Were you not entertained?
Maybe moderately excited? Or did you randomly bellow noises that would make Toronto mayor Rob Ford blush and/or scamper off like a Pamplona bull?
I’m going to take the over on your pulse rate as Tremendous Tuesday started with a pair of rookies triple-doubling in the same game for the first time ever, which may or may not have overshadowed Arron Afflalo’s 43 points in that double-overtime thriller. The night then gingerly moved into the Isaiah Thomas show, and finally ended with the Splash Brothers completing a 27-point comeback and covering the -7.5 spread to boot.
I had to turn up the weird action movie music on Pandora just to chill out.
So let’s get weird and break down this eight-game night, which will be followed by another eight-game Big Wednesday, and yet another shot at a basketball lobotomy.
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Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $90,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Wednesday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $10,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Wednesday. Here's the FanDuel link.
THIS IS MY O-FACE
The two rookies in question were none other than Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams, and I didn’t have the time or inclination to follow up on whether or not this stat was right – but some fine sage on Twitter said it was the eighth time in history there were two triple-doubles in the same game – let alone by rookies. So we’re gonna believe them.
Arron Afflalo continued to hold a blow torch to opposing owners’ feet with a career-high 43 points and Glen Davis scored a career-high 33 points. Jason Maxiell even got into the act with Nikola Vucevic out scoring 12 points, though all of that wasn’t enough as the Magic lost by one point in double-overtime to Philly.
While these are lofty results by any explanation, it’s a reminder to fire up your guys against the Sixers, who are forced by personnel issues to play at a break-neck pace. Afflalo hit 14-of-27 shots (5-of-13 3PTs, 10-of-11 FTs) and also chipped in with six rebounds, five assists and two steals, as he continues to hover at the border of first and second round value on the year. His shooting at 48.8 percent from the field and 46.3 percent beyond the arc is going to come back to earth – that’s a given – but nothing else is out of place and owners can safely project top-25 value for the rest of the year within normal parameters (as long as he’s still in Orlando). Let that be your guide for trades and such.
Oladipo scored 26 points on 8-of-18 shooting (0-for-5 from deep, 10-of-12 from the line) with 10 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and just three turnovers in a massive 52 minutes. That was his O-Face. He is a top 20-40 value (8/9 cat) over the past two weeks with averages of 35.4 minutes, 16.6 points, 0.8 threes, 5.3 boards, 4.4 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, 44.9 percent field goal shooting, 84.8 free throw shooting and 3.5 turnovers per game. Guess what? He can improve on those numbers even if Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo stick around. He’s that good and Orlando’s system is that wide open for him.
Big Baby’s 33 points on 15-of-24 shooting was backed up by just three rebounds, three assists and two steals in his (gulp) 50 minutes. It’s not surprising that in a game dominated by quick leapers that he would struggle to clean the glass, more so than usual, but I’d like to take a moment and point out what a good job he has done with his conditioning and diet. He went from overweight guy with foot issues and a role issue to boot, and the fact that he can even play this much after so much time off is proof that he worked hard to reclaim his standing with the team. He’ll settle in as a late-round value when it’s all said and done, including the impact of Tobias Harris’ eventual return. It just won’t be pretty when there’s a full house.
As for Harris, I don’t know about you guys but hearing about a 7-10 day rehab was music to my ears, since it started to feel like surgery would have to be on the table for an issue that lingered so long. Continue to hold him as he fits in with what the Magic are trying to do on offense and they’ll make room for him to gain a foothold on at least a 20-minute role, with 25-30 and then more if/when guys get hurt or leave via trade.
Nikola Vucevic’s ankle issue sounds pretty minor and he’ll be questionable for Friday’s game, and with two days off the entire team will get a chance to recover after last night’s marathon. Andrew Nicholson (eight points, four boards, two steals, one block, 38 minutes) and Moe Harkless (zero points, eight minutes) missed their windows to produce and can go back to the scrap heap if you speculated on them in daily leagues or deeper formats. E’Twaun Moore (two points, 22 minutes) failed to launch again in the loss.
One of these days when the Sixers’ roster improves, they will slow down their pace of play and Michael Carter-Williams’ numbers will take an inevitable hit. It’s just not happening anytime this soon and probably not this season. Just keep this inevitability in mind when assessing keeper league value and the like. MCW posted another insane line of 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting with 12 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and the sole blemish of seven turnovers.
He’s a top 12-36 value (8/9 cat) over the past two weeks and more or less the same value on the season, a great indication of his staying power for the rest of the year. If anything, he’ll get better if he can improve his 40.8 percent field goal shooting and 67.1 percent shooting from the line. As I said earlier this week, I’m not ready to concede that his 3.1 steals and 0.7 blocks per game are major outliers. Once again, it’s the system. The only concern that owners should have here is the rookie wall, which is a very real concern considering how much they run and how much they use him.
Thaddeus Young continues to make up for lost time in another solid 25-point, 12-rebound night including 10-of-20 makes from the field, three treys, two steals and one block. Don’t look now but he’s a top 55-60 value on a per-game basis and there’s plenty of room for him to improve along the stat line.
James Anderson hasn’t been getting the love in the blurbs, but I just can’t quit him because of all the aforementioned system advantages. He’s an injury or two away from serious value if he can simply stay healthy. Anderson scored 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting (2-of-4 3PTs, 5-of-9 FTs) with two rebounds and that’s it in 29 minutes, and his demotion to the second unit is an issue of course. I’m not entirely sold on the idea that Hollis Thompson (10 points, 4-of-5 shooting, two threes, five boards, one block, 33 minutes) can hold onto enough minutes to significantly cut into Anderson’s minutes, and while he is just a late-round value on the season he’s a mid-level stash in standard formats.
Thompson has been a borderline value in 12-14 team formats over just about 25 minutes per game in the last week or so, and again I just don’t see him getting enough minutes and touches to make it all work. As a younger player he has the potential to surprise, though, so keep a close eye on him this week. Tony Wroten’s shooting percentages and overall raw play have been an anchor to his value in both fantasy and reality, and last night he logged just 13 minutes to shut the door on his fantasy value in the short-term. We’ll revisit if he gives us a reason to.
One of my go-to guys for analysis is Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated, and as usual he did a very good job breaking down the Pistons, and their issues with the bigger lineup on both sides of the floor. I’ll sum it up for you by saying their issues are solvable, even if there is no guarantee that guys like Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings will comply by adjusting their games to compensate for the various weaknesses.
Last night they got to attack a team in the Heat that will always struggle with bigger frontlines, pulling out the victory in South Beach behind a balanced and familiar box score. Andre Drummond fouled out after 23 minutes, otherwise his 10 points and 18 rebounds would have looked a lot more like his monster Sunday night.
Brandon Jennings hit just 5-of-9 shots (including two threes) with four rebounds, five assists, four steals and seven turnovers, as he continues to roll with mid-round value in 8-cat formats and high-end, late-round value in 9-cat formats. Unfortunately for owners there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room for his numbers to improve outside a potential six-point regression in free throws to his 81 percent career mark. His 8.2 assists per game are also a bit high on first glance, but perhaps he’s going to take his chess pieces and put them to work.
Josh Smith (15 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block) tried to shoot the Heat back into the game all night, connecting on just 7-of-21 shots while missing all four of his 3-point attempts. What else is new for the top 65-100 value in 8- and 9-cat formats. Greg Monroe posted 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting with six boards, five assists, one steal and two blocks in the plus-matchup, and Mr. Consistency Rodney Stuckey rolled along with 16 points, two boards, three assists and a perfect eight attempts from the foul line. Kyle Singler scored 18 points but we need to see it again (and again) to go near him in most formats.
DRINK DUFF (RESPONSIBLY)
Dwyane Wade took the night off and one could argue his teammates did as well, as the Heat shot just 43.9 percent from the field and didn’t get enough contributions behind LeBron James (23 points, full line), Chris Bosh (14 points, six boards) and Michael Beasley (23 points, 9-of-16 FGs, three treys, four boards, one steal) to deliver the home win.
I’ve been banging the Beasley drum all season with appropriate levels of caution but I think the time is now to take a chance on the guy. He’s a borderline value in 12-14 team formats in just 17.2 minutes per game, albeit with a 54.7 percent mark from the field that is 10 full points above his career 44.9 percent average. He’s also hitting an unsustainable 52.9 percent of his threes while shooting four points better than his 75.8 percent career mark from the line. The bottom line? He is forced by circumstance to take better shots, and it wouldn’t be surprising for him to split the difference in those shooting numbers.
It also wouldn’t be surprising to see him on the side of a milk carton at any point going forward, or more than likely return sporadic production that waxes and wanes with the health of the Big Three. The environment is the key here – in everything from on-the-court to off-the-court issues – but on the court let’s just say that life is good when defenses are bending toward LeBron James.
As I’ve said a million times now, the Heat could really use him as a bona fide third or fourth scorer in the playoffs, and during the meat of the year they could use him to take the weight off the Big Three’s shoulders. I’m going to make the add here for anything but a better mid-round upside stash or an extremely consistent late-round producer. The upside here caps out at a top-75 value in a 25-30 minute role (with an advantage in 8-cat leagues) so plan accordingly.
After a really bad stretch the Bucks still haven’t turned things around the win-loss column, and they lost in Boston last night, but at least they’re competing and gaining some stability in their rotation. Brandon Knight scored 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting with four rebounds, six assists and a steal in 31 minutes. He is a mid-round value over the last four games with averages of 14.8 points, 2.0 threes, 5.0 boards, 5.3 dimes, 1.3 steals and marks of 40.4 percent from the field and 81.8 percent from the line. Perhaps the most important development is that he’s providing point guard stats and not the shooting guard numbers from prior years. If he can hold onto his role and keep from driving off a cliff, I see top 60-80 numbers in his future with about a 30-rank swing downward in 9-cat leagues.
Other good news for Knight’s value is that O.J. Mayo (19 points, 6-of-12 FGs) appears to be getting comfortable while Knight is doing his thing. On the other hand it wouldn’t be a report without pointing out the injury concerns that have plagued him thus far. With the type of projection I just laid out there I think owners can find the space on their roster in all 12-team formats, with a tiebreaker going against him in 9-cat formats.
Khris Middleton continued to do his part to add to the stability equation, with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting (3-of-3 3PTs), four rebounds, three assists and one steal in 33 minutes. Caron Butler’s eventual return will definitely complicate matters, especially with the organizational platitudes being made by Larry Drew and others about Butler’s role on the team – but if they’re doing it right they move Butler around the second unit while preserving Middleton’s development with the starters.
Butler can command more touches with the reserves and the team won’t be juggling the rotation as he inevitably gets injured throughout the year. Middleton isn’t breaking down any doors with his late-round value in 25 mpg, but while he’s playing this consistently he should be owned in all 12-team formats for both his current production and hopes to play 30-35 mpg down the road.
Ersan Ilyasova owners got a nice four-game week to gamble with and he returned seven points with seven rebounds in 21 minutes to effectively make it a 3.5 game week (or more likely a three-game week). As long as he’s heading down the road to recovery it’s a win in my book. Like a handful of players that aren’t meeting expectations right now, all we need to do is look to last season for a reminder of why patience is important in fantasy leagues. Ilyasova went on a tear in the second half of the year and he could do exactly that this year.
It was tough luck for those that took a flier on Giannis Antetokounmpo last night, as the rookie played just 15 minutes with four points, three rebounds and a block. Doctors think he will grow to be a seven-footer and the upside here is about as good as it gets, though Caron Butler would need to exit stage left for him to have the stability owners need in standard formats this season.
STICK THIS IN YOUR CRAW
Jordan Crawford has definitely stuck in my craw as I identified him as the only ball-handler capable of running Boston’s offense while Rajon Rondo was out, put him at the top of the depth chart with a big workload before the year started, and then proceeded to drop him at the first sign of panic in a big money league because I had injury issues. I should have known better, and he kicked me yet again with 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting with four treys and five assists.
There were conflicting reports about whether or not Rondo was cleared to return to practice yesterday, with the latter report cleaning up the earlier report and providing the most insight when Rondo all-but admitted he would be seeing a doctor next week. I’d guess that’s the visit in which he gets cleared to return to practice and then from there we’ll be on Rondo watch, much to the chagrin of Crawford’s owners.
Jared Sullinger carried on with 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting, eight rebounds, two steals and one block, Brandon Bass went for 19 and six, and Jeff Green did not record a steal or block but did continue to be active in the box score with 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and three treys on a 6-of-9 shooting night. Sullinger is a top 60-80 value these days, Bass is a low-end plug-and-play, and Green needs Rondo to return to truly realize his value.