With a nine-game slate last night and 11 games tonight, and the trade deadline bearing down on us, we’re going to get right to work.
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If you’re an owner of anybody in Toronto not named Rudy Gay (24 points, 10-of-25 FGs, eight boards, three steals) or DeMar DeRozan (24 points, 9-of-18 FGs, three steals), you’re probably pretty tired of the wing-dominated attack the Raptors are employing. Kyle Lowry had a nice line of 11 points, six rebounds, and 10 assists, but hit just 3-of-6 shots, while Jonas Valanciunas (seven points, eight boards, one block) and Amir Johnson (six points, five boards, two steals, two blocks) combined to take just six shots. It sure seems like this is the way the Raptors are going to roll, as Gay and his handlers in Toronto seek to prove that he can be a No. 1 scorer.
THE BEAL DEAL
Bradley Beal owners never could have counted on Jordan Crawford to totally implode, but Beal’s solid play has made it an easy decision for the Wizards’ brass to authorize Crawford’s exile. Beal moved back into the starting lineup and scored 25 points on 9-of-19 shooting with three treys, four rebounds, and one assist. Barring an injury or prolonged slump out of Beal, he’s positioned to roll with heavy minutes the rest of the way out. John Wall is on a slight minutes limit due to his knee, and the 1-of-12 shooting mark with seven turnovers isn’t going to help assuage fears that he’s not fully healthy. Owners shouldn’t panic here, and he managed nine points on the strength of 7-of-8 FTs to go with six assists, three steals, and two blocks, so it’s not like he was schlepping around.
DON’T CALL ME B.J.
Gerald Henderson got hot and scored a season-high 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting (including a three) with 10 rebounds and three assists, and is certainly worth owning in standard formats. Byron Mullens has been doing everything I’ve hoped he would upon his return, which is stick his nose in the middle and play with toughness. He put up his third 20-10 game in four tries, scoring 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting with 12 rebounds, two threes, and a steal. Kemba Walker added a solid line of 24 points, four rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and three treys in the Cats’ win over the Magic.
Andrew Nicholson has been an average to above-average stash and he gave his owners something to crow about with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and a steal in 32 minutes. With plenty of developmental minutes in store barring a significant roster change, I’d have to be pretty stacked in a 12-team league not to add him and I think he’s a must-own player in that format. Moe Harkless is the same animal as Nicholson but not nearly as proficient at putting up numbers, but he has improved in that respect lately and had another solid night with 15 points, six rebounds, a steal, a block, and a 3-pointer. He has merit as a pickup in 12-team leagues, but I’d stop short of calling him must-own right now.
COMING DOWN TO THE DEADLINE
Depending on the time of the day, either some or all of the Bucks are on the trade block so it’ll be interesting to see how things shake out. In last night’s two-point loss to the Nets, Brandon Jennings got things moving in the right direction with 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting, six rebounds and seven assists, and Monta Ellis scored 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting with eight rebounds, eight assists, one steal, and one block. Ellis has apparently become less of an item on the trade block, but I don’t know if I’m buying that just yet and I’d be looking to sell him high with Jennings’ future in Milwaukee a bit more solidified than it was 24 hours ago. It’s hard to see the Bucks wanting to keep both these guys together, so Ellis could still be on the go, and while the Hawks may be interested he could also land somewhere that has better depth.
Larry Sanders (back) returned and wasted no time putting up numbers with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting, eight rebounds, and six blocks. I swear he’s going to lose out on Defensive Player of the Year because he plays in a small market and the upper rung of the NBA media takes a long time to figure things out. Predictably, Samuel Dalembert played just 11 minutes with three points, three rebounds, and a block, and owners can move on or if the wire is really bare wait until the deadline passes. I personally wouldn’t hold him without a strong trade rumor sending him to a good landing spot. Ersan Ilyasova is paying me off after a painful start to the year, as he put up 21 points, nine rebounds and a full line for another solid night.
Joe Johnson scored 24 points with five rebounds and five assists, and hit the game-winning shot with time expiring against the Bucks. And you know what that means – it’s one of those sell-high moments for a guy whose popcorn numbers hide problems with peripheral stats. Deron Williams returned from his ankle injury and scored 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting with nine assists and three treys in 45 minutes. After talk during All Star Weekend about how out of shape and injured he is, it’s good to see him put in a workmanlike performance. Still, I won’t act like I wasn’t trying to talk myself into stashing C.J. Watson (11 points, zero assists, two steals, 5-of-9 FGs, one three) in some formats.
BAYLESS STAT SOURCE
Jerryd Bayless scored eight points with five rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals, and he’s going to be prone to big nights every once in a while as a legitimate rotation player for the Grizzlies now. Just expect inconsistency and consider him a deep league guy until he proves otherwise. Ed Davis had his first noteworthy line for the Grizz, but he still played just 21 minutes on his way to 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting with four rebounds, one steal, and four blocks. He needs a major injury in front of him before he’ll matter in most leagues.
A.D. – AFTER DRUMMOND
Charlie Villanueva has been a dark horse to have value in the Pistons’ Andre Drummond-less frontcourt, but he put up a stinker last night with two points on 1-of-8 shooting, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in 17 minutes. He can get hot and start putting up numbers, but has plenty of risk. Will Bynum fell off the map after a solid 20-point, eight-assist game before the break, managing just five points and two steals in his 18 minutes.
BACK TO NORMAL
Kirk Hinrich (elbow) returned to the starting lineup and had five points, 10 assists, and three steals in 31 minutes, while Nate Robinson returned to his inconsistent bench role with six points and not much else in 17 minutes. This is basically the same situation it has been all year with Derrick Rose’s return a question mark, and for what it’s worth (not much) Chris Broussard reported that Rose looked like he is “ready to go” during 5-of-5 drills. Joakim Noah went for 15 and 17 with three blocks, and now the trick will be to see if his foot injury is waning or if this was the result of him having rest during the break. Carlos Boozer went for 17 and 10 with four steals, and the Bulls would throw a party if they could dump his contract on another team.
Anthony Davis scored 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting with 10 rebounds, four steals, and one block in 33 minutes, and I’ll go against our blurber and say that he operates on a see-saw with Robin Lopez (one point, four rebounds, two blocks, 21 minutes) and not Ryan Anderson (10 points, 2-of-11 FGs, six rebounds, 28 minutes). Anderson isn’t too far off of his utilization here, and I think Davis’ prior struggles were either his ankle, Monty Williams giving him tough love, or a combination of the two.
Good Al-Farouq Aminu showed up with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting, seven boards, three steals, and two blocks. You almost have to take a chance on him when he’s putting up numbers like that in standard leagues, but do so knowing that inconsistency is still a pretty reasonable forecast. Eric Gordon scored 20 points and won’t play tonight because of his knee, hand, and/or chance there is a team ridiculous enough to trade for the guy. Take your pick. I’ve been on you guys to sell him high on any night he does well and has a clean bill of health for the next 24 hours.
IRON OUT THE WRINKLES
The Boston guard situation is still officially not worth my time in standard leagues, but Courtney Lee made some noise with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, two threes, three boards, four assists, and two steals. This is definitely his high water mark. Avery Bradley scored a season-high 17 points but hit just 7-of-16 shots and only had three boards and a three to add to his stat line. Jason Terry was grounded with seven points and not much else. Jeff Green scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting with two threes, two rebounds, two assists, one steal, and two blocks in 33 minutes off the bench, and he looks like he’ll be called upon to carry some decent load and that will help iron out the wrinkles, which aren’t fully going away. I think Green is a must-own player in 12-teamers right now.
Andre Iguodala struggled mightily in his return from a neck injury, going 0-for-7 from the field and 1-of-4 from the foul line with airballs in both categories. He salvaged some of his night with three boards, seven assists, two steals, and one block, but it wouldn’t be surprising if we learn he’s still bothered by the injury. Keep a close eye on him going forward. Ty Lawson owners won’t mind if Iguodala is at less than his best, as Lawson kept his foot on the gas with 26 points on 8-of-13 FGs, six rebounds and six assists. Danilo Gallinari returned from an illness to score 26 points with four treys, five boards, and five assists in 39 minutes, and both he and Lawson will see their production cut whenever Iguodala gets back up to speed.