I'll be honest – I did not expect to feature Andrew Bogut as the headline player in this column at any point this season.
Nor did I expect to co-feature Nene, who would have been pictured to the right along with Bogut if I had access to a photo of them high-fiving.
My reason for overlooking Bogut and Nene heading into this season is simple: They both break. Often.
But for both fragile big men (Bogut missed 50 games last year; Nene missed 21), recent games have brought some stout numbers. Take a look:
Nene’ last three games:
22.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.3 bpg
Nene’s last seven games:
17.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.9 bpg
Bogut’s last three games:
10.7 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 2.7 bpg
Bogut’s last five games:
9.2 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.0 spg, 2.0 bpg
Now I know what you’re thinking – Yes Matt, those numbers are nice, but both of these guys are going to step on someone else’s foot any minute now. And telling fantasy owners to do anything other than sell high would be irresponsible.
On one level, I can’t argue with your italicized words. But let’s be realistic here. We can say "sell high" all we want, but the other people in your league probably aren't stupid. They know the injury risk associated with players like Nene and Bogut, and their ripoff alarm will probably sound the second one of those names lands in their inbox.
So what do you do? Sometimes, when life (or fantasy basketball) gives you an old breakable piece of dishware, your best option is to fill it to the rim with mashed potatoes. Translation: If you drafted Nene or Bogut, and can't deal them for safer/more reliable options, there's nothing wrong with enjoying the production until one or both of them mauls a ligament.
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In other basketball-related matters...
I hereby dub Vitor Faverani "The Saboteur", due to his tendency (twice now) to drop monster lines late in the week, only to sneak into weekly lineups and lay complete duds. He will strike again this season, probably multiple times. Don't let yourself fall victim to his cruel method of lineup sabotage.
Speaking of the Celtics… Their rotation has been one of the most frustrating to try to solve this season, but despite all the irritation, I will cautiously say that Jared Sullinger deserves your trust. With Faverani, Kelly Olynyk and Brandon Bass all suffering from varying degrees of Inconsistency Syndrome, Sullinger has posted 13.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.6 bpg and 0.7 3s in his last 10 games, highlighted by a 26-point, 8-rebound game against Portland last week, and a 19-point, 17-rebound outing against the Spurs on Wednesday. Unfortunately, his defensive stats are a bit Wilcoxian (0.3 spg, 0.5 bpg on the season), but he’s definitely the frontcourt Celtic to own right now – even if that’s not saying a ton.
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Meanwhile, if you’re wondering where Jose Calderon’s assists went (just 5.4 apg so far this season), look no further than the presence of Monta Ellis. Monta is spending a lot of time facilitating the offense these days, while Calderon spends a lot of time on the wing waving his arms around and trying to look like he’s facilitating things. The good news for Calderon is he’s taking – and making – a lot of 3s (hitting a career-high 2.8 per game). The bad news is Rick Carlisle just said this about recently activated rookie backup PG Shane Larkin (eight points, four boards, two assists, two steals, two treys, four turnovers in 17 minutes Wednesday): “We need speed in the lineup. We're old and we're slow and that's not a good combination.” He may not have intended that as a direct shot at Calderon, but it sure comes across that way when you say it about his backup PG. I still think Calderon should play 25-30 minutes per game (Larkin is not only a rookie, but also undersized). However, the presence of Ellis along with Carlisle’s praise for Larkin suggest that Calderon’s stats could be at their peak right now.
Tobias Harris (ankle) could be back soon. What does it mean? I’m glad you asked. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I did draft Harris on multiple teams this year, and I’m deliriously impatient to see him return. So I was surprised to see the Orlando Sentinel suggest that Harris “seems unlikely to displace Maurice Harkless as the Magic’s starting small forward.” What? Granted, the Sentinel has access to the team that I don’t have, but we all have access to the same numbers. And Harris averaged 17.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 0.9 spg, 1.4 bpg and 1.0 3s for the Magic last year, while Harkless has posted 9.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.5 spg and 0.7 3s in 11 starts this year. In terms of the production that each player can bring to the court right now, it’s not close.
Furthermore, with Orlando actually going small on Wednesday to get Victor Oladipo into the starting five (starting Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Oladipo, Harkless and Nikola Vucevic), Harris makes much more sense as an untraditional PF than Harkless, should they stick with that lineup. I may be biased here – nope, I’m definitely biased here – but Harris deserves 30-plus minutes once he’s up to speed. And I expect him to get those minutes. If he doesn’t, I’m moving to Finland.
Other Random Thoughts: Even after dropping a dud on Wednesday (five points, six assists in 23 minutes), Mo Williams has posted 12.8 ppg, 5.7 apg, 1.7 spg and 1.2 3s in his last six games, playing 30-plus minutes in five out of six. And it’s encouraging how much the Blazers are using him to run the offense (letting Damian Lillard play some shooting guard) when Mo is in the game. … Patrick Beverley (nine points, three assists, four steals, three treys in 37 minutes Wednesday) is averaging just 2.2 apg (in 29 minutes) for a reason: Houston uses James Harden and Chandler Parsons to initiate the offense a lot, which leaves Beverley doing more spot-up shooting than playmaking. Sixty percent of his FG attempts (48 out of 80) have come from beyond the arc. … Terrence Ross got my attention with 17 points, seven boards, a steal, a block and three treys in a season-high 32 minutes on Wednesday. I’ll be surprised if he builds on that momentum Friday, but I’ll be watching closely to see if he does.