OUT OF GAS
The Warriors ran out of gas last night against a Nets team that now has the longest winning streak in the NBA at four games. It’s a sign of a good team that they’re winning with what I’ve thought is mostly ugly play by their standards, and especially in the case of guys like Andre Iguodala (three points, 1-of-5 FGs, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, 30 minutes) it will be good to get back home and get some rest. He has still been a top-90 value over the past two weeks despite some truly slow lines, with averages of 1.4 threes, 5.0 boards, 4.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 53.7 percent field goal shooting to offset his 7.8 points per game.
The Warriors desperately need him to get back to handling the ball while also looking for his shot, because Stephen Curry is carrying way too much load for this team when we’re only in January. In 9-cat leagues where his 5.9 turnovers per game over the last eight contests are simply unacceptable, he’s also shooting 40.8 percent over that span for a very un-Curry-like top-35 valuation. I don’t know if it’s possible to buy low in those formats, but sell your first newborn child to do it if you can (just not LeBron or KD).
Klay Thompson hit four triples for 14 points, five boards and three assists, Andrew Bogut went for 10 and nine with a steal and two blocks, David Lee kept his foot on the gas with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting, seven boards, three assists, one steal and one block, and Harrison Barnes remained awful with six points, two threes and that’s it.
RIGHTING THE SHIP
Don’t look now but the Nets have won four in a row with Deron Williams out indefinitely with ankle issues and there was even a Kevin Garnett sighting last night. The team is still a mess for fantasy purposes, but if any team would profile to be one that wakes up in January or February it would be the old-ass Nets.
Shaun Livingston stepped in for Williams and scored 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting with four rebounds, four steals, one block and just one assist, and over his last four games he has been a solid late-round value with averages of 9.0 points, 4.3 boards, 2.8 assists, 2.3 steals and 0.8 blocks in 34.3 minutes. Those defensive numbers are high, but the rest of his numbers are low enough to where he could theoretically offset the likely regression in his defensive stats. It’s hard to say how long Williams will be out, but one has to think they’re tired of watching him constantly hurt himself. Livingston isn’t a must-add player as a result, but he’s worth a solid short-term look in 12-team formats.
Garnett scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting with five boards, four steals and one block in his 23 minutes, which is one of his best lines of the year and I’d have to be in a 20-team league to take a chance here until he proves himself beyond that.
Joe Johnson is going to be relied upon for his scoring whenever the Nets are without Williams, but even with 27 points, two threes and 9-of-11 free throws he just doesn’t do enough elsewhere as evidenced by his three boards, two assists and one steal to go with that. He’s just a 14-team value in his last four games and if there is any silver lining for his value it’s that he is a late-round value on the year, and the key to his value is always going to be having Williams off the floor. He should be owned in all 12-team formats at least until D-Will returns.
Paul Pierce has been a top 60-85 play over his last 15 games so owners can be annoyed by his 11 points, five boards and one assist last night but they should hang on in all formats. Perhaps Andrei Kirilenko (eight points, six boards, two assists, one steal, 18 minutes) will be a thorn in his side, but my sense is that the Nets need Pierce to be a productive everyday player for them to go anywhere. If you’re wondering about Kirilenko the next 1-3 weeks are going to be his pickup zone, and while I’m nowhere near sold on his ability to stay on the floor I’m equally not sold on the idea that he’s washed up. Nowhere near a must-pickup, I’d call him a low-level bordering on mid-level speculative add in 12-14 team standards right now.
Andray Blatche got back on track with 17 points, five boards, three assists and a steal, and I can’t see passing him up in 12-team formats and I’d probably take a chance on him in 10-teamers, too. Mirza Teletovic (eight points, 10 boards, two threes) has been all over the place, both up and down on any given night, but Blatche has already produced late-round value in limited minutes this season and it’s hard to see him losing value as the result of Brook Lopez’s season-ending injury.
Even with the ups and downs Teletovic has must-own value in standard leagues over the last two weeks, and with absolutely no conscience when it comes to shooting the ball I’d consider him a mid-level pickup in 12-teamers. He’s got plenty of risk but nice upside and the ability to make things happen in limited minutes. That may just work.
A broken-down Lakers team playing in Houston with the Rockets trying to get Dwight Howard a revenge win is a recipe for an easy loss and that’s what happened to L.A. last night. Kendall Marshall hit just 2-of-13 shots for five points, five boards, one three, eight assists, six turnovers and one assist, and folks proclaiming that he is anything but what we think he is might have gotten overexcited on Day 1. Still, what he is returns top 50-90 value in 8- and 9-cat leagues respectively over the last two weeks. The only thing owners have to watch out for here is a total faceplant, and if I had to guess that’s not going to happen but he’ll have to keep this type of outing to a minimum.
Jodie Meeks is Mr. Consistent now for the Lakers and put up another 21-point night with two treys, 9-of-10 free throws, three boards, two assists and two steals on 5-of-13 shooting. He’s an early round value with no signs of slowing down until the reinforcements arrive. Pau Gasol scored 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting with 12 boards, three assists and two blocks and he has been old Pau over the last two weeks with solid second round value to go with early round value over the last month. Life without Kobe is pretty good for him right now.
Wesley Johnson has been a recommended add/hold in this space and he had another solid night despite hitting just 4-of-13 shots, with 10 points, two threes, four boards, three assists and three steals in his 31 minutes. He has late round value on the year and late round value over the last week, and I like his chances to maintain that production over the next couple of weeks while the Lakers are thin.
Nick Young got back on track following a small dip due to his back injury, scoring 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting with two threes, six boards and one assist. He’s another late-round value guy for the Lakers, and he’s well worth a pickup in 12-team leagues if he has been dropped.
Jordan Hill showed signs of life with 10 points, eight boards and a block in 22 minutes off the bench, and perhaps it’s a sign that his health is increasing or maybe Mike D’Antoni is simply ready to play him more again. With some mid-round upside in a best-case scenario, he’s a low-to-mid level 12-team add with a good amount of risk. Robert Sacre started but lasted just 14 minutes before being yanked, providing just two blocks and three boards on the night. As mentioned yesterday I like him as a speculative add in deeper leagues for those desperate at center with the hope he can luck into a regular role if Pau gets traded.
Ryan Kelly didn’t improve on a mildly interesting outing on Tuesday, with just two points and one rebound in 13 minutes. He’s not ready for fantasy leagues just yet and if he’s going to make noise I’d guess it happens in the last month of the season.
With Chandler Parsons (knee) out last night it quickly became a James Harden night for the Rockets, and he put up 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting with two threes, 8-of-11 free throws, four boards, four assists and five steals. With relatively disappointing top 8-12 value on the season (8/9 cat) on a per-game basis, this might be a good time to float an unconventional buy low offer to his owner for a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge, who is tearing it up but has a fantasy game that doesn’t translate to the upside that Harden has.
Dwight Howard went for 20 and 13 with four steals and a block against his old team, but hit just 10-of-24 free throws as the Lakers intentionally fouled him all night. Terrence Jones went for 15 and 13 but I’d rather see him with lower popcorn numbers rather than goose-eggs across the peripheral categories as was the case last night. Slowly but surely he is living up to some degree of the hype, with top 50-70 value in 9- and 8-cat leagues respectively over the past two weeks.
There were no winners in Parsons’ stead, as starter Ronnie Brewer was predictably impotent in his 23 minutes with just two rebounds and a steal, Francisco Garcia flamed out with three points and a steal in 22 minutes, Omri Casspi was mostly pedestrian with nine points, six boards and four assists and that’s it, and Aaron Brooks scored nine points with three triples in 15 minutes.
I wrote yesterday about how Nene’s (11 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block) low minute totals might have been affecting the wing group, as the team plays much better with him in the lineup, and at least one wing got his groove back in Trevor Ariza. Ariza scored 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting with two threes, 10 boards and two assists to bust out of a somewhat worrying slump in last night’s road win over the Pelicans. Bradley Beal turned in a solid 17-point, four-assist performance with three treys, but Martell Webster still trolled the ocean floor with just six points, two boards and two threes in 21 minutes.
Webster has actually produced late-round value in 9-cat leagues over the last four games with averages of 9.8 points, 1.8 treys, 3.3 boards, and just 0.5 turnovers per game, but when you expand the sample to the last two weeks or month he’s been a deep league guy and owners in standard leagues will want to make him show a lot more before making a pickup. Nene has fallen off the map over the last few weeks but this could be a sign that he’s ready to get going again and owners should give him a hard look. He’s a late-round value on the year and has typically been productive when on the floor.
THE FULL MONTY
Monty Williams is a bit of a lightning rod in New Orleans right now and he even spoke out against the fans, calling on them to support the team instead of what I’m guessing is a bunch of people yelling at him about his rotations.
Offensively-minded Brian Roberts (11 points, two threes, two boards, three assists, one steal, 19 minutes) was the target of fans’ ire last night, as he was brought in to replace slumping Jrue Holiday (eight points, three boards, three assists, three steals, 29 minutes) in the fourth quarter. The Pellies lost to the Wizards at home and that decision will likely be a source of consternation among fans, but in general fantasy owners of New Orleans players should remain mostly calm when any of the established guys go through slumps.
Tyreke Evans and his three points, five assists, and two steals on 0-for-5 field goal shooting fits in that category, and to a lesser degree so does Al-Farouq Aminu (four points, five boards, three blocks). Until Williams can settle on a rotation and approach, consistency will be a team-wide issue but there simply aren’t enough able bodies to knock these guys off their season-long valuations. If you want to ditch Aminu after a slow week I wouldn’t laugh you out of the room, but he has had late-round value over the past two weeks and 14-team value in his last four games.
Eric Gordon scored 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and one three, and without any major injury episodes this season that’s a great line to sell the notorious injury-risk with.