On a busy 13-game night there were a ton of fantasy developments, including timetables being delivered on Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry, big nights by Ed Davis and C.J. Miles, value swaps in Brooklyn’s frontcourt, Byron Mullens panic, the Washington guard movement, Ricky Rubio’s nearing return and so much more. So let’s do this.
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Moments before tip-off against the Nets there were big announcements on the status of Kyle Lowry and Andrea Bargnani, which was foreshadowed by 24 hours of radio silence. Lowry was diagnosed with a partial tear of his triceps and will miss 10 days by the most recent report. Somehow there was no mention of his right hand injury and it goes without saying that his ankle could use some rest, as Lowry has officially crossed the line into injury-prone player. There has also been a growing focus on his bad attitude in Toronto, which was a concern coming out of Houston that was somewhat mitigated by the so-called relationship Dwane Casey has with him. Obviously, the relationship isn’t good enough to get the selfish play and lackadaisical defense out of Lowry's system, but it’s still early. Jose Calderon is set to go on another tear while auditioning for his eventual trade out of town.
Bargnani’s injury is much more cloudy, but also much more serious as he has a torn right elbow ligament and a strained right wrist. Beat writer Eric Koreen shared an anecdotal 1-2 month timeline for similar injuries, and at a minimum it sounds like he’ll miss more than the 10 days noted in the same announcement for Lowry. So let’s get down to business. I have no problem cutting Bargnani because it’s not even clear if he’ll be a legitimate fantasy force this season. It’s obvious he is one of the main problems in Toronto, as his defense and rebounding have become so insufferable that virtually everybody is calling for him to lose minutes. With his injury history and likelihood of being traded, I see no reason to pass up on a free agent in 12-14 team formats with him sitting on the outside of the top-125 when healthy this season.
Bargnani’s injury, along with Amir Johnson’s one-game suspension, left Ed Davis free to live up to the hype he has been getting around here. Davis responded with a season-high 24 points, 12 rebounds, and three steals in a whopping 45 minutes of action. If you’re reading this for the first time, it’s probably too late for you to grab him and you should probably be following us on Twitter. I also made a beeline to see if Jonas Valanciunas (15 points, 6-of-6 FGs, four rebounds, two blocks, 26 minutes) was available as I’m considering him a must-own player in 12-team formats. This injury to Bargnani is very likely to mark the changing of a forgettable era for the Raptors, and Valanciunas is the future.
Calderon predictably went off for 10 points and 15 assists to go with some other goodies, while DeMar DeRozan had 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting with five boards, two assists, four steals, and one block. I like him as a slight buy low candidate because he’ll be asked to carry more load in both the short and medium-term for the Raptors. Mickael Pietrus bombed with just five points on 2-of-8 shooting in 28 minutes, and inconsistency takes a lot of the shine off when he can’t stay on the court. Linas Kleiza (knee) did not play and he’s a poor man’s Pietrus.
With all of the wing injuries in Toronto, it was telling that rookie Terrence Ross was only able to muster seven points on 3-of-8 shooting with two rebounds, two steals, and one three in 21 minutes. As you can see the versatility is there, but the minutes and touches aren’t -- even with a red carpet rolled out in front of him.
Dealing with Deron
Deron Williams has disappointed with mid-round value on the year, and last night was no different as he hit just 5-of-16 shots (including two threes) for 12 points to go with four assists. His shot selection has been garbage this season, he looks overweight, and he is an injury risk. Conventional wisdom says it’s a buy low moment, and based on his current value it certainly is, but I just don’t like being in the D-Will business.
Joe Johnson scored 23 points and hit four threes. You guys know where I stand here, so try to sell him high if you’re on the same page. Gerald Wallace tweaked his right knee in Tuesday’s game, and he played like a guy with a tweaked knee last night with nine points on 2-of-5 shooting, one rebound, three assists, and one steal in 25 minutes (zero fouls). I said it yesterday but hang onto Andray Blatche (14 points, nine boards, three assists) until further notice. Kris Humphries (11 points, two boards, 18 minutes) is radioactive in both league and fantasy circles, and the shine is long gone for an average player at best on a playoff team. Blatche may simply slide over to the four when Brook Lopez reportedly returns on Friday.
King of the Kiddie Pool
Omri Casspi (illness) didn’t play in last night’s loss to the Pacers and Daniel Gibson (elbow) did play, but Gibson is a non-factor on the basketball court right now and could probably use a few weeks off. This opened the door wide-open for C.J. Miles to continue his tear, as Miles scored 28 points for the second straight night with a season-high six 3-pointers. I’m not cutting anybody with long-term value to grab Miles, who has plenty of problems in Byron Scott’s eyes (defense, shot selection, effort) and will have Dion Waiters to contend with. It’s also worth noting that the Cavs went limp in the second half because of those same gripes that Scott has with Miles, so the contrast of what he’s getting and what he wants is going to be fresh in his mind after last night’s 31-point swing. Eventually, Miles will find himself on the wrong side of that equation.
That said, if you have dead weight or a low-end player with no upside, Miles is the perfect fill-in as he’s being forced to produce right now for the kiddie-pool deep Cavs.
Otherwise, everybody for the Cavs struggled and played with low energy, sparking some truly bad fantasy lines. The best advice is to consider that this could be a fairly common occurrence this season, but to throw last night’s specific results out for evaluation purposes.
The Best Excuse for No Offense is a Good Defense
Lance Stephenson left last night's win over the Cavs with what is being called a “moderate right ankle sprain” and it’s possible he will miss some time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter in fantasy leagues with the Pacers turning into the old Bears and Ravens squads of football seasons’ past. They’re wearing teams down with their defense and hoping their key guys can scratch across enough points to make it work.
George Hill can get his (17 points, 5-of-16 FGs, seven boards, three assists) but he can’t get anything going for anybody else. David West (18 points, nine boards, seven assists, one steal, two blocks) is the only other consistent option the Pacers have right now, so the two players get their numbers and everybody else is usually on their own. Paul George has done much better within that framework lately and had another huge night with 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting, three treys, seven boards, and three assists, but he’ll need to stay in sync with Hill and West’s offense or look forward to inconsistency.
Roy Hibbert (four points, 12 boards, one steal, three blocks, five turnovers, 1-of-7 FGs) gets the ball in awful spots, which is everybody’s fault, and nobody respects the offense as a whole so he goes through a maze of dive-bombing guards and unstressed defenders. Ben Hansbrough (six points, one assist, 17 minutes) was promoted to backup PG over D.J. Augustin, who made Jimmer look like Jordan the other night, but the fresh blood did nothing for Gerald Green (1-of-8 FGs, two points) or anybody else on the bench.
Sometimes You’re the Bug
The Clippers tangled with the Bobcats in Charlotte and eventually won, but it was a lot closer than the two team’s recent play would have suggested. Jamal Crawford’s mini-slide continued as he hit just 2-of-12 shots for nine points and turned into a facilitator with eight assists. He also added three rebounds, one steal, two blocks, and a triple, so the night wasn’t a total wash. Doc and I have bet on opposite sides of Chauncey Billups’ impact on Crawford. I feared Billups would cut into Crawford’s minutes and touches, while Doc believed Billups was a bug on Crawford’s windshield.
Matt Barnes made another appearance on the radar with 19 points, three treys, four boards, and two blocks, and he has been playing at a mid-round level for two weeks now. The same thing is true for Eric Bledsoe (13 points, eight rebounds, one steal, two blocks, one three, 22 minutes), so don’t be afraid to give both of them a look despite their shaky bench roles. I need to see Lamar Odom (five points, nine rebounds, two steals, three blocks, 24 minutes) do much more, many more times before I put him on a watch list in the vast majority of formats.
Give me all of your Byron Mullens panic. I get it, he’s not that good, but he’s also not nearly as bad as many people would like you to think. An easy target playing the shooting guard role on offense most of the time, he is called soft and on defense he’s not delivering highlight-reel blocks. Over the past two weeks he has been clinging to 14-team value, but that takes into account his worst slump that included an injury-shorted game for good measure. He’s still a top-100 value on the year and what goes down must go up, and we saw signs of that as Mullens woke up from a dreadful first half to finish with 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting, two threes, eight boards, two assists, and one block. Even with Bismack Biyombo (39 minutes, 10 points, nine boards, two steals, no blocks) stepping up, the only remaining big men are DeSagana Diop, Brendan Haywood, and Tyrus Thomas. The Bobcats run much of their offense through Mullens, and he’s going to compete on defense well enough to keep a substantial role barring a massive face-plant.
Jeff Taylor (15 minutes, zero points) might have turned back into a pumpkin last night, while the bench triumvirate of Ben Gordon (eight points, 3-of-11 FGs), Ramon Sessions (11 points, 3-of-10 FGs, three assists, and Gerald Henderson (12 points, four boards, two assists, 4-of-9 FGs) all struggled to gain traction with none of them topping 24 minutes. I like them in the following order: Henderson, Sessions, Gordon. Sessions and Gordon can be dropped in 12-14 team formats, while Henderson should be held a little bit to see if he can retake his starting position from Taylor.