We’re getting to that point of the year where owners need to take a hard look at schedules, so you’ll notice a small focus on that as we go through last night’s slate, and get you ready for a lighter Big Wednesday.
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PLENTY OF MAGIC
E’Twaun Moore got the start for injured Jameer Nelson (knee) last night, scoring 12 points with 10 assists, a steal and three treys. Nelson’s knee injury isn’t believed to be serious, and his expected return will likely leave either Moore or Beno Udrih (four points, nine assists) on the outside looking in at reasonably sized formats. Still, Nelson is an injury risk playing on a team fighting for ping pong balls, so both guys have a shot at value down the stretch here. There is some merit to developing Moore if you’re the Magic, but Udrih profiles well as a reliable player that Orlando could choose to lean on, especially if the offense dries up as it has many times in the past.
This team is not short on interesting position battles, as fantasy owners have been buying into Moe Harkless (10 points, four rebounds, one steal) and Tobias Harris (16 points, seven rebounds, one steal, one block, one three) and in that order for the most part. Both guys saw 30+ minutes, but that will take a cut when Nelson returns. It’s too close to call right now if we’re projecting who the winner will be, and one has to think that Harkless has some equity in being with the team all year, but this will come down to who earns it on any given night.
I’m holding both assets, and Andrew Nicholson (13 points, 6-of-8 FGs, two rebounds, one block, 17 minutes) also falls in that category, but I’ll be watching to see if Al Harrington (12 minutes, nine points, 4-of-7 FGs, three rebounds, two assists) can continue to take steps forward. The Magic have two four game weeks prior to the last meaningful week of the year in which they have just two games, and the idea here will be to get lucky and own the 1-2 guys in this bunch that will retain low-end value with some upside.
Of course, Arron Afflalo (16 points, six rebounds, seven assists) and Nikola Vucevic (12 points, 19 rebounds, one block) will continue to make noise for the rest of the year.
The Sixers have been a disappointment this season, and it has league insiders pointing not just to the albatross that is Andrew Bynum but also at Doug Collins, who has a rep for burning his teams out. Collins used the big stick last night when he pointed out Nikola Vucevic’s 19 rebounds compared to Spencer Hawes’ lone board, and he also benched Nick Young (three points, 1-of-6 FGs, 14 minutes). I talked a bit about how I was hedging on Young and that I was ambivalent about my choice to pass him up in a FAAB bid a few weeks back, and this is the scenario that had me worried. He just struggles in too many phases for anybody, fantasy or otherwise, to rely on him.
Thaddeus Young came out of his return on Sunday “feeling good,” and finished with eight points, 10 boards, and three steals in 34 minutes, and he’s more answer than problem in Philly these days. Hawes finished with six points on 2-of-6 shooting, the aforementioned singular rebound, and one block in his 21 minutes, and when things get bad chemistry-wise he’s a guy that can turn the spigot off quick. He hasn’t been productive enough for use in 12-14 team standard leagues over the past three weeks, but the Sixers don’t have many guys to turn to and owners needing big men should stay open to the idea of a bounce-back. Jeremy Pargo scored 14 points with three assists and two threes in 21 minutes, but we need to see more before jumping into a likely timeshare with the Swaggy one.
WARRIORS WINDING DOWN
Stephen Curry got a little feisty when things turned sour in Indy last night, pushing with all of his might to stand up against Roy Hibbert and Co. No matter how overmatched he is in any fisticuffs, there are only a handful of players that I want going for me on any given night in a fantasy league. He caught fire with 38 points on 14-of-20 shooting (7-of-10 from deep) with two rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block. The Warriors’ schedule is a major buzz-kill the rest of the way out, with three games in each meaningful week from here on out. If you have an uninformed owner in your league, it’s time to make trade offers with all of your GSW guys if schedule matters. David Lee (12 points, 12 boards, four rebounds, two blocks) was in the middle of the scrum but like Curry isn’t facing any sort of discipline, but his left (shooting) shoulder is so badly bruised that he may not play tonight.
Andrew Bogut (back spasms) did not play last night and while it’s anybody’s guess if this issue is going to linger, I think there is enough risk to go with question marks about reward for owners to jump ship. If you’re holding, it’s merely as a risky upside stash if you’re in need at center. Carl Landry (11 points, nine boards, 3-of-10 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs, 26 minutes) has garnered some mild attention in mostly deep leagues as a result, and with any Lee absence he would be poised for a nice outing tonight.
INCIDENT IN INDIANA
Roy Hibbert (13 points, nine boards, five blocks) made like Pedro Martinez and threw Stephen Curry to the ground like Don Zimmer in an over-glorified pushing match. He said after the game that he expects to be suspended, and we’d tend to agree so Ian Mahinmi becomes worth a look as a spot play on Thursday.
David West (28 points, seven boards) is another guy that will get a hard look from the league for his role in the altercation, as it looks like he threw a push-punch (or mash if you will), so owners needing a spot-start should keep their eye on Tyler Hansbrough. If we’re counting guys that were near the action we could list Klay Thompson, David Lee, Stephen Curry, Jarrett Jack, Lance Stephenson and Paul George, but none of these guys seem likely to get anything other than a fine.
Danny Granger hit just 1-of-7 shots for five points in 19 minutes as he works his way through a minute restriction. Just keep him on your bench until he shows signs of producing.
BANGED UP BACKCOURT
Joe Johnson (heel) did not play and between his and Deron Williams’ general wear and tear, I was moving in on C.J. Watson (10 points, two assists, two threes, 32 minutes) is some deeper 12-team formats. I actually didn’t land him because I had higher ranked free agents on my list, but playing behind two guys who appear to be falling apart he has a decent chance of reaching inconsistent low-end play status with some upside if one of those guys goes down. That’s really all one can ask for out of a deep league pickup.
Williams has a real nice night with 33 points on 10-of-21 shooting (4-of-8 3PTs, 9-of-10 FTs) and eight assists, and you gotta know he loves playing without Johnson crowding the floor. He had his hand stepped on and briefly left the game, which is par for the course this year, but he is probable to play on Friday against the Mavs. Brook Lopez will always enjoy the view when either of the two backcourt starters are out, as he put up 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting with seven boards, five assists, one steal and four blocks. His top 25-40 value on a per-game basis is a common component of winning fantasy squads this season.
IF IT’S NOT ONE THING
If it’s not one thing it’s another with Anthony Davis, as he left last night’s game during the third quarter with a left shoulder injury and did not return. And just like his knee injury last week, the Hornets said he could have returned to the game, but that they didn’t bring him back in a close contest last night is just the most recent unibrow-raising situation involving Davis and injury. He’s questionable for tonight’s game, and if he doesn’t go then look for Robin Lopez (14 points, seven rebounds, one steal, two blocks) to reprise his role sitting on the high end of the duo’s see-saw. If Davis doesn’t go and you’re feeling lucky in a much deeper format, then Jason Smith (eight points, three boards, one block, 17 minutes) is a dice-roll for having a serviceable night.
Eric Gordon hit just 4-of-15 shots for 10 points with six assists and not much else in his 29 minutes, and he’ll hand over another DNP tonight as he sits out the back-end of the back-to-back. I can’t believe there were people actually in support of his contact.