This Dose is jam-packed with 10 games from last night and 11 games tomorrow night, so we’re getting right into it.
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Point Guard Controversy in Toronto?
Jose Calderon is on fire right now and helped power the Raptors to a much-needed win over the Cavs last night. He scored 23 points with five rebounds, six assists, three treys, and two steals and also prompted beat writer Ryan Wolstat to call into a question a starting point guard controversy based on post-game comments made by Dwane Casey. This doesn’t mean that there is a controversy, but Lowry’s attitude and defense have been issues and the team has been playing more cohesively under Calderon right now. My gut tells me that there will be some hand-wringing and motivational ploys to send a message to Lowry, but that all that we’ve seen here is a cracking of the door for the idea of a battle to take shape.
Ed Davis (four points, four rebounds, three assists) plunged further into the scenario I outlined in a few places last week, which is that place in which Amir Johnson (17 points, six rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block) shows up at his house and eats everything in the fridge. I think both are likely to trade off good nights while Casey rides the hot hand, but with Johnson having a bit better fantasy game he’d be the guy I want after he took the lead in the position battle. Terrence Ross continued to be a mess with just three points and one rebound in 15 minutes, so once again owners can clear the board and consider him a low-priority stash.
Alan Anderson played well enough last night to deserve his own paragraph, scoring 18 points with five treys, six rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 32 minutes off the bench. He is a prime example of a player that the media hasn’t caught up with yet, as he put up numbers at the end of last season that many wrote off because the Raps were fully tanking. One beat writer called him “Scotty Pippen lite” last night, and more accurately he’s a guy that is doing many different things correctly and he has forced his way into minutes. I just dropped Davis to add him in a shallow 12-team league, and while I’m not sure he can fend off the Raps’ mediocre but Bryan Colangelo-approved wing corps it’s worth betting that he can.
Wait on Waiters
The Cavs were ripped by the local media and Byron Scott for their defense and the only two players that got average marks were Kyrie Irving (23 points, full line) and Anderson Varejao (22 points, 10 boards, one steal, one block). Varejao knocked knees during the game and though the whirling dervish finished with 39 minutes, he’s not doing owners any favors with the in-game injuries this week. It’s acceptable if you want to call him a mild sell-high candidate, but I’m not giving more than a one-round discount in a deal at this time.
Dion Waiters (ankle) started in his return to action last night, and was predictably rusty hitting just 4-of-13 shots for eight points, four rebounds and one block in 28 minutes. When Scott is talking about defense, he’s taking about Waiters and C.J. Miles the most and tonight was no exception. The difference between the two players is that Waiters has a future with the Cavs and Miles is a body at this point. Miles logged 30 minutes and scored 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting with four rebounds, two threes, and one assist, but the minute his offense isn’t above average his minutes will be replaced, if possible. With Daniel Gibson (leg) leaving last night’s game with yet another injury, it would appear that Miles will have every opportunity to stick in the lineup for now – so ride him until the wheels fall off or a hot free agent hits your radar. As for Waiters, I benched him where I could for the rust factor and will do so until he puts up startable numbers once again.
The Kyle File
The Hawks wandered into an overtime game against the Wizards and eventually won, with typical results. Jeff Teague scored 13 points with a normal stat line, and Al Horford hit just 2-of-11 shots for five points, but had 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a block. Kyle Korver wasn’t hyped as much as I would have liked in his return, and he has wasted no time picking up where he left off with 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting (including three treys), seven rebounds, two assists, and one block in 39 minutes. He’s a vital part of what the Hawks are doing and will be a mid-to-late round value when on the court. Devin Harris left during the second quarter with a foot injury and did not return, which will help clear up minutes for guys like Lou Williams (24 points, 40 minutes). Josh Smith backed up his 1-of-10 shooting effort from Saturday with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 13 rebounds, three steals, and five blocks.
The Washington Injections
John Wall’s knee situation took a turn toward cloudy when he contradicted reports by saying he had a stress fracture, and the team came out later and emphatically called it a stress reaction. The difference is that a break more or less occured in the former whereas the latter indicates the patellas are 'about' to crack. It feels like this situation could turn in any direction, but we’ll get an update in a few days when his Synvisc injection wears off and he can test his knee on the court.
Even if we had news to suggest that Wall was going to return tomorrow, owners should still be clinging to Jordan Crawford tightly after his 27-point, 11-rebound, 11-assist triple-double from last night. Yes, he has problems with his shot selection, field goal shooting, and turnovers, but there’s too much upside to be concerned with what Wall is doing. When you factor in the mystery surrounding Wall’s injury, there is no decision to be made. Bradley Beal can be considered a poor man’s Crawford right now, and he posted another inefficient but productive night with 17 points on 8-of-22 shooting, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He’s a must-own player right now based on the same principles.
Last night Randy Wittman ran with yet another weird lineup, playing Earl Barron significantly down the stretch despite a 2-of-10 shooting mark and plenty of mistakes with the game on the line. Barron did grab 14 rebounds with a steal and four blocks, but his four turnovers were a mess and he looked like a D-league guy trying to make a name for himself on a 10-day contract. Part of Barron’s usage was due to Kevin Seraphin’s (four points, five rebounds, 20 minutes) foul trouble, and it’s pretty clear that Seraphin is in Wittman’s doghouse at least a little bit.
It’s an odd situation because Emeka Okafor (25 minutes, six points, two rebounds) is awful on most nights and Nene (18 points, four rebounds, six assists, three steals, one block, 24 minutes) is on his last legs. It would make sense for the Wizards to setup a consistent arrangement with Seraphin to give him starter’s minutes in exchange for a focus on rebounding and high-percentage shots. But instead they toy with his minutes and he naturally tries too hard to make an impact, with the kicker being that this aggression is taunted when the Wizards call his number repeatedly when they need an inside bucket or the outside shooters go cold.
Trevor Booker (strained knee) received a platelet rich plasma shot on Monday and he expects to begin “ramping up his rehab” in one week. I’m not concerning myself with Booker in the places that I own Seraphin, because Booker needs to prove he can stay on the court still, and I’m still holding Seraphin with an eye on the second half of the season. Assuming Wittman is still around, Seraphin still profiles as the healthiest of the bunch and eventually Wittman is going to have to stop toying with the lineup. The players already pushed back on him once. As for Nene, he’s still suited for deep leagues until he can get a handful of games under his belt with increasing minutes.
No Love Lost
Ricky Rubio (knee) took a night off for prescribed rest and the Wolves ran into a rejuvenated Heat team in a 103-92 loss. Nikola Pekovic didn’t look like a guy with back issues in his 18-point, 12-rebound effort, though he did have six turnovers. Just keep an eye on him as you normally would for injury updates. Kevin Love’s shooting woes continued with just 2-of-10 makes from the field, but the 11 points, 18 rebounds, and three assists are enough to keep owners at the pump. There were also reports of arm and shoulder tweaks from last night, and Love is a bit dinged up to say the least.
Alexey Shved got the Dwyane Wade treatment and had his second straight stinker with two points on 1-of-7 shooting, though he did have eight assists in his 31 minutes. Since I’ve already penciled in a 2-3 week period of struggling while Ricky Rubio gets back on his feet, with an expected emergence that may or may not coincide with an injury to one of his injury-prone backcourt teammates – any struggles are already built into my equation. Looking at his struggles in a vacuum though, he’s had his hands full lately defensively and it has broken his rhythm on the other end. He’s still a dynamic talent that’s learning his way so better days are ahead. The idea of he and Rubio terrorizing defenses is tantalizing.
Dwyane Wade continues to show flashes of that situation we see every season in which a superstar takes the first two months of the year to rest or get in shape. He scored 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks in 27 minutes, as reporters continue to talk about the explosion still being there. He’s sitting at third round value in the games he plays, and he’ll need to turn some of that talk into consistent action before he makes a move back up the rankings.
Spreading the Floor
Gordon Hayward (seven points, four rebounds, five assists, two blocks, 21 minutes) is working hard for his numbers so far this season. He gets benched when he misses five or more shots in a row, which is understandable for a player if he’s not contributing in other ways but right now he’s splitting minutes with 3-point specialist Randy Foye. Foye hit 3-of-7 shots for eight points with one rebound and three assists in 27 minutes during last night’s win over the Nets, and his 42.3 percent 3-point percentage is the only reason he is winning the battle for minutes lately.
It’s yet another example of the Jazz being over-reliant on Al Jefferson (16 points, 11 rebounds, 8-of-15 FGs, no steals or blocks) for their offense. They pound the rock every night and the ball rarely comes out, so Ty Corbin wants to space the floor because defenses are already diving in with reckless abandon. Hayward shoots just 34 percent from distance on the year, and he’s four points under his 45.3 percent career mark from the field, and in this philosophy that's all enough to make his versatility a moot point.
I obviously don’t agree with the decision to use Jefferson so heavily if he’s not willing to pass out of double teams, especially when his defense is crippling the team on the other end, but it’s only going to change with an extended losing streak. All is not lost for Hayward owners, though, as he is likely to revert back toward his career shooting numbers and sooner or later questions will arise about the core player’s utilization.
Marvin Williams’ (11 points, 10 rebounds, 30 minutes) return isn’t helping Hayward as our blurber noted, but he’s operating in a small forward bucket with DeMarre Carroll (two points, three rebounds, 18 minutes). The real issue here is that if Hayward is losing the position battle with Foye, and there are no small forward minutes for him to spill into then the inconsistency starts to creep in. I have always owned Hayward with an eye toward the second half of the season. A trade, an injury to the injury prone group of Mo Williams, Marvin, and Al Jefferson, or the organization's desire to develop their core can all be reasons Hayward duplicates last year’s late-season run.