While we're digging into the Jazz, I ought to at least address the impact of Mo Williams' return, presumably sometime in mid-March. Mo was hoping to practice by March 1st but that didn't happen -- his thumb is stiff and lacks strength, and he admitted that his wrist muscles also atrophied while he was wearing a splint/cast. I'm not expecting any miracles and I wouldn't be eager to drop a productive player for Mo, who prior to his injury was the overall No. 96 player in nine-cat leagues, and the No. 73 player in eight-cat. That's not bad, certainly, and it's hard to come across a reliable source of points, 3-pointers and assists on the waiver wire, but owners should be prepared to wait a few weeks before Mo even returns late-middle round value.
Utah did have an opponent on Friday…that would be the lackluster Bobcats, losers of five straight games, who finished their loss to the Jazz with 68 points on 34.6 percent FG shooting and 58.3 percent FT shooting. Ugly lines abound and there’s no need to recap them all – if you were relying on any Bobcats, you got hosed, and not for the last time. Charlotte is dead last in the NBA in effective FG percentage, at 45.4 percent, while their opponents have the third-highest eFG percentage (51.8 percent) and the second-highest offensive rebound rate (29.8 percent).
They simply don’t have the personnel to compete – consider, for instance, that nearly one-fifth of their plays are spot-up opportunities, yet they average just 0.87 points off those chances, which also ranks last in the NBA. They rank 22nd in points per possession in transition, 29th in points off post-ups, 26th in points off putbacks, 30th in points off cuts…the list goes on. This isn’t all just to pile scorn on the Bobcats, which is redundant, but rather to point out that players on offensively inept teams typically make lousy fantasy options. Kemba Walker ranks No. 27 this season in nine-cat, Gerald Henderson ranks No. 127, Ramon Sessions ranks No. 140, Byron Mullens ranks No. 143, and that’s as good as it gets.
Anthony Davis didn’t play on Friday due to a bone bruise in his left shoulder, and he’s listed as day-to-day. The Hornets will be cautious with the face of the future Pelicans franchise, and I’d be surprised if we see him vs. the Magic on Monday. His absence didn’t prevent a victory over the Pistons, however, led by Greivis Vasquez’s 25 points, two 3-pointers, four rebounds, nine assists, two steals and zero turnovers in 36 minutes. Eric Gordon scored 21 points, Ryan Anderson had 19 & 13 in a fill-in start at PF, and even Robin Lopez added 10 points, five rebounds and five blocks in 31 minutes (giving him 12 swats in the past four games).
The Hornets end their season with a fairly middle-of-the-road schedule of 4-3-3-4-3-4-1. That includes two back-to-back sets in March, the first coming on the 9th & 10th, which should sound the alarm for Eric Gordon’s owners. Gordon scored 21 points in Friday’s win but he made only 6-of-18 FGs and he turned the ball over four times, consistent with the flaws he’s displayed all season. I’m half convinced that the team would be leaning toward shutting him down if they weren’t trying to impart some semblance of trade value before the summer. Deploy him at your own risk.
Meanwhile, the Pistons fell to the short-handed Hornets despite another big game from Brandon Knight, who scored 22 points with two 3-pointers, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. He’s averaging 27.0 points and 3.5 threes in two games since returning from his sore knee (which he says still bothers him, though you wouldn’t know it). I never realized just how reliant BK is on 3-pointers, which account for fully 37 percent of his shot attempts. His shot chart vastly favors the top of the arc, rather than the wings, and I’m interested to see if that shifts now that he’s playing more off-the-ball with Jose Calderon in town). Knight’s return has shifted Rodney Stuckey to a bench role and thus spoiled his value in most leagues – Stuckey chipped in six points, six rebounds and four dimes vs. New Orleans, while Will Bynum added seven points in 14 minutes. I've gone on long enough, and will bring this to an unceremonial ending -- if you're still hankering for more information, check out the latest player news, sift through the injury list, familiarize yourself with every team's depth chart, and read some of our other recent columns. All that, and there's still the Season Pass.