It’s good to be back, folks. I’ve been on assignment for ProBasketballTalk reporting on the Kings relocation saga. There is nothing more depressing than watching that great fanbase get railroaded by their broke owners, and if you want to see what a pen crossed with a blowtorch looks like – go ahead and click the link. With plenty of action yesterday and a big night ahead of us, let’s do this thing.
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Let’s Get A Shved of Ourselves
The Wolves dusted the middling Sixers last night in a 17-point game that wasn’t as close as the score suggested. Entering this week I took a big gamble on Alexey Shved in a deeper 12-team big money league, using just over $200 of a $1,000 FAAB budget to secure the rookie for one of my more troubled fantasy units. The thinking was along the lines of what I’ve been saying here for weeks, which was that Shved has plenty of talent, the Wolves love him, and he profiles to be the last guy standing in a backcourt of injury risks.
Needless to say I’m thrilled with the early returns as he posted 17 points with four treys, three rebounds, four assists, and a block in 29 minutes off the bench. He’s shooting 54 percent from distance over his last three games, and while those numbers will come back to earth and Ricky Rubio’s return will hurt – I’m tethered to his upside and I’m not letting go.
J.J. Barea (foot) is still not 100 percent but he double-doubled with 11 points, 10 assists, one steal, and one three. He’s capable of doing this on any given night even in a limited role, but his field goal shooting and Rubio’s return leave him a step or two behind Shved in the fantasy pecking order. Luke Ridnour scored 10 points with four assists in 21 minutes, as his back ailment and the lopsided score made this a good spot for him to get some early rest. Feel free to drop him for an above average free agent, but owners shouldn’t rule him out for late-round value when Rubio returns if they decide to use him in a starting shooting guard role.
Nikola Pekovic (six points, five boards) and an under the weather Kevin Love (six points, 2-of-10 FGs, 10 boards, five assists, one three) were casualties of the blowout and both played less than 27 minutes. Josh Howard double-doubled for the first time in three years, scoring 16 points with 10 boards, a steal, and four turnovers in the win. Give him a look as long as Andrei Kirilenko (back) is out.
I Used To Be In a Barbershop Quartet
The Sixers sure seem a lot worse than their 10-8 record right now, as they’re searching for leadership, consistency, and depth on seemingly a nightly basis. Jrue Holiday (13 points, five boards, nine assists) is doing his part to lead the team, and only had three turnovers last night, and teammates Evan Turner (19 points, 8-of-20 FGs), Thaddeus Young (13 points, two boards), and Jason Richardson (14 points, seven boards, four assists, two steals, one block) have been consistent fantasy options, Young's slow night notwithstanding.
Beyond that barber shop quartet, however, it has been slim pickings for the team in both fantasy and reality. Lavoy Allen (six points, five boards, two steals, one block) has been a deep league option lately but he’s not busting down anybody’s doors, while Spencer Hawes (six points, four rebounds, one three, 22 minutes) has simply been a bust and looks either injured or timid, or both. Nick Young (toe) did not play and is officially day-to-day, and Dorell Wright (12 minutes, six points, two treys, three boards) has completely fallen off after a promising start to the year.
Bangin The Drum
The Wizards shocked the Heat last night to grab their second win of the year, and probably bought Randy Wittman at least a week without any major revolt in the process. Heading into the game Wittman went with yet another starting lineup combination, moving Chris Singleton into Kevin Seraphin’s starting slot.
My drum-banging for Seraphin from a few weeks back has been a mixed bag so far, as he has struggled with his shooting and like his teammates his role has been a question mark from night-to-night. Still, he has returned late round value over the past two weeks and last night he played a critical role down the stretch, finishing with 16 points, 10 boards, two assists, and a block in 31 minutes. The Wizards certainly rely on Seraphin for offense, albeit in sporadic fashion, so I still like his outlook and if he can get his shooting back on track he’ll have mid-round upside.
Trevor Ariza suffered a calf injury during the third quarter last night and is being called day-to-day, but he left the arena in a walking boot and there is talk that the injury could be more serious than not. Jordan Crawford stepped into the void and scored 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting with three treys, three boards, six assists, and a steal in 31 minutes. Both he and Bradley Beal (10 points, two boards, three assists, one block, 17 minutes) will have an opening to improve their consistency. Crawford has some breakout potential even if his peripherals leave a lot to be desired. Beal has plenty of upside, too, but owners should continue to treat him as a stash due to his still shaky role.
Chris Singleton went for nine and nine with a block, and may have been called on for 35 minutes tonight to combat the Heat’s athleticism. He’s a deep league special at best, as is Martell Webster (13 points, two threes, 5-of-5 FTs, 32 minutes). Nene (seven points, five boards, three assists, one steal) played just 17 minutes, and he’s just a deep league asset until he can prove healthy enough to get consistent burn.
Return of the King
Mario Chalmers left last night’s upset loss to the Wizards with a left ring finger injury and did not return. X-rays taken were negative, and with Norris Cole (groin/hamstring) a scratch it’s shaping up to be the LeBron James show at point guard. The King wasted no time in posting one of the season’s best fantasy lines in a triple-double effort, scoring 26 points with 13 rebounds, 11 assists, three steals, and two blocks in a whopping 43 minutes. Kevin Durant is running away in the battle of the consensus top-two fantasy picks so far, but look for James to do some serious damage if he’s going to be the team’s only point guard in the short-term.
Shane Battier (knee) went through a limited shootaround but did not play last night, so Mike Miller (11 points, three treys, four boards, 29 minutes) could be worth a look for his long distance shooting. Dwyane Wade scored 24 points with two rebounds, three assists, and two steals, and is slowly dusting himself off after a slow start with an average of third round value on the year. Ray Allen (11 points, three treys) is sitting on mid-round value so far this season, and Chris Bosh continued to blast away at his ADP with 20 points, 12 boards, and four assists in the loss.
The story in L.A. right now, other than the losing and Dwight Howard’s free throws, is the sudden and sharp decline by Pau Gasol. He has essentially been ruled out through Friday due to his knee tendinitis and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him miss more time after that. The coincidental timing of his demotion, knee issues, and trade talk was a bit too convenient on first glance, but the knee issues indeed appear to be holding him back. I can’t speak for the rest of the situation, as reading between the lines it looks like the Lakers are setting him up for a trade. And while it feels like that is a foregone conclusion right now, even if they don’t trade Gasol it looks like Mike D’Antoni and management are dead set on playing a stretch four as much as they can.
My last recommendation on the big man was to wait until a big game if owners wanted to move him, but with the story shifting further out of favor it isn’t a bad play to look for trade partners that believe they’re buying low. Don’t fire sale the guy, but any early round value in return is worth a look. Otherwise, just get him on your bench and decide what you want to do when he gets healthy. A trade to the right location could return him to elite status pretty quick, assuming the knee issues aren’t going to linger all year.
Kobe Bryant continued to dominate touches and hit just 14-of-31 shots, but managed a 9-of-12 mark from the line to finish with 39 points, six rebounds, two assists, two threes, and two steals in the loss to Houston. As long as he feels like he has to carry a massive load every night, he’s going to be a top-five play and that’s that. Just don’t be surprised if Steve Nash's (leg) eventual return causes him to tone it down a bit.
Dwight Howard’s foul shooting (8-of-16) is becoming a bigger distraction every night, but fantasy owners have known what this is all about for years. He scored 16 points with 12 boards, a steal, and four blocks. Antawn Jamison moved into Gasol’s starting slot and scored 15 points with nine rebounds, two assists, one steal, three blocks, and three treys in 36 minutes. He’s a perfect fit for D’Antoni’s offense and has his confidence back, and has a great shot at must-start status with or without Pau in the lineup. Metta World Peace (nine points, four rebounds, one three, one steal) has cooled off a bit, but I fully expect him to be startable for the foreseeable future, as well.