Today's column will begin with quick recaps of Friday's nine games, followed by some news and notes, and some statistics that might be useful when setting lineups this week. Let's begin.
Jazz at 76ers: The Jazz fell behind by double-digits in the first quarter, and their second unit wound up carrying them in a tough loss on the road in Philly. Paul Millsap was typically efficient in 28 minutes, scoring 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting with seven rebounds and three assists, but the other starters all had sub-par games, particularly Gordon Hayward (eight points, zero rebounds in 23 minutes). Millsap's 3-point shooting has been a fascinating footnote for Utah this season -- he had a total of 18 makes from downtown in his first six NBA seasons, but suddenly he's 8-of-13 from deep through nine games this year. His minutes are virtually unchanged from last season, and things couldn't be going better for his fantasy owners. I'm not even worried about a potential trade, since Millsap's game is so efficient and versatile that he could fit into any system, and any team trading for him would be in need of a starting PF. DeMarre Carroll also scored 17 points with five boards and two steals off the bench, but he made 6-of-6 FGs and I'm labeling it a fluke.
Jrue Holiday led the way for Philly with 26 points, six rebounds and seven assists on Friday, while Jason Richardson scored 20 points with five 3-pointers to help Philly improve to 5-4. Nobody expected Kwame Brown to have fantasy value, even as the starting C, but Spencer Hawes has been a serious disappointment. He's been cold since opening night, he finished the win over Utah with just four points, three rebounds and four personal fouls, and (even with Andrew Bynum's distressing setback) I'm fine cutting him for a more promising long-term pickup.
Mavericks at Pacers: O.J. Mayo scored 19 points to lead the way for Dallas, making 6-of-13 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs and 2-of-3 from downtown. In his first six games, Mayo averaged a ridiculous 4.3 three-pointers per game -- he's averaging a more realistic 1.8 threes over his past four games, but that's due almost entirely to fewer attempts, as he's still made 7-of-13 from downtown during that span. I do expect a hit to his numbers once Dirk Nowitzki (knee) returns to action, but Mayo will be indispensable all year long for Dallas. Vince Carter scored 10 points in 18 minutes off the bench, but had zero 3-pointers or other stats to his credit. He survived his recent hip injury but the return of Shawn Marion (two points, seven rebounds in 25 minutes) makes him droppable in all formats. Nothing about Jae Crowder's play over the past few weeks suggests he would thrive in a bigger role, and Rick Carlisle hasn't failed to notice. Finally, Shawn Marion returned to the starting SF spot but scored just two points with seven rebounds in 25 minutes. He's been heavily involved in the Mavs' gameplan but will lose value upon Dirk's return, and there are probably guys with higher upside on your waiver wire.
George Hill bounced back from a 1-of-10 shooting performance with 15 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two steals in the Pacers' much-needed home win vs. Dallas. He's been playing well all year and is currently the backbone of Indiana's predictable offense, making him a must-start PG in 12-team leagues. Lance Stephenson scored 12 points in another start at SG. He may be the Pacers' best option at SG right now, but he's a weak defender who tends toward erratic decision-making, and thus far he's been a borderline fantasy asset. Sam Young scored 14 points in 21 minutes off the bench, while Gerald Green (who has thoroughly smothered his buzz in fantasyland) had five points and five boards in 21 minutes. D.J. Augustin didn't even attempt a shot in 14 minutes, and he's been invisible through 10 games for the sub-.500 Pacers.