You might have seen me on Twitter yesterday breaking Kings relocation news, and needless to say the past 24 hours have been a roller coaster. I was tracking both game news and business news with five different media devices, doing interviews, writing reports, tracking down leads, and all with little sleep and a nasty flu. I’ll give a quick update for you guys in the Kings game preview toward the end, but I’ll say quickly that anybody that is a fan of the NBA doing the right thing should consider signing this petition to keep the Kings in Sacramento AND award Seattle an expansion team. Of course, this petition seems silly right now and has more questions than answers, but its spirit is true and the thing could very well go viral, which would be great for the 600-1000 arena workers that are going to get screwed out of a job in Sacto if the despicable Maloof family gets their way.
Now, onto the business at hand, we had a very busy 11-game night and things are getting real in fantasy leagues as we creep up on the halfway point of the season. There were a lot of subtle, but important changes to value up and down the docket, so let's get right to it.
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I had speculated in various places around here that Jason Richardson wasn’t fully healthy, and he got himself a DNP-CD last night so he could get rested up. This is actually a positive indicator for his value on one hand, signifying that his slowdown isn’t just age-related ineffectiveness, though it’s not exactly endearing that he is this banged up. I’ll be exercising patience for another game or two as the picture clears up.
Dorell Wright started in his place but struggled as the Sixers continue to spiral downward, scoring seven points on 2-of-4 shooting with two rebounds and one steal in 32 empty minutes. Evan Turner has been a mess lately, hitting 20-of-62 shots in his last five games, and put up a 4-of-15 shooting line for 10 points, seven boards, five assists, two steals, and one block. This probably isn’t the best buy low line, but in general it’s a buy low moment, though I’m bearish on the concept because of his poor peripherals and my concern that he’s one mental slipup from a prolonged slump.
There was a repeat of the Andrew Bynum (knees) timetable news, which is that he’s going to run on a treadmill, take set shots, and that he has no timetable. The needle didn’t move.
Pouting During a Win
We finally saw the pissed off version of Kyle Lowry last night, as he stormed out of the locker room following a two-point, four-assist effort in 17 minutes off the bench. Jose Calderon (14 points, 7-of-12 FGs, 11 assists) helped deliver a win, too, which isn’t the greatest time for Lowry to be complaining about playing time. This has been the book on Lowry for at least the past year, and owners simply have to hold and hope he gets his act together. Amir Johnson started at center with Aaron Gray (flu) out, putting up 19 points with 12 rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block. He and Ed Davis (17 points, nine boards, two blocks) are both must-own players in 12-team leagues, with Johnson performing well enough to be considered a must-own player in 10-team standards, too.
Terrence Ross (ankle) and Linas Kleiza (knee) did not play last night, while Landry Fields was finally moved into the starting lineup. Fields responded with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and three steals in 42 minutes, and with that kind of workload and modest production he is worth a look in 12-14 team leagues. We know that he can go south pretty quickly, so keep that in mind when making your evaluations. Alan Anderson hit just 4-of-13 shots (including one three) for nine points with one rebound, two assists, one steal, and one block in 25 minutes off the bench, and with Fields’ increasing role owners shouldn’t be afraid to exchange him for a hot free agent. He’s a solid mid-round value over the past two weeks, but things could get crowded as the rotation gets healthy.
Jazz Turn Up the Music
Marvin Williams got an injection in his right knee to ease the pain yesterday, and he’s staring at a three-game absence before he’ll be re-evaluated. I’m not sure that he is stealing Gordon Hayward’s touches, but his absence certainly can’t hurt the surging Butler product. Hayward followed up his explosion on Monday with 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting, four threes, four rebounds, and three assists, and the activity numbers are still moving in the right direction. Randy Foye took over some point guard duties and finished with nine points on 3-of-9 shooting, three treys, five rebounds, four assists, and one steal. He’s worth a hard look right now for the chance this development continues, as it stabilizes his value while his 3-point shooting provides the upside on any given night.
Alec Burks continued to show well in his deep league auditions with 12 points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block. Al Jefferson scored 26 points with eight boards, Paul Millsap scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting with five rebounds, five assists, and three blocks, and Derrick Favors went back to putting up low-end numbers in low-end minutes with 10 points on a perfect five field goals, six rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two blocks. All of this came against the Bobcats and that should be noted, but the Jazz might get this thing turned around after all if they continue to move the basketball.
Spreading Themselves Thin
The Bobcats continued to spread the minutes out evenly among their guards, but it didn’t kill the currently owned fantasy guys too much in last night’s loss. Ben Gordon led the way with 20 points and two threes, Gerald Henderson scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting (no threes) with four assists, three steals, and one block, and Ramon Sessions had 14 points and four assists as nobody in the group topped 25 minutes.
Neither Tyrus Thomas (10 minutes, two rebounds, 0-for-4 FGs) nor Hakim Warrick (18 minutes, 10 rebounds, eight boards) played a lot, but Warrick’s outing is worth watching to see if he can follow it up with a few good lines. Bismack Biyombo (zero points, five boards, two blocks, 24 minutes) has slowed down lately, and he hasn’t shown the developmental progress necessary for owners to cling to him when he’s on the downside.
Larry Drew is mad at his underperforming team right now and is tinkering mode, which NBA coaches should probably go to some sort of seminar for before they enter the league. It rarely works, and in this case he moved red-hot Lou Williams from a starting job to the bench in last night’s loss to the Cavs. Williams scored five points on 2-of-8 shooting and not much else, but I’m not panicking about his fantasy value, especially since he’s plenty comfortable coming off the bench. I just wouldn't have messed with his rhythm when he was a pillar of the offense. Jeff Teague turned things around with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting with eight assists and a steal. As usual, owners just have to take the good with the bad. He’s still a top 50-75 value in standard formats. Zaza Pachulia moved into the starting lineup and scored eight points with 10 boards and a block. Give him a look if you need a big man in deeper formats.
Sideshow Andy Sidelined
The other shoe dropped with Anderson Varejao’s knee injury, as the big man will miss 6-8 weeks and owners need to assess if they can hold. When he returns he has a decent chance of returning to at least mid-round value, but there is plenty of risk for a setback and the reporting in Cleveland hasn’t exactly been actionable. I’d call Tristan Thompson a must-own player and Tyler Zeller a must-own player in 12-team leagues for the hope he can improve into a late-round value. At a minimum, both will be unchallenged for minutes.
The absence of Varejao didn’t hurt them in the win column last night, as the Cavs beat the Hawks and saw productive lines for most of their guys. Kyrie Irving scored 33 points on 11-of-15 shooting (5-of-6 3PTs, 6-of-6 FTs) with four assists and three steals, Zeller had went for 11 and 12 with three assists but no steals or blocks, Alonzo Gee had 15 points with five treys, six rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block, and Tristan Thompson put up 11 points, 14 rebounds, two steals, and one block. In an addition to the prior recommendations on Thompson and Zeller, Gee should also be owned in standard formats. Dion Waiters had another lackluster night, scoring nine points on 4-of-11 shooting with one three, four assists, and one steal in 29 minutes. I wouldn’t argue with anybody that’s tired of his low-efficiency act, but I’m still stashing him with the hopes the light bulb turns on.
The Suns trudged into Boston after their game the night before in Milwaukee, scoring 79 total points in a loss to the Celtics. Marcin Gortat (12 points, 14 boards, two steals, five blocks) and Luis Scola (16 points, eight rebounds, four assists) showed well, while Jared Dudley was inefficient shooting with 6-of-17 makes for 14 points, 10 boards, five assists, a three, and a steal. P.J. Tucker logged a whopping 40 minutes and managed to put up just nine points on 4-of-12 shooting with four rebounds, two assists, and one steal, and he’ll need to be much more productive before he hits the standard league radar, despite the workload. Less use of Shannon Brown (four points, 2-of-6 FGs, 13 minutes) isn’t magically creating wins, but his teammates’ production has increased and become more consistent, probably because he’s doing less stupid things with the basketball.
They Went to Jared
Rajon Rondo returned from his one-game suspension to put up a quiet eight points and eight assists, but the fantasy stories of the Boston side belonged to Jason Terry (13 points, five boards, five assists) and Jared Sullinger (12 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, 34 minutes). Terry has been awful lately and while he’s worth a look, owners shouldn’t ignore his past struggles. Sullinger ‘could’ be considered the leader in his position battle with Brandon Bass (six points, five boards, 27 minutes), but he’s still another good game or two from being a solid guy to own in 12-team formats. The rotation is just too messy for him.