PACERS Position: Small forward Danny Granger
’s season debut on Saturday was ugly as he went 1-of-10 for two points in 18.6 minutes. Although he’s clearly going to be worked in slowly as his knee gains strength, he’s still worth a stash.
The Pacers have serious aspirations to beat the Heat and represent the East in the NBA finals. In order to do that, they need three legitimate threats on offense. Lance Stephenson
simply doesn’t provide that.
Although they are 34-21 without Granger this year, the ceiling is capped – and coach Frank Vogel
knows it. Granger is the missing piece, the third weapon behind Paul George
and David West
that can be a difference-maker offensively. Within the next few weeks, look for him to regain his starting job and push for 25-30 minutes nightly. It could disrupt the chemistry of a very good team, but it’s the only move Vogel has.
“I’m mildly worried,” Vogel said. “I think it’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment period. Not much.”
With starter’s minutes, Granger will be a fantasy asset. Even though the offense won’t run through him, his defensive versatility and long-range shooting will keep him afloat. RAPTORS Position: Center
The Jonas Valanciunas
situation has not worked out as I had hoped
. After cracking the starting five on Feb. 10 and played more than 31 minutes in two straight games, he’s failed to top 21 minutes in any of his last five games.
Even against big front lines like Washington and Memphis, coach Dwane Casey
is surprisingly showing a willingness to go small. That means some time for Rudy Gay
at power forward, a little burn for Andrea Bargnani
at center and tons of minutes for Amir Johnson
In fact, Johnson is averaging 32.7 minutes a night over his last 11 games even though he’s come off the bench in two of them. That’s led to averages of 1.8 blocks, 1.4 steals and 8.8 rebounds. He’s been a difference-maker for fantasy owners and will continue to be. SIXERS Position: Center
The big news out of Philly on Friday was that $16.8 million cheerleader/bowler/strip-club frequenter Andrew Bynum
actually practiced for the first time as a Sixer. Color coach Doug Collins
“He looked like someone who had not played in nine months,” Collins said. “I don’t think any bells and whistles should be sent off that he’s close to playing.”
As an impending unrestricted free agent, Bynum is highly motivated to get on the court this season. The difference between looking good in 10 games and missing an entire season could be tens of millions of dollars. However, Collins and the medical staff will continue to handle the situation with kid gloves. Even if/when Bynum is cleared, we can safely expect a 20-24 minute cap and restrictions on playing in back-to-backs. There’s also the very real possibility of a setback. I’d only stash Bynum in very deep roto-style formats.
Meanwhile, Spencer Hawes
has been giving owners a little something. Since finally cracking the starting lineup 12 games ago, he’s playing 33.1 minutes per night. That’s been enough to squeeze out 10.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 blocks. Those riding Hawes should believe Bynum’s return when they see it.