RICKY TICKY TRIPLE-DOUBLE
The Wolves are going to have to rattle off a bunch of wins as they’re still 5.5 games out of the No. 8 slot in the West after last night’s overtime victory in Dallas. Kevin Love (35 points, eight boards, three assists, one block, two threes, 11-of-14 FTs) and Dirk Nowitzki went at it late and Love brought home the bacon last night. He split a double-team in the post and put the Wolves ahead for good on one end, and then successfully defended Dirk’s game-winning attempt on the other end. Love was joined in the hot column by Ricky Rubio, who posted his third career triple-double with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, four steals, one block and 6-of-7 makes from the stripe in 49 minutes. For all of the complaints that Rubio seems to garner, he’s within striking distance of his late-second, early-third round ADP and getting hot at the right time could push him over the top.
Gorgui Dieng double-doubled for the second straight time in replacement duty for Nikola Pekovic (ankle), scoring 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting with 11 rebounds, one steal and one block in 25 minutes. Pek traveled with the team but has already been ruled out of tonight’s game against the Rockets, and it’s anybody’s guess when he’ll return to action after that.
The Wolves embark on a trio of four-game weeks starting on Monday and they’re going to have to throw Pekovic into the fire at some point if they are entertaining any thoughts of the playoffs, which is a pretty big tell that his history of ankle injuries will be a factor down the stretch. His top-75 value when on the court and the favorable schedule are more than enough reason for owners to see this out unless their hands are forced.
As for Dieng, there isn’t much if any history to look back on in order to gauge his potential, but common sense suggests he has a decent shot at eight and eight with 2.0 combined steals and blocks if he’s getting 25 minutes in this starter’s role. The question is whether or not he’ll be matchup proof, get yanked for rookie-level mistakes, or if Pek will come back and ruin him in short order. Make your desperation big man add accordingly.
Dante Cunningham (three points, 18 minutes, one block) has been ruined by Rick Adelman’s decision to play big with Dieng and also because Robbie Hummel (six points, four boards, two threes, 21 minutes) has been elevated into an every-night rotation role as a stretch forward. Hummel is the player to own between he and Cunningham, and both guys are worth a glance in deep leagues given the Wolves’ favorable schedule. You can add J.J. Barea to that list if you’re punting field goal percentage, and last night the little man got hot with 15 points, five boards, four assists, two threes and a steal in 19 minutes off the bench.
Corey Brewer played 48 minutes and scored 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting with one three, four rebounds and a steal. He’s been rolling along at a late-round value with a clear advantage in 9-cat leagues, and he’s a must-start player next week in those formats and a serviceable play in 8-cat counterparts.
DEFENSELESS IN DALLAS
The Mavs looked a lot better about a month ago and now they are the team that the Suns are most likely to replace if they can climb back into the top-8 in the West. They simply don’t have enough defense and they need most of their offensive weapons clicking at the same time to accommodate for that. Dirk Nowitzki (27 points, 11-of-27 FGs, 0-for-7 3PTs, three rebounds) had an off-night from deep and on the glass, and Monta Ellis got red hot late to finish with 22 points, four treys, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Ellis’ owners are probably relieved this morning after a terrible month of very late-round production with shooting the primary problem.
Shawn Marion showed up with 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting, 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals, and that couldn’t have come at a better time as he was coming off his own terrible week and now has two solid games under his belt. The Mavs have a middle-of-the-road 3-4-3 schedule but they are sprinting through the finish line as a team and that means Marion should be owned in most 12-team formats.
Samuel Dalembert scored seven points with 14 rebounds, one steal and three blocks in just 22 minutes, and Rick Carlisle didn’t play him at all during the fourth quarter or in overtime, which pretty much sums his situation up. Make him do something again before batting an eye. Vince Carter bounced back as expected, hitting 4-of-7 shots (including three treys) for 14 points, five boards, three assists, one steal and one block. If he was dropped he’s a mid-level free agent in 12-team formats.
Devin Harris also continued to exceed expectations with 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting (no threes), four rebounds, four assists, two steals and a perfect five freebies in 32 minutes off the bench. He now has a solid two weeks of late-round value with averages of 10.8 points, 1.3 treys, 2.3 boards, 3.5 assists, and 1.2 steals while hitting 53.8 percent from the field and 75 percent from the line on 3.3 attempts per contest. He’s being trusted for heavy usage when on the floor and is putting up those numbers in just 18.9 mpg in that span, so any increase in his role could provide some mid-round upside. With injury risks and a middling schedule factored in, I’d consider him a low-level add in 12-team standard leagues but an add-candidate, nonetheless.
The Pistons’ mess this season has not been surprising in the least and last night’s ejection of Josh Smith for not knowing when to shut up was probably the last straw for folks near the team, at least for this year. Their playoff chances were already fading but Smith’s ejection keyed a Nuggets’ turnaround and the loss moved Detroit to 6.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the Leastern Conference. Brandon Jennings struggled with just seven points and five assists in 30 minutes and his idiosyncrasies have their fingerprints all over the season too, but he wasn’t happy with the situation in the locker room after the game. Smith exited before reporters were allowed in for postgame questions.
Andre Drummond missed the game with his neck injury and he’s firmly in the questionable department for Friday’s game against the hungry Suns. Add it all up and it’s a recipe for early vacations and shutdowns, which may not be the worst thing for guys like Smith and Greg Monroe (22 points, five boards, three assists, four steals, one block, 9-of-12 FGs) if it’s Drummond that gets the kid gloves going forward. They’ll get to play their natural positions and would get a sizeable bump in fantasy value, though Smith’s head has to be in a strange place as the big money signee most emblematic of the team’s problems.
For however long Drummond is out, everybody will simply slide over a spot and that means guys like Rodney Stuckey (18 points, two steals, 37 minutes) and Will Bynum (12 points, 10 assists, one three, 22 minutes) will get a little breathing room. They’re still profiling as deep league values at best on a per-game basis because of their various fantasy deficiencies, but with a 4-4-4 schedule on the slate after this week they are worth a hard look in 12-team formats even if Drummond returns.
Kyle Singler left during the game due to a jammed or sprained right (shooting) thumb but returned in the fourth quarter and finished with 13 points, nine boards, one block and three treys in 26 minutes. He’s a must-own player most likely for the rest of the year unless this injury somehow worsened overnight.
With the various absences and because the Nuggets are terrible defensively and in general, there were appearances by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (nine points, 10 boards, two steals, one three, 2-of-11 FGs, 28 minutes) and Charlie Villanueva (13 points, four boards, three treys, 17 minutes). One look at their game logs will show why they need to back up those lines a few more times before owners give them attention in most formats.
LAST SECOND LAWSON
As mentioned Ty Lawson (sinus infection) was a late-add to the starting lineup and then was scratched just minutes before tip-off last night, and if you were able to shuffle Aaron Brooks into your lineup then you get a tip of the cap. Brooks went nuts for 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting with one three, six boards, a career-high 17 assists and a 6-of-7 mark from the line for good measure in his 47-minute start. Lawson will probably return for the next one so the celebration will be short-lived for Brooks, and he won’t get a Pistons team mailing it in every night. I don’t think the needle moves much if at all for Brooks as a deep league value at best.
Randy Foye’s turnaround is complete after backing up his bounce-back game the last time out with 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting, five treys, five boards, five assists and three steals in 44 minutes. As mentioned in various places around here, he carried a ton of load over the last couple of months and when Lawson returned Foye was finally able to rest a handful of nicks and dings. Especially with Wilson Chandler questionable for Friday due to the injection he received for his long-term hip injury, and the shutdown concerns surrounding something like that, Foye is poised to be a solid contributor for the rest of the year.
Kenneth Faried kept things moving with 15 points, eight boards, one steal and one block, and Brian Shaw answered honestly before the game saying the trade deadline was really weighing on Faried’s mind while causing his poor performance. That doesn’t exactly reflect well on anybody, but at least these guys figured it out eventually. Timofey Mozgov went for 11 and nine in 18 minutes but he’s still just a 14-16 team desperation play at center, and J.J. Hickson went for 11 and 11 with a block in his 26 minutes. That’s not paying the bills for owners in standard leagues due to his well-chronicled fantasy deficiencies.
OLD FOLKS IN ORLANDO
We might have seen the beginning of the shutdown process start for Jameer Nelson (knee) in last night’s loss to the Suns. The Magic’s fantasy situation has been pretty clear cut for a while now, but if and when Nelson calls it a year it’s going to be much easier to swallow the team’s remaining 3-3-3 schedule in the fantasy playoffs.
Guys like Victor Oladipo (14 points, 6-of-18 FGs, one three, three boards, nine assists, two steals, six turnovers, 37 minutes) and Tobias Harris (23 points, 7-of-13 FGs, one three, nine boards, three assists, 8-of-11 FTs, 32 minutes) will be all-but guaranteed massive workloads. Arron Afflalo, though a shutdown risk to some degree, will also have a wide open window to return to dominating form. Last night’s 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting (3-of-5 3PTs, 5-of-5 FTs) three rebounds and one assist was a bit lacking in versatility, but it stopped the bleeding for Afflalo and gave hope that he can turn the corner on the ankle injury that has been sapping his effectiveness.
Kyle O’Quinn (six points, 11 boards, four assists, two steals, one block, 2-of-9 FGs, 32 minutes) was automatic per usual, and Nikola Vucevic (eight points, three boards, nine minutes) looked good before getting tossed for squabbling with the refs and throwing the ball at Channing Frye’s foot. If there’s any silver lining it’s that Vucevic didn’t have to push his recovering ankle injury too much. If you’re in a deeper league looking for a deep sleeper of the bunch, Andrew Nicholson scored nine points with four rebounds and one triple in 14 minutes off the bench. If Nelson takes a bow and Afflalo ends up joining him in a shutdown, then he’ll be the guy that picks up the slack as everybody slides down a spot.
Despite his bad game last night, Harkless (one point, two rebounds, one steal, one block, 32 minutes) is still profiling like a late-round value with a 2-3 round advantage in 9-cat formats. The trio of three-game weeks coming up really do put pressure on him to perform above his baselines in 12-team formats, but on the other side it’s totally feasible that the Magic try to take this time to focus on his development.
FIGHTING IN PHOENIX
As we’ve talked about here the Suns played over their heads for the first half of the season and the subsequent fall has made them the odd-team out in the West – but they’re still fighting and their win against the Magic brought them to within 1.5 games within the No. 8 seed. Fantasy-wise there wasn’t too much to report as everybody played within expectations. Goran Dragic scored 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting with two threes, one board, six assists and two steals, though he’s probably on empty after carrying so much load lately. Don’t be surprised if his numbers end up losing just a small amount of shine due to that and Eric Bledsoe’s return.
Bledsoe is still knocking off the rust and he hit just 3-of-11 shots (including a three) for seven points, seven boards, six assists and three steals in just 24 minutes. Obviously, the best has yet to come and he’ll get another four-game week next week to help augment the recovery process. Miles Plumlee played well in limited minutes with 10 points, nine boards and two blocks, which is just the most recent incremental step toward his previous form. He’s not there, but he’s worth a look if you need a big man in 12-14 team leagues.
Channing Frye has been in drop discussions around here but he showed his staying power with 12 points, five boards, three blocks and two treys in just 22 minutes. You’ve gotta be looking at a mid-level free agent or better to make the move and I’d have a hard time picking this game as the impetus to move on. Markieff Morris had a slow night with 12 points, five boards and one steal but he has weathered some bad games and has shown a late-round floor with plenty of upside. He’s in the same exact boat as Frye from a decision-making standpoint.
Gerald Green hit four treys and that certainly pays the bills for owners, but the new reality of his situation is evident as he logged just 25 minutes en route to 14 points, one steal and that’s just about it. He’ll be worth owning but his value has definitely taken a significant hit. Now it will be all about riding the waves to a late-round floor with some mid-round upside.