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The Lakers ran over the Pelicans and maybe Jordan Hill’s career-high 21 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and a block over 26 minutes will wake Mike D’Antoni up. He has three big men in Pau Gasol (14 points, eight boards, one block), Chris Kaman (eight points, nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, 21 minutes) and Hill that are clearly among the top 6-7 players on the team. Up until now they’ve all been sharing center minutes with small spillovers into the power forward bucket.
That’s because D’Antoni is fascinated with playing small and though the Lakers should be running and gunning with their roster, these guys give the Lakers a fighting chance in the paint and they shouldn’t be sharing the slop out of one trough.
In Hill’s case, he has an underrated fantasy game in terms of potency. In fact, he was in early versions of the Bruski 150 before his disastrous preseason and Mike D’s attitude toward him scratched him from consideration. His blend of double-double potential and passable defensive numbers make him a guy with mid-round upside if he ever had a full-time role, which he won’t have in L.A. whether it’s due to D’Antoni or Hill’s own durability issues. I’d be all about adding him if I have dead weight and I’m in a competitive 12-14 team league with nothing compelling on the wire, but beyond that I’m not cutting a player with solid late-round value to get him.
The rest of the Lakers’ box is what you might expect in a blowout win. Steve Blake (five points, 10 assists, one triple) remains a solid late-round value on the year as the starting point guard, and his value isn’t exactly going to evaporate if/when Steve Nash plays again. When Kobe returns, that’s another story and that will be a theme for everybody on the roster.
Jodie Meeks is a D’Antoni favorite and he’s going to be on the floor whenever he’s not ice cold, and he hit another three treys on his way to 15 points in a typically empty stat line. He’s still a solid mid-round value on the year and I don’t see why he can’t hold bumpy late-round value in standard formats while Kobe is out. Nick Young scored 17 points with one three and one assist and that’s it, highlighting why he can’t get out of the 14-16 team range.
Xavier Henry (15 points, three treys) made me look rather psychic when I commented that Jeff Withey looked like a Mozgovian dunking prop only to see Henry brutalize him just five minutes later. Henry doesn’t even rank in the top-250 this season because all he can do is score and hit threes in moderate amounts.
Wesley Johnson both started and got the garbage time minutes, scoring five points with five rebounds and that’s it in his 21 minutes. He’s a late-round value on the year but I wouldn’t deal with his sporadic use until I’m in the 14-16 team range.
Kaman has been clinging to late-round value on the year but unlike some of his teammates I’d be more willing to put up with his inconsistency, particularly in leagues where big men are scarce. It was also just reported that Gasol had an MRI on his left foot last week that revealed a strain. He said it’s “feeling a little better,” but it wouldn’t be surprising at all for him to start breaking down at some point for a team out of championship contention. None of the big men group is durable, but Kaman might be the most durable at this point – as scary as that sounds – and unlike the bulk of the team his role is less impacted by Kobe’s eventual return.
GRAB SOME PINE
The Pistons won’t tell their children about last night’s spanking at the hands of the Warriors, and though Mo Cheeks said the opposite after the game he was certainly sending Josh Smith (1-of-6 FGs, two points, two rebounds, one steal, 16 minutes) a message when he benched him. It was a convenient time to do so and Smoove will get a chance to redeem himself on Friday against the Kings, and while I think he’ll do that owners should know that Sacramento will be breaking the Guinness record for indoor crowd noise on that night.
Andre Drummond survived an ankle scare and finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and three blocks, while Chauncey Billups’ (six minutes) knee situation is foreshadowing the phasing out of his role. Rodney Stuckey (seven points, 2-of-9 FGs, 28 minutes) has already laid claim to a sizeable stake of minutes, but his consistency is going to be an issue while he’s surrounded by Brandon Jennings (13 points, 5-of-14 FGs), Smoove, and Greg Monroe (15 points, five boards, two steals). Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (nine points, two steals, one three) is in and out of the rotation and he saw 24 minutes of garbage time last night, and he will complicate Stuckey’s life if he can handle the NBA learning curve.
GOLDEN STATE OF MIND
What can you say about the Warriors except for the fact that they’re beating up on bad teams and all of their main fantasy guys are on the right track. Stephen Curry (25 points, eight assists) shook off any knee concerns, Klay Thompson (6-of-9 FGs, 14 points, two threes) probably disappointed owners with this solid line with the way he’s been playing, Andrew Bogut (eight points, nine boards, one steal, two blocks) is still standing, Andre Iguodala (eight points, 11 assists, two threes) is still humming along as backup quarterback, and David Lee (17 points, nine boards) hasn’t slowed down from last season.
If we go by early returns Harrison Barnes is falling into his role from last season as fantasy afterthought, as he scored just eight points with not much else in 26 minutes. My fear from his perspective is that he missed his window to establish himself in the pecking order, and that the injury moved him from a mostly sure bet to take a step forward into a somewhat hazy future.
I do think he will take that step forward, even if I’m not sure he can improve in enough deficient fantasy areas to make an impact for owners. When he does take that step forward he’s going to steal a little bit from each of the aforementioned not named Curry or Bogut. And that’s a good segue into my only fear for the whole lot of Warriors, individual risks aside, which is that they run themselves into the ground in the hunt for seeding. Getting Barnes on track would go a long way toward mitigating that risk.
NEWS AND NOTES
Derrick Rose didn’t need an MRI on his hamstring, which would seem compulsory if there was any real concern there. He expects to play on Friday against the Raptors. Speaking of the team that allows their wings to convert like light-hitting second baseman, or your buddy that thinks three 3s make a 10, Rudy Gay’s ankle injury appears to be in the same boat.
Danny Granger (calf) returned to practice yesterday and we have yet to hear about how it went, and he is in the last week of an announced three-week layoff. Frank Vogel said he is pain free but this is action that owners can watch from the wire. Granger needs to prove himself before anybody should project an impact to Lance Stephenson, and to a lesser extent Paul George.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
HOU @ PHI: James Harden (foot, wrist, back) said that he may sit out one of the Rockets’ next two games and fantasy owners may just want to root for that to boost his season-long durability. Francisco Garcia (flu) didn’t practice yesterday but he hopes to return for tonight’s game, which would knock the rotation back to the tune of about 20 minutes. Terrence Jones took his minutes the last time out, so he’ll be the guy you want to downgrade a bit if the Thong Song can go.
Of course, this preview wouldn’t be complete without some mention of Patrick Beverley’s flop from Monday, which got him dropped in some places and surely many of you are feeling the heat even though he showed his potential in the prior game. Let’s give the youngster some time on the floor after returning early from a rib injury before we write the whole story, and independent of Beverley’s progress we should all note that Jeremy Lin is going to be in lineups for most, if not all of the year.
Michael Carter-Williams missed Tuesday’s practice with a sore foot and like his teammates, the only thing that is going to slow his usage will be wearing down from so much usage. Tonight’s track meet could produce some stellar fantasy lines so get your guys fired up in FanDuel and the like.
MIL @ ORL: Even though the Bucks are hurting and playing for the second straight night, this is a good spot for them to get on track as Orlando has been playing loose basketball all year long. Likewise, a guy like Victor Oladipo could mow down the Nate Wolters, Gary Neal, O.J. Mayo, Brandon Knight backcourt, as could his starting teammates Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo.
Tobias Harris has one helluva ankle sprain and is still without a timetable to return. You can count Orlando in the list of markets that could use some beefing up on the injury reporting front.
It’s good news that Glen Davis (foot) feels good enough to fling a hotel computer keyboard all over the place (as caught on security tape), and it’s bad news that he’s feeling good enough to fling a hotel computer keyboard all over the place. Then again, maybe the keyboard malfunctioned and selected Glen Davis in a fantasy draft.
One of the main drivers of Harris’ preseason rankings, aside from his own potential, was the chance the Magic were ready to turn the page on Baby. This type of behavior only solidifies that line of reasoning, even if Harris is starting to get dropped in fantasy leagues. I’ll be holding on in any format in which you can stash players, but I will be keeping an eye on the situation closely to see if we don’t have the full story on his ankle here.
CHA @ BOS: While potential for injury and incremental declines in explosion were factors in my super low ranking of Al Jefferson, I don’t feel it’s truly fair to measure his season based on its first three weeks. We’ll learn over this next week how much his teammates will defer to him, and if it’s up to Josh McRoberts AKA Charlie Day it will be complete subordination, as Charlie Work called him the world’s best post player.
It makes sense for a deferential player like McRoberts to say that, but the jury is still out on how Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson feel about that. And from there it will all come down to Big Al’s ability to play at the already declining level he showed last year, and we’ll have to see if Steve Clifford will support Jefferson in the unwavering way that Ty Corbin did. Grab a seat and we’ll watch how it goes.
Kemba Walker has hit just 33 percent of his shots since taking a shot to his left (non-shooting) shoulder, and his volume decreased big time in Jefferson’s return the other night. Teams are going to single up Jefferson for the most part, so if the offense does flow through him for 15-19 FGAs per game I’m a bit concerned about Walker being easily defended off the ball. I obviously don’t think he deserves to take a hit, and Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and McRoberts will all be first in line for those honors, but it’s something to watch out for nonetheless.
Jared Sullinger had been slowly climbing his way onto the standard league radar but an MRI revealed a bone bruise in his right knee and he’s listed as day-to-day. Injuries have always been the concern for him and while this is being reported as minor, bone bruises aren’t bruises in the sense that they can’t have ongoing consequences. For what it’s worth I’m more inclined to believe this is minor, but I’m still adjusting his short-term value incrementally until we see what direction this goes.
Jordan Crawford got some high praise from Brad Stevens on Tuesday, and while it’s all deserved we should all be on hot air alert as Stevens is looking for all the silver linings he can find these days. Crawford has done all the right things since taking over the team, a move that should have happened since day one, but if he gets a little too comfortable we’ve all seen how that story ends. I like him to hold the starting job with consistent minutes until Rajon Rondo returns, but efficiency can dampen his value rather quickly if he’s not producing elsewhere at an optimal level.
Kelly Olynyk will seek to prove his consistency tonight, but getting beat up by Jefferson while on defense isn’t exactly a recipe for success. As long as he can stay out of foul trouble, he could expose Jefferson badly on the other end from the perimeter. Avery Bradley is primed for a letdown playing across from Henderson.