Derrick Rose (knee) is now day-to-day and it’s anybody’s guess when the man will play. In the one spot I have him stashed I held him through last weekend (deep 12-team Roto league). He’ll be on the chopping block for this weekend’s FAAB run but as usual we’ll see how it goes. Kirk Hinrich (foot) did not play and his status will seemingly be in doubt for the rest of the season. That leaves things wide open for Nate Robinson, who hit just 3-of-13 shots for seven points, five assists, a steal, a block, and one three in 24 minutes. I think Robinson should be owned in most standards for the chance he can provide low-end numbers, but Marquis Teague (11 points, three boards, three assists, one steal, three treys, 24 minutes) has hit my radar if for anything because Tom Thibodeau hates playing Robinson. I’m not rushing to add Teague in most reasonably sized formats, but if we get bad news on Rose at any point I’ll start to consider a speculative add if things continue to trend upward for the rookie.
Marco Belinelli started again at shooting guard and posted 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting with two rebounds and seven assists in 41 minutes. That gives him two 20-point nights in a row and with nobody encroaching on his playing time as of late, he’s worth an add in standard leagues even though owners should keep expectations in check given his inconsistency.
The four-headed point guard monster for the Spurs was a tough fantasy question to answer when Tony Parker went down, and if you eschewed the entire list for Manu Ginobili then you get Gregg Popovich’s heartwarming death stare. Ginobili racked up 18 points, three boards, nine assists and three treys, proving why owners should hang onto a guy with upside despite a seriously slow season.
Cory Joseph got the start and finished with four points on 2-of-5 shooting, five rebounds, two assists and a steal in his 24 minutes, while Patty Mills tossed together yet another shooting guard line of 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting with two rebounds, zero assists, one steal and three treys in his 22 minutes. Nando De Colo played just two minutes despite the Spurs keeping the Bulls at bay for most of the night, and Gary Neal (Achilles) was supposed to play but didn’t.
Danny Green (seven points, one three, not much else) saw just 24 minutes in the easy win, but owners shouldn’t worry at all with Parker out and plenty of touches available. Tiago Splitter (13 points, 10 boards) isn’t blocking shots recently, but he has strung together three decent games and is worth a look again as the Spurs play four games next week. Tim Duncan was his typical wonderful self with 18 points, 10 boards, one steal and five blocks, and at this point owners just have to downgrade his games played outlook and hope for the best. Kawhi Leonard scored 14 points with seven rebounds, one steal and one block and is paying off the patient with relatively consistent production. He is a top-25 play in 9-cat leagues and a top-50 play in 8-cat leagues on a per-game basis this season, but his knee issue will be something to watch as Pop gets ready for the playoffs.
The Raptors got to feast on a reeling Suns squad last night, which meant some down performances for Kyle Lowry (five points, four assists, two steals, 21 minutes) and Rudy Gay (five points, five rebounds, two blocks, 23 minutes). Sebastian Telfair got 27 minutes in the blowout in front of his family, and it’s probable that Dwane Casey wanted him to get his licks in. I wouldn’t read into any playing time issue with Lowry.
Andrea Bargnani reverted back to form with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting, five rebounds, one three and one steal, and while there is some upside the downside represents the heavier side of the scale. Jonas Valanciunas played just 20 minutes with 10 points, three rebounds, one steal and two blocks, and it would have been nice to see him let loose against a Suns team without Marcin Gortat (foot) for most of the game. Amir Johnson did Amir Johnson things with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, six rebounds and one steal in 28 minutes, and DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points with six rebounds, four assists and one steal in a normal night.
Marcin Gortat owners got a push over the cliff when he injured his right foot and heard a “pop,” and admitted after the game that he could miss a few weeks. He’ll have an MRI today and given his distaste for the way things have been run in Phoenix all year it’s fair to wonder how hard he’ll work to get back. Owners may want to play conservative and hang on for the next 24 hours, but I wouldn’t pass up an above average free agent to do it. This leaves behind an interesting fantasy situation with Jermaine O’Neal suddenly front and center while out due to his daughter’s heart surgery. It’s hard for me to give fantasy advice in a situation like this because my main concern lies with he and his family, but when he returns he’s positioned as well as possible to be a factor down the stretch. Even with his various risks, I’m looking at him as a must-own player with the hopes he can continue his solid play.
Beyond O’Neal there are still considerable minutes to fill down low and nobody with any real girth to do the job. Hamed Haddadi (two rebounds, nine minutes) will see some time down low but has no real fantasy value until he can show us something, which leaves Luis Scola (six points, eight rebounds, 24 minutes) and Markieff Morris (three points, 1-of-7 FGs, six rebounds, one steal, one block, 27 minutes) as the only guys that can literally stand in the post and get in the way.
If we forget for a second that Lindsey Hunter has no clue what he is doing and the Suns are a mess, and that somebody has to produce from the 4-5 holes, then I think both guys deserve strong consideration to be owned in standard formats. Marcus Morris (12 points, four rebounds, 5-of-9 FGs, two threes, 23 minutes) plays a bit further from the rim than his brother, but he’s right there in the mix with the aforementioned as a potential beneficiary and I think he’s worth a speculative add, too. In terms of filling those slots, though, I think he’s third in line to eat, even if he could see as big of a bump in fantasy value with minutes opening up in general.
Michael Beasley (seven points, one rebound, 17 minutes) has been atrocious and is probably checked out, but he’ll be somebody to watch closely from the wire in standard formats. Wes Johnson (five points, 2-of-9 FGs, five boards, one block) has some potential for versatility and logged 29 minutes last night, but I wonder if he can hold standard league value given his inconsistent play.
Jared Dudley (nine points, four assists, two steals, 19 minutes) would be a must-add player if Hunter didn’t have the Suns in a quagmire, but he’s not in that discussion when it appears he is on the outs. Goran Dragic played through his back injury after a solid early week rest, finishing with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, four rebounds, six assists and a steal, and if the Suns were smart they’d just give him the ball and get out of the way.
PUSHING THE RIGHT BUTTONS
Reports of Brandon Jennings’ demise were greatly exaggerated, albeit justifiable in the sense that J.J. Redick (22 minutes, three points, two assists) isn’t going away anytime soon. He put up 18 points, 12 assists, and five treys with a steal while hitting 50 percent of his shots, and it seems Jim Boylan’s talk about racking up assists has been taken to heart. In fact, it’s worth noting that Boylan has appeared to push the right buttons in this go-around as interim coach, for what it’s worth.
Monta Ellis stayed hot with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, six assists, and two treys, as did Ersan Ilyasova who had 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, five rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers. It seems like eons ago that I was begging you guys to hang on, while sweating bullets in the process. Larry Sanders is finally getting the Defensive Player of the Year buzz I’ve also been begging for, but it’s mostly been reserved for the basketball nerd types like us that pour over box scores. He finally snapped a streak of games with a block that started on November 26, but still posted a serviceable 11 points, seven boards, three assists and one steal in last night’s loss to the Clippers.
IN YOUR FACE AND UNDER THE RADAR
Blake Griffin has somehow flown underneath the radar this season in both fantasy and reality, but I’m very impressed with the steps forward he has taken at the line and in his playmaking in general. He triple-doubled last night with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, one steal, one block, and a dunk of the year entry. Matt Barnes was probably motivated by his hate for the league office last night, as he caught fire with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, six treys, one steal and one block in 28 minutes. The Clippers schedule is pretty bad down the stretch, but owners shouldn’t sleep on Barnes’ ability to put up mid-round value when things are going good. I think he should be owned in most 12-14 team formats after a night like this. Jamal Crawford was the quarterback on Griffin’s insane dunk, and finished with 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting, three treys, four boards, three steals and a block.
I AM SO SMART, S-M-R-T
You guys thought I was joking when I said that Toney Douglas (10 points, 28 minutes, three rebounds, six assists, two threes, 28 minutes) could join a rebuilding Kings team and further erode any hope of continuity for Isaiah Thomas and Co. Let me preface this by saying I’m not panicking on Thomas’ overall value proposition by any means, but as we all know anything can happen on any given night. The sad part is that while the city of Sacramento fights tooth and nail to keep their team their coach refuses to check his ego at the door and play the right guys – the guys that anybody with a basketball IQ higher than slobber can see should be on the floor.
So Smart benched Thomas for the 50th or more time in his career with no discernible reason. Thomas scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting with one assist, one steal, and one three in 20 minutes, and as usual the decision cost his team a winnable game when the lack of a real point guard on the floor late killed them yet again.
Smart also benched DeMarcus Cousins (five points, 2-of-10 FGs, four rebounds, three assists, four steals, one block, 20 minutes), who was playing horribly, but one can’t help but think this is all just a mutiny of historic proportions brewing. I’m thinking Varsity Blues meets Bad News Bears 2 with the old guy that can’t talk and mows the lawn.
John Salmons regressed to the norm with five points on 2-of-9 shooting in the easiest predictable decline in recent memory, while Tyreke Evans looked as lost as one can look for having nine points on 4-of-14 shooting, six assists, one steal and two blocks. Jason Thompson (17 points, eight boards, two steals, 8-of-13 FGs) tweeted his disgust after the game, and Cousins served the media Gatorade because in his words, he had plenty of energy.
Marcus Thornton was benched late in a key situation for no apparent reason and finished with nine points on 3-of-8 shooting with six rebounds, one steal and one three in 28 minutes – highlighting why I’ve been hesitant to get all the way behind him despite the fact he should be a no-brainer 15-20 ppg game guy for this club. Patrick Patterson scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting (including three treys) with eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block in 28 minutes off the bench, and I think owners need to see it again before seriously contemplating an add in this Major League mess.
Of course, my Warriors struggled to deal with the Kings juggernaut at home and that just about sums up their state of affairs. Shooting 36 percent as a team against a team that barely runs back on defense is not a great sign for their playoff chase, though they’ve won two games in a row now and by virtue of their cake schedule early they’re probably going to slip in.
Klay Thompson hit just 6-of-17 shots (including four threes) for 20 points with five rebounds and not much else, Stephen Curry was equally as cold with 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting, two treys, five rebounds, eight assists, two steals and six turnovers, and David Lee had his customary 17 points, 10 boards, three assists and one steal. Harrison Barnes has strung together a few mediocre lines for deep leagues and had 14 points with four rebounds last night, but I think owners should just watch him for now. Andrew Bogut played 28 minutes and scored two points on free throws with just two missed shot attempts, but he did manage eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks. If you’re desperate for a big man give him a look but don’t expect him to improve overnight or stay healthy.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
OKC @ NYK: We’ll be all over the Carmelo Anthony (knee) update and that’s the only real big news heading into tonight.
LAC @ DEN: Chauncey Billups (back) is day-to-day but I wouldn’t expect the Clips to let him go unless he’s close to 100 percent. The Nuggets got a night off and the Clippers are on the back-end of a back-to-back, but this game should have plenty of energy and plenty of fireworks.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: I’m back on the chat! Travel schedules have been tight covering the Kings saga but I’ll be back at 9 p.m. ET to take your questions. I can’t wait – it’s been too long.