THE JORDAN RULES
The Lakers downed the Nets in Brooklyn last night in a game with plenty of theatre, and they got contributions from all of their guys more or less across the board.
Jordan Hill was one of the exceptions as his play has started to tail off a bit, and last night he lasted just 20 minutes on his way to two points on 1-of-9 shooting with 12 rebounds and no steals or blocks. His value was always going to be driven by durability over the long haul and I’d bet a decent amount of money that his knee is bothering him.
Lakers writer Dave McMenamin busted out two useful articles last pieces last night and the first story covers some of Mike D’Antoni’s concerns about using Hill too much, and also lays out that Chris Kaman (DNP) has been benched rather than being sat down because of his back. Don’t be surprised if Kaman gets back into the rotation so D’Antoni can give Hill some relief, and that opens up Pandora’s Box for Hill’s owners as D’Antoni is notoriously fickle with rotations. Owners have to hang tight with Hill but it might not be a bad time to test his value on the trade market, and at a minimum it’s time to hunker down and watch things closely.
The other story was on Jordan Farmar (15 points, four rebounds, five threes, three assists, two steals, two blocks). I detailed Farmar’s situation yesterday and basically said if you had a short-term need he was a must-add player, with Kobe Bryant’s looming return being the main drag on his value. If you were wondering why Farmar disappears from one game to the next McMenamin’s story has you covered – D’Antoni is giving him the first 5-10 minutes of every game to prove his worth on any given night.
He’s winning that battle right now and is a solid mid-round value over the past two weeks, while his year-long value is straddling the Mason-Dixon Line in 12-team formats. The crazy part is that he’s doing his damage over these past two weeks in just 18.6 minutes per game, so there is a bit more credibility to the idea he can hold value when Kobe returns. That’s still an uphill battle though with the reduction in touches everybody is bound to be hit with.
Nick Young was swagtastic with 26 points, four threes, one steal, one block and a 6-of-6 mark from the foul line, but will probably need a splint on his left (non-shooting) hand after jamming a finger. The outburst shot him up the boards to late-round value on the year, but he’s much too erratic to be considered in the same breath as Farmar right now.
YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME
Jason Kidd is a piece of work. Unless you’re living under a rock you already know how he faked spilling a soda onto the court so he could get an unofficial timeout late in last night’s loss, and the only thing more spectacular than that was Lakers players standing in the Nets’ subsequent huddle because by rule they were allowed to do it. The last thing Kidd needed to do was incite the headlines that he’s bound to get over the next 24 hours, but if there is any silver lining perhaps it will take the focus off his team’s crappy play.
Paul Pierce is at the top of that list as he pretends he can chuck it up effortlessly like he did in his Boston days. He hit just 4-of-17 shots for 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and two threes, but he’s going to have to work much harder to keep from being a net-negative in reality basketball. For fantasy purposes his value is still in the tank with just 12-14 team value, but as mentioned in a number of places he’s bound to get the shooting numbers straightened out and last night’s volume elsewhere was encouraging.
Kevin Garnett scored four points with nine rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes as he continues to be more trouble than he’s worth, and Andray Blatche (14 points, eight rebounds, two steals, two blocks) continues to get it done while Brook Lopez (ankle) is out. Blatche tweaked his ankle late and did not return, but said he’ll be fine for Friday’s game. For now, keep Blatche locked and loaded into lineups and hope the ankle issue doesn’t spur Kidd to activate Lopez.
Alan Anderson was a deep league special from yesterday’s Dose and he came through with 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting, three treys, four rebounds, three assists and one steal in 35 minutes. He’ll still be a risky standard league spot-start in Friday’s game against the uptempo Rockets if everybody stays out, but for my money the Nets would be crazy to give Jason Terry any of Anderson’s minutes going forward. If Kidd catches onto this, which he likely won’t out of deference to the veteran, then Anderson would be worth adding in 12-team formats. For now he’s more of a 16-team guy. Mirza Teletovic scored 17 points with four threes but it’s not worth thinking about until he can do it twice in a row.
THE AP MARCS THE SPOT
The Grizzlies got out to a quick start and held off a late charge by the Celtics to win in Boston last night, but the big fantasy news that still needs to be hashed out is an AP postgame report that said Marc Gasol (knee) is expected back in 3-4 weeks. This would go against the 6-10 week timetable that was reported by the local newspaper, and as I mentioned yesterday Gasol has been known to beat injury timetables.
The AP also has a history of generalizing their injury updates for expediency, and it’s possible that they meant he would return to the practice floor in 3-4 weeks and from there we’d be looking at the original report as a guide. It’s something to consider if you’re looking to flip Kosta Koufos (seven points, 3-of-11 FGs, 13 boards, one steal, three blocks) after snagging him off the wire. As for Koufos, get used to seeing those numbers because some variation of that is coming every night.
Jerryd Bayless scored 22 points off the bench with 9-of-11 makes from the foul line and that’s about it, but the interesting development was Ed Davis’ 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 24 minutes. Davis represents a potential Grizzlies decision to run more, and there’s certainly room for him to get this type of run, but he’s going to have to play at optimal levels nightly to be a factor in standard formats. Bayless has been a ghost in fantasy leagues and he needs to prove himself before anybody goes taking that leap of faith.
THEY WENT TO JARED
Jared Sullinger is going to haunt me all year as injuries forced me to drop him in a few spots, and he kept his foot on the gas last night with 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting with 12 rebounds and three assists. He has become the team’s de facto center and Celtics team sites are polling their readers about whether or not he’s their best player.
Jeff Green (26 points, seven boards) might have something to say about that, but when you factor in reliability (not durability) I think you have to give the nod to Sully, not counting Rajon Rondo of course. Even with the big numbers last night, Green is still barely a late-round value with pedestrian peripherals and not enough popcorn numbers to offset that. As mentioned many times, when Rondo returns it will be a huge help to his value.
Jordan Crawford (five points, 2-of-8 shooting, seven assists) has slowed down a bit lately, but as long as he’s not making headlines for the wrong reasons owners should remain encouraged. It seems like he has gotten the message about making the right plays and has top 75-85 value on the year to show for it.
KAWHI SO SERIOUS
The Spurs squared off with the Thunder in OKC and lost in a game that they easily could have won if the ball bounced differently in the cylinder on at least five close misses I counted late. But that’s what happens when you shoot 39.1 percent as a team, though they’ll take some positives away after Kawhi Leonard held Kevin Durant to 24 points on 23 shots and collectively the team held Russell Westbrook to 2-of-16 shooting.
Leonard came out smoking in the first half and then disappeared in the second half, finishing with 14 points on 6-of-18 shooting, 10 rebounds, four steals and a three. He had at least three shots rim out but he’s still nowhere near Gregg Popovich wants him heading into the playoffs. It’s going to be a long process for him this year – getting into rhythm offensively – and I’d say he’s about a quarter of the way there. As in, about a quarter of the time he makes the aggressive offensive play.
Will he be the Spurs’ No. 2/3 scoring option soon enough to live up to his ADP? It’s hard to say but I’m still down to find out. Upside is a precious commodity.
Tim Duncan continues to struggle from the field with just 5-of-14 hits from the field for 11 points, eight rebounds, one steal and two blocks. He hasn’t been immune from weird shooting issues throughout his career but this smells like a garden variety slump, and the associated hot streak that he’s about to go on when these numbers sort themselves out is going to be a fun ride. Plan accordingly.
Tiago Splitter posted low-end numbers befitting of a guy with an ankle injury, which also look a lot like his normal numbers bereft of any encumbrance, as he posted six points with nine rebounds and a steal in 25 minutes. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for tonight but as long as Boris Diaw (19 minutes, 10 points, three boards, two threes) is earning his keep there is nothing but late-round upside for Splitter. Diaw is shooting the ball nearly four more times per game than last year in just about the same minutes, but his borderline value in 12-14 team leagues is otherwise pretty stable.
Danny Green (four points, four rebounds, no threes, 26 minutes) is all over the board this season but he’s still a top 65-100 value on the year. Owners simply have to ride the ups and downs and trust in the numbers.
The Thunder lucked out and won despite a 2-of-16 shooting mark from Russell Westbrook (six points, eight assists), and Kevin Durant (24 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, six turnovers) was also guilty of bad shot selection in a 10-of-23 shooting night.
The story of the night, however, was Reggie Jackson (23 points, 10-of-14 FGs, four boards, two assists) and Jeremy Lamb (12 points, 5-of-7 FGs, 20 minutes) making their most recent case against giving away minutes to Derek Fisher (10 minutes, four fouls). Fisher didn’t play much and he is averaging just 15 minutes per game, but those are the minutes that are keeping Jackson from being a mid-round value. It’s pretty insane that we’re sitting here after years of squandering championship chances and still talking about why he isn’t prepping young players for more important work in the playoffs.
Serge Ibaka (17 points, 11 boards, one steal, five blocks, 38 minutes) is an example of what that looks like, as he is blossoming into a legitimate No. 3 option for the offense and criticisms about the breadth of his defensive awareness are fading away. Again, this could have all been jumpstarted two years ago, which highlights the ridiculousness of Coach of the Year voting. Ibaka has climbed up into top 14-28 value on the year, and over the past two weeks he has been the No. 3 and 9 fantasy play in 9- and 8-cat leagues, respectively. All of a sudden my mid-first round preseason grade doesn’t look so crazy.
The Wizards were a bit weary on the tail-end of a back-to-back, but they hung on in overtime and continued to be difference-makers in fantasy leagues. John Wall scored 19 points with six assists, five steals and (count ‘em) three treys. He’s locked into first round value and his 1.2 triples per game are a warning to the rest of the league that he has yet to find his ceiling.
Marcin Gortat stole the show with 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting to go with eight rebounds and two blocks. The top 40-50 play has no red flags and could easily continue along his current trajectory if he stays healthy. Martell Webster (18 points, four threes, five boards, seven assists) and Trevor Ariza (14 points, two threes, three assists, three steals) are going to be fun to own while Bradley Beal is out and probably beyond that, too.
Ariza didn’t make any headlines for his hammy, so owners can be cautiously optimistic on that front. Hopefully somebody out there was able to turn Nene for a profit, as he slowed down with just nine points and eight boards, but will be a near must-start player as long as he’s healthy. Watch out NBA, the Wizards are built to be a tough out if everybody makes it to the playoffs in one piece.
I mentioned that it wouldn’t be pretty if the Bucks went to an O.J. Mayo (21 points, 9-of-21 FGs, seven boards, three assists, two steals) driven offense while the team is in disarray, but that it might be the best short-term option they have going while they search for normalcy.
Brandon Knight (seven points, 2-of-12 FGs, four rebounds, five assists, one steal) was productive in the box, but he aggravated his hamstring and didn’t play in the overtime frame. It sure looks like he’s heading toward a lost season, and owners should take a look at Luke Ridnour (eight points, one assist, two threes, 23 minutes) for some low-end, short-term help.
I may be less concerned about Ersan Ilyasova (12 points, 6-of-7 FGs, six rebounds, four assists, one steal, five turnovers, 39 minutes) than the average guy. As long as he’s getting big minutes like this he should be fine. Khris Middleton drew another start and put up 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting with seven boards, two assists, one steal and one three in 33 minutes. I have a feeling that Larry Drew knows that Caron Butler (five points, one three, 20 minutes) is on a pitch count this season and he’d rather bank on Middleton’s legs in the starting unit, but that’s total guesswork.
Hearing Drew’s comments after the game about why he deployed Middleton was confusing at best, and taken at face value his thinking was matchup-driven, but I’m willing to take a chance on his current late-round value on a bad team with durability issues. Butler was always going to be a mess this season, albeit a mess with the backing of the team to go out there and be a No. 2/3 scorer. I think he can be a late-round value on the year but I wouldn’t pass up on an above-average free agent to hold on.
John Henson (five points, five boards, one block) played just 15 minutes and those are the breaks for a younger player under Drew, and with top 60-100 value on the year there’s no reason to panic. Just hang onto your lottery ticket and plug him in when you need help.