Wednesday night’s action was certifiably insane and there is nothing to do but get right to it.
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LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES
You just had to know last night’s thriller between the Rockets and Sixers was going to be a fantasy jackpot, but owners couldn’t have asked for what they got in their wildest dreams and it was an overtime game to boot. Jeremy Lin had yet another career-night starting for resting James Harden, scoring 34 points on 10-of-19 shooting with nine (!) 3-pointers, five rebounds, and 12 assists in 49 minutes. As I said yesterday, regardless of what happens with starting point guard Patrick Beverley and/or Harden’s return, Lin is going to be in fantasy lineups all year long.
Beverley dusted himself off from his previous dreadful outing and flashed the potential that we’ve all been high on, posting 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting with nine rebounds, five assists, three steals, one block and one trey in 42 minutes. Even with a handful of injury-tainted throwaway games, his per-game value in six contests is healthily in the late rounds. The best is yet to come.
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With Harden’s massive usage on the sidelines nearly everybody else was humming. Chandler Parson scored 22 points with six rebounds, seven assists and four blocks, Terrence Jones double-doubled with 10 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two treys in 37 minutes, and Omri Casspi scored 16 points with two threes, two steals and one block in 24 minutes. I like Jones over Casspi as adds, though Omer Asik’s four minutes played is certainly an outlier in relation to Jones’ playing time.
On the other side of the box score and for the rest of the season, consider the Sixers the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving and giving and giving – for both them and their opponents. I amazingly had Tony Wroten going in a bunch of lineups and he rewarded owners with a triple-double in his first career start, putting up 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting with 10 rebounds, 11 assists and one block.
Yes, Michael Carter-Williams (foot) was out and Wroten has all sorts of fantasy peripheral issues, but the Sixers are going to prop up everybody’s value and now Wroten has sent a shot across the bow at Brett Brown. He’s not going to threaten MCW’s role but his share of bench minutes officially increased, and he should be given strong consideration as a speculative pickup. As will be a theme for everybody, if any of the Sixers’ Fantasy Four suffer an injury the trickle-down effect is going to be potent in this wide-open system.
That couldn’t be more evident than it was in James Anderson’s career night, as the Spurs castaway scored a career-high 36 points on 12-of-16 shooting with six 3-pointers, five rebounds, three steals and a perfect 6-of-6 mark from the line. I’ve been preaching patience here since his role is basically unthreatened, even if he’ll be uneven playing for a team that is going to struggle -- even if they’re making prognosticators like me look silly so far. To that end, I was wrong Philly. Brown has been a total X-factor as coach and the starters have some actual talent, but when injuries strike things are going to get lean real quick.
Evan Turner kept his string of 20-point games alive with 23 points on 9-of-23 shooting, seven boards, five assists and a steal, Thaddeus Young got back on track with 15 points, eight boards, one steal and one block while sporting an inefficient 5-of-15 shooting line, and Spencer Hawes kept his foot on the gas with 18 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks. Even Darius Morris (10 points, three rebounds, three assists, two threes, one steal) is worth a look in extremely deep formats.
It’s going to be EXTREMELY sunny in Philadelphia all year long.
WAR OF ATTRITION
The Bucks might have to hold local tryouts with all the sudden injuries and the shoulder injury to Caron Butler came quickly after yesterday’s watch recommendation for Khris Middleton (19 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, 43 minutes). Butler will get an MRI today and he’s no spring chicken, so Middleton becomes a near must-add player for the aggressive owner. Yes, we could hear that Butler’s injury isn’t bad and when the reinforcements return his value could be stunted, but it’s not often that you can get a crack at a guy that could have the small forward position to himself while Giannis Antetokounmpo (20 minutes, six points, two steals) learns to play at the NBA level.
Gary Neal (foot) joined the list of the walking wounded and did not play, and despite Luke Ridnour (back) joining the team and saying he feels “great,” he did not play and his status is still a bit hazy. Brandon Knight (hamstring) was a game-time decision and did not go, which is problematic considering he just suited up against the Heat and has experienced some sort of setback.
I talked yesterday about the possibility that Nate Wolters (nine points, three boards, three assists, one steal, 40 minutes) would be a thorn in Knight’s side, and while Wolters was quiet last night his team was very disadvantaged by the injuries and he has played pretty well for a second round rookie thus far. Wolters deserves to be owned as a short-term play right now, while it’s getting harder to hang onto Knight as the early part of his season is getting away from him. I’m going to stay the course in competitive 12-14 team leagues for now.
O.J. Mayo bounced back from a bad night with 25 points, seven rebounds and two assists, and John Henson made the most out of a bad situation with 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting, nine rebounds and five blocks. Henson should be owned in all formats. For what it’s worth I’m hanging onto Zaza Pachulia until the wheels totally fall off with a month of solid playing time ahead of him if he’s healthy.
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?
Arron Afflalo was an afterthought in fantasy drafts this season, and while the Magic are probably showcasing him for a trade, he’s well past fluke status as he is rocking top-24 value and seemingly getting stronger before our eyes. He scored a career-high 36 points with eight 3-pointers and single-handedly took over last night’s game late against a depleted Bucks squad, and posted eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals while shooting 11-of-15 from the field and 6-of-6 from the line.
Of course this is a sell-high moment since a trade out of Orlando would almost certainly be a drag to his value, and it would be asking a lot for him to continue his current pace. Just realize that there is a lot of season to go for him in Orlando and he’s doing his part to put the Victor Oladipo experience on pause for now. Oladipo scored just 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting with two rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in 22 minutes, and this is conversely a buy low moment for the future star.
It was easy to see the bulls-eye on Kelly Olynyk’s back when Al Jefferson returned to get his first win in Boston since leaving. He gave owners a taste of what they were looking for when they spent an early round pick on him, scoring 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting with 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks while admitting after the game that conditioning is still an issue. As I mentioned yesterday, it’s going to take a week or so to get a real good read on how things are going to go for him in his new digs, so owners should take the big night against a sub-par rookie in stride and hope he can keep things up.
The larger question is what is going to happen to the Cats’ attack as a whole, as Gerald Henderson (5-of-14 FGs, 13 points, nine boards, five assists, one steal) and Kemba Walker (1-of-13 FGs, three points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals) have yet to click in the small sample size. Steve Clifford admitted after the game that Walker’s sore left (non-shooting) shoulder could be bothering him, and at this point some time off might actually be a good thing for both Walker and his owners alike.
Josh McRoberts missed the game for personal reasons and he’s expected to return for the next one, so there were a handful of extra touches available for everybody involved. Anthony Tolliver (11 points, three treys) started in his place and Cody Zeller made his first noise of the year with eight points on 2-of-7 shooting, nine boards, two steals and one block in 22 minutes off the bench, but neither are worth consideration in most standard formats with McBob on his way back.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hit a wall with just six points on 3-of-6 shooting, three rebounds and one steal in 28 minutes before fouling out, and I’m concerned that he’s the guy whose newfound consistency takes a hit with Jefferson back in the fold.
DON’T GET COMFORTABLE
Kelly Olynyk’s expected struggles on the defensive end carried over to the offensive end last night, as he hit just 1-of-4 shots for six points, but at least he backed that up with 11 rebounds and four assists to show some staying power when his shots aren’t falling. Vitor Faverani saw a bump in minutes (22) with Al Jefferson doing his thing, and finished with seven points, nine rebounds, a block and a three but he needs to simply be watched until he can string something together.
The big concern for Jordan Crawford after getting all sorts of praise from Brad Stevens and others was that he would get comfortable and revert back to prior inefficient form. It happened last night as Crawford hit just 6-of-15 shots with bad shot selection, though with 16 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals he made it work for owners on the whole.
Jeff Green scored an empty 19 points with just one rebound and one three to his credit, and these bouts of slippage have kept him well below expectations in the rankings. He’ll continue to improve but playing for a bad team isn’t going to help his cause in the consistency department. Gerald Wallace scored 10 points with eight rebounds, two steals and two treys in 32 minutes, but he needs to do a whole lot more of this before owners should pay him much attention. Avery Bradley (seven points, 23 minutes) wasn’t able to build off his prior big outing and got handled by Gerald Henderson in the loss.
I wanted to see how the Cavs would respond to Mike Brown’s most recent rip session of them, including a recent spat at the end of the bench when Kyrie Irving walked past him after a substitution without acknowledging the coach’s comments. The response was not impressive, as the Cavs got run out of the gym in a 29-point loss to the Wolves. Irving took a shot to the jaw and X-rays taken during the game were negative, and finished with just two assists to go with an otherwise respectable 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting, one steal and one block before the starters were pulled. He and Dion Waiters (six points, 2-of-6 FGs, 22 minutes) have been defensively disinterested at times and it sure looks like another shoe will need to drop before anything changes with the tone and shape of their season.
Jarrett Jack has been stepping up in his leadership role, trying to help right the ship, but he failed in the box score last night with just six points and five assists in his 24 minutes. He’s a deep league guy right now and big things aren’t on the horizon, but he’ll be a guy that gets tapped by Brown if the season continues to spiral out of control for the Cavs.
Nobody in the frontcourt took advantage of Andrew Bynum’s absence, as Anderson Varejao had a tepid 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal, and Tristan Thompson put up just 10 points and six boards with no steals or blocks. Anthony Bennett (six points, 3-of-11 FGs, five boards, no steals or blocks) did not have the elusive breakout game I keep referring to sheepishly, which is more just a random thought process than any projection of real consequence. He’s far off the fantasy radar in most formats.
Extreme deep leaguers may want to keep an eye on Sergey Karasev (seven points, four rebounds, two assists, one three, 14 minutes). He’s not going to be the answer at small forward until future seasons when he can bulk up, but it does sound like he’ll play his way into the rotation and find time at shooting guard in three-guard lineups. C.J. Miles scored three points last night to fall right into his pattern of disappearing after mild spurts of productivity.
RUN RICKY RUN
Everything is quite lovely (pun intended) for fantasy owners of Wolves players and they rolled last night. Ricky Rubio hit 5-of-7 field goals (including a three) and all five of his free throws to finish with 16 points, six boards, three steals and a career-high 16 assists. The buy low window is shut if it was ever open in the first place.
Corey Brewer picked up the slack for Kevin Martin’s (flu) absence, scoring 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting with a perfect five attempts from deep, four boards and two steals. He’s going to be a solid late-round value until Chase Budinger gets back. Kevin Love put a bow on this win with 33 points on 10-of-16 shooting (12-of-14 FTs) with eight rebounds, six assists and a 3-pointer for good measure.