When Houston dealt away Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris, it looked like the team had dealt away all its power forward assets to clear space for Thomas Robinson. It turns out we overlooked one man.
His name is Donatas Motiejunas.
It’s still easy to envision Robinson taking over the PF job at some point, and I’m still a big believer in his potential. But if you added Robinson off waivers, you may have to consider doing the old double roster spot jamboree with T-Rob and D-Mo, because while Robinson is still adjusting to Houston (just eight minutes in his first game with the Rockets), Motiejunas is getting a chance to earn minutes – and looking pretty impressive in the process.
In his first career start on Wednesday, Motiejunas posted 13 points, seven boards and five assists (with a steal and a 3-pointer) in 26 minutes, giving him averages of 12.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.5 apg and 1.5 treys in his last two games.
That’s the good news. There is, of course, some downside. In order: 1) Houston’s schedule (just one four-game week left), 2) the potential loss of minutes to Robinson going forward and 3) a lack of blocks (just two of them in 141 total minutes this season). With that said, I’m all for adding Motiejunas if you have roster space, because though this may end up being nothing more than a brief blip of productivity, sometimes a blip can end up turning into a full-scale breakout.
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Now, a look at some recent trends of the good and not-so-good variety:
(Note: These lists are mostly players who are already owned in most leagues – for trade evaluation purposes – plus a couple who might be on the waiver wire in shallower formats)
Ty Lawson (last eight games: 26.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 8.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.6 3s) – Tough dilemma here. Lawson has been going absolutely berserk, but Denver has just two four-game weeks left, and plays three games in the all-important Weeks 22-24. If you shop him for a better schedule, just make sure you’re getting top-25 value in return.
Goran Dragic (last six games: 14.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 11.5 apg, 2.2 spg, 0.8 bpg and 1.3 3s) – Similar to Lawson, Dragic is finally looking like an elite fantasy PG after some early-season disappointment, but has just two four-game weeks the rest of the way. I don’t see him as a must-trade, but it’s worth at least taking a look.
Tony Parker (26.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 8.3 apg, 1.1 spg through nine games of February) – Parker has been terrific all year, and has only missed four games, but two of those absences have happened this month, and it’s hard not to be scared of more rest coming. It may not be easy to deal Parker given that your fellow league members are well aware of the situation, but it’s another situation where you should at least give it a shot.
Al Horford (last seven games: 25.4 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 2.1 bpg) – To some extent, the numbers scream out to try selling high, but the Hawks have five straight four-game weeks coming up (followed by a two-game week in Week 24). Unless a phenomenal offer comes along, I’d just enjoy the production.
Jeff Teague (last 10 games: 18.5 ppg, 9.8 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.4 3s) – Still shredding it, and with the aforementioned Hawks’ schedule, he holds a very lofty spot in my rest-of-season rankings.
Bradley Beal (last seven games: 19.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.9 bpg, 1.9 3s) – After three games next week, the Wizards have four straight four-game weeks. I would not be looking to sell high.
Gordon Hayward (last four games: 19.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.0 bpg, 1.8 3s) – We’ve seen Hayward finish strong each of his first two years in the NBA, and it looks like he’s headed that way again. Utah plays four times in four of the next five weeks.
Tyreke Evans (last six games: 18.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.8 apg, 2.7 spg, 0.8 3s) – I’m not worried about his numbers falling off as much as I’m concerned about the Kings’ schedule. After this week, they go 4-2-4-3-3-3 the next six weeks.
Elton Brand (last five games: 13.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.8 spg, 1.8 bpg) – I wish I could say I’m convinced that Brand will keep this up, but I’m not. He’s had some other bursts of productivity this year, only to fall back into maddening inconsistency. Nothing wrong with taking advantage of the production at the moment, but be ready to move on quickly when he cools off.
(Saturday Update: I had every intention of discussing Tobias Harris in this column when first publishing it, but had an old-fashioned brain fart and failed to include him. The No. 19 pick from 2011 is averaging 20.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.0 spg, 1.0 bpg and 1.3 3s in four games since joining Orlando, and is an absolute flashing light of a must-add if still out there in your league.)
NOT SO GOOD
Brandon Jennings (last three games: 9.0 ppg, 5.7 apg, 0.3 spg and 1.0 3s) – It’s a legitimate concern that his minutes are down (from 37 to 31) since J.J. Redick’s arrival, but I’m inclined to think that Jennings will break out of this. The circumstances are a little disconcerting, but this isn’t his first mini-slump of the season, and I’d try to stay patient if he’s on your roster (and consider floating a buy-low if you’re in a mood to gamble).
John Wall (last two games: 8.0 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.0 TO’s in 24 minutes per game) – Like Jennings, Wall is too good to struggle this severely for that long. As mentioned before, the Wizards have a strong schedule, and I’m all for buying low if the opportunity is there.
Gerald Wallace (last five games: 5.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.4 spg and 0.6 bpg) – He showed some brief glimpses of breaking out of it earlier this month, but has retreated back into depressing awfulness of late. The minutes are there (32 per game this month), but it’s just not happening for Wallace in the first year of his four-year deal. If his name and past production are the only things keeping you from dropping him, I’d go ahead and cut him loose for a productive free agent.
Andrea Bargnani (last seven games: 3.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg in 18 minutes per game) – A large waste of a roster spot.
PAINFUL FANTASY-RELATED OCCURRENCE OF THE WEEK
In a head-to-head league, I’m going against Al Horford (28.5 ppg, 18.5 rpg, 3.5 bpg in two games), Joakim Noah (23 points, 21 boards, 11 blocks on Thursday) and Monta Ellis (24.5 ppg, 11.0 apg, 6.0 spg in two games), and I out-thought myself and started Moe Harkless for four games over three games of Tyson Chandler (16 points, 28 boards on Wednesday). Ouch.