ABSENCE MAKES THE BOX SCORE GROW FONDER
Andre Iguodala (neck) and Danilo Gallinari (sinus infection) did not play, while Wilson Chandler (groin) and JaVale McGee (leg) suited up. As one could imagine, Ty Lawson picked up the slack with 26 points, nine assists, two steals, and five threes on 8-of-11 shooting overall, while Chandler scored 11 points with seven rebounds and Corey Brewer scored 12 points with two threes. McGee had 14 points, three boards, and no blocks in 27 minutes. Owners should assess the whole squad the way they were prior to this past week’s absence-driven results.
Deron Williams (ankle) did not play and that opened things up for some of his teammates, including Joe Johnson (26 points, season-high nine assists, five threes) and C.J. Watson (25 points, six assists, two steals, career-high five threes). It also trickled down to Gerald Wallace (eight points, nine rebounds, five assists, a steal, three blocks, two threes) and Kris Humphries (season-high 14 points, four rebounds, 20 minutes). This explainable phenomena is questionable to carry over after the All Star break, but if owners start to get the sense that Williams will have long-term issues then owners can refer back to this moment to understand how things will shift in that instance.
Emeka Okafor has done a lot to rehabilitate his value in both fantasy and reality this season, and he put up another 20 points and nine boards last night, and though he didn’t have a block those will be coming. Bradley Beal came back to earth with just 10 points, three assists, and zero threes on 5-of-13 shooting overall, which speaks more to the fact that he’s still not the primary option in Washington – John Wall is. Jordan Crawford is still lodging in Randy Wittman’s doghouse and did not play, but until Beal is force-fed on a nightly basis he will probably oscillate between lines like this and explosive lines like the other night. A return by Crawford will only make that oscillation less favorable, but I still think Beal should be owned in all formats with his 26-point explosion still fresh in our minds.
Jose Calderon looks to already be at home in Detroit, as he scored 24 points with six threes, five rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block. Meanwhile, Brandon Knight predictably stayed in his shooting guard routine with six points on 3-of-8 shooting, three rebounds, three assists, and one steal in 29 minutes. I mentioned something of a bounceback for Charlie Villanueva, and his 11 points, three treys, five rebounds, and two blocks might start looking familiar so plan accordingly. Will Bynum has been identified by some as a solid trade deadline target, and he helped his cause with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, three rebounds, and eight assists in just 21 minutes. Though the Pistons could take back another guard in a deal, owners may want to give added consideration to Knight and Rodney Stuckey (two points, two steals, 0-for-7 FGs, 20 minutes). Keep in mind that added consideration just goes as an overlay to their current value, which in the case of both isn’t anything to write home about.
ROSE IN FOCUS
Kirk Hinrich (elbow) is expected to return after the All Star break, but let’s be real all eyes are on Derrick Rose and the controversy surrounding the handling of his return. Real quick, folks are griping that his agent and marketing people have more control over his return than the Bulls do, and if you want to take it a step further the implication would be that Rose isn’t exercising enough say, either. Part of that criticism was giving cherry-picked interviews to national writers with relationships on an agency level, so Rose naturally gave an interview with the local beat writer within 24 hours of the prior hit pieces. So Rose said yesterday that he has no problem with sitting out the full year, and all of it reeks of managing expectations. Still, as the spotlight grows brighter there is potential for parties to dig their heels in, and the overall guiding principle here is that the Bulls could and should play it safe with Rose. Stashers, like myself, have to go with their guts in relation to their standings and available options. I’m certainly buying time through the break and will probably see things through for at least a full week.
As for last night’s game, the Bulls and Celtics trudged through a 71-69 Boston win and as you could imagine the box wasn’t a beacon of fantasy glory. Nate Robinson, who should be owned in all formats, scored six points with six assists, two steals, and a three, and Luol Deng scored eight points with five boards, a steal, and a block. Joakim Noah (10 points, 16 boards, two blocks, 43 minutes) and Carlos Boozer (11 points, 11 boards, 5-of-14 FGs) were productive, and it will be good to see Noah take some time off and Boozer will be a guy to watch closely during trade season. Jimmy Butler scored 11 points with six boards, one steal, and one block. After last week’s goose-egg I’m having a hard time trusting him, but at some point owners will have to wipe that game from their memory banks and evaluate him based on his overall play. For now, he’s a guy to watch and not add in standard leagues in my book.
Aside from playing a solid defensive squad in the Bulls last night, Paul Pierce has now been tasked with running most of the Celtics’ offense, so it’s no surprise that his efficiency has gone down recently. He hit just 2-of-12 shots for eight points, six rebounds, six assists, one steal, and two threes, and owners can expect this trend of point forward play to continue. Brandon Bass finally showed a pulse with 14 points, nine rebounds, one steal, and one block in 40 minutes, which is available to him on any given night but he has yet to show he can walk through that door consistently. Jeff Green highlighted my concerns about disappearing with eight points on 2-of-8 shooting, five rebounds and two blocks in 36 minutes off the bench. I’m sticking with him so far given the lack of depth and his relative upside. As for Bass, I have no problem dropping him but I’d tend to stick it out for another game after this type of night.
Wesley Matthews is a warrior – the type of guy coaches need to force to sit. He left last night’s game with what ended up being a high ankle sprain, and true to form he left the arena without crutches or a walking boot vowing to play when the action resumes on the other side of the break. With the Blazers having the depth of a Kardashian, my guess is that they’ll do everything they can to hold the guy back.
LaMarcus Aldridge struggled to hit 2-of-11 shots for six points, three rebounds, two steals, and four blocks in 30 minutes, and also fell on his right (shooting) wrist and missed some time during the game. It wasn’t X-rayed and though he has had problems with it, this doesn’t seem like the time to raise the red flag. As for noting that he has a potential liability there down the road, owners should definitely be keeping that in the mental checklist. Nicolas Batum also limped through to the finish line with three points on 1-of-10 shooting, four rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. His shooting wrist could use the weekend off, and owners will want to watch closely to see how it reacts after a weekend mostly off. If it doesn’t improve, then owners will want to weigh their options on the market.
Victor Claver scored 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting with six rebounds, one steal, and one block in 36 minutes as Matthews’ replacement, and he’ll be worth a short-term look despite his track record of mediocrity this season.
Eric Gordon added ‘hand’ to his ongoing list of reasons he cannot play in NBA basketball games last night, and I can’t help but think of conspiracy theories when this guy sits out. He seems like the type of guy that wouldn’t care at this point if the entire NBA world knew that he’s unhappy in New Orleans, but even if that sense is right, they’re going to have a bear of a time trading him so I tend to fall back on him staying put.
His teammates did just fine without him last night as they secured a 36-point win over the Blazers. Anthony Davis took the criticism of his offensive game to heart as he scored 21 points on 10-of-17 shooting with 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two blocks in 28 minutes. This is Monty Williams’ M.O. – tear them down to build them up. We’ll see how that works out for the coach in the long run, as one too many trips to the well will result in a counterproductive experience. Robin Lopez sat on the other side of that see saw, scoring five points with four rebounds in 21 minutes, and the bottom line is that he’s best fit for the owner that is desperate at center and not much more right now. Al-Farouq Aminu scored 10 points with nine rebounds and nothing else in his 28 minutes, and he’s similarly situated for those desperate for a small forward.
SPENCER FOR HIRE
Spencer Hawes logged a whopping 41 minutes in the Sixers’ two-point loss to the Bucks, finishing with 19 points, nine rebounds and one block. As long as Thaddeus Young is out, he should be in most lineups. Nick Young will likely be in most lineups for the rest of the year, and he put up 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting (2-of-3 3PTs, 4-of-4 FTs) with five rebounds, one assist, and no steals or blocks in 33 minutes last night. Evan Turner scored 20 points with not much else, and some of my bearishness from earlier in the year doesn’t look quite as foolish now that he has about a month of struggles under his belt.