Bulls on Vacay
The Bulls played without Richard Hamilton (foot) in last night’s home loss to the Pacers, starting Marco Belinelli with typical mediocre results. Bello hit just 2-of-7 shots (no threes) for five points with six assists, one steal, and two blocks in 24 minutes. Nate Robinson has seen a steady take out of me all season long, providing late-round value on average with the hope that one of the injury prone players in front of him taps out. He scored 19 points on 5-of-13 shooting (2-of-7 3PTS, 7-of-7 FTs) with two rebounds and one assist in 25 minutes off the bench. Tom Thibodeau loves to find reasons not to expand his role, but if Belinelli can’t bring more punch to the lineup then he’s going to have to unleash Lil’ Him. Unless I’m stacked in a 12-team league, I’m finding ways to roster Robinson with Hamilton looking at an absence of 1-2 weeks or more.
Jimmy Butler played 30 minutes and had a career-high nine rebounds to go with four points and a steal. He has shown flashes of solid play in the past but it’s unclear if he can make an impact in the box score, so just watch him for now in most formats. Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer all posted relatively normal lines in the loss.
A report surfaced early yesterday saying that Derrick Rose (knee surgery) could return to practice in a few weeks, and the bottom line is that nobody really knows his timetable at this point except for the head honchos in Chicago. I’ve been monitoring these sparse reports for about a week now and added Rose in a 12-team, 16-player big money league two Sundays ago. In that type of format, we’re looking for game-breakers and the juice is certainly worth the squeeze even if he rots on my bench all season. In a more standard 10-12 team format, I wouldn’t call him a must-add player just yet but I’m pretty sure I would make the move. There is simply too much upside with reports like this floating around, even if they could be overoptimistic.
Wednesday Night Lights
NY @ CHA: Raymond Felton (left hand) looks like a go for tonight’s game, which steals the thunder away from owners like myself that took a flier on Pablo Prigioni (and started him) in the Knicks’ four-game week. Jason Kidd (back) is being called probable to play, but he might not start and it’s possible he’s limited, so maybe there is some hope for Prigioni to give me some low-end stats and assists – which was the primary reason I rolled the dice with him. On a side note, he missed practice yesterday for personal reasons but is expected to play tonight. I gave my mea culpa for ignoring Kidd last week, though his back ailment is illustrating half of the reason why I wasn’t breaking my neck to add him. Still, he was a strong play before going down and is worth a hard look if he was dropped.
Gerald Henderson (foot) experienced no setbacks after Monday’s 14-minute outing. There were conflicting reports about a minute limit that night, but it’s still a wait-and-see moment in most formats. I have him held in a deeper 12-team league and I’d probably take a flier on him in a standard 12-team league unless I’m stacked. Yes, there is a logjam in the backcourt but his production before injury was intriguing. Ben Gordon is hot right now, so we’ll be watching to see if the streaky shooter can keep things up and if Ramon Sessions can regain his early season form.
POR @ IND: Terry Stotts confirmed what we thought on Monday night about J.J. Hickson, saying he went away from the big man because Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeman were playing well. Hickson missed out on an ugly blockout that resulted in LaMarcus Aldridge getting a facial, which was probably a better explanation. He’s going to have moments like these throughout the year, but will be a good bet for late-round value any night he suits up until further notice.
GSW @ DET: Klay Thompson struggled on Monday while David Lee and Stephen Curry are beasting. Rookie Harrison Barnes has been slipping and this will likely be a pivotal game for his ownership status. Jarrett Jack is back on the right side of the ledger, so another good game will likely cause a free agent frenzy. The matchup Thompson has against Kyle Singler isn’t the greatest, so don’t be surprised if he bounces back to a nice, but low-end performance. Brandon Knight will have a nice matchup against Curry, but Rodney Stuckey could see more touches at point guard if Knight falters for the second straight night. Greg Monroe, as long as he doesn’t overdo it, will probably light up the Warriors’ weak interior defense. After all, they passed up on him for Ekpe Udoh in the draft.
MIN @ BOS: Rajon Rondo returns from his Mexico vacation and two-game suspension. With Leandro Barbosa questionable it could lead to a perfect storm for Rondo to provide the proper apology to teammates and fans.
LAL @ NO: I love the mindless comments that Ryan Anderson should be traded to the Lakers because he plays well with Dwight Howard. The more I look at Magic film of the two playing together, the more it becomes evident that the duo could have used name tags to identify each other on the court. The only real question mark for the Hornets, err Pelicans, is whether or not Austin Rivers can ever get on track. Robin Lopez will have his hands full with Howard, but is a decent start nonetheless. Al-Farouq Aminu has slowed down a bit, but owners could do worse than him even on a busy night.
CHI @ CLE: Dion Waiters (ankle) didn’t practice yesterday and is a game-time decision tonight. The Cavs desperately need healthy bodies, but I wouldn’t arbitrarily expect them to be gung ho with the rookie. If they push him too hard, the next few weeks could get very ugly for the Cavs. I rolled the dice with him in a few competitive weekly leagues, so my fingers will be crossed.
DEN @ ATL: DeShawn Stevenson left yesterday’s practice after taking a shot to the head, and Kyle Korver (back) is questionable to play. Devin Harris is worth a look if you’re desperate for a spot-play as potentially the last man standing on the wings. Josh Smith has regained his form, but he needs another 5-10 big nights to satisfy the appetites of starving owners. The same thing can be said for owners of Ty Lawson, who doesn’t profile all that great against Jeff Teague, assuming Teague comes to play on that end. It doesn’t happen all the time, but Teague’s focus is the pimple on Kate Upton’s buttocks as he’s cruising so far this year. JaVale McGee had a solid outing last time out, and another one might start the hype train moving again.
MIL @ SA: Danny Green (hamstring) is questionable tonight and with Kawhi Leonard (quad) and Stephen Jackson (finger) out there could be some interesting beneficiaries, though it’s anybody’s guess who will pan out. Gary Neal (Achilles) is expected to play and has seen at least 32 minutes in his last three games, so give him a look but keep expectations in check. Milwaukee is everything we expected this season, and everything we hoped it wouldn’t be. I was talking with an NBA exec the other day and we determined that Larry Sanders is a better physical specimen right now than Dwight Howard. That’s why he’s blocking everything in sight. He’s a must-start player until Scott Skiles sends him to the D-League (kidding). I am in the first of my last two weeks holding out hope for Ersan Ilyasova in a standard-sized 12-team format. You know the story already. Stash him at your own risk. Mike Dunleavy could use a nice night to stave off drop questions, but he’s a mid-round value so drop him at your own risk.
ORL @ UTA: Derrick Favors was optimistic about the plantar fasciitis in his right foot earlier in the week, but a doubtful designation for tonight is a reminder that players aren’t always the best source of injury information. Marvin Williams (doubtful) is still experiencing concussion symptoms, too, and that would seemingly put him out indefinitely. Gordon Hayward isn’t necessarily tied to those guys, but their absences aren’t going to hurt. I added Enes Kanter in a few places and he’s a dark horse to benefit from Favors’ absence. Check out Randy Foye right now while guys are out and he is hot. Orlando’s fantasy guys are pretty well understood, with Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, J.J. Redick, Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic all deserving of a spot in your lineup.
TOR @ SAC: Keith Smart has consistently said that he expects Tyreke Evans (knee) to play, but he is an admitted fibber so owners should watch the situation closely. Evans was dealing with tightness as recently as Monday. The sky is falling in Sacramento. Anybody not named Tyreke, DeMarcus, Marcus, or Jason is probably not worth starting in standard formats on a busy night. If you’re looking for a flier in deep leagues give Mickael Pietrus a look if Linas Kleiza (hip) can’t go. Terrence Ross is an interesting stash right now, especially with the wings depleted, but realize that it might not be his time just yet. There is talk that Andrea Bargnani should come off the bench by beat writers, but Bryan Colangelo will have to eat some crow in order for that to happen. We love Jonas and the Kings profile as a team he can do well against, which applies to every Raptor across the board.
DAL @ LAC: Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is traveling with the team on their road trip but still isn’t close to a return. It’s good news nonetheless and owners may want to check a frustrated owner’s temperature on a reasonable buy low offer. Chances are if they made it this far they’ll want to see the situation through, but it never hurts to try, right? I don’t really care if Darren Collison starts or comes off the bench, as his play will dictate how much run he gets and his fantasy value will mirror how he plays. That and Derek Fisher is awful. O.J. Mayo is banged up but is a must-start player. We’ll also be watching to see how Jamal Crawford does tonight with Chauncey Billups back. If I had to judge after the last game, Doc might have the upper hand right now in our bet but it’s still early.