Last night was a quiet one in the association and that’s because we’re gearing up for a 13-game Big Wednesday before the Thanksgiving holiday. LeBron heads back to Cleveland tonight, the Spurs square off with the Thunder, the Blazers try to make it 12 in a row, the Warriors fly into Dallas to check on old buddy Monta Ellis, and the Knicks will try to avoid national embarrassment in the banner-free confines of the Clippers’ Staples Center.
The fantasy storylines will probably make for better headlines around here, as Al Jefferson tries to turn his season around against a gnarly Pacers defense, the Sixers and Magic head toward a track meet, and the Rockets and Hawks join them. The Bulls, Grizzlies and Wizards will all take another step toward their new injury-saddled futures, while teams like the Nets and Bucks are still dealing with multiple absences that have thrown their rotations into a mess. Eric Bledsoe could return to action and his time off has left a mark across fantasyland.
As we learned a few days ago fantasy fortunes can change on a dime and on a night when many folks have obligations, an owner in a first-come, first-serve pickup format can clean up. So let’s get you prepped up.
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WAITING FOR KOBE
Despite the loss in Washington the Lakers have actually settled in a little bit as a fantasy squad, with Steve Blake (15 points, three rebounds, five assists, two triples) taking charge at the point, Pau Gasol (17 points, six boards, eight assists, two blocks) working as the team’s focal point, Jodie Meeks (10 points, two threes) being the deep threat, and Jordan Hill (10 points, eight boards, two blocks) bringing the heat down low.
Kobe Bryant (Achilles) said that he is “probably weeks” away from returning and that he’s open to a minute-limit. I’m going to avoid reading into every little word he says, but if we are going to play that game the comments do suggest that he’s heading back to the court with a less aggressive mindset.
Going down this road I see point-Kobe in the making, where points get replaced by assists and field goal percentage trends toward 3-point shooter territory. Or maybe he goes down to the post and makes a living down there. It’s all going to be fascinating and he might just come back as the old, albeit PG-version of Kobe that gobbles up all the shot attempts in a mediocre offensive unit.
Or he comes back and blows us all away the same way he has done at every other stop on his way to Springfield.
Jordan Farmar (22 points, eight assists, 9-of-11 FGs, three treys) showed how he could be an asset in fantasy leagues last night, but the recent dumpster dive he took and Kobe’s eventual return make him a hard add. I think you definitely do it if you need short-term help and that’s about it.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $85,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Wednesday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $9,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Wednesday. Here's the FanDuel link.
NOT EVERYTHING IS WRONG IN WASHINGTON
News of Bradley Beal’s right leg injury was a bummer for anybody that’s a fan of basketball, as the youngster had been one of the more entertaining players to watch on a nightly basis. Beal is the type of player that needs to be protected from himself – a guy that will play through anything – and there’s no telling how far this issue with his leg has gone.
I think the tone of Bill Simmons’ tweet saying the Wizards were concerned about Beal missing extended time was just about right. You won’t hear it from them through their normal channels, who will more or less report the story the way they’re setup to cover it from a local angle – in accordance with what the team says publicly. Just don’t be surprised if this drags on, with the team letting it seem like he’s closer than he really is for any number of reasons (ticket sales, appease the player’s desire to get back fast, throw off opponents, etc).
While I hope I’m wrong and Beal returns sooner, the news couldn’t be better for owners of Martell Webster (20 points, four threes, nine boards, three assists, four steals, one block) and Trevor Ariza (13 points, seven boards, three assists, three steals, 6-of-14 FGs, 1-of-7 3PTs). First off, even if Beal had been around I think there was space for both guys to stay in all standard lineups, but now without Beal around they’re both capable of first-half of the draft value and probably early round value, too.
The key here is the development of John Wall and the dynamic interplay between Marcin Gortat and Nene down low. Make no mistake this is a solid squad when healthy, and if that can hold true then whenever Beal returns they will be gearing up for a playoff run that leaves us talking about how they pushed their higher-seeded opponent harder than anybody thought they could in November.
Wall scored 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting (0-for-2 3PTs, 11-of-12 FTs) with six rebounds, nine assists and three steals in last night’s win over the Lakers, and don’t look now but he’s the No. 9/13 fantasy play (8/9 cat) on the season. Gortat went for 15 and eight with a steal and block and he’s surprising as a top 50-60 play.
While Nene (30 points, two boards, five assists, two steals) should be in most lineups whenever he’s healthy his name value is a little high right now. He’s still just a top-80 value on the year and we all know about his injury risk, so now’s a good time to swap him out for a similar value with less durability issues if you can.
Unlike their neighbors in New York, the Nets have a real chance to turn things around and they took the first step with a 102-100 win in Toronto last night.
Joe Johnson scored 21 points on 7-of-18 shooting (including three treys) with six rebounds and four assists, and that’s where he needs to be in order to provide serviceable fantasy value as he’s a drag on percentages and provides little to nothing on defense. The good news is that he’s shooting 44.3 percent this season with just 1.0 turnovers per game, making him a mid-to-late round value so far this year, but I can’t see him shooting that well or keeping up his current production as teammates get healthy.
Shaun Livingston didn’t show any effects from getting hit in the head over the weekend, but probably isn’t living up to owner expectations as he turned in five points on 1-of-3 shooting, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals. While he has shown flashes of offensive potential, this is a better baseline expectation of where he will be while Deron Williams is out.
Paul Pierce scored 16 points with four rebounds, four assists, one steal and one three, and I see his late-round value rising incrementally as we go here. There’s no way he continues to shoot seven and 10 points worse than career averages from the field and deep, respectively.
Kevin Garnett is starting to gain some respectability, and he put up 12 points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal in 24 minutes last night. He’s more of a 14-team guy that’s best suited for daily formats, and even then he could easily be more trouble than he’s worth. Andray Blatche scored 24 points with five rebounds, two steals and two blocks as an auto-start whenever Brook Lopez is out.
WHAT A SCENE
Not much is changing in Toronto and in last night’s loss we saw the frontcourt play like a unit that has lost its confidence. Of course, it doesn’t help that the Raptors treat them like lepers in what is quickly becoming a chicken and egg situation that fantasy owners are pretty much forced to wait out.
Amir Johnson (six points, five boards) is at least posting late-round value on the year, but Jonas Valanciunas (seven points, seven boards, 22 minutes) is on the wrong side of 12-team value and I’m sure many of you are pondering a drop. Bottom line – you’re going to feel awful dropping JV when something tilts the balance back in his favor and he’s putting up as high as late-early round value if he gets utilized correctly. Just treat him as a high-priced roster stash and hope something gives.
Rudy Gay banned stat sheets from the locker room and is becoming the analytics version of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, but except for crack and unprecedented levels of unintentional hilarity all he’s doing is building a mountain of criticism to climb. He hit 3-of-12 shots for nine points with four rebounds, four assists, one block and a glaring seven turnovers, and if there are any silver linings for owners of the aforementioned bigs it is that Gay might create a big enough scene that Dwane Casey is forced to change things up.
DeMar DeRozan is starting to get more attention from defenses and it has yet to impact his scoring, as he put up another 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting with four treys, six rebounds, three assists and one steal. He’s a top-60 play on the year, highlighting how much work he has to do to climb the charts with a high volume 43 percent mark from the field and tepid defensive stats. Kyle Lowry kept plugging away with 24 points, six assists, two threes and two steals, and he’s beating expectations with top-45 value on the year.