MR. WRIGHT NOW
The Sixers suck train spilled into last night’s loss to the Hawks, with Evan Turner’s two points on 1-of-7 shooting, three rebounds and four assists pinned most prominently on fantasy owners’ dart boards. He’s about as up and down as they come in fantasy leagues, which is why I was neither high nor low on him when some started to crow about a breakout. Dorell Wright, on the other hand, continued to make his case with fantasy owners putting up 20 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three treys in 32 minutes, and though he could get bounced around when Nick Young gets back I think owners have to give him a decent look in standards. Damien Wilkins came out of nowhere for 21 points and six boards, and with two DNP-CDs under his belt this week he needs to do it again and again.
Kyle Korver (toe) got back on the court and scored nine points with one 3-pointer, and he should still be owned in all standard formats. Devin Harris has been a borderline addition in 12-14 team formats providing low-end numbers recently, but the downside showed up last night as he managed just six points and two assists in 26 minutes. Anthony Tolliver showed that fantasy friendly game that always raises an eyebrow, scoring 21 points with eight rebounds, five treys and two blocks in 26 minutes. Unfortunately, one look at his game log tells the story and he needs to follow up with something substantial before owners blink here.
DON’T YOU CRY TONIGHT
Nicolas Batum hit just 4-of-10 shots for 10 points, but had four rebounds, three assists and a trey in a low-end performance by his standards. He may not be the stud he was shaping up to be prior to the shooting wrist injury, but he’s a strong bet to stay in the top-36 for the rest of the year. LaMarcus Aldridge struggled against a formidable Grizzlies defense, hitting just 2-of-13 shots for 10 points, 10 boards, six assists, and two steals. Like his teammates, his bad nights aren’t going to be so bad. J.J. Hickson double-doubled with 12 points and 13 rebounds, and also added one steal with two blocks. Meyers Leonard backed off with just five points and four boards in 16 minutes, so those in deep leagues can take a step away from the keyboard.
Zach Randolph (ankle) was limping badly on Tuesday and did not play last night, and with the Grizz looking at a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday against the Cavs and Hornets it would make sense that the team plays it safe. A totally random guess would have him playing on Saturday, which means that Ed Davis (three points, six boards, one steal, two blocks, 25 minutes) is still worth a look in spot action. Mike Conley scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting with three rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks and a three, and for all the talk about disappointing production he has been a top-30 play which is nothing to shake a stick at. Marc Gasol went for 23 and 12 as the Grizzlies dispatched the Blazers at home.
Bradley Beal (ankle) was doubtful heading into last night and did not play, as expected. He’s being treated as day-to-day but I don’t sense a return is imminent. This left Martell Webster (11 points, seven rebounds, two threes) free to play 42 minutes and Trevor Ariza logged 38 minutes on his way to 16 points on 4-of-10 shooting with three treys, seven rebounds, six assists and one steal. Ariza won’t keep up that level of production when Beal returns but with Jordan Crawford out of the way he has a good chance of providing low-end production for owners. Nene had seven turnovers and five fouls in 36 minutes, but still went for 12 and eight with a steal and block, while Emeka Okafor double-doubled with 10 points, 14 rebounds and a block. Okafor’s value has been dragged down by really bad shooting (48.8% FGs, 54.5% FTs) but if you’re punting he has been a nice find.
LOVE WILL FIND A WAY
We got a Kevin Love (hand) update yesterday, as he is going to meet with a specialist in New York next week and if all goes well he would like to return the week after. The Wolves are 10 games out of the playoff hunt so I’d guess they play things pretty safe with Love, but if he can meet his timeline he’ll be looking at about 15 games, which can clearly help owners out. He should be owned in all formats for that possibility.
With Nikola Pekovic (ab strain) and Andrei Kirilenko (calf) out for at least this week, Derrick Williams had another serviceable night with 16 points, eight rebounds and one steal to go with 4-of-12 FGs and 7-of-11 FTs. Despite the holes in his fantasy game he has been getting it done for owners as a waiver wire pickup and he should have at least a week or two in him before things get hairy. Ricky Rubio went off for 15 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and six steals, and he's averaging 13.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 9.5 assists and an uncanny 3.6 steals per game over the last month. Wow.
Alexey Shved hit just 1-of-6 shots for four points in 21 minutes, and I wonder if we’ll hear some explanation for his intense freefall. Whether it’s the ankle injury or the rookie wall, he has disappointed enough to ignore the awesome schedule until he shows some signs of life. Chase Budinger (knee) is taking jumpers and is targeting a 2-3 week return, which is something for owners to keep an eye on for long-term evaluations at the wing positions in Minny.
NEVER A DULL NIGHT
It’s never a dull night in Laker-land, as they put together a 25-point comeback win in New Orleans behind Kobe Bryant’s 42 points on 14-of-21 shooting with three treys, seven boards, 12 assists, and one block. Whatever was ailing him and causing him to stop hitting threes appears to have ceased, and he’s primed to be a force down the stretch as the Lakers claw at my Warriors and others to make the playoffs.
Dwight Howard played despite more shoulder pain, scoring 20 points with 15 boards, three steals and four blocks in 35 minutes, so owners can continue to use him as they normally would. Earl Clark has fizzled out lately and had another rough night with five points on free throws (0-for-4 FGs), two rebounds, three assists and one steal in 25 minutes, and is no longer a must-own player despite the lack of depth in the frontcourt.
Metta World Peace didn’t look bothered by his ankle injury, scoring 11 points with two steals and three treys in 30 minutes. Like Howard, use him as you normally would. Steve Nash was quiet with five points on 2-of-7 shooting, four rebounds and one assist, and unfortunately this is going to be the way things go for Nash with plenty of ups and downs. Jodie Meeks hit five treys with four of them coming in the fourth quarter, finishing with 19 points and not much else in 26 minutes. Maybe the outing will garner him a few more looks in the short-term, but he’s still nothing but a deep league specialist at best for the time-being.
TODAY IN ANTHONY DAVIS ON THE BENCH
Greivis Vasquez scored 15 points with five rebounds, 12 assists and two threes, while his backcourt mate Eric Gordon hit just 7-of-23 shots for 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and four treys, and as we’ve said a million times if he can still be dealt owners have to try to do it on nights when he puts up the popcorn numbers.
Austin Rivers may have mercifully seen his disaster rookie season come to an end when he fractured the fourth metacarpal on his right (shooting) hand. He’s slated to be out for 4-6 weeks. Robin Lopez double-doubled with 13 points, 11 boards, one steal and two blocks in a whopping 40 minutes, while Anthony Davis was benched one again. Davis played 17 minutes and still posted 13 points with six boards and two blocks.
Monty Williams said that it wouldn’t be fair to Davis to play him heavily against Dwight Howard since he’s coming off a shoulder injury, which is yet another weird occurrence considering Davis said he was fine. If all of these benchings are happening due to injury issues it’s one thing, but Williams’ reputation as a tinkerer is reaching new levels and I don’t see how it’s helping Davis’ development to ride the pine. With minutes clearing up due to Rivers and Jason Smith’s injuries, I think Lopez has a pretty strong case for being owned in 12-team standards going forward. Al-Farouq Aminu will also benefit from the extra available minutes, and his 12 points, 16 rebounds, two steals and three blocks are reminiscent of his early season push.
James Harden hit just 5-of-17 shots last night, but in typical fashion he probably won the free throw category for owners last night with a perfect 16 makes. He finished with 28 points, four rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two treys. Given his ADP he’ll be a common component on winning fantasy squads. Chandler Parsons has been just as consistent this season and put up another 23 points, five treys, four boards, and one block.
Omer Asik did his double-double damage to the tune of 12 points and 15 rebounds in just 23 minutes, and Jeremy Lin added 12 points with just three assists in 25 minutes. Lin’s minutes have dipped recently and owners may be wondering about Patrick Beverly and Aaron Brooks, but Lin has bounced back so many times it’s hard to doubt him at this point. And strategically speaking, I can’t see the Rockets wanting to mess with their chemistry so late in the season as long as Lin plays within his normal range of effectiveness.
Donatas Motiejunas disappeared with seven points and one rebound in 16 minutes, while Thomas Robinson got the lion’s share of minutes (28) at power forward and finished with eight points, four rebounds, one steal and two blocks. This looks like a matchup-based timeshare going forward, but we’ll definitely be watching to see if one guy can emerge over the other. For now, they’re deep league assets and if you took a flier on Motie he can certainly be dropped for a hot free agent.
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
O.J. Mayo hasn’t been making headlines lately but he has quietly been good for owners, and last night he got back on the big board with a career-high 12 assists, 13 points, six rebounds and three treys. Darren Collison (seven points, five assists, one three, 23 minutes) was benched so Mike James (eight points, three boards, six assists, 25 minutes) could start, in Rick Carlisle’s most recent message sent to Collison via playing time. Collison should remain owned in 12-14 team leagues and James is worth a look in deeper formats than that, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he disappeared once the message was received by DC.
Shawn Marion scored 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting with three rebounds, four assists and two steals, and should be in most lineups right now. Brandan Wright (12 points, two boards, one steal, one block, 27 minutes) was the flavor of the day at center, and all of a sudden Elton Brand (nine points, three rebounds, one block, 18 minutes) and Chris Kaman (DNP-CD) are on the outs. That’s the way it rolls in Dallas and owners should aim higher in 12-team formats.