching their offense is tough, but it’s not like the Scott Brooks stand-and-wiggle offense from the past two years. Hill is getting them into their sets late and they’re not finding any continuity, which is also the job of the point guard.
But this has been the book on Hill for a while, that he’s more of a combo guard than a point, and the oft-confused Indy Star is calling for D.J. Augustin to start. In this case I can agree with them for once, as Hill has been putting up numbers at times but he’s not getting the job done, and something needs to be done to cure the cause of the cold. When that happens, it will be the rising tide to lift all boats, so owners will want to keep an eye on fringe players like Lance Stephenson (four points, three boards, four assists, 30 minutes) and Gerald Green (13 points, six boards, two threes). As for Green, last night’s performance is a positive step toward him staying on my deeper 12-team league teams, but he has to survive the rest of the week to get a stay of execution.
Monta Ellis missed shootaround with a thumb issue and was in and out of the locker room during warm-ups, but played and hit 6-of-15 shots for 16 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals. News is always hard to come by out of Milwaukee, and owners will want to pay close attention to see if there is anything more to the thumb issue down the road. Samuel Dalembert (18 minutes, 14 points, six boards, one steal, three blocks) started off hot last night and got benched, which is pretty typical for Scott Skiles, but the Bucks are winning and they throttled the Pacers last night so it's hard for anybody to complain.
For most Bucks, the lopsided effort means owners should weigh their fantasy output accordingly. The only real good news from a fantasy perspective came for Larry Sanders (nine points, five rebounds, one steal, two blocks), who performed his usual role and returned pretty normal numbers. He’s still putting up mid-round numbers and owners will probably want to just ride things out, as I can’t imagine the trade market for a Skiles-led player being hot enough to warrant the swap.
Ersan Ilyasova (five points, four rebounds, 2-of-9 FGs, 22 minutes) continues to dominate my inbox, and last night might have been the most telling night we’ve seen for the Turkish Tornado. He was visibly underconfident, passing up open lanes, shots, and even when he made shots he cursed himself up and down the court. There were a few occasions in which Ilyasova played good defense only to have the opposition score, and Skiles was forcefully clapping and trying to keep his player’s spirits up. I’m sure he believes that you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet, but you can tell Skiles knows that Ilyasova is riding the edge pretty hard. Here’s my take. Ilyasova is at his realistic floor and it’s awful. He’s not going to shoot 27.9 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from the line all year long. When he gets it going, he has a very strong chance of snapping back into some version of the form we saw last year, which happened to return top-20 value. I’m not giving up on that during an outlier dip on the graph in Week 3. As for buying low, I’d limit it to relatively safe offers involving overvalued players with subtly declining, late-mid round value.
Panic at the Disco
There were a lot of ‘panic guys’ that bounced back last night, and Greivis Vasquez was one of them. He left the game to get his ankle re-taped, suggesting there could be an ongoing issue there, but whatever the case is he balled with a career-high 24 points, five rebounds, nine assists, and three treys. The talk of dropping him was crazy to me and hopefully you secured him in a buy low offer. Austin Rivers (10 points, two treys, 36 minutes) had his first reasonable night of the year, but we need to see him string a few together before getting too excited. Robin Lopez disappeared with just five points, one rebound, one steal, and one block, and I think he’ll have too much working against him with Anthony Davis around.
Davis had a slow night with eight points, four boards, two steals, and three blocks, but the use of the term ‘slow night’ with this output is a testament to his value. I took him in the first round during a 9-cat industry league and got laughed at, which is exactly where he is producing on a per-game basis. It’s early, but I think I’m going to win that bet. Ryan Anderson (20 points, 12 rebounds, 2-of-10 3PTs) and Al-Farouq Aminu (14 points, full line) are locked into long-term fantasy value, and those that thought Dwight Howard had anything to do with Anderson’s 3-point shooting were drastically mistaken. The only thing that can slow Anderson down is Eric Gordon’s ball-stopping ways.
Ebb and Flow
I practically begged folks to buy Harden low during his string of good defensive opponents, and some of you contacted me and let me know you did, so congratulations. He predictably went off against the Hornets, scoring 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, and a block, with his only blemish being a 1-of-7 mark from deep (he hit 9-of-11 from the line). Jeremy Lin strikes me as a guy that can lose his confidence for stretches, and after the air ball heard round the world from Monday he followed up with a 2-of-10 shooting mark, four points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a block. Because he contributes across the board, owners should look at his shooting slumps as buy low periods, too. Even with Toney Douglas hitting four threes for 12 points in 16 minutes, he’d have to do that for two straight weeks to unseat the people’s champ in Houston.
Don’t look now but Omer Asik is climbing the charts with his increased offensive production, as he put up 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting with 12 boards and two blocks last night. He’s still a turnover machine, but he’s returning early mid-round value over the past week. Chandler Parsons (13 points, 10 boards, 4-of-14 FGs, two threes) had a typical good news/bad news night, Patrick Patterson fell off with six points and five boards with nothing else, and Carlos Delfino totally disappeared with one point and five missed field goals. Parsons is worth owning in most formats and the other two guys are strictly 14-16 team guys right now.
Bulls on Parade
There were some big numbers on the Bulls side of the box in last night’s win over the Suns, which will be a common thread for all teams this season. Joakim Noah scored 21 points with 12 boards, five blocks, one steal, and two blocks, Luol Deng posted 21 points with a relatively full line, and Carlos Boozer came back to life with 28 and 14 with three assists and a steal. Noah has been on fire and Deng joins him in the early round value club, but Boozer really needed this game to get off the schneid. The three should all be productive with no real depth behind Taj Gibson, but in Boozer’s case Tom Thibodeau has no problem yanking him if he’s not scoring. So essentially, his fate is in his own hands.
All three are injury risks, which we’ve discussed in bulk, with Thibodeau running his players into the ground. Don’t sell the farm to move Noah or Deng, but keep that in the back of your mind as you go. Kirk Hinrich returned to the lineup and played 27 minutes, scoring three points on 1-of-3 shooting with five rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. He’ll be a mixed bag all year whenever he’s healthy. Nate Robinson returned to his backup role that happens to include standalone value, as he scored 11 points with four assists, a steal, and two 3-pointers. Make sure he’s not on your 12-team waiver wire playing behind injury risk Hinrich.
Dudley Does Wrong
Jared Dudley lost the small amount of goodwill he had forged with owners after a few low-end outings, scoring five points on 2-of-5 shooting with a three and one rebound in 22 minutes. Shannon Brown wasn’t much better with 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting, and Sebastian Telfair (who showed up in this space before) scored 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting with four threes, two rebounds, four assists, and a block. If Dudley and Brown aren’t getting it done, then Alvin Gentry has shown that he’s willing to roll with Goran Dragic (12 points, five assists, three steals) and Telfair in the backcourt together. Until we see him do it again, Telfair is a very risky, speculative add in 12-14 team formats only.
Luis Scola had a nice night with 24 points and 14 boards, and he should be locked into lineups going forward. Marcin Gortat (11 points, eight boards, one block) has slowed down but has faced some bigger, more athletic frontcourts in the Bulls, Nuggets, and Jazz in his last three games. It’s certainly a buy low moment. Markieff Morris (eight points, 10 rebounds, one steal, one three, 3-of-12 FGs) was having an active night before he suffered a lower-back bruise and left the arena on crutches. P.J. Tucker had six points, eight boards (seven offensive), three assists, one steal, and one block, but will need Morris to miss time to have any sort of stability in deeper formats. More notably, borderline guys like Dudley and Brown will get a bit more slack.