Where’s the Beef?
Kyrie Irving’s injury hasn’t left a whole lot of clarity as to whether or not there will be a Lester Hudson-like beneficiary. We know that Dion Waiters is a must-own player and that Daniel Gibson is a good bet to hold late-round value with a bit of upside. But between Jeremy Pargo and Donald Sloan all we know is that Byron Scott likes Pargo’s defense and that Sloan has more experience running the offense. The two backup PGs are speculative adds only with plenty of risk, and owners will want to watch this game closely tonight and be ready to move if their leagues allow in-game pickups.
C’Mon and Diggle It, Just a Little Bit
Dirk Nowitzki (knee) said he’s hoping to resume basketball activities in two weeks and that could mean that he’s back on a basketball court anywhere between 2-5 weeks if we want to cover most reasonable scenarios. Even if his return drags out, and we don’t have too much reason to believe that it will hit five weeks, owners should have already moved on the Diggler if he was dropped. It probably goes without saying, but Chris Kaman is on fire and a guy that owners should be trying to move while the going is good. I’m in the opposite camp on O.J. Mayo, who might have enough energy at this stage in his career to be a No. 1B, or No. 1A in practice while Dirk holds the title in spirit. I look at guys like Darren Collison and Vince Carter as having their touches threatened when Nowitzki returns.
Nene (plantar fasciitis) might make his season debut tonight, and I thought he looked fine in the Olympics but I’m not too excited here. Even if he does return and provide low-end value, he’ll be an injury risk all season so cutting anybody with consistent value is right out. I’m willing to gamble that he won’t provide mid-round value and if I lose that bet so be it. None of this tempers my relative enthusiasm on Kevin Seraphin, whose competition consists of Emeka Okafor’s bad knee, mileage, and other ailments, Trevor Booker’s bad knee, and Nene’s plantar fasciitis and history with Achilles’ and calf issues. I guess we could talk about Jan Vesely, who could end up being on his last legs despite being healthy. As for Nene’s return, it reeks of being called into action simply because Booker is hurting, which of course is a typical player reaction but wouldn’t be the best thing for his health. I know Seraphin has struggled to rebound and bounced around Randy Wittman’s patchwork rotations, but there aren’t too many players I’d stash ahead of him right now.
News and Notes
As alluded to earlier, Mike Woodson wouldn’t commit to Amare Stoudemire (knee) as a starter when he returns, and if I was a Knicks fan I’d just assume he not return unless he’s willing to fall in line with a 20 minute rebounding and putback role. I’m not going to fall all over myself to stash him and other owners will beat me to the punch. Steve Nash (leg) has no timetable for return and is feeling tingling relating to his fractured fibula. Mike D’Antoni didn’t seem too worked up about it, saying that once it went away they’d ramp him up right away. Steve Blake (abdomen) is out for the next three games on the road trip.
Wednesday Night Lights
TOR @ CHA: Gerald Henderson said that his foot injury will keep him out for another week, which gives Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions more time to run wild. Ben Gordon left Monday’s game with a knee contusion, but the local paper hasn’t even mentioned him so I’m inclined to say he’ll go if I’m forced to guess. Just don’t be surprised if he pops up injured at the last second. We’ll watch to see how Kyle Lowry’s ankle held up and how Jose Calderon’s role gets impacted, and owners spot-starting Linas Kleiza and/or Amir Johnson during the Raps’ four-game week will hopefully get an unexpected bonus.
PHI @ CLE: As mentioned all eyes will be on the Cavs’ backcourt, but we haven’t spent much time on Alonzo Gee. He is easily in the top-100 and could see some extra touches, though the quality of those touches could go down. If you’re looking for a dark horse candidate in very deep formats, give C.J. Miles a look. There has been talk that he could join the starting lineup, but one look at his game log should tell you why you should be cautious. Will Tyler Zeller start putting up serviceable numbers? He’s on the shortlist of players trusted by Byron Scott and the biggest one just went down. I have Zeller stashed in a few deeper, competitive 12-team leagues and though he hasn’t had too many breakthrough moments, sustainable value doesn’t seem out of the question.
DET @ ORL: Don’t sleep on Jason Maxiell in 14-16 team leagues right now. He deserves to be owned in those formats until he cools off. I have found Rodney Stuckey available in a lot of leagues, and I’ve done my best to scoop him up. The guy once saw a sports psychologist and it sounds like he has simply been in his own head. We know what he’s capable of when he’s right, so give him a hard look before he gets back on track. Owners need to pay attention to reports coming out of Orlando regarding the flu, and specifically with J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson. Both guys were sick as dogs and put up stinky lines on Monday, and owners would be wise to use updates on their health as tiebreakers on a busy night.
NO @ IND: Give Brian Roberts (13 points, three treys) a look as a spot-play in 16+ team formats. The Hornets could be without Anthony Davis and they need able bodies at this point. So far, Roberts has been ‘able.’ The real intrigue is on the Pacers’ side of the ball, though, as their offense is bogged down because their three best offensive players can’t get anybody else a shot. George Hill has been a better fantasy player than he has been a point guard this year, as he doesn’t get into sets quickly and misses open guys. Teams have been fine singling up both David West and Roy Hibbert, knowing they’re not doing anything to get teammates going on a consistent basis. If the offense continues to stay in the freezer, it’ll take just one spark from ice-cold D.J. Augustin to resuscitate talk of moving Hill to shooting guard. Lance Stephenson is a half-step ahead of Gerald Green in the group of fringe plays that can’t be counted on with Indy struggling.
LAC @ OKC: Caron Butler (shoulder) is a game-time decision, leaving Matt Barnes as a low-end play in standard formats if Butler can’t go. Owners should keep in mind that Doc has Jamal Crawford holding his value going forward, but I’m worried about Chauncey Billups as long as reports continue to be positive regarding his rehab. Billups was ruled out of the upcoming four-game road trip, but if I had to guess it sounds like a return in the first half of December looks more likely than the second half. Plan accordingly. A lot of people rolled their eyes at a high ranking for Serge Ibaka, but he’s a top 10 and 20 play in 9- and 8-cat leagues, respectively.
MIL @ MIA: Dwyane Wade (foot) expects to play on Wednesday, and owners can only hope that he got the proper time off to fully heal. As usual, fantasy owners won’t be nearly as fixated on Miami as they will the Bucks, and in particular Ersan Ilyasova. I’m attached to the anchor and it’s heading out to the bottom of the sea. Larry Sanders is another guy that will keep owners up at night, but it sure looks like Scott Skiles enjoys sticking him out there for 25 minutes a night with the directive of ‘Chopper, sick balls.’ Mike Dunleavy shouldn’t really have been on waiver wires with a mid-round value through nine games, and he’s a case study in riding the roller coaster. Per usual, anybody not named Monta or Brandon is on perpetual thin ice in Skiles’ rotary club.
SA @ BOS: This was covered in detail 24 hours ago, but tonight we’ll get to see who joins Danny Green as the winner of the small forward injury contest in San Antonio. Will Gary Neal or DeJuan Blair somehow break through? Maybe Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, or Matt Bonner? I wouldn’t go betting my dog to say that it couldn’t be Nando De Colo or returnee James Anderson that grabbed 15 seconds of fame tonight. On the other side sits uber-boring but bountiful Boston, and a Rajon Rondo that will be gunning for an assist record as inane as Tyreke Evans’ 20-5-5 rookie marketing push.
WAS @ ATL: A.J. Price has one game to prove the Shaun Livingston timeshare is a fluke, and I don’t think he can do it. The Wizards need more of the veteran leadership that Livingston has. Bradley Beal made some noise and with one more solid effort he’ll land in must-own status for 12-team leagues. That doesn’t mean that the inconsistency will end, but rather that he has shown enough promise to justify the stash. Jeff Teague will likely be benched and still put up early round numbers, but that will go unnoticed as the Josh Smith trainwreck seeks to get back on track. If fantasy owners watch one thing, try to see if he’s visibly avoiding contact a la Andris Biedrins. He has airballed four of his 23 free throws and made just 31.8 percent of them. If that is really in his head, then maybe it’s time to reassess our expectations. For now, I’m still on Doc’s bandwagon that it’s time to hold and target the first round pick.
CHI @ HOU: It’s not a home-return, but it’s the Omer Asik game tonight as the free agent acquisition plays his former mates for the first time. The Bulls are pretty much an open book right now, though owners not on the Nate Robinson bandwagon will want to consider the upside if injury risk Kirk Hinrich goes down. Robinson’s current late-round value makes him a stash with some utility, as well. James Harden left Monday’s game early due to the flu, likely burning some owners (including me) in the process. It would have to take a pretty bad report on his health for me to not have him in lineups, even though he burned me last time out. If we get a report that Carlos Delfino’s groin injury is less than minor, then owners will want to give strong consideration to Marcus Morris and added consideration to rookie Terrence Jones.
DEN @ MIN: Nikola Pekovic (ankle) will play tonight, and on a busy night owners will want to weigh their options carefully as he could be limited or rusty. J.J. Barea’s ankle situation has been weird to track. After he was called doubtful early yesterday morning, he later said he’s optimistic that he will play. This follows a strange quote from Rick Adelman saying he’d be out for the rest of the (calendar) year, which Adelman immediately then corrected to mean the “end of the month.” Maybe Adelman was hiding something, or maybe he got his weeks mixed up. I know I’m probably getting a day of the week clock for Christmas this year, so I can relate. Whatever the case may be, Alexey Shved owners are watching Barea’s status closely as he is the only thing keeping Shved from playing monster minutes. While things could get crowded in Minny’s backcourt, I’ve said a few times that I like Shved’s chances of being the last man standing in an injury-riddled guard unit. Ty Lawson has seen his confidence shooting the ball erode, and it’s a perfect time to target him as a buy low guy. He won’t shoot 37 percent from the field and 53 percent from the foul line all year.
NYK @ DAL: Darren Collison has really struggled in the last week and owners may want to consider moving him if he has a big night. As I mentioned before, I think his value will take a hit before O.J. Mayo’s does when Dirk returns. Shawn Marion (knee) hasn’t looked healthy and on a busy night owners will want to go with safer options if they can. Vince Carter (hamstring, hip) has looked even worse, but somehow he was still shoulder-tapped in crunch-time on Monday against the Warriors. We’re calling that a coaching error with Mayo on fire that night.
POR @ PHO: This game has the potential to be a fantasy bonanza with both squads having very little bench, relatively porous defense, and plenty of guys that can light it up. If Goran Dragic doesn’t get off the schnied against the softer Portland interior then maybe Alvin Gentry does have it out for him. I’m kidding, sort of.
LAL @ SAC: This could be a trap game for the Lakers, but they love to stick it to the Kings in Sacramento. And for Sacramento, it’s anybody’s guess what lineup Keith Smart trots out even though he said after Monday’s laugher loss that he would be sticking with Aaron Brooks and John Salmons as new starters. That was before influential Sacramento writer Ailene Voisin called for Geoff Petrie’s job and ripped Smart, echoing what not-so-influential Sacramento writer yours truly has been saying since Isaiah Thomas was given the Stephen Curry treatment last season – that NBA scouts think Smart and his offense are a joke. Petrie made comments about the Kings’ inability to play in a halfcourt set, and he may be realizing that things got worse than he thought they could get -- and that a traditional point guard with clout needs to be installed. The only point guard on the roster is Isaiah Thomas, though don't count on anybody in Sacramento to figure that out. The bottom line is that anything could happen and owners need to be ready for everything, and a loss to the Lakers at home could be the beginning of the end for Smart.
BKY @ GSW: Stephen Curry said his ankle was fine after Monday’s career-best game, and we haven’t heard anything about it so owners may have dodged a bullet. Still, handcuffing him to Jarrett Jack isn’t the worst idea. Andrew Bogut (ankle) is supposed to return to practice on Monday. The Warriors have a horrible track record of letting players return early and I’m braced for the worst as a Dubs fan. Harrison Barnes has been the nicest fantasy surprise for the Warriors recently and quickly achieved must-own status. I’m still concerned about his rebounds and some of the flukiness of those recent results, and also the fact that Carl Landry was held back quite a bit in Barnes’ big night on Monday. Bay area beat writers threw a fit with Landry on the bench that long, and with Bogut’s potential return looming there are a few threats to Barnes’ value. He has enough going for him to ignore those issues for now. Lastly – I dare you to drop Klay Thompson. I have absolutely no worry about his ability to turn it around, though it would be nice if all the rah rah coach-by-narrative stuff would go away so the kid could just concentrate on playing and improving his defense. It also doesn't help that as he has botched his end-of-game assignments that the coach and the organization have thrown him under the bus. Like it’s not their job to make sure he’s doing the right things.
And on that note, good luck tonight guys and Happy Thanksgiving. No chat on Thursday and the Doc will be handling Thursday’s Dose.