SLOW COOKIN DAVIS
Mike Conley took his top-30 value into last night’s win over the Blazers and gave a quintessential Conley performance with just 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting (no threes), four rebounds, four steals and a career-high 15 assists. He disappears at times in the scoring column and his assist totals are never that great, but he quietly gets it done for owners on most nights.
Zach Randolph returned from his ankle injury and went for 19 and 10, Ed Davis did not disappear with Z-Bo back as he put up 14 points with nine rebounds, one steal and two blocks, and Marc Gasol scored 20 points with just two rebounds to go with five assists, one steal and two blocks. The Grizzlies have a great 4-4-4-3 schedule going forward, and it’s possible that the team is finally confident enough in Davis to throw him on the floor. He played all three frontcourt positions and could be an interesting wrinkle for the team if he can become a nightly producer. As for an add, he’s not a must-add player but I can’t see passing him up if I need a big man with that schedule. Ditto for Jerryd Bayless (five points, 1-of-7 FGs, six assists) in deeper formats despite last night’s struggles.
TODAY IN SHOOTING WRIST EVALUATIONS
The Blazers are one of the most predictable boxes in the league and last night didn’t stray too far from the norm. Damian Lillard went for 27 and seven with three treys and a perfect eight free throw attempts, and Nicolas Batum’s wrist injury continued to linger as he went hitless on five field goal attempts but still managed 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks to go with his four points from the charity stripe. Once again, the shooting wrist injury strikes but owners can still hang their hats on the rest of his production. I'll knock on wood as I write this (famous last words), but if the Blazers fall far out of playoff contention then a shutdown can't be ruled out of the equation. On the other hand, they have no depth at all and hopefully they'll just ride Batum as long as he's not a risk of further injury.
J.J. Hickson was quiet with eight and nine to go with two steals, and LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t show any signs of an ankle injury going for 28 and 10 with a steal and four blocks. Eric Maynor was quiet with 11 points, four boards, one assist and one steal in 26 minutes off the bench, and some variation of that production should be the realistic expectation of owners looking to pick him up for the upcoming five-game week.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
MIL @ WAS: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s status will add or subtract 24 minutes from the rotation, and we’ll be watching to see how Ersan Ilyasova reacts after returning last night from his knee issue. Trevor Ariza’s status will keep owners on the watch for a deep league beneficiary, but chances are the starters will enjoy more touches and safer outlooks.
MIA @ PHI: The Heat will come out firing as they look to extend their winning streak to 20 games, and the Sixers could bring out their A-game in response. Nick Young (ankle) is questionable and a potential return could slow the rolls of Damien Wilkins and Dorell Wright. Maybe Spencer Hawes can put up some big numbers against the weaker Heat interior. Owners may want to put Mario Chalmers on their short list of players to watch tonight given the Heat’s favorable schedule.
MIN @ IND: Danny Granger (knee) will miss the next three games which puts him out through the weekend. The Pacers have four games next week but I still wouldn’t use him, and he’s a drop candidate not knowing what he’ll give owners if he can return. Aside from the normal concerns about a situation like this, you can add the fact that the Pacers would obviously prefer to work him in sooner rather than later to avoid playoff chemistry issues. The Wolves will have a tough run coming off the back-to-back against a stout Indy defense.
TOR @ BOS: Rudy Gay (back) is a game-time decision for tonight but beat writer Mike Ganter’s comment “Lots of doctors talking to each other and nothing to report” when talking about Gay and Andrea Bargnani (elbow) was odd. I wish I had some better context, especially when earlier in the day a report was floated that Gay could be shut down if his injury persists.
For what it’s worth I thought the ‘shutdown’ report was sort of hypothetical, and I’m going to wait and pass judgment on Gay’s situation if we get another red-flag type report, but I won’t wait to pass judgment on Bargnani. Sure, maybe he comes back, but it sounds like Dwane Casey is finally ready to stop being tough on his rookie big man Jonas Valanciunas. I get it that coaches don’t like to loosen the leash during the developmental stage, but it’s costing the team games if you’re to believe the local beat writers that call JV one of the team’s top players right now.
Bargnani is probably already viewed as an expiring deal for next year and it’s not necessary to market him on the court if he’s not at 100 percent. If anything, the Raps can sell that Bargnani was banged up and try to write off this past year that way. Alan Anderson is the primary beneficiary of any Gay absence, but in terms of pure value I think guys like Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, and Valanciunas might actually gain more with nearly 20 shot attempts per game freed up.
Look for the Celtics to bounce back after their awful showing against the Bobcats.
LAL @ ATL: The Lakers don’t have much time to celebrate Dwight Howard’s big win and if Jeff Teague can’t play this one could get ugly, even with the Lakers a rough team to bet heavy on. Look for the Hawks’ big guns to bounce back after their poor showing last night.
PHO @ HOU: Omer Asik suffered a “mild” groin injury in yesterday’s practice and we have him questionable for tonight until a report can clear things up. James Harden (foot) practiced and is expected to play tonight. Jermaine O’Neal is questionable but it seems reasonable that he plays, so owners will want to keep a close eye on both he and Hamed Haddadi. With a nice outing tonight Haddadi could crawl up into recommended add status. The rest of the roster outside of Goran Dragic is a total mess, which of course means plenty of fantasy attention as owners try to find the next great pickup. Marcus Morris and Luis Scola were the leaders on that front on Monday, but as usual all of that could change.
UTA @ OKC: Paul Millsap (knee) was listed early on Tuesday as a game-time decision tonight, which isn’t the greatest news for his chance of playing but it’s not a death knell for his status, either. Derrick Favors is startable regardless, even after his slow night on Monday, and Enes Kanter is worth a look if you need a big man but on a busy night you’ll probably have better options in a standard league if Millsap plays. Owners will also be keying in on Gordon Hayward to see if the Jazz give him the rock or go with the Al Jefferson morphine drip.
CHI @ SAC: Derrick Rose was quoted yesterday by the local paper and it’s almost a disservice to relay the specifics other than to say he’s a total crapshoot. I managed to hold him through the weekend in one league and the main saving grace is his 4-3-4-4 schedule to finish things up, but I’m pretty much at the end of my rope. We’ll see. Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton, and Taj Gibson are all out, giving Marco Belinelli another clear shot at a productive night. DeMarcus Cousins came out firing to media with no remorse for his head shot on Mike Dunleavy, who may or may not have done something dirty to DMC, and if he got a second game I wouldn’t be surprised because of the intent and because his elbow went to the back of the head. If he got a third game I’d be surprised but I wouldn’t bet my house against it. Precedent. Otherwise, we’ll all be looking to see if Keith Smart can continue to put the cherry on top of his wonderful year employing hockey rotations for the Kings.
DET @ GSW: There wasn’t any news on the Brandon Knight front, so we’re still sitting on news indicating he has a “significant” ankle sprain and that’s about it. He sounds week-to-week rather than day-to-day, so owners will want to keep a close eye on Rodney Stuckey and even consider a speculative add. Stuckey has been awful this year but the Pistons may be forced to run the offense through him, a point of contention for the combo guard this season. Then again, he could go cold and we’ll be watching to see if Will Bynum can accumulate any deep league value. Jason Maxiell (ankle) was doubtful for Monday’s game and is questionable for tonight, leaving a window for Jonas Jerebko to step into. If he can reproduce his decent outing from Monday then we’ll talk. Andre Drummond is about as questionable for this season as Derrick Rose it seems, and just like Rose I can’t see him missing the entire season. Unfortunately, that’s all the crystal ball has right now.
NYK @ DEN: This is a big game for Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith as they return to Denver for the first time. My sense is that Melo is going to play through pain, and the Knicks are going to use the evaluation after tonight’s game as the measuring stick to see what their plan is going forward. It is what it is. Owners just have to cross their fingers and hope he can gut it out. Working in owners’ favor is that the Knicks have a lot to gain by maintaining the No. 2 seed in a tight bunch at the top of the East. Look for Denver to come out and play a spirited game for their coach and organization, which was held hostage in what seems like eons ago.
MEM @ LAC: There’s nothing like a Grizzlies/Clippers matchup to whet the appetite, with the Zach Randolph/Blake Griffin show as the main course. Jamal Crawford (ankle) is expected to play while Eric Bledsoe (calf) is iffy and Caron Butler (elbow) is out. Matt Barnes has a nice window here though nothing will come easy against one of the league’s better defenses.