It’s Thanksgiving and I’ll go easy on the sentimentality, but before I do that I’ll totally break my own rule by thanking you guys for being the most knowledgeable readership in the basketball world. Comment boards everywhere are littered with something less than that, and it’s your guys’ love of the game that keeps me coming back to Rotoworld year after year.
So thank you and I hope you enjoy nothing but the best during this holiday as you crack open a beverage of choice and hunker down for this beast I’m fittin’ to serve you.
And for our readers abroad that don’t celebrate Turkey Day, you guys are pretty cool too.
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THE JOKE IS ON YOU
Frank Vogel joked with the Pacers telling them they would have to practice on Thanksgiving if they didn’t win by 24 points, so the Pacers went out and won by 25 against the Bobcats. There were no real surprises out of the box score outside of C.J. Watson’s 18 points, six rebounds and six 3-pointers, which were a fluke helped along by garbage time.
Lance Stephenson scored 15 points with 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals, and George Hill struggled with just 2-of-10 shooting for seven points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and two blocks. Paul George took a night off with just 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, Roy Hibbert went for 14 and 10 with two blocks, and David West scored 11 points with eight rebounds in the win. Danny Granger still isn’t being given a timetable for return, so outside of some efficiency issues everything was normal for Indy as the joke was on Charlotte.
OIL AND WATER
I mentioned yesterday how the Pacers would be a tough matchup for Al Jefferson to get back on track, but he did just that with 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting, nine rebounds and three blocks. Kemba Walker (3-of-17 FGs, 15 points, three assists) and Gerald Henderson (3-of-15 FGs, 10 points) were completely shut down and with so many games last night I haven’t been able to go to the tape, but how they respond to Big Al and vice-versa is going to be key to all of their values.
I swung and missed calling Josh McRoberts a potential initiator of offense last night if the Pacers were able to clamp down on the Bobcats’ main guys, as he struggled with foul trouble and lasted just 18 minutes en route to a four-point, three-rebound night. On the whole we didn’t learn much about Charlotte, other than that the Pacers can beat them in their sleep.
The Sixers and Magic didn’t light up the box score quite like many of us had hoped, but most of the Sixers’ key guys turned in strong efforts in their loss. Michael Carter-Williams hit 9-of-21 shots for 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, four steals, one block and three triples, as he continues to be a top 10-15 play in fantasy leagues. Here’s the kicker – only his steals (3.1) and blocks (0.9) seem to be unsustainable if we consider everything else to be a byproduct of the Philly system mixing with MCW’s fluid and demonstrable NBA skill-set. Given that system, it’s possible that the defensive numbers are closer to reality than anybody could have thought back when he was playing in Syracuse’s zone last season.
James Anderson hit just 2-of-9 shots for four points as he continues to get lost every now and again, but when he’s backing his scoring up with five rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block he’s proving his staying power in fantasy leagues. The Sixers got back Thaddeus Young (26 points, 9-of-15 FGs, two threes, 6-of-11 FTs, eight boards, one steal, 29 minutes) from bereavement leave, and whenever Spencer Hawes (knee) returns it will be the true test of Anderson’s value. He has been a late-round value on the year throughout the various lineup gyrations, so my early guess is that he continues along that path.
As for Young, details are scarce but it would certainly fit the bill that personal issues contributed to his slow start, and last night he certainly showed the potential that had me ranking him at No. 33 and 19 in 8- and 9-cat formats in the preseason. It will be hard to buy low after such a big night, but an owner frustrated with his top 75-85 value on the year might just bite.
It was a little frustrating for all of us to learn that Hawes was scratched last night after being declared probable the game and it’s a little dose of reality to remind us about his durability issues. The Sixers won’t push anybody to play through injury this season, so once Hawes returns and starts posting gaudy numbers you know what to do. A top-30 player that’s positively situated is the goal in any deal for Hawes and his top 10-15 value.
Evan Turner nearly triple-doubled with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting, 11 rebounds and eight assists in a result that won’t surprise anybody. He did not record a steal or block but he did hit a three, and with top 40-80 value in 9- and 8-cat leagues respectively, owners can probably turn him in for a better model given the fantasy public’s tendency to overrate popcorn stats.
Jameer Nelson (foot) left after just 12 minutes last night, a scenario we’ve been talking about all year. Owners of Victor Oladipo (18 points, 7-of-11 FGs, three boards, five assists, five steals, one block, eight turnovers) and Arron Afflalo (18 points, 6-of-15 FGs) have to be drooling well before the Thanksgiving feast. Details are fuzzy right now but the Magic aren’t going to push him to return, and E’Twaun Moore (30 minutes, seven points, 2-of-8 FGs, six boards, three assists, one steal, one three) is worth a speculative look in deep formats.
If Nelson does miss extended time it will also help Glen Davis’ value, as he’ll be entrusted to handle the ball in isolation more and has no problem chucking it. Baby finished with 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting, five rebounds and one block in 35 minutes as he built upon his must-own status. As usual there were no real updates on Tobias Harris’ ankle injury, which I covered in detail yesterday, and all of a sudden the Magic are thinning up for fantasy owners.
Andrew Nicholson played just 17 minutes and finished with 11 points and five boards, and while he’s a sneaky guy to own in 14-18 team formats he’s going to struggle for consistency behind Davis, let alone Davis and Harris. Nikola Vucevic went nuts for 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting with 16 boards, five assists, one steal and three blocks, and it’s a sign of how good he is that it’s the last thing I mention in the Magic writeup.
LIFE AFTER ROSE
I harp on Tom Thibodeau and the Chicago training staff for grinding their guys into the ground, but beyond that Thibs is as good as any coach for the most part, and one had to know that the Bulls would find their rhythm following Derrick Rose’s season-ending injury sooner rather than later. It didn’t hurt that the Pistons were on the other side of the court last night, as discipline eventually won out and the Bulls got themselves a road win.
Kirk Hinrich got on the right side of the ledger with 13 points, two treys, three boards, seven assists and three steals, and the projected late-round value is well worth a pickup if he was dropped. Mike Dunleavy may not be the safe, low-end value he appeared to be now that Tony Snell is already proving his worth. Dunleavy played just 18 minutes to finish with two points on 1-of-4 shooting, seven boards and that’s it. On the other hand, Snell scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting (including three triples) with two rebounds, three assists and two steals.
A vote for Dunleavy’s value was more or less abstaining from the Bulls’ other candidates, so I’m fine with pitching him to the wire for somebody with more upside. If you want to take a flier on Snell in a 14-18 team league I’m fine with that, too. If he does well he’ll hit a three or two per game but the real driver of his value will be whether or not he can add another component to his game, as in college he was a one-trick pony on the stat sheet.
Luol Deng continued to take advantage of Rose’s absence, scoring 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting (including a three) with six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block. He and Carlos Boozer (six points, 3-of-11 FGs, seven boards) are poised to do that all year long as long as they remain healthy, though Boozer ran into the tough interior defense of the Pistons last night. The Chicago Tribune released a story in which K.C. Johnson wrote that Deng’s price tag may have gone down with Rose’s injury, which is just food for thought for owners planning out the rest of their years. It’s doubtful he lands in a better place than he is in right now.
Taj Gibson picked up the slack with a career-high 23 points on 11-of-13 shooting and eight boards. While I like his chance to pick up the pace without Rose around, he has just 16-team value on the year and that makes him a pure stash in a standard format. If he can lift himself to a 12-14 team value then he gains a lot of appeal knowing that he can be used in a pinch, all while Boozer and Joakim Noah (13 points, five boards, one steal) are Grade A injury risks.
STUCK ON YOU
The Pistons usually have 1-2 guys not named Andre or Rodney that go in the tank on any given night as the rotation is clogged and they struggle to share the ball. Last night everybody not named Andre or Rodney failed to show up in their home loss to the Bulls.
Rodney Stuckey was outstanding as he scored 25 points, though he failed to gain any other traction on the stat sheet. He’s about as consistent as they come off the bench and he has raised his value up to a mid-round level this past week. Until Will Bynum (two points, 15 minutes) or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (zero points, 19 minutes) make their presence felt, owners can pretty much pencil Stuckey in for mid-to-late round value every night.
Andre Drummond double-doubled with 10 points, 11 boards and two steals in 39 minutes, and any concern that Josh Smith would move closer to the hoop and steal a handful of minutes was unfounded last night. That could have been because Greg Monroe (five points, 22 minutes) was benched, but it sure seems like Mo Cheeks is going to keep everybody in their current slots. Smith played well on offense with 13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists to go with a block, but like his teammates he wasn’t terribly inspiring in the loss.
If Smith fell short of inspiring then Brandon Jennings was a Miley Cyrus ballad, scoring 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting with four assists. He’s not getting cut any slack from the local press for his lack of effort on defense.
RETURN OF THE KING
LeBron James rolled into Cleveland last night and that was going to mean two things – a win for Miami and hard-fought game by both sides. James scored 28 points with eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals and he’s finally decided it’s time to start dominating fantasy leagues. Dwyane Wade hit 10-of-14 shots for 22 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals, but six turnovers marred an otherwise impeccable night.
Chris Bosh was quiet with six points, seven boards, two steals and two blocks, but is rolling along at his predicted top 40-50 value on the year. Mario Chalmers (hip) returned to action but maybe he’s hurt a bit more than it seemed entering the contest, as he posted just three points on 1-of-4 shooting with three rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes. Take him off your auto-start list and keep your ear to the ground.
Michael Beasley continued to pick up steam after a 17-point, nine-rebound night including a block in 26 minutes of action, and he has been a borderline 12-14 team value over the past two weeks. I don’t think we’re in standard league territory just yet and that the next month will be up-and-down for him, but as I’ve been saying all along the Heat have plenty of reason to develop him in advance of the playoffs and plenty of reason to rest the guys ahead of him. Plan accordingly.
Every time I get ready to bury Mike Brown (who has more job security than will be reflected by the on-court product), his team bounces back with passable effort and last night that was true as they kept from being blown out by the Heat. Kyrie Irving was still pretty terrible with 16 points on 6-of-19 shooting, no threes and just three assists, while Dion Waiters got loose for 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting with six rebounds and three assists.
I came across perhaps the most telling account of what is going on in Cleveland written by beat writer Jason Lloyd, as he explained in detail what is going on with Waiters and his relationship with Irving and Tristan Thompson (four points, 1-of-6 FGs, 11 boards). It sounds like Waiters isn’t a fan of “buddy ball” being played between the two, and Irving comes across as a guy that wants all of the accolades but isn’t exactly being the best teammate.
Irving’s talent simply needs to be refined at this point and his attitude will be checked (it always is at some point), but any way you slice it Waiters appears to be on the way out and in the meantime you can expect plenty of inconsistency. Consider him for an add after a game like this, but he’s outside of the top-150 on the season and there aren’t any major indicators aside from a likely improvement in foul shooting that are screaming turnaround.
As for Irving and his top 50-90 value on the season, things can only go up from here and his owner will likely have an irrational price tag given his ADP, but you might be able to steal him away for a second or third round guy that’s been making waves.
Jarrett Jack commanded 37 minutes but turned in a somewhat pedestrian eight points on 3-of-6 shooting with five rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and two 3-point buckets. He has been playing at a late-round level over the past two weeks, with an advantage in 8-cat leagues where his 2.7 turnovers in that span don’t hurt as much. I can’t see letting him slide past me in a competitive 12-team format, as the Cavs desperately need his leadership on the floor and he should continue to improve as he gets acclimated in Cleveland.
Andrew Bynum continues to take baby steps and last night might have been labeled a step back since he scored just four points on 2-of-10 shooting with seven rebounds and no steals or blocks, but he played 23 minutes and that’s a win in my book. His production has really slowed lately and he’s not even ranked in the top-200, but center-needy squads will want to keep tabs on how he’s doing. Chances are the competition for his services won’t be great and you’ll have plenty of time to evaluate him as he slowly climbs the mountain of relevancy.