Darren Collison was a surprise scratch due to a sprained right middle finger so Dominique Jones got another start at the point, and the Mavs got run out of the United Center in a 23-point loss to the Bulls. Derek Fisher’s signing was announced during the game, as the team is clearly not happy with Collison’s play and wants to add some veteran leadership. Now anybody that watched Fisher play in last year’s playoffs will question whether or not he’s capable of making good decisions on the floor anymore, but he should be able to give Collison enough pointers to make the decision worthwhile on the whole for the Mavs.
Now the kicker here is that Rick Carlisle has said that Fisher will start, and whether that’s another motivational ploy or not I don’t think it impacts Collison’s calculus too much. Fisher is going to be one of the worst defensive point guards in the league and provides little to nothing on offense, so Carlisle would have to make a Scott Brooks-level mistake to play him anything more than 15-22 minutes per game. That leaves plenty of time for Collison to make whatever mark he’s capable of making.
Jones scored 10 points with five assists in 24 minutes, but is on the shortlist of players that could be cut to make room for Fisher and isn’t worth a look. O.J. Mayo is clearly struggling with his ankle issues (one for each foot), as he posted another slow and somewhat passive line of four points on 2-of-9 shooting, five rebounds, four assists, three steals, and one block. With some owners uneasy about Dirk Nowitzki’s return (myself not included) this is a nice buy low moment. Shawn Marion had just three boards but scored a season-high 18 points with two blocks in 23 minutes before the game got out of hand, and is good to go for most lineups. Jae Crowder started again and managed seven shot attempts, but only made one of them to finish with two points, three boards, two steals, and one block in 26 minutes. This could be seen as a baby step forward but the blowout and body of work suggest otherwise. Elton Brand came crashing back to Earth more or less with four points, six boards, four assists, and a steal in 25 minutes. No surprise there.
The Bulls were embarrassed a few nights ago and clearly had their focus tonight, but unlike Monday’s home loss Tom Thibodeau rode the bench instead of ignoring them. As a result, Kirk Hinrich had one of his typical really bad nights with six points and three assists, while Nate Robinson scored 14 points with a team-high six assists, two steals, and two threes. I’ve said this a million times, but Robinson has low end value for 12-team leagues right now and is one Hinrich injury from expanding upon that. It’s low-risk upside. Richard Hamilton predictably slowed down after a pair of season-high scoring efforts with just four points, four assists, and five turnovers, proving why owners should simply ignore the periodic fireworks. Joakim Noah continues to fly underneath the radar with 13 points, 10 boards, five assists, and three blocks to further enhance his first round value.
Shock and Awe
The Thunder easily dispatched the Rockets in James Harden’s return game, and as usual there were no real revelations, unless you want to count Scott Brooks finally figuring out that Serge Ibaka can play this season. Ibaka scored 23 points on 11-of-13 shooting with nine rebounds, six blocks, and a three in 29 minutes. We here at Rotoworld are just shocked about this development. Shocked. Kevin Durant had 37 points with a fat line, Kevin Martin continued his return to form with 17 points and three treys, and Russell Westbrook scored 14 points with five boards, nine assists, three steals, and a block in the win.
Bigger Than Basketball
Chandler Parsons (shoulder) did not play in last night’s loss to the Thunder, but the on-court story of the night was definitely James Harden’s return to OKC. Wouldn’t you know the Thunder game-planned to shut him down and that’s exactly what happened, as Harden hit just 3-of-16 shots (2-of-5 3PTs, 9-of-11 FTs) with two rebounds, three assists, and one steal to go with seven blocks against. Sure, Harden was pressing, but you just had to know that Sam Presti ordered up an extra nice pre- and post-game spread for the fellas last night.
Daequan Cook started in Parsons’ place and put up a fluky 18 points, seven boards, four assists, three treys, one steal, and one block in 38 minutes. If you saw that coming, you’re playing the wrong game. If Parsons and Carlos Delfino (groin) remain out, give him a look for a spot-start, but keep your expectations firmly in check. Patrick Patterson also picked up the slack with 27 points, six boards, two threes, two assists, and one steal in 38 minutes. The going is pretty good right now so consider including him as the second part of a deal while his value is on the rise. As for Harden, look for him and the entire Rockets organization to get some much needed rest after an emotional week. If you hadn’t heard, Kevin McHale lost his 23-year old daughter, Sasha. Send your karmic thoughts and prayers to Houston this week.
The Spurs throttled the Magic last night with predictable results. Gary Neal had a nice night scoring 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting (including a three) with four rebounds, two assists, and three steals, but owners should know better than to expect that on most nights. DeJuan Blair showed signs of life with 11 points, six boards, and a steal, but he could disappear on a moment’s notice. Danny Green hit three treys for nine points, five rebounds, and two blocks in a typical successful outing for him.
Tim Duncan had just four rebounds, but scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting with two steals, five blocks, and a rare three. His approximate top-5 value is unsustainable over the long haul, as he’ll see at least three minutes per game shaved off of his current 31 mpg mark and we haven’t even hit DNP season yet. If I can get solid early round value in return for Duncan, I don’t think twice about taking it.
I have no idea why folks wanted to drop Manu Ginobili, as his early season struggles and eventual return to form seemed elementary. But alas, he is back and scored 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting (all threes) with four rebounds, five assists, and a steal in 23 minutes. Tiago Splitter followed up his near triple-double with a more palatable nine points, four rebounds, one steal, and one block in 16 minutes. This is probably more like it.
Figuring It Out
I was pinged on Twitter by @Papiraps with a simple comment that Arron Afflalo (16 points, 8-of-16 FGs, five boards, two steals) isn’t the beast many thought he would be. I had him at about 80 in my Top 150 list, and currently he is a 100-120 ranked play in 8- and 9-cat formats, respectively. The Magic are still trying to forge an identity, and while they lack talent and direction things are going to be choppy. I think once his 43.3 percent field goal percentage moves back toward his 46.4 career mark then his value will land more or less where I had him originally.
Jameer Nelson posted a ho-hum 14 points with five boards, three assists, two steals, and no 3-pointers, Glen Davis scored 12 points on 6-of-16 shooting with five rebounds and one block, and J.J. Redick went quiet with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting, four assists, and a trey in just 22 minutes. It looks like Redick got some extra rest in the blowout loss, and I’m not concerned about him on the whole. This has been a real bad week or so after he got devastated by the flu bug. Nikola Vucevic had his second straight absentee act with two points, five boards, one steal, and one block in 16 minutes, and owners will want to stay open to the idea of dropping him for average to above-average free agents if he struggles again on Friday.
The Hip Bone’s Connected to the Back Bone
I should have gone with my gut when assessing LaMarcus Aldridge this year. His game has never been predicated on tremendous athleticism and his lack of toughness down low makes everything harder for him. Following hip surgery, I was concerned about his ability to get rehabilitated and then retain his limited athleticism so he could continue to get his shot off and rebound at a first round rate. But all of the reports regarding his health were positive this offseason, so I thought I was being overly skeptical and backed off. Well, the athleticism doesn’t appear to be there and the numbers haven’t been, either, as he’s returning just fourth round value because of his seven point decrease in shooting from the field over last season’s 51 percent mark.
What’s worse are all of the small ailments, with the most recent one being an aggravation of his back injury in last night’s game. He still played a whopping 41 minutes and scored 17 points on 8-of-19 shooting with seven boards, three assists, and a steal, but the questions about his game are going to linger until he has a significant stretch of high-percentage results. If he’s going to become a perimeter player only, then he’s going to post shooting numbers like a perimeter player. The physical issues just compound that issue and add risk to a situation that gains a new little red flag seemingly every week.
J.J. Hickson took my low-upside comments from yesterday to heart and put up 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting with 19 rebounds, one steal, and one block, but beyond Hickson and Aldridge it was an ugly night for a Blazers squad that gave the lowly Wizards their first win. Damian Lillard hit just 6-of-21 shots for 20 points with four threes, five assists, and two steals, Wes Matthews (thumb) hit just 2-of-10 shots for six points, and Nicolas Batum hit just 6-of-15 attempts for 20 points with five threes and a fairly full line. Batum may still be dealing with the flu and Matthews’ thumb deserves some attention, but along with Lillard I’m not worried about any of them. They’re simply trying to figure out how to play through a decreasingly effective Aldridge while teams begin to game plan around Lillard and Batum.
The Wizards got their first win last night and hopefully it will bring some stability to their rotations, and that was actually a complaint of the players as they met with Randy Wittman before the game to clear the air. Whatever they said worked as everybody pitched in a little bit to eke out a win over the Blazers. Jordan Crawford scored 19 points off the bench, but as usual his poor peripherals make him a hard guy to own unless you punt in his deficient areas. Kevin Seraphin double-doubled with 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting, 10 rebounds, three assists, and one block. I’ve been banging that drum so this is obviously a good look for many of my teams.
Nene played and his 19-minute workload is a lot more realistic approach than the 29 minutes he played the other night. Let’s see him keep up 25 minutes per night before we get too excited about his standard league prospects. Trevor Ariza had a ‘good’ night with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting (including two threes) with five rebounds and a steal. It’s anybody’s guess what he does the next time out. Bradley Beal played just 16 minutes and it’s possible he could have been some of the source of his teammates’ frustrations, as getting a win started to override developing the young talent. He’s still a worthy stash any way one slices it. A.J. Price hit just 1-of-7 shots for three points, three rebounds, and six assists, and may have felt the footsteps from Shaun Livingston (17 minutes) tonight. Either way, it’s a situation to avoid in most standard formats unless you’re desperate.
News and Notes
Andrew Bogut (ankle) doesn’t sound like he’s returning anytime soon and we’re beginning to hear talk that he’s hopeful to play this year, as the Warriors continue to pad their stats as one of the league’s worst at handling injuries. John Wall (knee) doesn’t sound like he’s in Bogut’s boat, but he still doesn’t have a timetable and the Wiz aren’t going to rush him back for this year’s train wreck. Gerald Henderson (foot) is starting to creep into questionable territory after seemingly missing his original 1-2 week timeframe for return. I’ve still held him in a deeper 12-team big money league since he could be nice if the light bulb turned on, though he’ll be on my cut list this week if we don’t get some good news soon.
Carl Landry (oral surgery) returned to practice yesterday and is a must-own player in my book, especially with Bogut being a total mess. Trevor Booker (knee) still operates without a time-frame, but if he can get healthy he’ll be a threat to steal 15-25 minutes from the frontcourt, at least. Ricky Rubio (knee) is back to full-contact practice and he should be owned in all formats. Beat writer Jerry Zgoda has predicted a December 12 return and he’s probably most qualified to venture a guess in the media.
Steve Blake (abdomen) is out for two weeks and Steve Nash (leg) is still out for the proverbial week. Kawhi Leonard (quad) is aiming to return on Dec. 1, and should be owned in all 8- and 9-cat formats by my measure. He has some flop potential, but his upside is immense and he still profiles as a guy the Spurs will lean on. Stephen Jackson (finger) can return in a little over two weeks, but is apparently going to try to beat that timeline. His return will steal about 20-24 mpg from the overall bucket. Dion Waiter’s finger MRI came back clean and he should be ready to go for Friday’s game against the Hawks. Daniel Gibson’s elbow MRI confirmed a bruise but the sense out of Cleveland was that this isn’t a serious injury. We’ll see.
Thursday Night Chat
I’ll be chatting tonight at 9 p.m. ET so get your questions ready.