Monday night was a little strange, with solid fantasy veterans like Carmelo Anthony, Manu Ginobili and Rodney Stuckey out with injuries, and guys that many casual fans have never heard of having big nights.
Houston’s Jeremy Lin isn’t exactly an unknown in the NBA universe, but after exploding onto the scene last season in New York, has seen his numbers fall in Houston this year. But right on cue, he blew up against his former team for 22 points and eight assists, all while handing the Melo-less Knicks their first loss at home this season. Lin is returning sixth- or seventh-round value in nine-category leagues, but has also played better recently, dropping 38 points and seven assists against the Spurs on Dec. 7. But he scored a total of 22 points in the following three games before tonight’s explosion against his former team, and it’s important to remember that James Harden was out the night he lit up the Spurs. He’s still a solid fantasy point guard, but it’s becoming clear that nights like this one are not going to be the norm for him in Houston.
Chris Copeland, who does qualify as true “unknown” for the Knicks, started in place of the injured Anthony (ankle) and exploded for a career-high 29 points along with three 3-pointers, five rebounds, two assists and a block as the Knicks lost at home for the first time in 11 games. Just how obscure is Copeland? Well, the rookie is owned in just one percent of Yahoo! Leagues (it could have been zero before tonight’s game), but is owned by Rotoworld’s own Ethan Norof in our 30-team league. Unfortunately for Ethan, he was on his bench last night in the weekly league, and I doubt he was in anyone’s lineup last night. Would I pick up Copeland in that league if he were available? Sure. But with Melo targeting a return from his injury on Wednesday, this looks more like a fluke than anything else. Keep an eye on Copeland going forward, but you’d be better off picking up a guy like…
Shannon Brown. Brown is hot for the Suns, averaging nearly 16 points, three rebounds, a steal and 1.4 3-pointers over his last five games, including a line of 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting, five rebounds, a steal and two 3-pointers in a win over the Kings last night. He’s starting at shooting guard for the Suns and has hit double figures in eight of his last nine games, and it’s time to pick him up. In fact, I’m a little mad at myself for not including him in this week’s edition of Waiver Wired. Luis Scola nearly triple-doubled against the hapless Kings, but the minutes are up and he should be owned in all leagues after a brief benching. And Markieff Morris, who played 15 minutes, can be dumped. Jared Dudley had 20 points and four more 3-pointers, and should now be owned in all leagues, while center Marcin Gortat is out of his funk and had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in the win.
Jimmer Fredette hit 7-of-13 shots and 5-of-5 3-pointers off the bench in the Kings’ loss to the Suns in 22 minutes of action. Aaron Brooks isn’t exactly killing it and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jimmer or Isaiah Thomas (who cooled off with six points on 3-of-10 shooting) moves into the starting lineup soon. But again, Fredette’s not a guy I’m rushing to pick up. It’s also worth noting that Marcus Thornton missed another game to be with his sick mother, his fifth straight missed game, but is expected back for Wednesday against the Warriors. James Johnson had 11 points, three rebounds, two steals and three blocks off the Kings’ bench. This was the type of line he was posting regularly in Toronto last season, but we’ll have to see him start doing this on a regular basis before moving on him. Francisco Garcia started in place of Tyreke Evans (knee), so I threw him in my 30-team lineup. Garcia had just six points in 19 minutes, and starting him in a 30-team league might even be a stretch at this point. As for Evans, he’s day-to-day, but I get the sense he’s going to miss time after possibly rushing back too early from his initial injury.
Pablo Prigioni came off the Knicks bench and hit 5-of-10 shots and two 3-pointers for a career-high 14 points, five assists and two steals. His strong play might have limited Jason Kidd tonight, who cooled off with five points on 2-of-9 shooting, but Kidd should bounce back in the next one. Prigioni looked good in his limited run tonight, but there’s no reason to take a flier on him in most leagues.
Lamar Odom is suddenly starting to look like a basketball player again and had six points, 11 rebounds, two assists and a two blocks in 29 minutes off the Clippers bench. His minutes have been on the rise and he’s hit double-digits in scoring in two straight games for the first time since January of last year. He’s not a player I’m ready to pick up yet, but given his recent play, he’s at least worth putting on your radar. Matt Barnes had 10 points, four rebounds, two assists, a block and two 3-pointers on the night, and I picked him up and stuck him in a few lineups this week, as he’s doing similar things on a nightly basis.
Marco Belinelli should be moving from obscurity to household name in fantasy after scoring 13 points to go along with four rebounds, two steals and two 3-pointers in Monday’s loss to the Grizzlies. He’s now scored 13 or more points in seven straight games, knocking down 17 3-pointers over that stretch. I’ve got him on several teams and in several lineups, and I plan on riding him until Richard Hamilton returns from his foot injury, and maybe even after that if Belinelli keeps the starting SG job for the Bulls. He’s earned it, in my opinion.
Nando De Colo played 23 minutes off the Spurs’ bench and the backup point guard had 14 points, six assists and a steal on 6-of-9 shooting. De Colo isn’t going to be consistent enough to own in most leagues as long as Tony Parker is healthy, but is another guy worth a look in dynasty leagues, and could become a must-own player if Parker goes down with an injury at some point. It’s also worth noting that Gary Neal struggled (3-of-11 shooting) and Manu Ginobili was out with a thigh injury.
Marcus Morris is starting for the Rockets with Patrick Patterson out indefinitely with a foot injury and had 13 points, three rebounds and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes last night. He’s averaging 16 points, 4.5 rebounds and two 3-pointers in his two recent starts for Patterson, and is worth a look if Patterson is going to miss a lot of time with his injury. Greg Smith had eight points, eight boards, a steal and a block in 18 minutes, and is another guy who will benefit if Patterson’s out for an extended period. Carlos Delfino was a staple in almost all my lineups last week, as he was heating up coming into that one. Of course, he fell off the face of the earth last week and had me hating life in fantasyland, but decided to make a comeback last night now that I’ve dropped him across the board. He hit 6-of-9 shots and four 3-pointers for 16 points and five rebounds, and he could be ready to start playing well again. I no longer trust him and am not taking the bait, but I will be keeping an eye on him.