My Porridge Is Too Cold
Deron Williams went from one of the league’s most enjoyable players to one of the association’s more difficult players in just under three years. He ran Jerry Sloan out of Utah and his time with the Nets has been bumpy to put it nicely. He complained in the last 24 hours about Avery Johnson’s offense having too much one-on-one, just a few years after complaining that Sloan’s flex offense didn’t have enough one-on-one play. I couldn’t help but believe that this complaint is a reflection of Joe Johnson’s arrival, which ironically was a massive blunder of an acquisition done to appease Williams. For his part, Williams looks a bit out-of-shape and he’s the one initiating the offense improperly at times, and once again the squeaky wheel is looking to get greased.
So it’s fitting that he struggled once again last night, scoring 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting with just five assists while getting handled by Mo Williams. Joe Johnson (21 points, 7-of-15 FGs, four rebounds, two assists, three treys, two steals) has been the beneficiary of these struggles, and I’m still keeping with my sell-high recommendations. Williams will improve, at least a little bit, and that will come out of Johnson’s bucket. When one factors in that Johnson is hovering around a top-100 value in 8- and 9-cat leagues, he still has way more name value and his poor peripherals are why I am just as down on him as I was to start the year.
Andray Blatche’s (eight points, four rebounds, 16 minutes) party appears to be over, while Kris Humphries (eight points, 11 boards, 28 minutes) is back in the starting lineup. Frankly, if I had to choose between the two I’d rather own and bench Blatche than deal with Humphries at all this season. At least Blatche has upside, while Humphries will be a mess all year long. If you have to drop Blatche, it’s understandable because he’s likely to be inconsistent until further notice.
The Indy offense stagnated against the Bucks last night, who boast a number of effective defenders to throw at main cogs George Hill (18 points, 6-of-16 FGs, two assists), Roy Hibbert (eight points, 10 boards, no blocks, 4-of-10 FGs), Paul George (16 points, 6-of-15 FGs, 10 boards, five assists, one steal, one block), and David West (12 points, 5-of-14 FGs, six rebounds). The good news is that the fantasy pecking order has been fleshed out and there shouldn’t be too much ambiguity about that from night-to-night, and George has gotten back on track after a difficult start.
Stay of Execution
If you’ve been following, I gave Ersan Ilyasova a stay of execution early last week so I’m not going to drop him over last night’s two points on 1-of-7 shooting with four rebounds, three assists, and one steal in 14 minutes. It is definitely annoying that Scott Skiles BFF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (10 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, one block, 34 minutes) is back in the mix, but his knee is holding on by a thread and he’s playing a bit over his head right now. If Ilyasova has a nightmare week the guillotine will move back into position for the following seven-day period.
Mike Dunleavy (knee) returned and picked up where he left off, scoring 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting with three treys, six rebounds, and two blocks. He tailed off a bit before going down, but at a mid-round value I’d be hard-pressed not to pick him up in any 8- or 9-cat format. Brandon Jennings scored 34 points on 13-of-22 shooting with a full stat line, and if anybody is whining about his field goal shooting do them a favor and take the top-24 player off their hands.
I’m not quite sure who is more smitten with Larry Sanders, Skiles or yours truly, but he had another five blocks last night and he’s a must-start player in 8- and 9-cat formats until further notice.
The Celtics got run by the Bulls last night and the only notable achievement was Rajon Rondo’s season-high 26 points. Courtney Lee scored 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting with no threes, and with Avery Bradley (shoulders) likely to return to a starting role in early January there is no real fantasy appeal. Jason Terry scored just two points on 1-of-2 shooting and it’s going to be tough but seeing out his late-round value is recommended until we learn for sure that it’s going away due to the shooting guard jam.
The Bulls, on the other hand, were full of notable achievements as Joakim Noah triple-doubled with 11 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, and three blocks, Luol Deng bounced back from a terrible Monday with 21 points (11-of-12 FTs), four rebounds, and three blocks, and Carlos Boozer went for 21 and 12 with a steal and two blocks. Marco Belinelli slowed up with 10 points, one block, and zero threes in his 34 minutes, and he deserves some slack if you’ve been relying on him – at least until Richard Hamilton returns. Kirk Hinrich is useless in most 8- and 9-cat leagues and last night was a prime example, as he scored zero points with two rebounds, two assists, and one block in 24 minutes.
Nate Robinson finally busted out of his slump, scoring 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting with five threes, three boards, and four assists in 22 minutes off the bench, so naturally a report emerged early this morning that his roster spot is in jeopardy. We’ll pretend that didn’t happen here for a second and come around to that afterward. His 12-16 team value in fantasy leagues hasn’t changed too much all season despite the ups and downs, but missing his window to produce with Kirk Hinrich out has cooled his overall value proposition. If he’s going to be a stash he needs to turn it on when given the opportunity. I think he can, but it might take a long-term injury to Hinrich before Tom Thibodeau will turn a blind eye to the defensive and basketball IQ issues.
As for this report, I find it interesting on a few levels, but mostly because rookie Marquis Teague hasn’t shown much if anything in real game action this season. The Bulls can cut Robinson before January 10 without paying the rest of his $1.1 million salary, which isn’t a lot of money. This means one of three things. 1) The Bulls have seen enough of Teague in practice to make a call, which isn’t likely. 2) They have an idea of when Derrick Rose will return, which is exciting but not exactly something you bank on to save chump change. 3) They want to put a charge in Robinson to get him to defend and get with the program. Keep in mind that Hinrich could dissolve on the court, and the Bulls probably still want to make a playoff run. Maybe the situation is a confluence of all three things, or none of this, but I don’t see giving this threat much credence until we learn more about its real reasons.
Taj Gibson scored 13 points with five rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block, but these numbers are fluky and he has a right ankle injury to play through. Moving along.
Holiday Season Blues
Jrue Holiday (foot) did not play last night and the Sixers fell one game below .500 with their 107-100 loss to the Mavs. Evan Turner did his thing with 17 points, five boards, five assists, one steal, one block, and three 3-point shots, and he has moved into a top-65 position on the year. It feels like he’s more valuable than that, but he’ll need to continue this deep-shooting trend and also improve on his defensive numbers to gain much more ground. With upside that appears to be capped in that respect, this certainly feels like a sell-high moment to me.
Our game blurber said that Jason Richardson should be ‘held in deep leagues,’ but for a guy with mid-round value on the year that’s been struggling I’d say a high-volume 5-of-14 shooting night is just what the doctor ordered. He finished with 11 points, six rebounds, four rebounds, and three steals, and I’m calling him a must-own player in 12-team formats and the only thing keeping me from being more aggressive is his injury risk. When he goes back to his early season form I’ll feel dumb for not going with my gut here. Nick Young scored eight points and hasn’t been worth owners’ time unless you count one empty 30-point outburst in a sea of McDonald’s fish fillets a haul.
Dorell Wright nabbed all the headlines on the Philly side last night, with a season-high 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting, seven 3-pointers, five rebounds, and two assists in 30 minutes off the bench. It feels like he should have been more of a factor this season and it’s still possible the team or player has been covering up an injury, but whatever the case may be he needs to do it again in a crowded wing situation before owners in regular formats consider an add. Spencer Hawes picked up the pace yet again with 18 points, seven rebounds, and a block in 27 minutes off the bench, and if you need a big man you should go ahead and make the add.
The Mavs’ Derek Fisher experiment hit a snag when he left last night’s game with a right knee strain and did not return, so Darren Collison (12 points, 2-of-7 FGs, 7-of-8 FTs, two assists, two steals, 31 minutes) is going to get a crack at resuscitating his fantasy value. Collison has been providing low-end value coming off the bench, and I’d caution owners not to get too high or low here. He is what he is and Dirk’s return will more or less cap any upside.
O.J. Mayo did his thing with 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting (2-of-2 3PTs, 8-of-9 FTs), three rebounds, eight assists, and three steals, as his top 15-20 season continues to roll onward. Chris Kaman will be worth starting anytime he is healthy, as evidenced by his 20 points, seven rebounds, and one block last night. Shawn Marion should be back in lineups, too, as he had another nice night with 14 points, nine boards, two steals, and one block. Vince Carter (three points, two blocks) has been struggling lately and belongs on the wire when he’s not getting it done.
What else can we say about Tim Duncan that we haven’t already said? He bombed on the Nuggets for 31 points, 18 rebounds, six assists, two steals, five blocks, though it wasn’t enough to secure a road win. He’s a top 5-10 fantasy play in 9- and 8-cat formats, respectively, and yes those are sell-high numbers with the various risks we’ve discussed around here a million times. I’d probably limit any deal to top-30 value with no major red flags. Danny Green hit just 1-of-10 shots for three points in last night’s loss to the Nuggets, and with Kawhi Leonard (quad) coming back soon things could get tight for Green. He’s still posting mid-to-late round value on the year in 8- and 9-cat formats, though, so owners will probably want to limit any drops to above average free agents unless they don’t need Green’s peripheral stats. Leonard needs practice time before playing according to Pop, which sounds like a championship contender not taking any chances with a guy they plan to ride heavy.
Manu Ginobili (quad) returned to action last night, scoring 16 points on 5-of-15 shooting (including two threes) with six rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one block in 30 minutes. He should be in most lineups when healthy. Tiago Splitter continued to solidify his role with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block over 23 minutes in another start at center, and there’s enough upside to go with his season-long late-round value to consider an add. Yes, Pop is a mess and he could demote Splitter at a moment’s notice, but Splitter has the chance to be a nice player and if he’s making inroads on that then Pop is going to reward it.
Ty Lawson (12 points, 4-of-15 FGs, five assists) and Andre Iguodala (14 points, nine boards, six assists, two steals, one block, two threes) continued to see-saw, and I’m kicking myself for letting the chorus saying that wouldn’t happen get to me. Danilo Gallinari’s shooting woes continued as he hit just 9-of-21 shots, but the 28 points and nine boards with an otherwise full line are a good look.
Kosta Koufos had 14 rebounds and four blocks and is a pretty underrated center. He’s averaging seven points, eight boards, and 2.4 blocks over his last five games, and is worth a look in deeper center leagues. JaVale McGee played just 11 minutes and still had 10 points and three blocks, as owners continue to tap their fingers waiting for the breakout. Corey Brewer may have staved off the grim reaper with 16 points, two threes, and four boards, but owners shouldn’t feel connected at the hip for the low-upside player. Kenneth Faried beasted with 19 and 11 and apparently yacked on the bench. Hey-O!
Make Your Layups
The Bobcats always play the Lakers tough and they would have stolen a road win had Gerald Henderson (19 points, nine boards, four assists, three treys) not missed a layup off a rebound in the game’s final seconds. Henderson should be added in all formats now that he’s putting up numbers like this in the starting lineup. Kemba Walker continued to silence doubters like me with 28 points on 12-of-25 shooting, five rebounds, seven assists, and three treys, and Bismack Biyombo continued to make his case for ownership with eight points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks in 33 minutes.
Byron Mullens would have had a huge night if not for his 5-of-19 shooting mark, finishing with 13 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, one steal, four blocks, and three treys in 44 minutes. If he can ever put it all together he could do some serious damage, but for now he’ll be in inconsistent player that has leveled out with solid late round value this season. Ramon Sessions scored 20 points with four rebounds and six assists against his old squad, and is worth a look now that he’s somewhat turned the page from a very cold stretch.