Byron Mullens played just 19 minutes last night for the Bobcats, but I suspect it was due to matching up with the Knicks. He had to guard Melo, which is not good, and the Knicks play a small lineup, with a dominant Tyson Chandler the only big on the floor for most of the night. So I’m thinking the Cats let Michael Kidd-Gilchrist deal with Melo, Bismack Biyombo (30 minutes, 12 boards) guard Chandler, and then put a bunch of guards in to match up and run with the small Knicks lineup. Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon both played very well, Gerald Henderson looked great, and rookie Jeff Taylor played a ton of minutes. I’m more worried about Ramon Sessions, who played just 14 minutes, than I am about Mullens. If Sessions ends up being the odd man out again on Friday against the Bucks, owners may be forced to cut ties and move on. Walker and Gordon are must-own players, and if Henderson (who had 11 3-pointers last season) continues to knock down treys this year (five in four games), he’ll quickly become a hot pickup as well. Don’t drop Mullens or Sessions, but pay close attention to what happens with them on Friday.
Andre Drummond and Rodney Stuckey both played very well for the Pistons on Wednesday, while Brandon Knight and Kyle Singler were awful. You all know I’ve been high on stashing Drummond all year and his 15 points, 12 boards, two blocks and 31 minutes were fun last night. Of course, Greg Monroe’s foul trouble was a big part of the puzzle, but Lawrence Frank, at some point, has to suck it up and run Drummond out there. Stuckey had 17 points, four boards, nine assists, a steal and a 3-pointer off the bench, but I still think Frank sees him as a shooting guard more than a PG. Knight was in foul trouble and should bounce back, but Stuckey may be a nice player to take a flier on in case this is start of a nice run for him. Singler had just three points and three rebounds in 32 minutes last night, and while I like him, I don’t own him in a single league, and have little interest in doing so. I think we’ve seen his ceiling and I’d rather fly on a guy like Drummond who could be a beast, instead of a serviceable player like Singler at the end of my roster.
Jamal Crawford had 20 points and three more 3-pointers for the Clippers, while Chauncey Billups has been shut down for about a week with ankle swelling. As I’ve been saying, Crawford, and not Billups, is my guy here.
Atlanta’s Lou Williams looks like a must-add for me if he’s available, and San Antonio’s Gary Neal is averaging 17 points and has hit 11 3-pointers over his last five games, making him worth a serious look in all leagues. If you can dump Isaiah Thomas (DNP-CD) for one of them, I’d do it.
Orlando's Nikola Vucevic backed up his season-high 15-rebound game with 16 boards (and just six points) last night, and is averaging 12 points, 12 boards and more than two blocks per game over his last four. If you need a center, this is your sign. Glen Davis is also hot and had 18 points, 12 boards and two blocks for the Magic last night.
Randy Foye was a dud with one 3-pointer for his only points last night on 1-of-7 shooting in 30 minutes, but had scored 19 and 20 points in his previous two. Stick with him. Marvin Williams returned from a three-game absence with a concussion and had eight points for the Jazz, but it was enough to throw Gordon Hayward back into a funk (0-for-6, four points, 23 minutes). I am not much of a Hayward fan as long as Marvin is starting.
Jonas Valanciunas had just three points and three boards in 16 minutes for the Raptors, while Andrea Bargnani was awful with eight points and no 3-pointers on 3-of-14 shooting. Bargs has scored 8, 23, 4, 21 and four points, along with a DNP-ankle over his last six games, and can be benched if you have better options. Mickael Pietrus came out of nowhere in a start at small forward (Linas Kleiza was out with a hip injury) for 21 points in 40 minutes. Keep a close eye on him Friday and think about grabbing Pietrus if he plays well again. Ed Davis had his second double-double of the season, but I’d only move on him if he replaces Valanciunas as a starter. And if you own Valanciunas, stop what you’re doing and drop him for Drummond or Sanders.
Darren Collison gave way to Derek Fisher again and played just 18 minutes for Dallas. Get him on your bench and, sadly, think about dropping him, as it’s going to be a rough ride as long as Fisher (15 points) is starting.
Marco Belinelli scored 23 points in a start for the Bulls last night, but it’s going to have to be a pretty deep league for me to think about grabbing him while Richard Hamilton is out.
Take a look at Corey Brewer’s game log for the Nuggets and keep an eye on him, as he had 19 points last night and has been playing well.
News and Notes
Andrew Bynum is not expected back until Jan. 1 at the earliest, and while this isn’t exactly a surprise, that date is only about three weeks away. No, I don’t think it’s time to pick up Bynum, but once he is tagged with an actual target date, I might be talked into taking the bait.
Trevor Ariza is expected to miss about three weeks with is calf injury, so look for Jordan Crawford and Martell Webster to step up their game in his absence. Crawford is now a must-own player, while Webster is worth a deep-league look.
Pau Gasol may or may not be ready to play for the Lakers this weekend, but if I had to guess, I’d say he won’t play until next week at the earliest. There was a report on Wednesday that Steve Nash made the Lakers promise not to trade Gasol, but I have a hard time believing that would stop Jimmy Buss from doing so. I have been down on Gasol all season and while it’s true that he might be a decent buy-low candidate, I’m not a fan of trading for rebounders with bad knees who have to play beside Dwight Howard.
Nick Young is hoping to return to the Sixers’ lineup on Friday from his toe injury.
Tony Allen is iffy for the Grizzlies on Friday due to his lingering groin injury.
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