Magic at Pistons: J.J. Redick had 23 points with six 3-pointers in another start on Friday. He's automatic with sufficient playing time, and needs to be in all active lineups since he faces no obvious competition for minutes until Hedo Turkoglu (hand) returns. Jameer Nelson played after a six-game absence, and to my surprise he posted a double-double with 13 points, 10 assists and two steals. The Magic came into this game scoring 88.0 points per game, third-lowest in the league, but Nelson has enough upside to be starting in average formats. His return moved E'Twaun Moore to a bench role, where Moore had eight points and four rebounds in 18 minutes. Cut him for anyone. Glen Davis had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and he's now 13-of-19 from the field over his past two games. Not bad.
For the Pistons, Rodney Stuckey returned in a voluntary bench role but had just nine points, one assist, zero steals and a +/- rating of -19. Kyle Singler had 14 points in 29 minutes as the starting SG, and he's been good enough that I'd pick him up in 12-team leagues. Corey Maggette (calf) has returned to action, and that's all I'll say about that.
Warriors at Wolves: The biggest development for the Warriors this week has been Harrison Barnes. Brandon Rush's injury has forced Mark Jackson to throw him into the fire, and Richard Jefferson doesn't pose a realistic threat at SF. Over the past two games, Barnes' minutes have spiked and he's averaging 18.5 points and 13.0 rebounds -- he needs to be owned, obviously, but I still expect a season full of highs and lows for the rookie.
Malcolm Lee was scoreless in 19 minutes as the Wolves' starting SG, and the guy to own is Alexey Shved, who erupted for 22 points, three 3-pointers, three rebounds, seven assists and another block in 33 minutes off the bench. Rick Adelman hinted mysteriously that J.J. Barea (sprained foot) could be out for quite a while, which only increases Shved's stock. Derrick Williams finally cashed in on unfettered minutes at PF, scoring 23 points on 8-of-16 FGs and 6-of-6 FTs, with seven rebounds and four blocks. There's no reason to assume he'll do this again, however, and Kevin Love's return in early December (at the latest) seriously dims D-Will's outlook.
Thunder at Hornets: Kevin Martin's line is the only one that jumps out for OKC -- he attempted just four shots on Wednesday and Scott Brooks openly said that wasn't enough, so he came out firing on Friday and scored 27 points on 9-of-17 FGs, including six 3-pointers. He also chipped in five rebounds and four assists, and he's simply thriving in his new sixth-man role. The Thunder are 7-3.
The Hornets, meanwhile, were blown out in the first quarter and didn't play any starter more than 29 minutes. Ryan Anderson scored 15 points to lead the way, Robin Lopez scored 12 points with just two rebounds, and I wish I could erase this game from my memory. Deep league owners should keep an eye on Brian Roberts, who has zero steals or blocks this season, and struggles with most aspects of the game, but faces no competition for backup PG minutes while Eric Gordon is sidelined.
Knicks at Grizzlies: The Knicks fell to 6-1 with a road loss vs. the red-hot Grizzlies, who are benefitting from a healthy Zach Randolph (20 points, 15 rebounds), the maturation of Marc Gasol (24 points) and Mike Conley (16 points, eight assists), and solid post-Mayo bench play. Rudy Gay finished with 17 points, two rebounds, three assists, two steals and four blocks in the blowout, and coming into this game he was averaging career-highs in points (20.7), shot attempts (19.0), and rebounds (6.6). Tony Allen's 25 minutes are no fluke -- he's averaging a mere 23 minutes through eight games, and the steals specialist should be dropped for a hot FA.
Rockets at Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard took over down the stretch for the Blazers, yet again, and he's quickly established himself as a viable franchise PG in the NBA. The overall No. 6 pick is returning late second-round value in eight-cat leagues, while turnovers bump him down a round in nine-cat. I have zero doubts about his abilities, and last night's thrilling OT win was another reason to love him, but I'm mildly concerned with the rookie's workload -- he's averaging 37.6 minutes per game, tied for 13th most in the league. That's a heavy burden for any player, particularly a guy who played 41 games combined in his final two seasons with Weber State. If Terry Stotts doesn't eventually manage his minutes, Lillard may collapse at the foot of the 'rookie wall' by February.
LaMarcus Aldridge's wrist injury seems to have been a false alarm, as he scored 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting vs. the Rockets on Friday. Meyers Leonard had eight points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes, and he's having a deleterious effect on J.J. Hickson's value -- Hickson scored just three points, he didn't play late in the fourth quarter or during overtime, and his role will only erode further as the season progresses. Nicolas Batum poured in a career-high 35 points in a spirited home victory, making 13-of-19 FGs with five 3-pointers. He added one steals and five blocks, including game-saving blocks late in the 4Q and OT. Simply put, he's exceeding expectations while returning first-round fantasy value, and I see no reason why he'd slow down. I'm thrilled to have drafted him in most of my money leagues. Oh, and while Wesley Matthews (15/5/5) may not jump out on the boxscore, his defense down the stretch was ridiculously good. He's quiet, but man does he get it done. Another note: Portland desperately needs more production from their bench. The bench collectively scored 10 points vs. the Rockets, and has averaged 12.2 points over the past five games.
Hawks at Kings: Kyle Korver drained 5-of-5 three-pointers to finish with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes. Korver works as a 3-point specialist, but there's too much competition in ATL's backcourt to bother with him in most scenarios. Devin Harris went scoreless in his return from a hamstring, while Al Horford (20 & 10) looked like himself in a return from the flu.
Tyreke Evans made 5-of-11 FGs for 14 points in the loss, but went without a rebound and had just one assist in 27 minutes. DeMarcus Cousins had nine points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, but didn't block a shot and made just 4-of-15 FGs, continuing his bewilderingly poor shooting (41 percent on the season). Jason Thompson provided the lone bright spot, notching 19 points and 10 rebounds in another start at PF -- Thomas Robinson had four points and four personal fouls to his credit, and there's no imminent position battle here.