Friday night was crammed with dominant fantasy performances. Studs like LeBron James and Roy Hibbert came to play while a few underrated talents blew up. On the flip side we saw Deron Williams go down as he joined a crop of point guards who are now on the shelf. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
1. Roy Hibbert is serious about his Defensive Player of the Year candidacy
The Pacers big man had a scorching Friday night, posting a sweet line of 24 points, 10 rebounds, and eight blocks. He downright abused Zaza Pachulia in the paint as the Pacers improved to 9-0. While Hibbert’s scoring and rebounding numbers are right in line with his career averages, his swats per game are incredible. He’s averaging 4.8 blocks on the year and has blocked at least two in every game this season. The former Georgetown man is rocking a top-20 ranking in 9-cat leagues and shows no sign of slowing down.
2. Efficiency is king with LeBron James
James couldn’t miss on Friday night against Dallas. The versatile swingman was 14-18 from the field and 10-11 from the line for a cool 39 points. He was also 13-21 on Tuesday for 33 points and is now shooting 61% from the field on the season. For a volume shooter that number is just ridiculous. On the down side, his steal and block numbers have been very disappointing as he’s putting up just under one combined per contest. But when he’s carrying your team in field goal percentage, points, and assists, it’s hard to complain. James should get back in business with his hustle stats sooner rather than later and until he does, just enjoy the shooting bonanza.
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3. Gimpy point guards all around us
This has been a tough week for point guards as quite a few big names went down. With Michael Carter-Williams dealing with a sore arch on his foot, Tony Wroten has stepped up in a big way. After posting a triple-double earlier in the week during his first start, Wroten notched 22 points on Friday against the Hawks, adding six assists and a steal. MCW is in a walking boot and is likely doubtful for Saturday against New Orleans. Wroten should continue to play well in his absence.
Derrick Rose suffered a hamstring injury during Monday’s game against Cleveland and subsequently missed Friday’s contest in Toronto. The Bulls play on Saturday night so Rose’s absence may have been precautionary, but it’s a bad sign when he’s still sore after four days of rest. Kirk Hinrich filled in for Rose and had a serviceable line of 12 points, four assists, two steals, and a few three-pointers. He’s worth a speculative add and will be very useful if Rose misses significant time.
Topping off the point guard news is Deron Williams, who came in gimpy after spraining his left by stepping on the foot of Andray Blatche on Wednesday night. He played through it, but didn't last very long on Friday, spraining the same ankle again and immediately leaving the game. He played just four minutes, finishing with two points. Williams couldn’t put any weight on the ankle and while he’s come out and said that he doesn’t think it’s that bad, owners should be cautious and prepare for Williams to miss at least a few games. In his place, Shaun Livingston scored 18 points to go along with six assists, two steals, and a block. He’s certainly worth a look at least as a handcuff for Williams’ owners.
4. Joe Johnson saves the day but that’s about it
It’s hard to hate on Joe Johnson, especially after he bailed the Nets out with a last second layup to beat the Suns on Friday night. However, while the shooting guard was clutch, his 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting was downright ugly. He played a whopping 45 minutes and didn’t manage to hit a three-pointer, grab a steal or block a shot. He added just five boards and one assist in what was a rather dismal fantasy line. Johnson, who is averaging 12.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.9 assists, is having his worst season since 2002. He’s ranked around 150 in 9-cat leagues and in a lineup where ball sharing is key, those numbers probably won’t get that much better barring an injury. Owners could try to move him while he still has name value but wait for him to have a few big games before doing so.
5. Meeks is the flavor of the week in L.A.
Jodie Meeks had a fantastic shooting performance on Friday against Memphis, knocking down 10-of-16 shots including five three-pointers en route to 25 points. He didn’t contribute much elsewhere but that’s par for the course with Meeks. Excluding Wednesday’s dreadful outing in which he scored just one bucket, Meeks is averaging 17 points over his last five games and making over three triples per-contest during that stretch. In an offense that’s constantly changing, Meeks has carved out a consistent spot and is worth a look for owners who need points and three-pointers.
6. Millsap hits the pine
In a bit of a weird maneuver, Paul Millsap was sent to the bench on Friday against Philadelphia in favor of Gustavo Ayon. While Ayon did nothing to write home about (six points in 16 minutes), Millsap was also disappointing in his new role. The big man had eight points, four boards, and two steals while shooting 2-6 from the charity stripe. It’s surprising that Millsap was immediately ineffective in his new role and it’s unclear whether this trend will continue. However, over his last three games, the power forward has been struggling, averaging just 7.6 points and 5.0 rebounds. Millsap should snap out of it and now is a great time to throw a buy low offer at a nervous owner.
7. Speaking of the Hawks, Sweet Lou returns
Streaky sparkplug Lou Williams returned to the lineup for Atlanta on Friday and scored seven points in 16 minutes. It was only his first game back after a knee injury kept him out for the beginning of the season. In his limited action, Williams looked good as he knocked down a triple, added a steal, and a few dimes. Williams should anchor the scoring off the bench and should be owned in most leagues. It’s possible that head coach Mike Budenholzer was hoping for a Williams/Millsap combination off the bench but we’ll have to take a wait and see approach on that.
8. J Smoove responds to benching in a big way
During Wednesday’s game against the Warriors, head coach Mo Cheeks benched his star player to send a message and on Friday night that message was emphatically received. Josh Smith lit up the Kings to the tune of 21 points, eight boards, seven assists, five steals, and four blocks; just missing out on that incredible 5x5 line. It was arguably his best fantasy line of the season and from a team standpoint, Smith was tremendous. He found teammates and made good decisions. He still took six three-pointers but made two of them and while the four turnovers aren’t great, owners really can’t complain after a stellar line like that.
9. Favors is starting to pay dividends
Patient owners are finally getting those beastly numbers that they expected when they drafted Derrick Favors early in the draft. The Jazz big man scored 20 points and grabbed 18 boards on Friday against San Antonio no less. He put a nice cherry on that line with three steals and three blocks. After posting solid numbers to start the campaign, Favors has blown up over his last four games, averaging 17.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 2.5 blocks. He’s creeping into the top-30 and looks to be an anchor going forward.
10. Knee problems or not, Sullinger should be considered
After missing Wednesday’s contest with a sore knee, Jared Sullinger bounced back on Friday with a huge line off the bench. The Ohio State product had a career-high 26 points and added eight rebounds. He notched two triples for good measure and is someone fantasy owners should seriously consider adding. With Kelly Olynyk, Vitor Faverani, and Brandon Bass all streaky, Sullinger has provided some semblance of consistency. Over his last six games, Sullinger is dropping 15.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks. Those are undoubtedly serviceable numbers and although he comes with a good amount of injury risk, Sullinger is just too good to not be considered in standard leagues.