It was the busiest four-game night I can recall in a while and who knows maybe it was all the Lakers’ fault, as you’ll be able to see in the recap to end all recaps. There were also bullets to be dodged with Kevin Love and Lance Stephenson, plenty of juicy fantasy nuggets, and we’ll touch on 12 games tonight for Big Wednesday.
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Fresh off a spanking by the Kings and a sub-30 percent shooting night, it wasn’t surprising to see the Bulls come out with fire during last night’s win in Phoenix. Joakim Noah, who is among the league’s best personalities, didn’t end up getting suspended for his half-baked tirade in that game, and as expected he ran from baseline to baseline like his job was on the line. He finished with 14 points, 14 boards, one steal and one block, and teammate Jimmy Butler also brought the thump on defense while chipping in 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting (7-of-8 FTs), four rebounds, four assists, four steals and a three.
Butler is among the most interesting fantasy players in the league right now, with nothing standing in-between him and early round value except for his shot. A top 65-75 play over his last 15 games, he’s hitting just 33.9 percent of his shots on a healthy 12.2 attempts in that span. Not a natural shooter, he’s being asked to do a lot for the offensively challenged Bulls these days and the end result is a lot of bricks. He hit 46.7 percent of his shots last season on 6.2 attempts per game and 26 minutes per contest, and out of his 20 starts last year he spent half of his time at shooting guard and the other half at small forward. In the starts at small forward he shot nearly 10 points better (50.0) than his starts at shooting guard (40.8).
Owners can see how the trend has developed but the real takeaway is that he’s simply not going to shoot 33.9 percent going forward, and the corresponding hot streak will most certainly make him an early round value and the only other question would be how high can he go. If you punt field goal percentage he carries a top 30-40 value in that measurement, and if he can somehow return to his old, efficient game then owners could be looking at a guy with a top-25 ceiling.
Taj Gibson has had a slow week or so and last night he had just eight points and six rebounds but he did notch one steal and two blocks. Owners shouldn’t panic here as his two-week split looks a lot better, with mid-round value and just Carlos Boozer and Noah standing between him and big minutes. Boozer bounced back from a slow night in Sac with 19 points on 9-of-21 shooting, 12 boards, one steal and one block, and he’s been a tough guy to rely on over the last month with just late round value in standard 12-team, 8-cat leagues and low-end 14-team value in 9-cat leagues. Outside of his 15.0 points and 8.6 boards per game in that span, he’s a fantasy wasteland.
Wondering how D.J. Augustin came out of nowhere and started dropping serious bombs in fantasy leagues? It’s actually pretty simple to see with a month or so under his belt. He’s the Bulls’ best offensive player and it may not be close. He dropped in 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting with three treys, three boards, two assists, one steal and a perfect five free throws in 28 minutes off the bench. Kirk Hinrich started again and logged 25 minutes with just eight points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Expect this type of deployment going forward and though I’m fading Augustin’s top-40 value over the last month because he’s shooting a bit over his head, the shape of his statistics are in line with career norms. Don’t expect him to fall below the middle rounds unless he suffers some sort of injury, and unless the Bulls pick up another offensive player you can expect them to ride Augustin all year long.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $120,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Wednesday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $13,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Wednesday. Here's the FanDuel link.
ONE MAN SHOW
The Suns looked sort of lethargic last night and one has to wonder if they’re going to turn back into pumpkins at some point, as depth and consistency issues would be the first things I worry about when projecting their second half of the season. Goran Dragic (24 points, 9-of-15 FGs, two threes, seven boards) has been great but they rely so much on him on virtually every trip down the court, and when guys like Gerald Green (2-of-13 FGs), P.J. Tucker (2-of-6 FGs) and Markieff Morris (4-of-13 FGs) can’t make a shot things really bog down. I’m not saying they should be summarily written off, but they could really use another steady influence on offense so the highs and lows don’t ruin their flow.
Morris was able to add 12 points, one three, five boards, two steals and two blocks to his stat line, and while his 36.4 percent on 11.0 attempts per game over the last four contests crush his value in the short-term, the two-week split is much kinder as he’s hitting 47.1 percent of his shots over his last eight games and returning top 60-65 value. And that’s pretty much the story of his season, but there’s enough upside for him to be owned in most if not all formats right now.
Tucker finished with five points, nine boards and a three as he continues to be a low-end value in 12-team formats, and nobody should be worrying about Green as he goes up and down the ladder throughout the rest of the season. Channing Frye got active with 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting (2-of-11 3PTs), eight boards, one steal and two blocks, and he’s in the same boat as Green.
Miles Plumlee owners can breathe a small sigh of relief after Alex Len registered his first DNP in 10 games after playing 22 minutes last Wednesday. Len actually outplayed Plumlee in that game but his numbers have steadily dropped, and while it could be the case that the opposing teams have improved it’s also possible that his ankle is acting up. Either way, Plumlee got back to work with eight points, 10 rebounds and three steals in a tough matchup against Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.
The Bobcats caught the Warriors while they are slumping hard and along with their own solid play they smacked the Dubs around in Oakland last night. Particularly jarring was the way Al Jefferson (30 points, 12-of-22 FGs, 13 boards, two steals) dominated Andrew Bogut, who profiles as well as anybody defending the shifty big man. Jefferson has enjoyed being the focal point with Kemba Walker out, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down even with Kemba back, though his value has dipped over the last two weeks because of some harsh 62.5 percent shooting from the line on 5.7 attempts per game over the last seven contests.
Two weeks ago I mentioned I wasn’t really worried about him besting my preseason rankings but some worry has crept in as he has pulled himself up to a top 20-40 value when on the floor and a top 40-50 value cumulatively, which is where I ranked him more or less. If he can stay in his current physical condition he’ll probably get me, but therein lays the rub.
Kemba was limping toward the end of the game and it looked like he might have tweaked his ankle in his return game, but the team said it was cramping and we’ll be watching him closely going forward. For now owners can be fairly optimistic that he won’t miss time with the Bobcats’ next game being on Saturday. Walker hit 3-of-11 shots for seven points, six rebounds, seven assists, a steal and three over 33 minutes in what can certainly be called a successful return game, but he needs to steal some of Jefferson’s thunder to try and catch up to his ADP. He’s currently a top 45-55 play on the year. Gerald Henderson had a solid night with 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists and a steal, but it’s going to take a prolonged show of productivity to move him off of his 14-team valuation.
The Warriors are a mess and I’ll probably approach the Mark Jackson situation the same way I have all season, with an open mind for the positive he brings in terms of attitude and spunk but extreme skepticism that he can get beyond the overconfidence and get a handle on his blind spots. And they’re not just his blind spots, they’re organizational blind spots, but whoever’s blind spots they are it’s all getting exposed at once right now as the Warriors are in the midst of a standing eight-count.
Klay Thompson (5-of-13 FGs, 12 points, two threes, one steal, one block) has become easy to defend in his month-long slump and along with Andre Iguodala (six points, four rebounds, zero assists) they simply stand around the perimeter and watch Stephen Curry operate. Iguodala isn’t a part of the game plan right now, and if it’s because his injury is holding him back then he shouldn’t be on the floor, a scenario that has been a problem in the past for the Warriors. Curry (17 points, 11 assists, 8-of-18 FGs) is being asked to do way too much and that comes back to the lack of imagination by Jackson on offense, and if Iguodala doesn’t pan out it comes back to the front office as he’s the only other backcourt player other than pure backup Jordan Crawford (16 minutes) that can turn a corner on the perimeter.
The organization’s stubborn insistence that David Lee is an All Star has kept them from introducing a much-needed defensive element into the lineup in Draymond Green (12 minutes), even when Lee isn’t at 100 percent as it seemed last night when he managed just eight points and three rebounds in 23 minutes. Harrison Barnes (eight points, 2-of-7 FGS, seven boards, 23 minutes) has effectively been cooled after tearing up the playoffs and all summer activities, which isn't surprising given a wobbly role that is exasperated by the fact the team is playing Thompson and Lee at all costs.
Andrew Bogut has been very good this year and he had another solid statistical night with six points, 15 rebounds and a steal, but he goes down and the whole thing goes down. Organizations mirror their leaders, and right now the Warriors have a lot of talent and promise but they have yet to get honest with themselves. It starts with Joe Lacob and it starts with Jackson, a pair of guys that really, really like what they’re doing in Oakland. They have 32 games to adjust the mirrors and avoid a playoff wreck.