BKY @ CHA: The Nets are on suicide alert after their last loss, but I can’t help but wonder if all of this will seem silly when the group of aging vets stops treating the first month of this campaign as their own personal preseason. That’s not to say the concerns aren’t warranted – guys look bad and Jason Kidd looks out of his element – as he sat one of his better-performing players down the stretch on Monday in Shaun Livingston for no justifiable reason.
It also looks like Deron Williams (ankle) was spurred into action by the recent events, and he expects to play tonight which puts owners that started Livingston in weekly leagues in a bad spot. There is also the concern that Williams is coming back too soon in response to all of the team-wide criticism, and with Livingston playing great basketball it’s certainly worth giving the comeback player a game or two to see how things play out.
Brook Lopez said he feels good enough to play but we’ll see if that gets him on the floor, and Andrei Kirilenko is still a few days away from getting a “green light” to play. After such a public loss, where players didn’t even talk with the media after Monday’s game, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Nets come out and lay the wood on Charlotte.
I’m not going to pile on Al Jefferson owners by belaboring the obvious – his ankles were an issue last year and this year’s early injury has him doubtful by recent reports for tonight. The report that he has an arthritic condition dating back to when he was six years old sounds like overkill but it’s obviously something to watch, and Josh McRoberts will continue to do Charlie Work until Big Al can get on the court.
TOR @ PHI: Kyle Lowry says he’s still struggling with his finger splint, but owners need to get all of their fantasy-worthy Raptors going in tonight’s playground tilt. If the Raptors were smart they’d pound Jonas Valanciunas relentlessly in an attempt to foul out Spencer Hawes, but owners can’t bet on that happening because that play has been thrown out of the Raps’ playbook.
We don’t have a recent update on Michael Carter-Williams’ (foot) status, so he’s simply questionable for tonight, but I think you have to roll Tony Wroten out there one way or another. He’s only a late-round value right now because of his poor shooting, but the potential for a big night will exist until MCW proves he’s healthy enough to set Wroten aside. It’s still too early to gauge if Wroten can hold his value when MCW returns, but he’s intriguing enough to hold and find out.
WAS @ CLE: Trevor Ariza (hamstring) is questionable for tonight, though it wouldn’t be surprising if he sat out. Dion Waiters is expected to come off the bench tonight, as he and Kyrie Irving are getting pounded by expectations. Waiters has plenty of talent but he needs to bring a renewed focus to the defensive end before he’s given free run on the offensive end, and from there he’ll need to address his efficiency before he can truly be counted on by owners. C.J. Miles will start and he’s a desperation spot-start at best. If you’re desperate for a center and Andrew Bynum is on the wire I think you have to take a chance. With all risks considered he has been playing serviceably and could be a stop-gap solution.
MIA @ ORL: So far it seems like Dwyane Wade will go but as usual be glued to our player news page until we get an answer. Glen Davis (foot) and Tobias Harris (ankle) started practicing even if their timelines are still hazy. Harris should be owned in all formats for his upside potential and we’ll have to see what Davis can do as the Magic have moved on without him. If Wade goes, Miami will have the bodies to make life difficult for Arron Afflalo, who has been out-of-this-world hot lately. And with the aforementioned returns on the horizon, it’s a great time to sell-high. I don’t think Big Baby threatens his value too much, but last year the two clashed in their fight to be the team’s No. 1 scorer. Harris is a much bigger threat to Alf in that regard this season.
IND @ NY: Lance Stephenson (foot) is the only question mark on the Pacers’ side, and he was a difficult weekly start with little to go on around Monday when lineups were due. Get your Pacers fired up against a flailing Knicks squad. Metta World Peace (knee) seems like a better shot to return tonight than Raymond Felton (hip, hamstring), and both are listed as questionable. They get a Pacers squad coming off their first loss that has the personnel to make Carmelo Anthony’s life hell, so look for Indy to throw Paul George on him with help and dare everybody else to beat them.
DET @ ATL: The Pistons bring the status quo into tonight’s game, though owners will want to watch out for reports that Brandon Jennings (illness) is feeling better. If he isn’t, consider benching him after last night’s disaster and bump up the rest of the backcourt in that case.
Lou Williams (knee) will play after taking a predetermined game off last night, and now is the time to grab him for a shot at mid-round upside. There’s no guarantee that he’ll get there after major surgery, but Atlanta is light in the backcourt and Sweet Lou has been consistent when healthy in the past. Paul Millsap’s status is up in the air and Gustavo Ayon didn’t do anything last night, so there’s no real reason to take a chance on him outside of extremely deep leagues if Millsap can’t go. Again, Mike Scott would be the desperation play there.
POR @ MIL: The Blazers are on a seven-game winning streak and the only thing that can stop similar results tonight is if they overlook a banged up Bucks squad. Ersan Ilyasova (ankle) said he’s ready to return tonight and I thought he passed the eye test when he was on the floor, especially considering he was nursing an injury that has caused him to miss all this time. I didn’t pull the trigger on him this week in weekly leagues, and I have this odd feeling he’s going to make me pay for it by stepping into a broken unit and providing an instant lift. Still, by virtue of his absence owners need to proceed with caution.
Caron Butler (shoulder) is probable but could be eased in by Larry Drew to ensure that he doesn’t aggravate the injury, and I’d consider this a wait-and-see moment for owners looking to plug him into a lineup. Brandon Knight (hamstring) is still doubtful and Gary Neal actually left practice yesterday after plantar fasciitis was the case that the Milwaukee trainers gave him. Nate Wolters has been a borderline late-round guy and if he can start shooting better than 37 percent he could cut into Knight’s value whenever the team’s preseason starter gets back on the floor.
UTA @ NO: Trey Burke (finger) will not play tonight by the most recent reports, and though the Jazz need him in the worst way I fear that he’s being setup for unrealistic expectations right off the bat. He struggled in the worst way to start his NBA career before getting injured, but the good news is that he’ll be playing with the ones and that might be enough for him to show something we haven’t seen to date. A lack of steals (0.9 per game in 36.1 mpg) in college and fears over his field goal percentage in the pros are primary concerns he will need to address.
We’ll be on the defensive stat watch for Enes Kanter, who is averaging just 0.9 combined steals (0.1) and blocks (0.8) on the year. Until he gets that worked out he can score and rebound all he wants but his value will continue to be depressed in standard formats. Marvin Williams can’t keep anything going for owners, as he had surgery on Tuesday for a broken nose and he’ll be questionable for tonight and probably for a few days beyond that. If there was ever a game for Alec Burks to bounce back in, it’s tonight with nobody behind the usual suspects in Utah to provide any punch with Williams out.
LAC @ MIN: The Clippers embark in their second of five games this week and find themselves in one of the night’s marquee matchups. The Wolves played last night and the Clips had the night off, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them get the upper hand, but on the whole this game is wrought with intriguing matchups. Chris Paul and Ricky Rubio will try to blanket one another, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin get a formidable matchup with Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, and role players in J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes will try to outdo Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and J.J. Barea. Get your popcorn ready.
BOS @ SA: While I think Patrick Beverley covering the Celtics’ only real backcourt threat in Jordan Crawford was the nail in their coffin last night, a savvy Spurs squad could be just as bad for their health tonight. There’s no telling what direction Brad Stevens will go at center, so deploy Vitor Faverani and Kelly Olynyk at your own risk. Crawford will have better success against Tony Parker, but Jeff Green isn’t getting any favors by lining up across from Kawhi Leonard.
Speaking of Leonard, he continues to be a buy low target as it would still be shocking if he didn’t build on last year’s value when it’s all said and done. Boris Diaw is an interesting guy to watch in standard leagues to see if he can build on his deep league value, and Tiago Splitter could use a good game as bad as anybody these days.
SAC @ PHO: We’ll be eagerly awaiting news on Eric Bledsoe but expect more of the same in Round 2 from last night. The Suns will pick-and-roll Greivis Vasquez to death and look to get Markieff Morris back on track, while DeMarcus Cousins’ shoulder is worth watching, as well as the progress of Ben McLemore and in deeper formats – (gulp) Travis Outlaw.
HOU @ DAL: The Mavs will put up much more resistance against the Rockets than the Celtics did, and Terrence Jones is both built for the matchup against Dirk Nowitzki and also ripe to get schooled by the old man. He’s Houston’s best option there so I wouldn’t expect them to go away from Jones, but he could take a step back if he gets into foul trouble or lets Dirk’s array of step backs and one-leggers get him down.
Patrick Beverley is going to be a tough shake for Jose Calderon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Monta got a taste of him too, but I’d only downgrade the former and not the latter. DeJuan Blair needs to prove his staying power after getting shelved in a small lineup against the Sixers on Monday, and though the Rockets trend toward small and run he’s a good fit against Dwight Howard on the block, especially if Samuel Dalembert gets into foul trouble. The entire Rockets backcourt is upgraded against the Mavs’ light defending counterparts, while Shawn Marion could clamp down on Chandler Parsons and also thrive in this type of up-and-down matchup.
MEM @ GSW: Tony Allen serves his one-game suspension tonight for kicking Chris Paul in Monday’s game, so Mike Miller becomes a bit safer play than he has been recently. My Warriors are doing great and in particular their injury reporting game is in fine form, as they did everything possible to give the impression that Stephen Curry was fine after slamming his head onto the court on Monday. He’ll miss tonight’s game for the mild concussion he received and that means Andre Iguodala will probably have a big night.
If you’re in a deep league give Kent Bazemore a look in a spot-start, while the other fantasy assets still have enough playmaking ability to stay on track while benefiting from the extra touches that Curry leaves behind. In that respect, Harrison Barnes is on the standard league radar as a spot-play, but I’m still not sold on his season-long value given the deficiencies in his fantasy game.