Belinelli the Bull’s-eye
The Clippers and Bulls don’t have too many fantasy surprises, but they made for a nice nightcap with all the dunking that was going on. Blake Griffin put up 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting with 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal and a three, while DeAndre Jordan (seven points, 10 boards, no blocks) and Jamal Crawford (10 points, three rebounds, five assists, no threes) had relatively pedestrian lines. I’m still waiting for Billups to return and play for about two weeks before ruling on whether or not Crawford was a sell-high guy weeks ago or not. Since he has gone from early-early round value over the season’s first two weeks to fifth round value on the year I feel pretty good about my take.
The Bulls have found a new fantasy asset in Marco Belinelli, who hit just 6-of-22 shots but rolled up a nice 18-point, seven-rebound, five-assist effort that included two steals and four 3-pointers. Pick him up while he’s hot because that type of upside is hard to find, even though we know it has the potential to be very short-lived.
News and Notes - Blazers Edition
Wesley Matthews (hip) did not practice yesterday and is still questionable for Thursday’s game against the Spurs. Nicolas Batum (back) participated in shooting drills, and Sasha Pavlovic is the recommended spot play if one or both of them cannot go. Still, he comes with a tremendous amount of risk playing against a team that isn’t the Raptors. Damian Lillard’s right ankle tweak doesn’t sound like a big deal.
Wednesday Night Lights
HAWKS @ MAGIC: We’ll be watching out for updates on Kyle Korver (back), who has been a must-start player in 8- and 9-cat formats for most of the year. Owners want to know if Josh Smith can carry over some of his momentum from last week, while Al Horford has been on a tear as of late. Orlando is going to be an up-and-down squad all year, so expect everybody to have some inconsistency from game-to-game. The fantasy play to watch is Andrew Nicholson, who showed up in the box score for the first meaningful time on Monday.
NETS @ RAPTORS: There was a players-only meeting and a surprisingly low amount of news coming out of Toronto regarding Kyle Lowry’s shoulder/right hand/ankle injuries and Andrea Bargnani’s shoulder injury. Bargnani said his elbow “didn’t feel right” and aside from numbness in his hand he said that something was “awry.” I grabbed Ed Davis in one 12-team league and with Amir Johnson suspended a game he’ll get to audition for more playing time. Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, a fantasy player by his own right, said that Davis would be the biggest beneficiary of any time off by Bargnani and I’m going to test his hypothesis for the chance Bargs misses time. Of course, this upgrades Jonas Valanciunas as a stash and Johnson could end up winning the beneficiary battle, but it’s hard to see Dwane Casey bending over backwards to play him after the mouthpiece incident. As for Lowry, he wasn’t coming back into Monday’s close game and it would make sense for the Raptors to shut him down for a few games so he can get right, though I haven’t heard anything to back that up. Jose Calderon will be a trade candidate all season and there’s no greater time than now for the Raps to showcase him. He should be owned in all leagues right now for the chance he starts putting up must-start numbers. We’re going to learn a lot about Terrence Ross’ development if he continues to ride the pine amidst all these injuries. Mickael Pietrus and Linas Kleiza might swap taking nights off to keep their knees right.
CAVS @ PACERS: It’s not going to have big implications, but I’m looking forward to seeing Ben Hansbrough run the second unit. He can’t be as bad as D.J. Augustin, which is odd because Indy beat writers were so high on the guy coming into the year. Otherwise, it will be the George Hill and David West show, as usual.
BULLS @ SIXERS: Evan Turner is proving me wrong about his ability to show sustained improvement, but it’s worth noting that he’s still having a tough time cracking top-half of the draft value because of poor peripherals. Consider moving him while he’s flexing his popcorn muscles every night, but only in even-money scenarios while it looks like he's 'getting it.' Spencer Hawes has been making some noise, so a good night tonight might make him a standard league pickup. Andrew Bynum had yet another questionable report return about his knees, and I am well past the point of caring about his day-to-day travails. In a weekly league or league with games played limits it probably makes sense to hang on until his situation plays itself out, but what a mess.
CLIPPERS @ BOBCATS: Mike Dunlap has been throwing his weight around a bit, but I don’t see how owners of Byron Mullens should be worried. The other big men around there are DeSagana Diop, Brendan Haywood, and Bismack Biyombo for crying out loud. Yes, they could move Michael Kidd-Gilchrist into a power forward role but the kid has enough on his plate. Biyombo is worth a hard look for his ability to get boards and block the ball, and it’s possible the team is ready to roll with his development starting right now. As long as Jeff Taylor is getting heavy minutes then somebody is going to be the odd man out, and I like the group in the following order: Gerald Henderson, Taylor, Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon. We haven’t seen Kemba Walker take a hit yet but with all those guards needing time I can’t imagine that he doesn’t take at least an incremental hit, and his shooting is something we still have to watch.
WARRIORS @ HEAT: My Warriors head into Miami with their chests all puffed out, but their easy schedule shouldn’t have national writers putting out blasphemy that Mark Jackson is a Coach of the Year candidate. Until he can draw up a late-game play and not make stupid coach-by-narrative mistakes that talk should be off the table. Stephen Curry and David Lee are on fire, Klay Thompson is humming along just fine, and the bench duo of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry are on track as of right now. Harrison Barnes is struggling and is the odd man out right now. The Heat are getting solid play out of Dwyane Wade, who was left for dead by most folks last week.
NUGGETS @ WOLVES: Ricky Rubio (knee) isn’t likely to suit up, so the status is quo heading into tonight. The bigger news of the last 24 hours was Kevin Love’s gripes about Minnesota management from Adrian Wojnarowski’s hit piece from yesterday, and this type of meticulously planned action is neither surprising nor important. Surely Wolves management and coaching knew that Love was pissed about not getting the fifth year in his deal, and they probably knew that this piece was going to hit the net. Look for Love to go heavy tonight to back those words up. Nikola Pekovic was dealing with an ankle issue but it didn’t appear to be bothering him during yesterday’s practice.
KINGS @ BUCKS: Ersanity, or some destitute man’s version of it, is underway and there is no better team than the Kings for him to keep up the good work. He is probable to play with a leg contusion and if you don’t recall this was my last week to decide on whether or not to part ways. Ilyasova helped his cause with a solid week, and it’s shaping up to be an easy call for me now that I’ve waited this long. He does well and he stays, if he face-plants he is gone. Ekpe Udoh’s absence from practice yesterday due to a wrist injury can only help Ilyasova’s cause, and Mike Dunleavy’s knee injury has me officially spooked. A mid-round value for most of the year, I just don’t think it’s worth gambling that everything will be okay in a situation as muddy as Milwaukee. If we get a good report in 24 hours, I might hold him in the one spot I still have him in. Marquis Daniels is a Scott Skiles guy and could be a sneaky play over the next week or so in deeper formats. I’ve written about the Kings enough this past week, but Tyreke Evans (knee) practiced yesterday and is a good bet to play. Just don’t listen to a word Keith Smart says without running it through some sort of filter. Also, don’t be surprised if Smart has a quick hook with DeMarcus Cousins after his ball-punching incident from Monday. Local team-sponsored talk radio teed off on Cousins which is usually a sign that the team is behind something.
PELICANS @ THUNDER: The Thunder roll along into a game they should control easily, and they are one of the easy going fantasy squads this season now that Scott Brooks finally figured out that Serge Ibaka can play. Finally.
WIZARDS @ ROCKETS: James Harden (ankle) “should” play tonight and this will be the pivotal game for owners gambling in his once four-game week. Jeremy Lin turned an ankle at the end of yesterday’s practice but nobody around the team was “overly concerned,” so barring a surprise at shootaround we should get a positive report pretty early on today.
MAVS @ CELTICS: Shawn Marion (groin) is heading toward a game-time decision it seems, and that just gives a few extra minutes out to the entire group, with Vince Carter and Jae Crowder getting the biggest boosts. Darren Collison has been running pretty well since his move to the bench, which isn’t surprising, and it wasn’t surprising that his value took a big hit after a fast start. None of the Dallas beat writers were too thrilled with him at the time, even though he was putting up big numbers. The Celtic to watch in this contest is Jeff Green, who has flirted with standard league value over the past week.
GRIZZLIES @ SUNS: Alvin Gentry got a vote of confidence from Suns owner Robert Sarver, which may be code for I don’t want to pay another coach to run this trainwreck of a team. Nothing is working, Gentry is messing with everybody’s minutes, and nobody seems happy. Marcin Gortat made comments again about his playing time and touches, and while it’s not winning him any acclaim with much of anybody it’s probably an accurate window into what is going on. Gentry wants to find the right combo of guys and a la Keith Smart he has alienated them all. Goran Dragic (flu) returned to practice and will likely play tonight, and he’s the only must-start in the group and even he gets his minutes and touches clipped by Gentry. Mike Conley has been slumping a bit but nobody cares because he is a fantasy stud. The Grizzlies boast a consistent fantasy squad, and right now the only question mark is Tony Allen. He is returning from a groin injury and prior to that he was moving in on 12-team value.
SPURS @ JAZZ: Derrick Favors practiced yesterday and will be a game-time decision tonight. Signs are pointing to him playing and it’ll be interesting if Ty Corbin goes back to the failed policy of splitting PF minutes directly between Favors and Paul Millsap. Al Jefferson is giving up as many points as he is scoring it seems, and Utah’s over-reliance on him on the offensive end is a drug that Corbin can’t get off of. The Spurs are running fairly consistently right now, with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan on fire, Manu Ginobili a solid starting option, and Danny Green in a hot streak right now. All of them should be in most lineups.