This week’s Saturday Dose is long, and injury updates are scattered throughout rather than compiled up top, so let’s dive right in.
DeMarcus Cousins returned from his suspension on Friday with 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block. The numbers look better than his body language these days, as he's apparently incapable of hiding his disdain for the team that's paying him millions of dollars -- if you haven't seen DMC's petulant post-suspension interview, check it out. (Kudos to News10 reporter Bryan May for risking the wrath of the Kings.) The Maloofs are reportedly 'reluctant' to trade Cousins, but Kings' fans are sick of his act, the team could still demand a premium for him, his rookie-scale contract pays him a reasonable $4.9 million in 2013-14 (with a $6.5 million qualifying offer the following year), and it's obvious that the Kings aren't going anywhere as currently constructed.
Isaiah Thomas started at PG on Friday but had just 11 points and four assists in 29 minutes, while Aaron Brooks had 10 points and three assists in 19 minutes off the bench. Jimmer Fredette also scored 15 points with four assists in 19 minutes, and this is a near-perfect summation of the PG situation in Sacramento -- it's a three-headed Hydra and Keith Smart shows no Herculean inclination to slay it, so I'm avoiding the situation in most leagues. That said, Thomas has early-middle-round upside and could be a good stash in case he finally plays 30+ minutes with regularity.
James Johnson had a full line off the Kings' bench with 17 points, one 3-pointer, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. He is now 1-of-12 from downtown on the season and he's still a sub-40 percent shooter. We hear occasional talk of his offensive growth and work with shooting coaches, and that's sure to come up again after Friday's game, but fantasy owners should view him as a steals and blocks specialist with marginal upside.
The Knicks fell on the road in Sacramento without Raymond Felton (fractured finger), Carmelo Anthony (hyperextended knee), Iman Shumpert (knee) or Amare Stoudemire (knee). Jason Kidd posted 16 points, four 3-pointers, six rebounds, seven assists and one block, and should be a dominant force for however many weeks Felton is sidelined. Pablo Prigioni handed out nine assists in 19 minutes without scoring a single point, which neatly sums up his skill-set, while Chris Copeland erupted for 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting, with three 3-pointers, in 41 minutes off the bench. The return of Melo and Amare will scuttle Copeland's value, but fantasy owners should file this away for future reference -- he might struggle to defend a JV high-schooler, but the guy is a natural born scorer. Tyson Chandler also tweaked an ankle but that's not expected to keep him out of any games.
The Wizards improved to 4-23 on the season with a home win vs. the slumping Magic, led by strong games from Nene (23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists), Jordan Crawford (27 points, six rebounds, six assists) and Garrett Temple (13 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals). Nene has missed two of the past seven games and by all indications his plantar fasciitis is still an issue, but in the five games he has played in during that stretch, he's averaging 17.4 points on 28-of-46 shooting (61 percent). The possibility of random DNPs is distressing, but he looks like a nice pickup in case he actually stays on the court going forward. Garrett Temple's eruption came out of nowhere, as he was just called out of the D-League, but he started the second half ahead of Shelvin Mack and deserves close attention in deep leagues. That said, he has played for six NBA teams in his tumultuous career, while also playing for three D-League teams and a team in Italy, and his career numbers make me very skeptical of his sustained value.
In other Wizards news, Kevin Seraphin reminded owners of his upside with 17 points, six rebounds and four blocks in 32 minutes. He needed 18 shots to score his points, and it's telling that he only attempts 0.8 free throws per game -- for a big guy he tends to shy away from contact while settling for medium-range jumpers and half-hooks. That's probably not bad in fantasy leagues, since he shoots around 50 percent from the line, but it's still a flaw in his game. Friday's game doesn't change my outlook on him at all. Every single time he's played 25+ minutes this season, he's scored double-digit points. I cannot imagine the Wizards riding Emeka Okafor and Nene into oblivion this season, as they wrap up the year 14-68, so Seraphin retains huge upside in my mind.
Goran Dragic (bruised hip, back) was out on Friday and is questionable to play Saturday -- in his absence, Sebastian Telfair scored 19 points with six assists and one steal in 41 minutes. Nice, but his shelf-life can be measured in hours. The rest of the Suns' boxscore was pretty bland, as they fell 91-97 to the Pacers, though it's worth noting that Luis Scola scored 12 points and finally played more than 30 minutes before he fouled out (as a consequence, Markieff Morris played 13 minutes off the bench).
The Heat fell in Detroit despite huge games from Chris Bosh (28 points, nine rebounds and three blocks) and LeBron James (35 points on 15-of-22 shooting, six rebounds, five dimes, six steals). LeBron is on a frightening roll right now but he still trails Kevin Durant for value in eight- and nine-cat leagues. The only way he overtakes KD is if you throw out FT percentage, where Durant is completely dominant. LeBron and Bosh scored 63 points on 67 percent shooting -- without Dwyane Wade (suspension) running the floor and collapsing the defense, the rest of the team combined for 36 points on 13-of-38 shooting (34 percent).
Rodney Stuckey sat out Friday's game with a sprained left ankle, and he's fortunate that it wasn't more serious. He is day-to-day. Will Bynum exploded for 25 points, three 3-pointers, 10 assists and one steal in his absence, making 10-of-16 shots in 28 minutes off the bench. He was coming off a 35-point detonation in Atlanta, and while I'm skeptical of his long-term value I would have a hard time telling owners to bench him for Sunday's game vs. the Bucks.