I’m rocking a big-time flu and Tuesday became a Big Tuesday with a 12-game slate so we’re going to jump right in it.
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THE FLIP SIDE
You’d think it’s fun having the gym to yourself every night, but Spencer Hawes (nine points, three boards, one three, one steal, two blocks), Thaddeus Young (zero points, four rebounds, one steal, one block, 0-for-7 FGs) and Evan Turner (four points, 2-of-13 FGs, one rebound, two assists) were all yanked early with the Cavs cruising and each player looking like ‘dead horses’ according to Brett Brown. This is the flipside of overutilization and owners shouldn’t look into it too much.
That left Michael Carter-Williams free to exploit the tender Cavs defense for 33 points, six rebounds and five assists, but even he wasn’t truly on his game as the league leader in steals went without a theft on the night. James Anderson disappeared for about a month but he showed some of the upside he flashed earlier in the year with 15 points, five boards, three steals and two blocks, but given the aforementioned benchings and the absence of Tony Wroten (flu) the needle doesn’t really move here.
QUITE A MILESTONE
Given how bad the Sixers are and the regularity that the opposition tees off on them, owners almost have to disregard any big performances like the one we saw out of C.J. Miles last night. Yes, Miles has done some things to improve his defense and thus his standing on the team but he was all by himself with regularity last night as he canned 10 threes en route to 34 points, five boards and two steals.
He’ll be a hot pickup but you won’t find me going near him in a 12-14 team league with Luol Deng on his way and plenty of guys in Cleveland to ensure that he doesn’t get anywhere near that utilization on a normal night. Jarrett Jack (back) didn’t play and Dion Waiters (12 points, four boards, eight assists, two steals) will likely eat before Miles does.
Anderson Varejao went for 18 and 14 with a block and Tristan Thompson put up 12 and 10 with one steal as everybody enjoyed the Philly bump. Kyrie Irving also returned from a somewhat mysterious knee injury to score 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting with eight assists, three blocks and two threes.
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.
TOUGH ROAD TO HOE
NBA players are professionals (well, most of them) and travel issues aren’t going to change the dynamic of a game in most cases, but both the Raptors and Pacers had really tough travel issues given the frosty weather we’re seeing and when you factor in a tough Pacers defense it’s certainly not time to panic on guys like Jonas Valanciunas (four points, 1-of-6 FGs, eight boards, one steal, one block, 32 minutes), Amir Johnson (zero points, 0-for-5 FGs, three boards, one steal, 21 minutes) or Terrence Ross (three points, 1-of-8 FGs, eight boards, three steals, one block).
Valanciunas and Johnson will get a Pistons team coming off a tough loss in their next game and that means they get to deal with Andre Drummond and Co., and it also means you may want to float buy low offers on the two bigs that sit in inboxes from now until after that game. As for Ross, the only thing wrong last night was the shooting and the ups and downs of a 3-point shooter will continue all year, and for measurement’s sakes he’s been a mid-round value over the past two weeks so stay the course.
Patrick Patterson got loose for 20 points off the bench, hitting 8-of-14 shots (including two threes) with six rebounds and one block in 32 minutes. The explosion is good enough to give him late-round value over the past two weeks but I’d have a hard time going there in a 12-team league knowing that he’s peaking and Johnson is bottoming, with corresponding regressions likely coming for both players. In a 14-team league feel free to give him a look, though.
The Pacers have been a bit confounding to a lot of people I follow despite the fact they’re still winning and it’s not like they haven’t been blowing teams out because they have been. Paul George has really slowed down lately and that’s part of what happens when a team starts to integrate a player like Danny Granger, who logged 32 minutes last night and put up 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting with six rebounds, one steal and one three.
George hit 4-of-12 shots for 11 points with just two rebounds, two assists and a steal and that sound you hear is a lot of reactionary owners panicking over the potential that Granger could actually knock George off of his stud status. And if you were to purely look at George’s numbers it would be easy to get scared, as the season’s No. 7 fantasy play has fallen to a third round level over the past month and a top 50-70 value over the last two weeks.
A few things are at play here and to cut to the chase they all point to buying low on George if it’s possible. Jumping in here, the Pacers don’t view Granger as garbage in the way fantasy nation does. They’ve also held him out for a very long time knowing that he could be a big piece for them in the playoffs. Right now is all about exploring what he can and cannot do for the team and generally assimilating him for future use.
George dealt with some foul trouble last night and Granger mopped up some of his minutes, and if you're looking into that aspect of things there is no way that Granger is getting the 32 ticks he got last night on a regular basis. Hell, it's hard to believe he'll stay healthy on a 20 mpg platform. That said, I do think there is some low-level value potential for Granger that is better suited for deeper leagues, but assuming he can stay healthy he’s going to settle back into a 25-minute role and eventually the team will be turned back over to George and Co. once they’ve gotten Danny back into a rhythm.
Just as George’s No. 7 overall value on the year hasn’t plummeted because of a bad few weeks or even a month, I’d be pretty shocked if he was knocked out of the first round by the end of the year. George Hill (11 points, two assists) and David West (four points, 12 boards, one steal, three blocks) are bigger candidates to take a hit, and even those guys should see their roles rebound a bit once the experimentation with Granger is returned to a normal state. Oddly enough, the guy everybody feared would take the hit, Lance Stephenson, is trucking right along with his top 80-100 value and had a near triple-double last night with 13 points, 10 boards, eight assists and one steal.
Feathers have been ruffled for owners of Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster at various points in the last month or so, and while they’ve shown flashes of being able to produce with one another (something I bought into) they’ve shown more signs of being a bit crowded on the wing lately. Beal is getting healthy now and had his first Beal-like game in a while with 21 points on 10-of-18 shooting with two rebounds, three assists and one three. He’s not all the way back but this is a big step in that direction.
Webster’s owners went into the panic room and have probably moved on in many cases after his last two weeks, and now it’s Trevor Ariza’s owners that are sweating at the temples after he had another awful four-point, three-rebound and two-assist night with no threes and just one steal in 24 minutes. Webster, for his part, scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting (including two threes) with three boards, one assist and one block in 31 minutes off the bench. With everybody’s production going down even with the group at less than full strength, I might actually key in on the health and minutes that Nene is seeing.
Nene played 15 minutes last night and he has averaged just 22 minutes per game in nine contests over the last month. It’s been pretty obvious that things flow much better when he’s on the court and it could be the case that the wing issues have less to do with the wings than most folks are thinking. As for Ariza’s slide, I also have a hard time reconciling his poor production in a small sample size compared to his season-long early round numbers and I have no problem calling this a buy low moment, though I’ll be watching the situation very closely over the next few games.
Gerald Henderson ended up taking 19 shots in last night’s loss to the Wizards, scoring 27 points with 10 field goal makes, seven boards, one three and a 6-of-8 mark from the foul line. Kemba Walker got his with 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting, three rebounds, eight assists and five turnovers, and that type of usage out of the backcourt meant that Al Jefferson would hit just 3-of-9 shots for six points with 10 rebounds, four assists and no steals or blocks on the night.
That utilization will likely flip-flop for Henderson and Jefferson, with the latter still holding steady at a top 50-70 value when he’s been on the floor this season. Henderson’s fantasy deficiencies are well-known and he’s still just a borderline value in 12-team leagues with only 1.5 combined steals, blocks and threes per game on the year. Josh McRoberts disappeared with just two points and three boards in 26 minutes, but he’ll probably put up a big popcorn line in a few games and get added only to be dropped when this happens again. Charlie Work is best used as a deep league asset.
I’ve been working to add Michael Kidd-Gilchrist knowing that anything short of a faceplant will result in big minutes when he returns in the next week or so, but to be clear I’m not considering him a must-add player in 12-team formats. There’s simply not enough history of him producing consistently to go there like that.
The operative question in New Orleans is going to be when Ryan Anderson will return from his herniated disc in his neck/back and the answer to that question is ‘nobody knows.’ It certainly won’t help that the Saints are still in the NFL playoffs and that leaves maybe 1-2 guys covering the New Orleans beat. The biggest beneficiary of his absence appears to be Al-Farouq Aminu, who put up six points, five boards, three steals and two blocks against the Heat. He’s worth owning in all 12-team formats until we get a timetable on Anderson.
There weren’t too many great lines in such a lopsided matchup outside of the expected one from Anthony Davis (22 points, 12 boards, three steals, two blocks). Eric Gordon posted a solid 15 points, two threes, three assists and one steal, and Tyreke Evans was barely serviceable with 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting with three rebounds, one assist, one three and no steals or blocks.
The question about which big man would step up, if any, is still a mystery as Jason Smith (eight points, four boards) appears to be the most reliable producer when healthy but therein lies the rub for him. Alexis Ajinca (four points, two boards, 14 minutes) looks like a guy that could put up versatile numbers if he could stay on the floor, but to date he hasn’t been able to do either of those things and is a desperation stash for very deep leagues at best right now. These two and Greg Stiemsma (zero points, five boards, 15 minutes) are operating in a three-way timeshare to be avoided right now.
NBA PLAYERS GET ALL THE CHICKS
The biggest news coming out of Miami was that LeBron kissed a granny in the stands. Mario Chalmers didn’t play due to his precautionary-level Achilles’ injury, so Norris Cole started and put up his customary nine points with two threes and not much else. There’s nothing to grab onto here with Cole.
Dwyane Wade nearly triple-doubled with 22 points, eight boards and eight assists, LeBron scored 32 points with three treys and a mild line by his standards, Chris Bosh went for 12 and nine with a three and no steals or blocks, and Chris Anderson cawed to the tune of 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting with seven boards, one steal and one block. Ray Allen scored 11 points with two threes as a late-round value but more importantly he might make a sequel to He Got Game, where I hope he can build on lines like ‘put a fork in him.’
SO BAD IT’S GREAT
Sending the Pistons to New York to play the Knicks is a little like watching pro wrestling. It’s so bad that it’s good and seeing all the chatter about Josh Smith’s game-tying attempt at the end of regulation I was really expecting the worst when I sat down to watch – and the man did not disappoint. It was the type of shot that one takes when they haven’t picked up a ball in a year and it feels like a boulder. Smoove finished with a very solid 21 points on 6-of-14 shooting (8-of-9 FTs), 12 boards, five assists, three steals, two blocks and one three, and it wouldn’t be a Smoove line without the eight turnovers to give owners heartburn.
We also had Brandon Jennings hitting just 2-of-12 shots for five points, three boards, five assists, two steals and one three. He tweeted something after the game about being a pass-first point guard nowadays, and there was some debate about whether or not he was complaining or explaining, and the bottom line is that sticking him with Smith and Greg Monroe was just a recipe for disaster without solid organizational leadership in place to control the bad shots. Feel free to buy low on Jennings as he’s definitely at a low point in his stat graph.
Raymond Felton (12 points, six assists) returned to action and Beno Udrih left the game with a knee injury and that pretty much cleans up the point guard position in New York for owners. Iman Shumpert came back to earth with five points on 2-of-8 shooting, six boards, five assists and two steals, and I actually view that as a good game for him since his activity numbers didn’t hit the ocean floor. I’d probably hang on for at least another game to see where this goes as the Knicks are paper thin. Besides, you gotta own at least one player from this team to make sure you get to see the comedy every night.
If it’s not Shumpert I’d personally love to own J.R. Smith for comedic reasons, though on a serious note he simply can’t continue to hit just 2-of-6 shots for six points and not much else with the team currently constructed as it is. He could get injured or do a bunch of stupid things to not produce, but a healthy and somewhat level-headed Smith simply has to start taking and making more shots, making him worth holding in standard formats. He also tried to untie somebody’s shoe after the league warned him for the last shoelace incident. You can’t make this stuff up and it reminds me of a high school teammate that used to go for a turtle tap to the man section when rebounding free throws.
Andrea Bargnani showed why he is a hold despite the rocky outings with 13 and 11 with a three and two steals, and Kenyon Martin is showing some desperation spot-start appeal with six points, seven boards, five assists, one steal and two blocks in 30 minutes. If Carmelo Anthony (34 points, 13-of-24 FGs) doesn’t break his elbow hoisting up shots or while trying to elbow his way onto a flight out of town I’d be shocked.