Today's Saturday Dose begins with scattered observations from Friday's game, then discusses the long-term injuries Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao suffered this week, the possible sale of the Kings to investors from Seattle, and the most over-valued and under-valued players in points leagues.
Friday Quick Hits
Anthony Davis finished Friday's game with nine points, zero rebounds, zero assists, zero steals and zero blocks in 23 minutes. None of the Hornets' starters played more than 31 minutes, thanks in part to a lively and effective bench effort, and Davis was also somewhat limited by foul trouble. Monty Williams is showing an admirable-in-reality but frustrating-in-fantasy willingness to bench Davis, the future of the franchise, in favor of Ryan Anderson or even Jason Smith. I can't imagine Davis being this quiet for long (averaging 20 minutes per game in his past five), and this is a very nice buy-low moment if you can afford a minor gamble.
Kevin Garnett scored 17 points (8-of-12 FGs) while grabbing eight boards and blocking four shots on Friday, in the Celtics' fifth straight victory. He now has nine steals and seven blocks in his past four games. Tim Duncan's brilliant 2012-13 season has eclipsed Garnett for the old-man-game MVP, but there's still time for KG to make a move.
Jared Dudley played 40 minutes and made all four of his 3-pointers to finish with 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and one block. He needs to be in all lineups. Luis Scola didn't have as much luck, fouling out in 28 minutes, but he's been good enough lately to be deemed a 'must-start' option in 12-team leagues. Despite Scola's foul problems, Markieff Morris scored just two points in 16 minutes. The Suns have lost five straight, including some ugly defeats like this 20-point blowout. I won't be surprised if Alvin Gentry tries to shake up his rotations this week, but where could he turn? Sebastian Telfair, Jermaine O'Neal or Michael Beasley? Not likely.
LaMarcus Aldridge sprained his ankle during Friday's game, leaving his status for Sunday's game vs. OKC somewhat uncertain. It didn't seem too serious and wasn't reported until well after the game, so I'm hoping he'll be ready.
Kosta Koufos scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds vs. the Cavs, making 6-of-7 FGs and 5-of-7 FTs while reducing JaVale McGee (12 minutes) to an afterthought. Koufos didn't block any shots tonight, but I will continue to advocate him as a fantasy option until he's owned in all 12-team leagues (eighth-round value in nine-cat, in just 23 minutes per game).
Alonzo Gee was awful on Friday, scoring two points in 21 minutes as the Cavs fell in Denver. The good news is that his low playing time was due to foul trouble, not the brilliant play of C.J. Miles (11 points in 33 minutes) and Dion Waiters (18 points in 29 minutes off the bench).
MarShon Brooks scored 17 points in just 22 minutes off Brooklyn's bench, a tease of a game until his playing time increases.
Luol Deng scored 33 points on 13-of-18 shooting to lead the Bulls to a win in New York, improving their record to 20-14 on the season. He knocked down three 3-pointers during a team-high 42 minutes of action and it's safe to say his wrist isn't limiting him.
Carmelo Anthony wasn't shy in his first game back after suspension, launching 32 shots to finish with 39 points, four 3-pointers, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block. J.R. Smith continues to search for his shot, scoring 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting, but the most disappointing line came from Jason Kidd -- he was scoreless with zero assists and steals in under 20 minutes. Kidd was outplayed by Pablo Prigioni (30 minutes) and these disappearing acts are painful for owners hoping he'd step up with Raymond Felton (finger) rehabbing for about another month. New York plays just one game next week, and I'm very tempted to cut ties with J-Kidd, but it's hard to dump a guy with third-round value in nine-cat roto leagues.
Tiago Splitter fouled out vs. the Grizzlies on Friday, but not before posting 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and zero turnovers in 31 minutes. He's locked into the starting center job and he's even knocking down 75 percent of his FTs this year, giving him solid mid-round value over the past few weeks.
DeMar DeRozan scored just six points on 2-of-8 shooting. I didn't watch this game and I have no convincing reason for his season-low eight shot attempts. He played 34 minutes and I'm not reading anything into this isolated dud.
Amir Johnson had another great game with 13 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. He fouled out of last Friday's game in under 10 minutes, which probably led to him either remaining on the waiver wire or being dropped, yet he's followed up that dud by averaging 17.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 2.0 blocks in his past three games. He's also shooting 20-of-32 (62.5 percent) from the field and has committed just seven fouls in 109 minutes over those three games, a trend that makes it quite unlikely that Aaron Gray will regain his starting center job (which was based on protecting Amir from foul trouble). I view Amir as a must-start player in 10-team leagues, until further notice.
Jose Calderon was excellent in 23 minutes, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting with three 3-pointers, six assists, one steal and zero turnovers. Kyle Lowry was nearly as good, scoring nine points on 3-of-6 shooting (all from downtown), with six assists in 25 minutes off the bench. I believe Dwane Casey will start Lowry over Calderon before too much longer, but I'll also say that Jose is playing well enough to force an irksome timeshare. Casey could try to play them together, but the Raptors don't lack for adequate SGs and the Lowry/Calderon combo would put way too much pressure on their young and foul-prone big men. Nobody wants Aaron Gray to play 28 minutes off the bench because Amir Johnson has fouled out due to lapses in the perimeter defense.
Thabo Sefolosha played 31 minutes on Friday, a tad above his season-high, and he finished with nine points, one 3-pointer, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and three turnovers. I love this line because it typifies Thabo's under-appreciated value. His career-high 1.3 threes per game have propelled him to 7th-round value in nine-cat leagues, but he's a 10th-round value in eight-cat and falls even further in most points leagues (see below).
Earl Clark had 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocks in 37 minutes on Friday, while Antawn Jamison came off the bench for 19 points (8-of-17 FGs), 10 rebounds, two assists and one steal in 31 minutes. Pau Gasol's return from a concussion will probably prevent either guy from having reliable value, so enjoy it while it lasts.
The Lakers have lost six straight games and trail the 10th-place Wolves by two and a half games. To put it in more extreme terms, they're just two games ahead of the Kings. Russell Westbrook (27 points, 10 assists) abused Steve Nash on Friday, Kevin Durant (42 points) surpassed Kobe (28 points) for sheer scoring genius, and the Lakers have a lot to be worried about.
Damian Lillard freaked out down the stretch vs. Golden State, scoring 29 points in the second half to finish with 37 points on 15-of-25 shooting, including seven 3-pointers. The Blazers got the steal of the draft by landing Lillard at No. 6. He's also the ROY in fantasyland, where he's returning borderline 2nd-round value in eight-cat leagues.
I came away from the Jazz vs. Hawks game with a renewed appreciation for Al Jefferson's post game. He's big enough to overpower most PF/Cs, he has a beautiful touch around the rim, his jumper is solid enough to keep defenders honest, and he's surprisingly quick, thanks mostly to impeccable footwork. One he begins to make a move, however, Big Al's decision-making is reduced to shooting or stopping. Ninety percent of the time he shoots. His passes are typically quick re-sets for him on the post, though occasionally his cutting teammates give him an easy assist. The holes in Big Al's game are well known, and teams continue to collapse toward him defensively, but I can't criticize the Jazz for feeding him the ball. If you have one of the league's best pure post players, you're obliged to throw him the ball, and his 22.5 percent usage rate doesn't even crack the top-50 in the league. On an amusing side note, there was one play in which Big Al blatantly traveled, but was awarded a basket and a foul. As it was replayed in slow-motion, this clear-as-day traveling violation was praised as exemplary footwork by a Jazz sportscaster whose name shall be withheld. The homerism of NBA announcers never ceases to amaze me.
DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap both air-balled 3-pointers in Utah's final attempt of the first half, but Millsap made up for it early in the third quarter, faking Josh Smith into the air and driving around him for a vicious two-handed slam. Ivan Johnson was awesome for the Hawks in this game, mostly because of his all-out physicality and simmering anger. He knocked down jumpers and Jazz players with equal relish, finishing with 13 points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes. Devin Harris surprisingly led the way for Atlanta with 24 points in 36 minutes. If he played 32+ minutes per game he'd be worth owning, but a steady role that size is hard to envision in Atlanta's busy backcourt.