The Knicks and Nets rivalry looks like it’s going to be a good one going forward, and the Knicks took Round 2 last night in exciting fashion – with a Jason Kidd 3-pointer finding the bottom of the net for the game-winning bucket. Grand-Pa-Pa is a key component to what the Knicks are doing on offense, and I’ll be the first one to say I was wrong about his ability to stay on the court while being productive. I’m still concerned about the return of Iman Shumpert as well as Kidd’s ability to stay healthy, but Kidd makes things go in New York and it’s not a foregone conclusion that he’ll disappear from the fantasy landscape.
Kidd scored a season-high 18 points with six 3-pointers, six rebounds, six assists, and a steal in 37 minutes, and owners should give him a pretty wide berth given the numbers he has been putting up. Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 45 points on 15-of-24 shooting (5-of-7 3PTs, 10-of-11 FTs) with five rebounds and three assists, and though J.R. Smith didn’t hit a three he still had 16 points and four rebounds in the win. What makes this offense work is the commitment to Anthony on the offensive end, his continued growth and development in a favorable situation his people carved out, and the convergence of players that have bought into Mike Woodson’s defensive approach. It helps that Anthony has the championship fever after hanging out with guys that have rings this summer during the Olympics, but it also helps that it is a veteran roster that finally complements one another. Tyson Chandler (five points, seven boards) patrols the middle, Anthony attracts the double-teams, J.R. Smith is deadly on the ball reversal, Raymond Felton is more than capable of making plays, and Kidd is a perfect spot-up facilitator once the penetrators have done their work.
If only they could keep that chemistry all season….
Amare Stoudemire (knee) is “closing in” on clearance for practice and video of him showed a healthy, albeit out-of-game-condition player and that is to be expected. I’m not going to make any warranties about his explosion, but it’s safe to say he is on track for a return and by virtue of that he shouldn’t be on any wires. The worst case is likely to yield a low-end player that remains owned in 12-team formats all year long, and the best case is a late-mid round upside with only minor injury hassles. I don’t expect him to steal a lot of touches from the overall group, because frankly I don’t think he can beat guys on a consistent basis anymore. Can he beat them some of the time? Can he be effective on open looks underneath? Can he move to the right spots to get the ball? Yes, yes, and yes. I just don’t see the Knicks changing what they do when they have better playmaking and ball-handling options in Carmelo, Kidd, Felton, and Smith. If STAT can get his offense in the flow of the game and provide some relief on the glass, the Knicks are going to be a tough out in April, May, and maybe June.
These Tickets Aren’t Going To Sell Themselves
Brook Lopez (foot) has already been ruled out for tonight’s game in Toronto, and it’s yet another lesson for fantasy owners and analysts that teams and players often don’t tell the truth. Those tickets don’t sell themselves, yanno? Andray Blatche put up good numbers once again in Lopez’s place, scoring 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting but he had just four rebounds to go with his two steals and that glass-work had to grate on Avery Johnson. Blatche has played well on the whole, though, and with Kris Humphries’ (two points, two boards, eight minutes) somewhat predictable decline it’s possible he can hold some value whenever Lopez returns.
Gerald Wallace looked like he might exit late with a right knee injury, but he stayed in the game to put in a key tip and finished with 17 points, four rebounds, four assists, and a steal in 43 minutes. Don’t be surprised if you see his name pop up on an injury report, per usual. Reggie Evans started for Humphries and made noise with a season-high 18 rebounds, five points, one steal, and one block in 33 minutes, but I can’t see him surviving the eventual shakeout when Lopez returns.
Ty Lawson’s owners had to be pretty peeved when the relatively safe play bombed to start the season, but he has come on lately and had another good night with 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting, five rebounds, seven assists, and four steals. I was worried about a see-saw effect with he and Andre Iguodala, who scored 12 points with eight rebounds and three assists, and I probably should have had both guys a bit lower in my initial rankings. I wouldn’t panic on either guy but they necessarily do a lot of the same things on offense.
Kenneth Faried (three points, six rebounds, one steal, two blocks, 23 minutes) has slowed down lately but we’ve seen that movie in the beginning of the year and we know how it ends. Plan accordingly. I grabbed Corey Brewer in a deeper 12-team big money league and he hasn’t disappointed yet, and he put up another 15 points with three treys last night. Ride him until the wheels fall off.
Disappearing in Detroit
The Pistons gave up a 17-point lead and lost to the Nuggets last night, with the big fantasy story being the decline of Greg Monroe, who hit just 1-of-9 shots for six points, 12 boards, three assists, three steals, and five turnovers. He watched the end of the game from the bench and that hasn’t been a rare sight lately, which underlines the one concern we had about Monroe entering the year – his disposition toward disappearing every now and again. Still, he has always bounced back and there is no reason to think that it won’t happen again.
Rodney Stuckey scored all 17 of his points in the second half last night, so he’s still not helping owners in the heartburn department, but his turnaround is almost complete after a viciously bad start. I managed to stick it out where I own him for the most part, but it was a gut-wrenching, self-loathing experience. Kyle Singler’s (nine points, 4-of-12 FGs) value went in the tank right about the time that Stuckey got himself together, and owners can move on for a hot free agent. Andre Drummond (seven points, 11 rebounds, two steals, one block, 21 minutes) had a productive night and owners will want to try to stash him where they can for as long as they can. I have one league where I have added and dropped him at least five times.
Last Men Standing
The Wizards eked out an ugly win over the Pelicans last night as both teams shot 32 percent from the field. And just so you’re not confused, I don’t think I can call the Hornets anything other than the Pelicans going forward. It just doesn’t seem right. So the Wizards got their third win of the year in a 77-70 barnburner, but as many owners hoped for Jordan Crawford and Bradley Beal were given the reins and told to go with A.J. Price and John Wall out for the next month or so. Crawford scored 26 points on 9-of-24 shooting with six rebounds, four assists, two threes and a block, and Beal had 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting with seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one three as the duo both played more than 38 minutes each.
Crawford and/or Beal might have struggles with their field goal shooting, but Randy Wittman knows he can’t run Shaun Livingston (16 minutes) out there too much. Both youngsters are must-own players and Crawford is a must-start player right now. Kevin Seraphin might have been dealing with the flu so we’re giving him a break after his eight-point, eight-rebound night in 16 minutes. Nene double-doubled with 10 and 10 but I’m not looking his way until he can play more than 25 minutes per night.
I Promise Never To Call One of These Sections ‘The Pelican Brief’
The big story for the Pelicans was the return of Anthony Davis from an 11-game absence due to an ankle injury, and he didn’t waste any time in producing with 13 points, eight boards, three steals, and three blocks. The buy low window is shut. Ryan Anderson scored all 17 of his points in the first half and finished with an ugly 7-of-21 shooting line, but added 11 rebounds to go with his three treys and I have absolutely zero worry about Davis impacting his production beyond a superficial degree.
Robin Lopez scored just two points on 1-of-3 shooting with 10 rebounds and five blocks in 22 minutes, which tells us that his touches and minutes are set to go down despite the nice boards and blocks. Al-Farouq Aminu was a surprise starter and he didn’t do anything with his opportunity, hitting just 2-of-8 shots for six points, six boards and one steal in 27 minutes. Beat writer Jimmy Smith opined that he wouldn’t be surprised if rookie Darius Miller (zero points, two steals, one block, 12 minutes) ended up starting again, but he hasn’t done anything to warrant much fantasy consideration at this point. Aminu is waiver wire material after appearing to have his role locked down to start the year.
Austin Rivers started and had a somewhat respectable 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting (no threes) with five rebounds and three assists. His peripherals are still awful and he has a ways to go in 8- and 9-cat formats. Greivis Vasquez hit just 2-of-14 shots for five points with eight rebounds, five assists, and a steal, but didn’t have a turnover and that in of itself is a slight win for him lately.