Aaron Bruski

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You Gotta Be Kidd'n Me

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It was a jam-packed 13-game night so we’re going to cut to the chase right away.  To get real-time news and analysis click here to follow me on Twitter.


Heat Check


LeBron James kicked off his four-game week in style as the Heat eventually put away the Bobcats last night.  He scored 27 points with 12 rebounds, eight assists, four steals, and two blocks, and is climbing back into the No. 2 overall fantasy ranking behind Kevin DurantDwyane Wade continued to show revitalized play with 29 points, nine rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block, and one three, but will likely have a play reviewed by the league in which he kicked Ramon Session in the mid-section.  Bobcat players weren’t happy after the game as it appeared to be intentional, but color me skeptical about the superstar’s chance of getting suspended a la DeMarcus Cousins


Ray Allen (shoulder) did not play and is day-to-day, while Chris Bosh (14 points, four rebounds, one steal) played despite scratching his eye in Tuesday’s game.  Mario Chalmers scored 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting with four threes, four assists, and two steals, and after a 20-point effort including four threes on Tuesday he is worth a look.  It’s possible his injuries were the cause of his problems over the past month and now he’s ready to produce. 


Missing Mullens


Hakim Warrick has a history of showing up out of nowhere to put up big numbers, only to crawl back into his hole shortly after, and he will seek to prove this most recent iteration of that pattern isn’t a fluke after he scored 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting with nine rebounds in 38 minutes last night.  Byron Mullens could miss a month due to his severely sprained ankle, and part of Mullens’ appeal was that he had little to no competition for minutes in the general sense.  Warrick has that same appeal, though his history should be kept in mind when making add/drop decisions.  I’d have a hard time passing on Warrick for any player that doesn’t produce at least mid-to-late round value or have long-term upside. 


Gerald Henderson (shin) started and got a heavy workload, scoring 14 points on 5-of-19 shooting with seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block in 44 minutes.  Ben Gordon (knee) did not play and along with Mullens’ absence, he is well-positioned to make a fantasy impact when he gets the crooked shooting number fixed.  The same goes for Kemba Walker (27 points, 9-of-20 FGs, four threes, six rebounds, six assists, two steals) and Ramon Sessions (19 points, 7-of-12 FGs, five assists, one three), though Sessions could struggle a bit when Gordon eventually returns.  Bismack Biyombo provided another low-end effort with seven points, 10 boards, and one block in 38 minutes, and I’d be hard-pressed to pass him up if I need a big man.  In theory he should go nowhere but up as he continues to improve. 


Kyrie Getting Down


The Cavs squeaked by a Wizards team having won just three games on the season, but have done well to win two straight games without Anderson Varejao (knee) on the floor.  Kyrie Irving hit just 8-of-23 shots for 26 points and a full stat line, and gets special bonus points for leagues that count getting photographed with hot women on his lap, but negative points in those formats that believe players are role models that don’t have fun.  For the lowdown on all that check out Larry Brown Sports, which is my favorite all-in-one sports site outside of the NBC Sports network of sites.  Dion Waiters hit just 3-of-11 shots (including two threes) for nine points, one rebound, and one steal in 27 minutes, and I have him slotted as a bench stash in 10-14 team formats for the time-being.  He has plenty of potential to improve as the season goes on, but he’s going to have to ram his head against the wall for a while before the light bulb goes on.  If it does, the makeup of Cleveland’s squad will allow for solid mid-round upside. 


Tyler Zeller scored six points on 3-of-10 shooting with seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, and two blocks in 36 minutes, and Tristan Thompson double-doubled for essentially the fifth time in a row with 15 points, 12 boards, and one block in 37 minutes.  Thompson has done well to quiet the doubters such as myself, but Cavs beat writers were split on whether or not he had a good game as Nene torched him pretty badly.  The more salient point is that neither Zeller nor Thompson has done anything to prove they can hold immediate value when Varejao (questionable) returns as soon as Friday. 


The Washington Shuffle


Shelvin Mack played well in the D-League and was called up along with Garrett Temple to play “significant” roles, which also corresponded with a move to the second unit for Jordan Crawford, who arrived late to the team’s shootaround.  Mack left the game during the fourth quarter due to a leg injury, which didn’t appear to be serious, and finished with six points on 2-of-6 shooting (including two threes), six rebounds, seven assists, and a steal in 29 minutes.  Temple scored two points on 1-of-3 shooting with three rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 19 minutes while racking up four fouls, so the early returns suggest that Mack holds a comfortable advantage in the position battle after Round 1. 


Crawford scored 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting (0-for-5 3PTs) with three rebounds, two assists, and no steals or blocks in 27 minutes off the bench.  Whether he’s starting or not a move off the ball could result in a shift toward these types of numbers, so owners will want to consider selling-high while there’s some ambiguity in the situation.  Bradley Beal was a total mess with just two points on 0-for-5 shooting, two rebounds, four assists, and no steals or blocks, and it stands to reason that he will eat after Crawford does if Mack and/or Temple steal minutes from Crawford’s point guard bucket. 


Emeka Okafor had his second straight solid outing, scoring 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting with 10 rebounds and four blocks, while Nene started and scored 16 points with seven rebounds, four assists, and two blocks in 26 minutes.  Nene is worth a roster spot in 12-team leagues with the hopes that his DNPs and health can be managed, and Okafor is a cut or three below Nene because of his inconsistency and injury risk.  I’m licking my wounds on the Kevin Seraphin (four points, zero rebounds, 2-of-6 FGs) implosion, as Seraphin played just 12 minutes and appears to have lost his grip on the game.  Maybe it’s Randy Wittman’s rotations, coaching, and/or expectations, but he isn’t staying in his lane on offense and that’s the exact opposite of what he was doing late last year.  I still have hope for down the road, and similarly befuddling situations like Jared Dudley are examples of what can happen when the musical chairs stop, but Seraphin has plummeted on the list of roster stashes and is an acceptable drop in 12-14 team formats. 


John Wall (knee) said he’s targeting a January return, but betting on a return in late January seems a bit premature so owners shouldn’t get their hopes up just yet.  The good news is that a timeline is starting to emerge, so his chances of calling it a season are pretty low.  If you’ve held this long, it’s time to hold on a little bit longer in those formats in which players can be stashed. 


Martell Webster scored 12 points with 10 rebounds, two assists, and two threes, and with his late-round value over the past two weeks he’s worth a look, but is better suited for deeper formats due to his injury risk and the general disarray in Washington. 


Flash (In the Pan) Gordon


The Eric Gordon (knee) trade showcase show is targeting a Saturday return, though I should point out that I don’t know for sure if he is angling to show off in hopes of getting a trade out of New Orleans.  It just looks that way, and he should be owned in all formats with the hopes that he's not a flash in the pan when he returns.  The Hornets got a road win against the Magic without him last night behind Greivis Vasquez’s 27 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and one steal.  He’s a solid mid-round value in 8-cat leagues, while in 9-cat leagues he’s on the wrong side of 12-team value and owners using him need to be punting that category. 


Robin Lopez had one of his increasingly common unbalanced lines, scoring 29 points on 9-of-10 shooting (11-of-12 FTs) with three rebounds and three blocks.  Despite the ups and downs, he should be owned in all formats.  Anthony Davis hit just 6-of-14 shots but went for 12 and 11 with two steals and two blocks, and is a top 15-30 producer when on the floor in 9- and 8-cat formats, respectively.  I had him ranked at No. 28 in 8-cat leagues and No. 7 in 9-cat formats in the last iteration of the Bruski 150, and things are going exactly as planned with plenty of room for improvement as long as he can stay healthy.  Ryan Anderson continued his slow slog through the past two weeks, scoring 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting with five rebounds, one three, and one block.  I’m buying low here and have negligible concerns that this is going to be a trend going forward. 


The Full Nelson


The Magic might have a new winner every night in the Glen Davis injury sweepstakes, and last night it was Jameer Nelson who put up 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting with four threes, five rebounds, and 10 assists to go with six turnovers.  Arron Afflalo will also land on the winner’s podium at times, but last night he was merely serviceable with 14 points, two threes, three boards, and two assists.  Nikola Vucevic is enjoying a nice bump and had 19 points and nine rebounds last night, but didn’t have a steal or block. 


Gustavo Ayon was disappointing with four points, three rebounds, and two assists in 28 minutes, though he did manage one steal and two blocks to save the night.  I’m not so much concerned about Ayon’s ability to produce as I am the eventual returns of Hedo Turkoglu and Al Harrington.  I’d slot him in the short-term value category and look at any long-term value as a bonus.  J.J. Redick hit just 2-of-10 shots but both were 3-pointers, and his 6-of-6 mark from the charity stripe with five rebounds, six assists, and two steals were a nice consolation prize.  E’Twaun Moore fired a deep league warning shot with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal, three blocks, and two treys, so give him a look in those formats.  Turkoglu (hand) still needs to go through some scrimmages, so a January return looks to be in the cards.  I still think he’ll do more to damage the fringe assets than he will as a fantasy asset, himself. 


Release The Hounds


Rodney Stuckey suffered a bad looking ankle injury in the fourth quarter of last night’s double-overtime loss, but amazingly returned to action and finished with 16 points on 7-of-19 shooting, five rebounds, and 11 assists in 44 minutes.  Lawrence Frank let his bench play out the end of the game after they rallied from a 81-62 deficit after three quarters, which was in part because of Will Bynum’s season-high 31 points, four rebounds, four assists, and four 3-pointers.  Stuckey’s ankle could easily swell up overnight and give an opening for Bynum to have another crack at relevancy, but this has the look of a textbook fluke outing. 


Andre Drummond showed up to the party with 16 points, 12 rebounds, two steals, and one block in 36 minutes, and he should be held in most leagues after a night like this.  Charlie Villanueva (14 points, seven boards, four threes) and Austin Daye (eight points, 11 boards, two threes) also turned in big nights, and Daye hit a big shot to force overtime, but both should simply be watched in most formats.  Greg Monroe (10 points, four boards) and Brandon Knight (nine points, two assists) were on the outs last night, but they should both bounce back the next time out. 


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Aaron Bruski has covered hoops for Rotoworld since 2008 and has competed in national fantasy sports competitions for nearly two decades. In 2015 he was named FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year. You can also find his work over at ProBasketballTalk, where he received critical acclaim for his in-depth reporting of the Kings' relocation saga. Hit him on Twitter at Aaronbruski.
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