Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
I’m going to have to spend a weekend watching Nuggets tape before I can give you a clear-cut answer as to what is wrong there, but the easy answer is that the parts just don’t fit as they suffered another convincing loss last night, this time to the Clippers. Ty Lawson (15 points, five assists) is hindered to some degree by Andre Iguodala’s (nine points, two assists) ball-handling and vice-versa, and Danilo Gallinari (1-of-10 FGs, seven points) is suffering from the same issues and is lower on the food chain. Andre Miller scored 12 points with six assists in his 23 minutes, and I bet when I take out the notepad I’m going to see a lack of rhythm in the offense – which is what happens when you have too many cooks in the kitchen. Kosta Koufos scored 16 points on 8-of-8 shooting with 10 rebounds, one steal, and one block, and is now a late-round value on the season. He should be owned in all 12-team, 8- and 9-cat formats.
The Clippers have now won 14 straight games and I like their make-up to an extent. They have a nasty edge that a team needs to win, but they’ll need to keep from being boneheads as a result of it. They get that edge from a combination of tough, dirty, and filthy good players. Chris Paul leads the bunch and had 14 points with eight assists, Blake Griffin is quietly enjoying a solid fantasy season (punting aside) and posted 13 points with six rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one block, and Jamal Crawford had 22 points with three treys in the win. I think it’s safe to say that owners should have sold-high earlier in the season if they could, with Crawford settling in as a mid-round value rather than the early-round value he appeared to be early in the year (and Chauncey Billups hasn’t been a factor yet). Matt Barnes has long been picked up in competitive leagues, so his 20 points with three treys, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks is your last and final sign. Lamar Odom might actually be ready to play this season, as he logged 30 minutes with six points, 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block, but the cynical side in me can’t help but wonder if having his entire reality show entourage plastered all over the telecast assisted in his playing time. Either way, he’s worth watching because the old Odom is a very useful fantasy player.
Wednesday Night Lights
MIA @ CHA: Gerald Henderson (shin) practiced yesterday which bodes well for his status tonight. I rolled the dice on him in one league, so I’m feeling okay about it as of last night. Byron Mullens is looking at about a month for his ankle injury give or take, which isn’t great for anybody relying on his late round value but it’s probably going to help in the heartburn department. I cut him in some daily leagues but in my 12-14 team leagues I’m simply benching him. His absence is just going to ease the strain across the entire rotation as the Bobcats will likely play small a lot going forward. Ben Gordon (knee) is also on the injury report, and the healthy guys could have nice nights if the absences continue.
CLE @ WAS: Anderson Varejao (knee) burned me in one spot by being expected to play on Wednesday, and then reversing course by not traveling with the team for that contest. Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller are worth a look as spot-starts. In Washington it will be interesting to see how Shelvin Mack is integrated into the lineup, and Kevin Seraphin and Nene’s situations will be high on the fantasy watch list.
CHI @ IND: This game might be hit with bad weather, so pay attention to reports about its status all day. Derrick Rose (knee) is doing more and more with his teammates, and it sounds like the over/under on his return is around the All Star break. That’s enough for me to consider him a must-own player for weekly leagues and daily leagues with games played limits, because that type of upside doesn’t grow on trees. There could be some situations where owners should opt against holding the roster spot for him, but somebody in your league should be able to make space for Rose. Gerald Green (ankle) is questionable and that’s only good news for Lance Stephenson in very deep formats.
NO @ ORL: Eric Gordon (knee) has been running for a few weeks and says conditioning is the only thing keeping him off the floor. His curiously timed return to action in advance of his January 15 trade window opening is vintage Gordon. He should be owned in all formats. Hedo Turkoglu strikes me as somebody that will hurt Gustavo Ayon’s value more than he will help his own. Turkoglu is questionable for tonight and owners should simply be aware of his return in case he proves everybody wrong and jumps out of the gates.
DET @ ATL: Tayshaun Prince is a game-time decision with an ankle injury, and I’d expect his value to be divided up and shared by the entire group. Devin Harris (foot) is questionable and Lou Williams is a candidate to start at shooting guard again as Larry Drew tinkers. Williams has been a solid mid-round value all year so I have no idea why anybody would consider dropping him in any 8- and 9-cat format, but that talk has been out there so go figure.
HOU @ MIN: Kevin Love (eye) is expected to return tonight, and the Wolves continue to be on my dial as one of the league’s best teams to watch.
BKY @ MIL: The Larry Sanders beast show is in full effect, and I’d like to find somewhere that I can bet on him to win DPOY for amusement only. We’ll be watching to see if Ersan Ilyasova still sucks in fantasy, and because I only own him in weekly leagues he’ll have this week to get straightened out before he’s droppable in a handful of deeper 12-team formats.
PHI @ MEM: Jason Richardson will miss tonight’s game due to a back injury, and if there was anything keeping me from being more bullish on him it was his injury risk. It would be nice to see a strong week out of Mike Conley, though with just two games this week it’s possible he landed on a few of your benches.
TOR @ SA: It’s eerily quiet in Toronto right now, with no updates on Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, and to a lesser degree Andrea Bargnani. Bryan Colangelo is likely fighting for his job, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a splash sooner or later. Alan Anderson is in a prove-it week, as a productive showing and 27-30 mpg role could put owners making that add a bit more at ease.
GSW @ UTA: My Warriors are scaring me, as there is way too much fluff coverage of them from inside and outside of the Bay Area, and hearing the way guys like David Lee and Mark Jackson talk you’d think the team had already climbed the mountain when in reality they had a few nice wins but beat up on a light schedule. They started their dive early with bad showings against the Hornets and Kings and then lost to the Lakers in a game that meant a whole lot more to Golden State than it did L.A. Their defense is atrocious, as usual, and their coaching is still bad. But with the inflated record and plenty of media friends, Jackson is getting COY talk that’s going to look downright silly if the team falls apart in a tougher 15-game stretch. We’ll want to watch to see if any potential struggles change roles for Jarrett Jack and David Lee, who have been enjoying beating up on the lesser (or sleeping) competition. Carl Landry would be a guy to watch if that happens and is already worth owning in many formats. The Jazz are a mess, too, with Gordon Hayward getting benched so Randy Foye can play big minutes while the team stands around watching Al Jefferson operate. Big Al is a productive black hole scoring the basketball, but he doesn’t really pass and therefore everybody else has trouble finding a rhythm. It’s also a problem when a high volume player doesn’t defend his position on the other end, so I’d say it’s a strained situation in Utah to say the least. Mo Williams’ injury has opened the door for facilitators Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson to help grease the wheels.
LAL @ DEN: As discussed above, we’ll be watching to see if the Pau Gasol and Steve Nash show can roll along, while Denver needs to find a way to get all of their players going at the same time.
NY @ PHO: Michael Beasley missed Sunday’s game with an illness and it’s possible if not probable that he was the cause of the Suns’ flu throughout this year. They’re still having their problems, but it feels like they would be a lot better off if they could play a handful of their guys heavy minutes and live with the results.
SAC @ POR: The Blazers have looked worse than the Kings in the two games they’ve played this season, and that alone should be cause for concern in Portland. You have to work hard to be that bad. DeMarcus Cousins should play tonight and anybody comparing him to Dwight Howard because DMC hired agent Dan Fegan just doesn’t follow the situation closely enough. Admittedly, I haven’t dug all that hard to find out what really happened between he and Keith Smart, but I will say that the Kings remind me of a few teams I played on where the veterans all sucked and the younger guys were the best players. It creates an awkward pecking order if the roles aren’t clearly defined, which is Keith Smart’s specialty. Beat writer Jason Jones said that “somebody” wasn’t happy about Cousins’ return after just one game and if you read between the lines there it’s Smart, who was probably dressed down to his birthday suit by the big man and it probably happened because Smart has run this team into the ground. Cousins has a problem with the way he expresses things, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t right. To this point, all we know is that key players aren’t happy with Smart, and only the veterans that shouldn’t be playing are speaking up in favor of the coach.