There wasn’t a lot of earth-shattering fantasy news in the association last night, but it was certainly an eventful 11-game slate that jam-packed my Dose. So let’s get right to it.
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In case you were living under a rock last night you got to see the slap-push fight between Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries, which occurred after Kevin Garnett took a somewhat hard foul by Humphries that Rondo took exception to. The ordeal was classic Rondo, who overreacted and gave up his chase of Magic Johnson’s double-digit assist streak with his early ejection. The action spilled over into the stands and that’s a sensitive area for the league, so anything from a game or two suspension to 10 games has been floated by various media voices. As usual, the reality will likely be toward the middle or lower end of that range. This makes Leandro Barbosa (two points, 13 minutes) worth a look as a short-term pickup, and everybody in the backcourt stands to benefit. That’s nice for them, since Avery Bradley (shoulders) is “very close” to returning to practice. Humphries and Gerald Wallace were ejected after the brouhaha and the duo, along with Garnett, are candidates for suspension, though none of them are a lock in that regard.
Beyond the fight there was a game that the Nets won with no real surprises. Joe Johnson got back on track with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting, four rebounds, six assists, and three treys, and regular readers know how I feel about his status this year so consider this a sell-high moment. Deron Williams hit just 3-of-12 shots and that’s going to be a red flag for his sore right (shooting) wrist, but as we said in our blurb it’s just one game and we need to see much more before getting in a tizzy. Brook Lopez dealt with foul trouble but still managed nine points with 10 boards in 17 minutes. Andray Blatche picked up the slack for Humphries with 17 points, 13 boards, and two steals in 29 minutes, but I doubt he’s going to do anything but gain incremental minutes after Humphries was dragged into a fight for no reason.
The Celtics saw Garnett score 16 points with 10 boards before his ejection, Paul Pierce had 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting with nine boards, seven assists, and two steals, Brandon Bass scored 16 points with just three rebounds to go with two blocks, and Jason Terry had 13 points with a three, a steal, and a 6-of-7 mark from the foul line in the Celtics' forgettable loss.
It’s About Time
It was the moment many of you were waiting for – Josh Smith busted up the box score last night, scoring 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting with 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals, and five blocks in a tight win over the Bobcats. The buy low window is slammed shut and owners can think about selling high, but I doubt you’re going to get ample value in return. This is still a guy with first round upside, and even with his slow start he’s performing at a mid-round level. I’d gamble on Smith rather than take an early-to-mid round guy back in a trade.
Kyle Korver (eight points, four rebounds, two threes) has been dealing with a back issue and exited stage right after playing 23 minutes last night. He has easily played well enough to be held in 8- and 9-cat formats unless news gets truly bad. Al Horford had a nice night with 17 points, 11 boards, six assists, one steal, and three blocks, and he needs more of these to move his mid-round value back toward his early round ADP. Lou Williams has been fairly quiet lately, but had a nice night with 17 points, three treys, and five assists in what should look like a relatively normal good night going forward.
The Bobcats got a chance to bounce back from their record-breaking blowout loss to the Thunder on Monday, and got back to their competitive ways in their three-point loss to the Hawks. Kemba Walker hit just 4-of-15 shots, but after Monday’s rock-bottom effort the 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two threes were a welcome sight. Jeff Taylor continued to do a little bit of everything with six points, two threes, two steals, two boards, and one assist in his 22 minutes. Eventually his mid-round production will cease, but he could end up being a steal if we learn that Gerald Henderson’s mysterious foot injury is more serious than anybody is letting on. Ramon Sessions scored 18 points with eight assists and two steals, and Ben Gordon had a 20-point fourth quarter to finish with 26 points, seven threes, four rebounds, three assists, one steal, and a perfect five makes from the line. By now you know the story with Gordon – he’s going to go off every once in a while and is certainly worth a look to see if you can catch him while he’s hot, but I wouldn’t get rid of a safe play or upside guy to add him.
Abortion Reference of the Day
I mentioned this yesterday, but something is very wrong in Phoenix and a blowout loss to the Pistons last night should have had local press reaching for the panic button. Instead, Alvin Gentry called the effort a “total abortion” and nobody talked about Gentry’s decision to bench everybody but the water boys. Goran Dragic, who has played well all season by most folks’ standards, saw just 16 minutes and still managed 10 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one three. Marcin Gortat played just 20 minutes and had six points on 1-of-6 shooting, four rebounds, and three turnovers to go with zeroes in the steals and blocks columns. One just had to know that Michael Beasley would hit 1-of-6 shots for a hollow two points in his 18 minutes, and you get the idea about the rest of the box.
Outside of Dragic and Gortat, nobody else in the Suns' rotation is truly a must-own player, and I could provide competing arguments to add or drop Luis Scola, Markieff Morris, Shannon Brown, Michael Beasley and Jared Dudley. The bottom line for the entire bunch is that until Gentry gives in on whatever it is he is mad about, or the team gives in and gives him whatever he is looking for – they’re going to look like the Milwaukee Bucks of the West. And yes, a 40-point loss to the Pistons and a disheveled team should have a beat writer or two writing more than sweet nothings about the coach in their gamers.
The Pistons stuck to their recent game plan in last night's win, which incidentally gave elephant in the room Charlie Villanueva another shot at relevance and he responded with 19 points, six boards, four threes, and a block. While he is the new official backup power forward, I need to see more to get excited about a guy that is one defensive disaster away from being benched.
Rodney Stuckey had his first real good night in recent memory and has taken to the backup point guard minutes he is getting. He finished with 18 points on 4-of-8 shooting (10-of-11 FTs) with five rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block in 25 minutes. I practically begged folks to hang tight with Stuckey in our blurbs and felt like I was making excuses, but he should be owned in most leagues in my book as he’ll eventually figure things out.
Kyle Singler scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting with four rebounds, one assist, one three, and two steals in 32 minutes, and this is a good representation of what to expect on most nights in his current role. Brandon Knight hit three treys and had two steals to go with his 19 points and six assists, and if he can keep that sort of thing up then he’ll be able to loosen the cap on his upside. Andre Drummond saw 25 minutes off the bench, scoring six points with nine boards, one steal, and two blocks. For the millionth time, he’s a high profile stash I happily own in a few 12-team leagues.
Moments of Divergence
Chauncey Billups (19 minutes, seven points, three assists, one steal, 1-of-5 FGs) returned to action after nearly a year off in last night’s win over the Wolves, and Doc’s greatest fears about Jamal Crawford (2-of-10 FGs, 11 points, 27 minutes) may start coming true. If you don’t recall, I had Crawford as a sell-high guy after his blistering start and Doc wanted all the sell-high offers to come his way. It’s crazy how little we disagree on player values so these moments of divergence can be big for us. I think I’m going to propose we count them all up and the loser has to buy the winner this day of the week clock. Thinking that Friday is Tuesday and vice-versa is a serious problem we have.
I do think we’re in a trough for Crawford’s value and that independently of Billups’ status, he would have been due for a bounce-back stretch. He’ll probably have that anytime now, but an overlay to that will be Billups’ newfound 19-25 minute role as the starting shooting guard going forward.
Caron Butler backed up his franchise-record performance from Monday from behind the arc with just two points on 1-of-8 shooting. What goes up must come down. He’s performing in the 16-18 team range on the year. DeAndre Jordan got back on track with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, six boards, two steals, and two blocks. I think the takeaway from his body of work thus far is that Vinny Del Negro will still jerk him around, but with less frequency than last season as Jordan produces at a late-mid round level. As for Billups, there’s no need for owners to be in a hurry to add him in most standard formats with such limited upside. There are simply too many guys at the wings, and he’ll have plenty of rest and injury risk.
I’d much rather gamble on Alexey Shved than take a low-upside player like Billups, even if Shved is going to be a tough guy to roster as things get crowded. The Russian rookie scored 17 points with three treys in an otherwise hollow effort that included four turnovers, and his 36-minute usage was a byproduct of Andrei Kirilenko’s absence in last night's loss to the Clips. He just oozes playmaking ability and has the young legs that will stand out as the season progresses. Like I said, owning him in a 12-team league is going to be tough as these nights will come sporadically, but if you have a solid starting lineup and can afford to give him a long-term tryout it could pay dividends down the road.
Kirilenko was a semi-late scratch for his recurring back injury, and as Jazz radio man David Locke said this is the same pattern he showed in Utah. That pattern is to play in about 10-15 games and then sit out a few. Owners knew this was the deal when they drafted him, so just hang tight and plan for a sell-high moment down the road if it presents itself. Chances are you’re just going to have to grin and bear it. Josh Howard started for him and played 26 minutes, scoring seven points with three boards, two blocks, and a three, but owners need to wait until he proves himself a few times before plunging into that whirlpool.
Luke Ridnour scored 13 points with seven assists in 32 minutes last night, but Rick Adelman said that his back injury has him at less than 100 percent and one of two things are going to happen. One, Ricky Rubio will return and give Adelman the green light to give Ridnour a blow. Or two, he will move Ridnour to shooting guard when Rubio is ready to start and Rid will have about a 50/50 shot at holding some late round value. Either way, owners should ride this ride until the wheels fall off or thereabouts. Kevin Love (19 points, 12 boards, 12-of-16 FTs, three assists, one three, one block) was seen flexing his previously injured right (shooting) hand all night, so it’s something we’ll watch like a hawk, obviously.