Kyrie Irving succumbed to the knee injury that had dogged him in Sunday’s game, missing last night’s game and being set at ‘questionable’ for tonight. Byron Scott came out and said the injury wasn’t serious, but I laugh (or cry) at a few jokes on Twitter about the Cavs’ track record with underestimating/reporting Anderson Varejao’s injuries. I’ll just keep that in the back of my head while giving Scott the benefit of the doubt here, as we haven’t seen a decipherable pattern being shown by him or the Cavs.
This left Dion Waiters free to continue his encouraging surge, as the rookie put up 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting with two rebounds, zero assists, one steal, one block and one three in 36 minutes. Some more assists would be nice, and it’s pretty amazing that the Cavs took down the Bulls with just 18 assists as a team. Shaun Livingston drew the start for Irving and had a nice game, but true to form it didn’t hit the box score that hard as he managed just 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting with two assists, one steal and one block in his 33 minutes. That’s his ceiling, and for that reason he’s just a spot-start option in deep formats if Irving can’t go tonight.
Wayne Ellington led the bench with 13 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two threes in 27 minutes, but it’s still time to wait and see in most formats. Luke Walton posted eight points, five boards, five assists and a steal in his 24 minutes, and he’s in the same boat with much more risk. Marreese Speights (eight points, five boards, one block, 17 minutes) finally got the goodbye from me this past week in a deeper 12-team format, as it looks like he won’t be able to float to the top of a thin Cavs roster.
Derrick Rose (knee) is showing “daily improvement” according to Tom Thibodeau, which is code for ‘kick rocks’ if you’re a reporter asking questions. I have him stashed in one deeper 12-team league, and I promised myself to give real consideration to dropping him at this week’s Sunday FAAB deadline if news didn’t get clearer. Kirk Hinrich returned to action and had a real nice night with 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting, three treys, six boards, 11 assists, one steal and one block. Nate Robinson (five points, two assists, 15 minutes) was banished to the bench and that’s likely the way Thibs likes it, but it’s anybody’s guess if Hinrich can keep up his end of the bargain.
We’ve seen bursts like this out of Hinrich only to be followed by hollowed out submissions to the box score, so owners should consider an add at their own risk. Luol Deng (26 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two threes, two steals) and Carlos Boozer (27 points, 13-of-20 FGs, five rebounds, four assists, one block) are in line for even bigger minutes with Taj Gibson out for the next couple of weeks with a knee injury, as is Joakim Noah (nine points, nine boards, five assists, one steal, four blocks). Noah and Deng have survived this season for the most part, but one has to wonder when playing through injuries becomes a problem.
RIDING THE PINE IN CRUNCH TIME
I’ll be the first to admit that I might have overlooked the impact that J.J. Redick (14 points, two threes, 23 minutes) might have on Brandon Jennings, but for at least last night we saw Jim Boylan turn away from Jennings in the fourth quarter in part because Redick was around. Jennings struggled to post eight points on 3-of-11 shooting with three rebounds, six assists and no steals in his 32 minutes, and I’m not saying it’s time to rule on this issue but owners should at least keep an eye on the possibility that Jennings has some rough patches.
Monta Ellis logged 44 minutes en route to 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting with nine assists and six steals, and the hope for owners of all three guys should be that Boylan runs a run-and-gun offense down the stretch. Mike Dunleavy (29 minutes, 13 points, two threes, not much else) and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (28 minutes, seven points, five boards) stand in the way of that, but they’re both injury prone and Redick deserves to be owned for his 3-point shooting regardless. Samuel Dalembert was suspended for last night’s game after he was late to shootaround, and I’m about zero percent surprised. He has had problems like that everywhere he has been.
DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME
Dirk Nowitzki sent a message last night that it’s too early to turn the page on the future Hall of Famer’s career, posting a monster 21 and 20 line in a loss to the Bucks. For that reason owners can forgive Shawn Marion for his three rebounds and otherwise serviceable 10 points, one steal and one block, and he has been relatively productive lately so a hold is certainly in order. Darren Collison has survived the doghouse and the trade deadline, providing owners with 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting (no threes), seven rebounds and eight assists. Now isn’t the time to buy low, but it sure feels like he could fly under the radar with all of his perceived risk.
Elton Brand got in on the act with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting, 14 boards, one steal and three blocks in 25 minutes off the bench. While his role and minutes are a buzz-kill, especially with Chris Kaman (DNP-CD) looming if he can get his act together, he’s well worth a look right now if you need a big. Vince Carter finally cooled off with just two points on free throws and eight missed field goal attempts in a disastrous night. I wouldn’t overreact to one game, but he has been pretty streaky this season and that’s what you get from a guy whose minutes are often limited in a bench role.
CIRCLING THE SCHEDULE
Andrei Kirilenko has been a breath of fresh air this season when on the court, but he has shown an uncanny ability to kill weekly league owners with early-week injuries. He left last night after 10 minutes of action due to a left calf strain, something he has history with in 2010, and did not return. The Wolves’ playbook has been to give him a few games off if this is a run-of-the-mill injury, and that opens the window wide open for Derrick Williams (21 points, 12 boards, two threes, two steals, one block, 3-of-10 FTs) to keep doing his thing. The Wolves’ schedule is as good as it comes with four games in each week for the rest of the meaningful year, and Williams is looking like a solid bet to hold standard league value with plenty of upside at least until Kevin Love returns.
Ricky Rubio kept up with the mixed bag of goodies, handing out 10 assists with four steals and five boards to go with just five points on 2-of-12 shooting and six turnovers. I don’t really expect a change in the overall dynamic of his game, so owners just have to live with the uneven results. I’m pretty disappointed with Alexey Shved, who made like the puppy that lost his way, hitting just 2-of-9 shots for five points and not much else. J.J. Barea (16 points, 28 minutes) and Luke Ridnour (10 points, four boards, four assists, 29 minutes) – “society” – stand in the way of Shved’s immediate production and he’s not showing signs of being the late-season stash guy I thought he could be. The whole backcourt is injury prone, so keep him in the corner of your eye.
Nikola Pekovic (18 points, 12 boards, three steal, three blocks) was evaluated by the Suns’ training staff after the game, and we’ll update you as soon as we learn more about his status going forward.
In fairness to everybody playing in the Wolves/Suns game last night, offensive basketball was set back a few years and in the Suns’ case it’s nothing new. That’s also what happens when Wes Johnson (6-of-16 FGs, 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals, two threes) is your team’s leading chucker. With just 10 points over the three games prior, owners would have to have an extremely optimistic viewpoint to consider an add in most formats. Even with Shannon Brown in the doghouse, that output left Jared Dudley (1-of-6 FGs, two points) scraping the bottom of the barrel in his 25 minutes, and he can be dropped for a hot free agent even if it’s possible that he gets going again.
Markieff Morris managed to stay on the floor for 32 minutes and put up 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting (including two threes) with six rebounds and three blocks. His brother Marcus played just three minutes, and if you want to look at Morris just make sure you keep in mind that Lindsey Hunter is a mess right now. Marcin Gortat was a mild bright spot with 14 points, seven boards, two steals and three blocks, and Goran Dragic hit just 4-of-14 shots for 10 points but was otherwise serviceable with four rebounds, seven assists, one block and one three. Luis Scola had just one rebound to go with 10 points in 20 minutes and I’ve got him in the same boat as Dudley. Jermaine O’Neal double-doubled with 10 points, 13 boards and four blocks, and in a deeper league taking a flier on him could make some sense, obvious risks included.