Filling the Vortex
Chris Paul (kneecap) did not play again last night and though reports have said the injury isn’t serious, the stock of Eric Bledsoe should be given a bit more credit than just simple ‘spot-starter.’ Bledsoe is already a late round value guy on a standalone basis for the season, and he could squeeze an extra week or so of starter status if for whatever reason the Clippers are underreporting Paul’s injury. I’m not saying they are, but it’s illustrative of some extra upside for Bledsoe that those in competitive situations may want to reach for. The backup PG scored a season-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting (including a three) with seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals, as he and his teammates picked up Paul’s slack.
Jamal Crawford scored a season-high 30 points with five treys, Willie Green scored a season-high 15 points, and Blake Griffin added 19 points, four rebounds, eight assists, one steal, and one block. Matt Barnes scored an empty 18 points with three rebounds, one assist, and one steal, though he did hit three treys to make it an alright night in the win.
Jeremy Lin’s ankle didn’t appear to bother him as he scored 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting with 10 assists, but on an inefficient night for James Harden (23 points, 8-of-20 FGs, 2-of-9 3PTs, five turnovers) there wasn’t enough extra firepower to keep up with the Clippers. Omer Asik (seven points, nine rebounds) is a punt-only guy, and Patrick Patterson (five points, 16 minutes) isn’t worth owning in standard formats right now. Marcus Morris scored 12 points with eight rebounds and three treys and is the player to own right now between the two, though that could change nightly at this time.
From the Depths of the Sea
The Blazers should always struggle against a team with any sort of depth, because they themselves have none, and eventually they gave way to the Nuggets in overtime last night. Wesley Matthews scored 14 points with two threes and a nice line, Damian Lillard hit just 6-of-15 shots but finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal, two blocks, and three treys, and J.J. Hickson went for 19 and 13 with two blocks and a 7-of-8 shooting line (5-of-5 FTs). Nicolas Batum scored 22 points with seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two threes, and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 28 points with eight rebounds, six assists, and one block. Aldridge has turned it on and avoided any immediate issue with his shooting wrist, and the rest of the team is more or less who we thought they were over the past few weeks.
Ty Lawson (24 points, 10-of-19 FGs, 12 assists) and Andre Iguodala (nine points, 4-of-16 FGs, four assists) continue to trade off good games, Kosta Koufos (eight points, five boards) struggled again, Danilo Gallinari got hot with 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting and a solid line, and Kenneth Faried went off for 21 and 11 with two steals and a block. Wilson Chandler has made his way back onto the radar with a tie-breaking three in overtime late, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting, two threes, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 18 minutes. He needs a bigger workload before we’ll remove our skepticism, and he also has plenty of injury risk. He’s a deep league speculative play until he can prove himself.
The Bucks ran into a hungry Lakers team and no player accentuated that more than Brandon Jennings (12 points, 4-of-14 FGs, one assist), who was shut down by Kobe Bryant’s voracious defense. Monta Ellis got his with 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting, six rebounds, four assists, and two threes, Larry Sanders was his typical awesome self with six points, 11 boards, one steal, and three blocks, and Ersan Ilyasova was a quiet but serviceable six-point, seven-rebound, one-steal, one-block shell of his former self. I’d be more inclined to dig into Ilyasova for tonight if the whole team didn’t suck. He’s starting and a much more consistent fantasy play, which I can live with. Will he be worth all of the trouble at the end of the day? He’ll need to pick it up quickly and start tapping into that upside, fast.
Beno Udrih has earned more minutes lately and put up 14 points with seven assists in 26 minutes off the bench last night, but while his five-game average of 10.8 points and 4.6 assists per game looks alright it’s probably his ceiling without an injury in front of him.
Defense Leads to Everything
The Lakers got a much needed win to keep the natives from getting too restless, keyed off of Kobe Bryant’s (31 points, 12-of-19 FGs, six assists) defense and a 31 and 16 night with four blocks out of Dwight Howard. Metta World Peace scored 12 points with six rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and two threes, Steve Nash went for eight and 11, and Earl Clark (six points, nine boards, four assists, one block) made another start. Pau Gasol (concussion) is going for tests with a neurologist today and they’ll be looking for his baselines to be in the right spot and if they’re not his status for Thursday’s game will obviously be in doubt.
News and Notes
Iman Shumpert (knee) could start in London on Thursday. It’s fair not to like his value given the eventual logjam at the guard slots, and also the serious injury he’s returning from, but if he progresses well in his rehab he could be looking at a decent role. It’s something to watch closely and be ready to move on.
Glen Davis’ minutes could rise rapidly as he returns to action according to Jacque Vaughn.
The Sacramento Bee surmised that Aaron Brooks might have a hard time finding minutes with Isaiah Thomas playing well. This is my shocked face.
Jared Dudley (right shooting wrist) practiced in full on Tuesday and is expected to play on Thursday, and like all shooting wrist injuries we should be watching him very closely. He should be owned in all formats after a pretty solid month or so.
Larry Drew promised to make more changes to the lineup after Monday’s embarrassing loss, but we’ve yet to see anything other than minor tinkering from him this year. And he says this every other week or so, too.
Rodney Stuckey (teeth) is expected to play on Thursday in London so use him as you normally would.
Stephen Curry (hyper-extended knee) did not practice yesterday but is expected to play tonight. Plan on using him tonight and hope that he didn’t take on any long-term issues in what looked to be a painful tweak.
Kevin Love (hand) underwent surgery and will be out 8-10 weeks and as we’ve discussed here already owners in playoff leagues have more of a reason to stash than anybody, while the rest need to do a cost/benefit analysis of their league’s format and decide if holding the roster spot is worth the squeeze.