J.R. Smith found the side of a milk carton so far this week with his second straight stinker in last night’s win over the Bucks, scoring two points on 1-of-5 shooting in 18 minutes. He had five fouls and the game was a blowout late, and I’m having a hard time getting too worked up about a streak shooter that was due for a regression, anyway. What I was worked up about was choosing to ignore Jason Kidd in last week’s Dose, as he was fittin’ to make me look real bad as an apparent 5x5 threat every night. His back injury is an unknown quantity at this point, and his age and injury risk was a part of my thinking. Just being honest, I didn’t think he had it in him to produce like that, healthy or not.
Steve Novak got on the right side of the shooting ledger with a season-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and five threes in a whopping 40 minutes. His solid shooting, the lopsided score, and Smith’s issues all came into play here, and since he’s a strong bet to move this year’s 40.7 percent field goal percentage back toward his 47.8 mark from last year – owners hunting threes will want to sit on their boards and be ready to paddle.
Don’t Try This At Home
I mentioned last week how I was tied to Ersan Ilyasova’s anchor and I was heading to the ocean floor. Well, then Monday’s building block game happened and I thought to myself, ‘that came about two weeks early.’ Of course, the party was short-lived as Scott Skiles played him 13 minutes last night, though there was a pregame Bucks TV report that he was sick that none of the beat writers knew about.
I wasn’t going to advise anybody with great fervor (or vigor) to hold Ilyasova, but two weeks from now has been my personal threshold based on my belief of how long a) it can take a player to get back on track before they’re without hope and b) how long I think Skiles can get away with not playing him 25-32 minutes before he c) kills all of Ilyasova’s confidence and d) makes his general manager look like an ass for paying big bucks for a benchwarmer. Regardless, I was neither high nor low after Monday’s game simply because I figure Ilyasova had a ways to go no matter what, and last night’s disaster outing at worst and flu-game at best isn’t moving the needle with me much, either. What is moving the needle for me is the fact that Ilyasova expressed displeasure about his playing time after the game, and longtime Bucks beat writer Gery Woelfel was fairly heated on Twitter. For some reason the added fire represents a speeding up of the process for me, since I’m basically committed for another two weeks to Ilyasova’s elusive upside, anyway.
If that gushing recommendation wasn’t enough to endear you to your Bucks assets, then Skiles benching the whole damn team for the second straight game in the fourth quarter is right up your alley. Brandon Jennings is relatively back on track following his ankle injury, scoring 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting with three rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes, though his lack of a steal is a sign he’s still limited. He and Monta Ellis (27 minutes, 17 points, 6-of-11 FGs, seven assists, three steals) left without talking to the media after the game, and that’s probably because they don’t have anything great to say right now. They’re the team’s two best players and both could be gone next year, so they’ll be the first guys to flip out if Skiles gets too heavy-handed. The rest of the box score was a wasteland with the exception of Mike Dunleavy (eight points, nine boards, one three) and Beno Udrih (18 points, one assist). Of course, owners will want to be vigilant about reading Skiles’ patterns so they can move on-and-off assets accordingly, but this might not be the best game to measure with. I’m holding Dunleavy’s mid-round value tightly and I’m fine with dropping Larry Sanders (14 minutes) for anything with upside.
Oh, and in breaking news, Skiles says he’s looking at lineup changes for Friday’s game against the Wolves.
Carry on My Wayward Son
Anthony Davis (ankle) could be out up to two weeks and is still wearing a walking boot, and by virtue of that the deep, underachieving Jazz were able to waltz into the Hive and take an easy win last night. Mo Williams (foot) dressed but did not play, leaving Jamaal Tinsley (zero points, two boards, five assists, two steals) free to post one of his patented scoreless, assist-powered lines for the point guard desperate. Paul Millsap (16 points, 10-of-12 FTs, eight boards, four assists, one steal, 31 minutes) was able to get back on track and he continues to share the power forward minutes with Derrick Favors (nine points, eight boards, one block, 17 minutes) without spilling into any other positional buckets.
The Jazz have looked awful recently, so owners of both power forwards can only hope that defensive sieve Al Jefferson (19 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals, two blocks) takes a haircut and Millsap gets some run at small forward to open things up a bit. I’m not panicking on Millsap by any means, but keeping both guys in the power forward bucket has made Millsap a streaky and sometimes disengaged player. Overall, the Jazz need to stop relying on Jefferson as a crutch, as guys are standing around and watching him operate only to see his feet in cement on defense. It’s not a good mix.
Gordon Hayward is starting to fill up my timeline with questions about whether or not to drop him, and it’s worth noting that I’m the resident optimist for Hayward around here. The bandwagon is getting mighty light. It almost got set on fire with Hayward sitting on two points entering the fourth quarter. He went on to rattle off 13 points and finish with 15 points, two rebounds, two assists, and two threes in 23 minutes. The Butler product has been in a vicious shooting slump since hitting a game-winner against the Kings over the weekend, but he still has late-round value on the year and I’m nowhere near giving up.
I think he’ll go back and forth between mid- and late-round value and eventually climb into the top-75 by the All Star break, with the early inconsistencies being mostly the byproduct of an offense that revolves so much around Jefferson, who rarely creates good looks for teammates in the post. The Jazz love to run offense through Hayward, but they simply don’t have the touches to give him in their crowded group. With an eyeball toward the trade deadline, the subtraction of one player (Millsap?) or an injury could return Hayward to last season’s late top-40 run. Marvin Williams (16 points) was concussed and any absence will certainly help Hayward’s situation, though I’m not putting a ton of stock on his impact other than to free up a few touches here and there.
What’s In a Name?
There were no revelations on the Hornets’ side of the box last night. Greivis Vasquez scored 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting with three rebounds, eight assists, and one three, as he is returning late-round value in 9-cat leagues and mid-round value in 8-cat formats on the year. Robin Lopez had one of his ‘good’ nights with 18 points and seven boards but he didn’t have a block. He’ll probably return to borderline status in 12-14 team leagues when Davis returns, but for now owners can keep the mid-round value locked into lineups.
Ryan Anderson had an off-night with seven points on 2-of-8 shooting and eight boards. I don’t think his production will budge at all when Davis returns as they’re only competing touches in the superficial overall sense. Al-Farouq Aminu had a devilish line of six points, six boards, and six turnovers to go with three steals, and he’s another guy I have very little concern about right now. The Hornets are going to lean on him nightly unless he falls off a cliff. Jason Smith hit just 1-of-7 shots and had five turnovers, but finished with seven points (5-of-6 FTs) and nine rebounds in 29 minutes. Deep league owners should give him a look while Unibrow is out. Austin Rivers (two points, 22 minutes) came into the league as a scorer-only and he can’t even do that these days. I think he’ll get that turned around, but had his last name been Dungworth I doubt he gets drafted where he did.
Mike Conley is a common thread among my fantasy teams this season, as I had him ranked at an aggressive No. 13 overall. Last night was one of those nights that made me wonder if I could have gone a few slots higher, as he posted 16 points, five assists, four threes, two steals, and two blocks all while looking less than 100 percent according to both teams’ beat writers. He shoots at a high clip and his usage could still go up as the big men wear down later in the year. Joining him with good outings in last night’s win over the Raptors was Zach Randolph (17 points, 13 boards, six assists, one steal) and Rudy Gay (14 points, three treys, six boards, two assists, two steals, one block). Tony Allen (nine points, four boards, three steals, one block, 28 minutes) has slowly crawled his way back onto the 12-team radar, and beat writers are encouraged by his recent play. There was a Marreese Speights sighting, as the backup big scored 18 points with 12 boards, one steal, one block, and an unlikely triple in 24 minutes aided by the blowout. I’m filing that under ‘fluke’ and moving on.
A Tale of Two Ankles
Andrea Bargnani did not play in last night’s loss due to an ankle issue, while Kyle Lowry continued to gimp along with his ankle issue with low-end results. Lowry scored 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting with four rebounds, four assists, and one trey in a rematch with former Grizzlies teammate Conley. As long as he doesn’t overdo things, he’ll get back on track. Jonas Valanciunas had one of his backseat nights, scoring just two points with two boards, but he did add three blocks in his 28 minutes to keep the night from being a total wash. These are the breaks with the youngster, and a bad night against the Grizzlies frontcourt is not something to get worked up about. Everybody in Toronto loves him and so do we.
Ed Davis drew a start in Bargnani’s place, but failed to have a breakthrough moment with 10 points, six boards, one block, and four turnovers in 28 minutes. Davis has good talent and is somebody to watch closely while it appears he is in favor, but he’ll eventually go back to a low-minute bench role. Linas Kleiza drew the start at small forward instead of Dominic McGuire, scoring 11 points on a high-volume 15 shot attempts to go with three rebounds and one assist in 25 minutes. He’s a decent desperation spot-play on nights when owners know he’ll be getting minutes but that’s about it. Terrence Ross saw another big helping of minutes off the bench, playing 30 minutes en route to eight points on 4-of-13 shooting (0-for-6 3PTs), two boards, two assists, and three steals. It was a messy effort and the team keeps talking about free agent small forwards in the press, but Ross is well worth a look as a stash in a mediocre wing corps.