Bet you wish you knew how bad Tobias Harris’ ankle injury was on draft day. You can count me in with the rest of you, as moments after being announced the starter he was scratched during warmups. How this slid past the Orlando media is beyond me – an ankle in that bad of shape is usually big news, and now owners are left wondering what to do with him now that Glen Davis (eight points, eight boards, three steals) is back and seemingly ready to steal his time.
It’s definitely time for a re-evaluation. Part of my top-75 preseason projection included the initial ankle concerns, but also the idea that he would return well before Big Baby and reclaim what he had earned the previous season. But now the exact opposite has happened, as Davis is back and has the inside track on earning a significant role – and that’s before you consider the chance the Magic showcase him for trade.
Similarly to Jonas Valanciunas, I don’t think owners should be looking to drop here, but I’m not going to stone you if you do it, especially in leagues with short benches or penalties for carrying injured players.
When he returns he has a shot at mid-round value and it’s important to remember that he was one of their best players last season, showing as much promise as any young, sub-elite player in the league. But if the Magic don’t make a trade in advance of a deadline that has been quiet in recent years, then owners will be left holding onto a guy that profiles more like a mid-to-late round value than the upside guy they envisioned on draft day. As for the ankle itself, I might recapture some of my bullishness if reports are positive, but that’s a tough bet right now considering the injury hasn’t healed with so much time off.
In the game itself the Magic were able to top a Hawks team that looks like it’s already wearing down, with Arron Afflalo leading the way with 26 points, four treys, three assists and two steals. He’s humming along at a top-15 level, but his 50.7 percent 3-point shooting can’t keep up and virtually all of his numbers are up so something has to give. As currently situated, I’d expect him to settle into a top 20-30 value.
Davis had an itchy trigger finger in his first game back, but it’s possible he has read the writing on the wall that it’s Afflalo’s team and not his. He has top-75 value in his three games so far and that’s a huge win considering nobody knew what his role would look like in October. Ride him whether he starts or not until the wheels fall off, if they fall off.
Jameer Nelson went for eight and 10, Nikola Vucevic went for 12 and 15, and Victor Oladipo scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting with three rebounds, five assist, one block and one three. Tucked inside the top-100 in 8-cat formats and just the top-180 in 9-cat formats (3.9 TOs/gm), there is no better time than now to trade for a guy in Oladipo that could help carry fantasy teams down the stretch.
E’Twaun Moore made an appearance in the box with 12 points, three rebounds, five assists, two steals and a three, and Andrew Nicholson scored 18 points with eight boards, a block and a three, but neither guy will be as good against teams with better depth. Nicholson is a guy you’ll want to keep tabs on throughout the year as he’s shown the ability to put up numbers when he gets the chance. With Baby back, he’ll be much too inconsistent for most standard formats.
BEAST OF BURDEN
As mentioned, the Hawks’ lack of depth seems like it has already caught up to them, as Jeff Teague’s efficiency has taken a hit and nobody has truly hit their stride this season except for Al Horford. It’s telling that none of the team’s Big Three of Teague, Paul Millsap or Horford is playing more than 34 minutes per game despite having one of the league’s worst benches – as if Mike Budenholzer knows that his guys can’t carry the extra weight.
Teague hit just 4-of-11 shots to finish with 15 points, three rebounds, six assists, one steal and one three, but has been buried by 41.9 percent field goal shooting as his explosion has waned a bit and the easy shots just aren’t there.
Millsap’s elbow and/or Achilles’ injury could be slowing him down, and at 9.5 field goal attempts per game and just 1.1 steals per game, I think his struggles are both linked to not just the injuries but the team’s struggles as a whole. He’s still a top 50-60 value on the year and I think I mentioned this last week, but I’ll be taking calculated risks that the injuries aren’t too bad and his numbers will rebound. He has top-12 upside in an extreme best-case scenario.
Al Horford is still a top-25 value on the year in part because he’s blowing away career marks with 1.9 blocks per game. Last year’s free throw struggles have duplicated themselves so far this year as he’s 10 points below his career mark of 73.5 percent, which needless to say represents a trend over 88 games and not just a blip on the radar. The rest of his numbers are right in line with career norms, but he’s doing his damage in four less minutes per game than he played last season (37.2). Again, Budenholzer doesn’t want to overdo things early on and also has Elton Brand and Pero Antic around to help.
I was pleasantly surprised by Lou Williams (11 points, three rebounds, eight assists, three treys, 3-of-9 FGs, 24 minutes) last night, not because I don’t think he’s capable but because he has been coming along slowly. He’s all-but ruled out for tonight’s game but he could start playing in back-to-backs as soon as Friday and Saturday, and with just one back-to-back in December we could be looking at the official launch of Sweet Lou.
There have been very few players that have been as consistent as Williams over the past few years, and I could care less if he’s coming off the bench – in fact, it’s actually a great thing in Atlanta where he will command plenty of touches on unit in need of scoring. Health-permitting, he has easy mid-round upside and he could also help open things up for teammates that have defenders draped all over them right now.
Kyle Korver hit just 1-of-6 shots (all threes) for three points, two rebounds, three assists and two steals, and he needs just one more game with a three to tie Dana Barros (89 games) for most consecutive games with a triple. Like many folks that are chasing records, don’t be surprised if he presses a bit while opponents also game-plan for his chase.
TEARS OF JOY
Jermaine O’Neal might have overshadowed his big night with a postgame interview that was as emotional as I’ve ever seen, and his 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting and eight rebounds were just enough to put the Warriors over the top in New Orleans. We’ve seen O’Neal do this in spurts and there’s nothing to see here with Andrew Bogut coming back after his one-game suspension.
Stephen Curry hit just 7-of-20 shots but took over the stat sheet with 16 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, three steals, one block and two threes, and Klay Thompson scored 22 points with three treys, five rebounds, one steal, one block and a whopping eight assists. With Andre Iguodala out and defenders running at him at breakneck speeds he’s bound to experience an uptick in that category, but counting on a number that big is much too optimistic.
Harrison Barnes scored 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting with four rebounds, one steal and a three in 39 minutes, and that will pay the bills if this is going to be an off-night while Iguodala is out. Iguodala has been ruled out for the next two games and it would be pretty surprising to see him return immediately after that, and I’d say that owners can go ahead and count on Barnes being serviceable next week and probably the week after that.
As mentioned in past Doses, Draymond Green was a sneaky pickup in standard leagues and he showed why with seven points, two rebounds, three assists, one trey, three steals and three blocks in 24 minutes. He looks like a solid bet to put up at least late-round value while Iguodala is out.
The Pelicans are finally on track for fantasy purposes, as each of their key guys is finding their rhythm even if there are still a handful of things to complain about in New Orleans. At the top of the list is Anthony Davis’ (14 points, 11 boards, two blocks) utilization, as the uber-wonder was limited to nine field goal attempts and 30 minutes in last night’s loss to the Warriors. Monty Williams simply has to do a better job deploying Steve Nebraska.
Jrue Holiday (17 points, 7-of-16 FGs, four rebounds, seven assists, two steals, three treys) has settled in nicely, and along with Tyreke Evans (12 points, four boards, four assists, one block) the duo could go nuts whenever Eric Gordon (16 points, seven assists) gets hurt. Gordon’s 36 minutes and his production were good signs after a week or so of yellow flags in those areas.
Ryan Anderson is going to get all he can eat for the flying Pelicans, and he put up another solid line with 21 points, 12 boards and three treys in 37 minutes. Al-Farouq Aminu (four points, nine boards) has actually been a part of one of the Pelicans’ better performing lineups, but the team needs to find a way to run more and get more minutes to Evans – for both fantasy owners’ sakes and the sake of their big offseason investment. For his part, Evans has been rolling at a late-mid round level over the past two weeks and the early season woes are probably behind him.
POSITION OF NEED
The Derrick Williams trade is growing on me just a little bit as I’ve sat back and monitored the situation. Of course, the Kings have a gaping hole at small forward that got bigger with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s exit, but the bigger issue here is the Kings’ willingness to throw him right into the mix at that spot.
My sense is that they think they can squeeze 10-20 minutes out of Williams there, assuming he doesn’t implode, and with Jason Thompson playing his way out of minutes on a regular basis these days he can probably match whatever he earns at small forward in the power forward slot if all is going well. Travis Outlaw may actually be the big winner here, as he has shown flashes of his prior Portland form and is the only true small forward on the roster. John Salmons could muck things up as he continues to incite the rage of locals wondering how he continues to hold a rotation slot, and the reality for fantasy owners is that this is going to be a quagmire until somebody separates from the pack.
As for Williams he has obviously been a mess and a very good coach in Rick Adelman was willing to scrap him, but Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and his crew are willing to deploy any and all resources to make this work. If it doesn’t work, it’ll be because Williams is a bust and that’s it. Look for incremental improvements in defense and rebounding, a little less per-minute scoring and an incrementally better shooting percentage. Baby steps.
He’s going to be available to play on Friday and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him jump right into the fire, but we’ll have to watch reports and see how it goes. His upside is going to be as a late-round value if he plays as much as 25-27 minutes per game, so evaluate accordingly as a pickup.