Be Careful For What You Wish For
Reggie Evans got all dumb and talked a boatload of trash about the Heat before last night’s game, so LeBron James promptly laid the wood on his way to 24 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals in a 20-point win. Look for some serious bad blood between these teams after LeBron retorted with accusations that the Nets laid down and got Avery Johnson fired. Chris Bosh (foot) played, as expected, scoring 16 points with four boards and no steals or blocks. Despite the mild rebounding and defensive numbers, his efficiency and overall production have him providing solid early value.
Gerald Wallace’s (six points, two rebounds, three assists, one block, 29 minutes) nightmare season continued last night, and though his contract is going to be an albatross going forward his fantasy value is tanking because of the crowded situation. I added him where he was dropped in one standard league, but I don’t have any ideas that he’s going to be a mid-round guy anytime soon. Deron Williams played through the flu and had just nine points and five assists, but he might have had his feelings hurt more when LeBron ripped him and his teammates for their everything.
When Bad Teams Play Good Teams
The Bobcats have regressed very badly since the beginning of the year and it’s fair to wonder who is playing for what right now. Gerald Henderson played just 17 minutes against the Spurs last night, scoring six points with not much else, and he can be dropped for a hot free agent in 12-team formats even if he will probably be productive in spurts. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored four points with four boards and four steals in his 38 minutes, and I’d hold in most standard league situations for him to get fully back on track. Ramon Sessions won the guard lottery with 20 points and three steals, but outside of Kemba Walker (16 points, six boards, four assists, two steals) there is nobody to get hot and bothered about in the backcourt. I said my piece on Byron Mullens (ankle) yesterday, but the quick and dirty is that he’s worth a hard look as he’s trying to get back on the court during this road trip.
Leonard Living It Up
Tim Duncan (knee) did not play, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the opposition. DeJuan Blair (knee) joined him on the sidelines, and it’s unclear how serious his situation is but with knee issues already his 10-15 mpg might be freed up in the short-term. Manu Ginobili had his hamstring tighten up and that will put his Saturday into question, but he was low-level productive with nine points, five rebounds, six assists, and two steals in just 21 minutes. Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting with four treys, five rebounds, two steals, and one block, giving a glimpse of how fast his value can rise when one or more foundational Spurs players are rested. He has started to turn the corner after a slow return from injury and should be owned in all formats. Hopefully you didn’t give up too quickly. Danny Green (17 points, three treys, three steals, two blocks) and Tony Parker (22 points, seven assists, 9-of-10 FGs) also took advantage of Duncan’s absence and the easy prey in the Bobcats.
I Picked a Pack of Pelicans to Pop Off About
Eric Gordon (knee) did not play last night and back-to-backs will continue to be an issue for him until they’re not, and your guess is as good as mine in that area. One would have to think the Hornets would be willing to trade him but it’s doubtful there are too many takers out there. I’m all about selling him high after his big nights to get out from under that injury risk. Greivis Vasquez had another good news/bad news night with 17 points and 13 assists, but hit just 8-of-21 shots without a three and had four turnovers, too.
Robin Lopez scored 15 points with nine boards, one steal, and four blocks, and as long as Anthony Davis (14 points, seven rebounds, two blocks, 7-of-9 FGs, 22 minutes, five fouls) continues to see limited minutes whether it’s foul trouble like tonight or due to any ankle issues – then Ro Lo has a chance to get back on track. Al-Farouq Aminu bought time with his owners after a disastrous Monday, scoring three points with 13 rebounds in 29 minutes. Nobody will write home about the line, but in general as long as he can stay out of the doghouse he has been worth owning.
After the game beat writer Bill Oram said that Gordon Hayward (shoulder) didn’t know if he would practice today, and then opined that he feels like the injury is “worse than we know.” It’s a fairly broad statement from somebody close to the team, so owners shouldn’t be surprised by more absences if they come down the pipeline. In shallow leagues this could be enough information to drop Hayward with, but I’ll just throw it out there that the trade deadline could work in his favor and he’s picked things up late in the season before. I drafted him with an eye on the second half of the year, so I’ll probably hang on in most formats for now.
Paul Millsap got back on track with 25 and 10 to go with two blocks, and so did most of his teammates including Al Jefferson (22 points), Randy Foye (14 points, eight assists, two threes), and Derrick Favors (15 points, six boards, one block). Foye has inconsistent standard league value for his 3-point shooting, but if he starts to take over point guard duties like he did tonight then he’ll be in most starting lineups. Tonight, with Hayward out he had to take over some of his duties, while Jamaal Tinsley opened the door by struggling to the tune of two points and two assists in 17 minutes.
Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up
The Rockets and Nuggets are always going to be good for a high scoring affair and last night didn’t disappoint with 228 combined points between the teams. Jeremy Lin (22 points, five assists) joined James Harden (21 points, full line), Omer Asik (10 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, seven turnovers) and Chandler Parsons (21 points, full line) on the super-productive side of the ledger. Patrick Patterson (10 points, five boards, two steals, one block, 27 minutes) is putting himself back on the radar but owners in 12-team formats can still probably do better.
Deep League Update in Denver
JaVale McGee (shin) did not play last night, and that meant we expected more out of Kosta Koufos (six points, four rebounds, one steal, two blocks), but playing against Omer Asik can do that. Kenneth Faried bounced back from a slow Monday to post 19 points, nine boards, and two steals, and Wilson Chandler put his name on the deep league radar with seven points, six rebounds, one steal, and one three in 25 minutes. It’s not the greatest line, but in those formats he has the type of upside you’re looking for on the wire, assuming he can stay on the court.
One wants to bemoan the constant Lakers coverage a la the Dallas Cowboys, as an example of a middling team getting way too much attention, but I admittedly can’t look away watching them find new and creative ways to lose every night. Last night’s low point came when Steve Nash (11 points, two assists) returned to Phoenix to a standing ovation and his team dropped another game to a bottom feeding team.
The biggest news came in the form of Dwight Howard’s (nine points, 14 boards, one steal, one block, 29 minutes) shoulder aggravation, and it’s safe to say that surgery isn’t being ruled out at this point but it’s anybody’s guess what will go down. If Howard wants to duck out on a miserable season, I don’t think too many people would be shocked given both the medical realities and his disposition toward running from challenges.
This breathes new life into Pau Gasol’s (14 points, five boards, one steal, one block, 37 minutes) season though he and Mike D’Antoni are trading sweet nothings through the press on a nightly basis now. The big man’s foot injury was bothering him last night but all indications are that he will play through it for now. Though Earl Clark (five points, eight rebounds, one steal) struggled in his 30 minutes tonight, the chance that Howard misses time means that Clark should be owned in all formats.
Kobe Bryant continues to run the team and had another nine assists last night to go with 17 points, five boards, and two steals. I’m down with this approach out of the Lakers if we’re assuming that D’Antoni’s system isn’t going to change. Nash can’t get the corner on defenders and that makes him less of a weapon in a meandering 18 seconds or less offense without any true ‘roll’ threat in the frontcourt. Antawn Jamison played just 13 minutes but scored 13 points with four boards, and if Howard indeed misses serious time then a speculative add could be in order.
It’s clear that Michael Beasley is having fun under new coach Lindsay Hunter, who is giving a prototypical young coach gives troubled player new life by loosening the leash clinic right now. The question with that approach is if the player ever learns their lesson and if down the road the same problems pop back up, but for now Beasley is showing the flashes that have tantalized owners in the past. He scored 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting (including a three) with six rebounds and five steals, while dominating the end of the fourth quarter and doing it with a smile on his face. He’s an inefficient fantasy player with both injury and personality risk, but there’s enough upside here for me to change my apathetic tune to a must-add recommendation. I am concerned, however, that he has been beating up on some pretty horrendous defenses lately. Jared Dudley (11 points, four rebounds, 3-of-10 FGs) is a loser in this high utilization scenario for Beasley, but I’d be a bit more patient with a guy that gets heavy minutes as Dudley does on a shallow team.
Thursday Night Lights
MEM @ OKC: Mike Conley (ankle) participated in the non-contact portion of practice yesterday, making him questionable for tonight’s game. It helps that the team will be under heavy scrutiny against a title contender on national TV following the trade. If Conley can’t go, Jerryd Bayless will be up for a nice night and Tony Wroten might be worth a spot-start in deeper formats. Chris Johnson is the only small forward left on the roster right now, so he could get some starts or at least some semi-substantial minutes, so keep an eye on him or gamble in deep leagues on a spot-start. All of the traded guys need to pass their physicals for any of them to play tonight, so keep that in mind when making decisions. The Thunder will be favored to take advantage of a team that has to wrap their minds around their new situation.
DAL @ GSW: Andrew Bogut “could” begin to play in back to back games after the All Star break, and is expected to play in five of the next seven games. That’s good enough news for owners to hang on if he can keep showing moderately positive returns until then. The MRI on Harrison Barnes’ knee/calf came back “clean,” making him questionable for tonight. If he and/or Carl Landry (shoulder) cannot go, then Draymond Green has some spot-starting appeal in deeper leagues while the usual suspects will all get a bump. Chris Kaman is out indefinitely with a concussion, and it’s worth noting that he was unhappy about playing time prior to being sidelined. If you want to take a 1-2 game plunge on Elton Brand if you’re in need of a big it isn’t the worst move. Just don’t expect miracles.