I mentioned yesterday that the fantasy landscape was a bit dull, and though there weren’t wholesale adds to be found after last night’s flurry of injuries there was quite a bit of value shifting. With Kobe Bryant going down to a bad ankle injury and Tyson Chandler getting helped off the floor during a short stretch, it had the feel of chaos for a bit. Let’s get right into a busy 11-game night.
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THE FULL MONTA
The Bucks strolled into Washington and the tail-end of a back-to-back and couldn’t convert on a win, and Brandon Jennings continued to struggle scoring the ball. He hit just 2-of-8 shots for eight points but he did hand out 10 assists and steal the ball twice, which isn’t helping assuage owners fears about consistency but part of his output was linked to big nights from Monta Ellis and Ersan Ilyasova. Ellis hit 12-of-19 shots for 26 points, four boards, eight assists, two steals and a three, and Ilyasova was aggressive on his way to 21 points, 12 boards, two threes and two steals.
Ilyasova’s performance was extremely gratifying for owners as his knee issue was a question and he responded after a slow night on Tuesday. Compared to early in the year, his confidence is night and day and last night he was jab-stepping into fadeaway jumpers like it was nobody’s business. It also didn’t help Jennings’ cause that J.J. Redick was productive with 16 points and three treys. If you need a 3-point shooter, give Redick a look.
Mike Dunleavy might have been picked up by some of you with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (toe) not traveling with the team, but unfortunately he burned owners with a zero-point, four-rebound effort in which he missed all six of his field goal attempts. As has been the case for a while now, he can be dropped when he’s not producing.
You gotta give credit to Randy Wittman, who looked to be presiding over a mad house early in the year, as the Wizards are not an easy out anymore. Having John Wall (23 points, six rebounds, 10 assists, four steals, one three) around has certainly helped, but sticking with his veterans and going against conventional ‘play the youth’ wisdom has paid off. Emeka Okafor (six points, five boards) wasn’t great, but Nene (13 points, 13 boards, six assists, three steals, 6-of-15 FGs) was all over the place and Martell Webster (20 points, four treys, four boards, one steal) continued to produce.
Trevor Ariza (knee) wasn’t going to play until he changed his mind late, and he responded with 14 points, three treys, two boards and three assists in 30 minutes. Give him a look if he was dropped, but keep in mind that Bradley Beal’s eventual return could throw a monkey wrench into things. I mentioned Trevor Booker as a guy to watch if Ariza was going to miss time, but he did me one better by producing with Ariza around to the tune of 13 points and 12 boards in 22 minutes. I don’t know if he can keep it up, but when healthy he brings an athletic element to the equation and has been productive in the past. A.J. Price (groin) missed last night’s game, leaving Garrett Temple free to score 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting with three rebounds and four assists. If guys remain out, he could be worth spot-action in very deep formats, but otherwise it’s time to wait and see what happens with both Booker and Temple.
I mentioned yesterday that the struggling Sixers would put up a fight against the Heat and their 19-game winning streak, and that’s going to be the case going forward for the Heat as they won their 20th straight game last night. Dwyane Wade scored 21 points with eight rebounds, three assists and a block, but it was his first game without a steal since January 23. He has been an absolute beast lately, and having him fall to me in some drafts this year I’m finally getting paid off. He ranks as the No. 9 fantasy player on a per-game basis this season, which after a month or two of being a mid-round value is all owners could have asked for.
LeBron James provided his normal barrage of stats with 27 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, two steals and one block, while Chris Bosh was light on the glass once again with five rebounds, but stole the ball twice and blocked three shots to go with 10 points. The Heat are tied with the ’70-71 Bucks right now and next up is the ‘07-08 Rockets at 22 straight. The ’71-72 Lakers hold the record with 33 straight wins, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet.
TOO HOT TO HANDLE
As mentioned, the Sixers gave the Heat everything they could handle, powered by Jrue Holiday’s 21 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three steal, one block and three treys, and Thaddeus Young’s 24 points, 15 rebounds and one block. Spencer Hawes was disappointing given the state of the Heat’s interior, managing just six points, five rebounds and no steals or blocks in 23 foul-plagued minutes. Nick Young (ankle) returned and played just five minutes, so Damien Wilkins’ pedestrian five points, five assists and one steal over 30 minutes cannot be explained away, but Dorell Wright (13 points, three treys, three steals, one block) more or less gave owners what they should have been hoping for. Unless there is an above-average free agent lurking, I wouldn’t give up on Wright just yet even if his productive days might be numbered with Young getting healthy.
RUBIO RED HOT
Andrei Kirilenko (calf) and Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain) did not travel for last night’s game in Indy, but it’s possible that they could meet up with the team in Houston for Friday’s game. The good news is that there will almost certainly be a report soon if if they actually go, and if they go there’s a very good chance that they play. The bad news is that all that running around doesn’t make a ton of sense with nothing to play for if you’re the Wolves.
Also on the injury front Kevin Love’s hand is healing well but he wasn’t cleared for contact and he’ll be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks. This is beginning to head toward a last week tune-up before the summer at best for Love, and that’s just too shady for owners to count on unless you’re truly stacked or desperately gambling.
As for last night’s game against Indy, Ricky Rubio went gangbusters again to the tune of 21 points, six rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, two threes and a 7-of-8 mark from the line. Run Ricky, run. Luke Ridnour also retained low-end producer status with 17 points, but he managed just one three and did not have an assist. Derrick Williams was a bit more pedestrian with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, five boards, a block and a three, but with the Wolves’ schedule down the stretch owners should be holding tight, especially given the news on Love.
Alexey Shved had seven rebounds but he fell back into the poor shooting routine with a 2-of-8 mark for seven points to go with two assists. As mentioned yesterday, it’s still time to watch in normal formats. J.J. Barea was quiet with five points on 2-of-9 shooting and six assists, but it should be pointed out that Indy plays good defense so everybody deserves a little bit of a break. Greg Stiemsma scored 13 points with nine rebounds, one steal and two blocks, and he’s worth a short-term look as he has averaged 10 points, eight boards and a block over his last three games.
REDEMPTION IS SPELLED R-O-Y
While Greg Stiemsma blocks shots and isn’t exactly a slouch on defense, he can still be exploited next to Derrick Williams and that’s exactly what Roy Hibbert did. Hibbert scored a season-high 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting with 12 rebounds and four blocks, and maybe he’s going to turn the page right when owners need it the most.
Danny Granger (knee) will not return to game action right away after missing the remainder of this week. That should be all she wrote in standard formats and he’s not a must-own player in standard 14-teamers, either.
PUT OUT TO PASTURE
In news that wasn’t surprising, Andrea Bargnani was ruled out for the season due to a right elbow injury, which isn’t actually the original elbow injury that sidelined him. Either way we may actually be looking at a loosened leash for Jonas Valanciunas, who played 34 minutes on his way to an uninspiring nine points on 4-of-7 shooting with seven rebounds and no steals or blocks. The steals and blocks can’t be excused here, but on a night in which the Celtics knocked their heads off it isn’t shocking. The larger problem for the Raptors, which has been written about endlessly in this space, is that adding Rudy Gay has resulted in an uneven offense.
Gay returned from his back injury and hit just 7-of-19 shots for 19 points, seven boards and four assists, while Kyle Lowry stood and watched with just five points on 2-of-7 shooting, four boards, three assists, a three and a steal. DeMar DeRozan (17 points, 5-of-13 FGs, 7-of-7 FTs) still gets his looks, but beyond this trio nobody else is touching the ball. Terrence Ross scored 13 points in 24 minutes off the bench, adding a three, three steals and a block, but as long as Gay is healthy he’s a hard guy to trust as anything but a lukewarm stash. After going 6-2 following the Gay trade, the Raptors are 3-8 since (2-7 in games he has played).
BOUNCE BACK IN BOSTON
A veteran team like the Celtics is usually going to bounce back big after a loss like they had against the Bobcats on Tuesday, which is exactly what happened last night. Paul Pierce returned from his one-game rest to score 15 points on 3-of-6 shooting (9-of-11 FTs) with four rebounds, four assists and a block in just 24 minutes, Kevin Garnett righted the ship with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, seven rebounds and three steals, and Jeff Green provided 20 points off the bench on 7-of-14 shooting with six rebounds, three assists, two steals, a block and a three in 31 minutes. Green is going to have off-nights but he looks like a must-start player with a trio of four-game weeks ahead.
Courtney Lee scored 11 points with four rebounds, four assists, three steals and a trey, and Avery Bradley was quiet with five points, two rebounds, three assists, a steal and no threes. Jason Terry added 12 points, seven assists, a block and three treys in his 23 minutes, and the trio of guards are all worth owning with that schedule ahead. Jordan Crawford saw more garbage time minutes (24) and put up 12 points, two boards, three assists, a steal, a block and a three, but the best I can say for him is that he is giving Doc Rivers an alternative if the players in front of him start to slip. Brandon Bass scored 11 points with six rebounds, one steal and two blocks, and if he can do it again I might consider recommending him as an add in normal formats.