The Hawks simply don’t have the firepower to compete unless all of their guys are on-point. An 0-for-5 start by Jeff Teague against defensively challenged Ricky Rubio was all that was needed to tip them over last night. Teague finished with just one rebound, six assists and a steal in 19 minutes before being benched in a lopsided loss to the Wolves. This has been the book on Teague for the entire season – disappearing without explanation – and to a large degree the book on his entire career. He has all of the tools but for whatever reason it hasn’t come together. With a pair of four-game weeks still on the slate he still looks great for the fantasy (and reality) playoff run.
Mike Scott (15 points, seven boards, two threes, 31 minutes) was brought into the starting lineup next to DeMarre Carroll (11 points, six boards, three steals, one three) on the wings, and though the experiment didn’t work I wouldn’t summarily rule out another bite at the apple with it. Carroll is good enough to play the two in a pinch and at this point it’s all about getting serviceable players on the court. Given the favorable schedule, I’d call Scott a low-level add in 12-team formats with some upside. If Kyle Korver (back) ends up playing tonight or getting a favorable update, Scott will be more of a speculative add than one that owners can count on for that low-end production.
Pero Antic didn’t get to draw Gorgui Dieng out from underneath the hoop after hurting his right ankle again, lasting just 16 minutes on his way to three points (one 3PT) with four rebounds and a steal. We haven’t gotten an update on his prognosis but the red flags are certainly in place given his recent history with the injury. Elton Brand could be a sneaky play if you need a big man, and so could Mike Muscala (eight points, four boards, one steal, one block, 24 minutes) for that matter. This is a situation dictated by schedule and necessity. I’d roll first with Brand if I’m going this route and I’d keep a close eye on Muscala to see if he can keep his head above water.
Lou Williams logged 32 minutes off the bench and finished with 10 points, six assists and two threes, but he’d need to wrap this week up on a high note to get consideration even as a speculative add after such an inconsistent season.
Gorgui Dieng is enjoying life in Rick Adelman’s system playing alongside guys in Ricky Rubio (four points, 10 assists, six steals) and Kevin Love (14 points, 12 boards, four assists, two three) that can deliver the ball. The result has been easy offense and Dieng has done his part to control the glass, as last night he delivered another gem with 15 points, 15 boards, one steal and one block in 41 minutes.
He has been a top 25-50 (9/8 cat) value over the last two weeks with averages of 11.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 57.7 percent field goals, 72.0 percent free throws and a steal and block per game. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Wolves handle things next year if Dieng continues to emerge and push high-priced signee Nikola Pekovic into a timeshare. For now, Pek may reportedly be able to play this weekend but if everybody is kosher with letting the rookie make some late-season headlines then the shutdown could still be in effect.
Corey Brewer was a guy to watch from yesterday’s Dose and he earned further consideration for pickup with 18 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals in his 30 minutes. The Wolves finish out the year with four-game weeks and they’re nearing shutdown territory once they’re mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. With health in hand Brewer probably benefits from that. They’re currently seven games behind No. 9 Dallas so that could be anytime now.
BOURBON STREET BLUES
Sometimes things don’t make any sense at all. Things like a franchise-worst 0-for-12 effort by Chris Paul against a Pelicans team struggling to fill rotation slots with NBA quality players. The Clippers clearly overlooked the opposition last night and gave the Pellies enough confidence to carry their first half surge all the way. Luckily, the fantasy outcomes were much better than Paul’s two-point, four-rebound, 12-assist, three-steal (relative) stinker.
Blake Griffin scored 21 points with eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks but hit just 9-of-15 foul shots, and DeAndre Jordan went for eight and 16 with four blocks. Darren Collison stayed relevant with 11 points, one three and seven assists despite a big 31 points out of Jamal Crawford, who hit 10-of-23 shots (including seven threes) with two assists and a steal in 35 minutes. Matt Barnes even got back on track with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, four threes, five boards, one steal and one block in 31 minutes, so all-in-all fantasy owners were happy while J.J. Redick’s return from noodle leg continues to hang over the group. Crawford will be safe, Barnes is a decent bet to hold serviceable value and Collison will be the first guy to fall off if/when Redick can get back on the floor.
FLY PELICANS FLY!
Brian Roberts joined Eric Gordon on the injury list with a knee injury and Austin Rivers missed last night’s game with the flu, so naturally the Pelicans were able to steal a win from the Clippers with Darius Miller playing backup point guard. Unsurprisingly, Tyreke Evans (10 points, 5-of-16 FGs, four rebounds, nine assists, two steals) and Anthony Davis (16 points, 5-of-19 FGs, 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals, six blocks) struggled with their efficiency as the defense geared up to stop them.
That left Anthony Morrow free to drop 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting with two threes, 7-of-8 FTs, five boards, one block and a bunch of two-pointers for a change of pace. Morrow earns the nod as speculative spot play if Roberts and/or Gordon can’t go on Friday against the Jazz, while Miller (16 points, one steal, one three) and Alexis Ajinca (14 points, 11 rebounds, zero blocks) simply can’t be trusted and are desperation plays at best if everybody stays out. Al-Farouq Aminu played better than he has in recent memory as a small-ball four at times, finishing with eight points, 10 boards, six assists, one steal and one block in 30 minutes. He’s a notch above Morrow in terms of relative safety as a fantasy play, but Morrow’s upside is higher since New Orleans needs his scoring in all these injury scenarios.
The Nuggets did well to push the Spurs in the second half of last night’s loss but got just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting with four rebounds, seven assists and a steal out of Ty Lawson and that was basically the difference.
Aaron Brooks stepped up with 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting (including four threes), five rebounds and eight assists in 31 minutes off the bench, and the big night pushes him up to a late-round valuation over the last two weeks. During that time he has averaged 11.9 points, 1.3 treys and 6.8 assists to go with 40 percent shooting from the field and 90 percent shooting from the line in 26.1 minutes per game. On one hand he could be a threat to disappear if the Nuggets play a normal lineup, but with how small they’re running lately and Wilson Chandler a shutdown candidate his playing time could hold steady or even go up. The Nuggets just don’t have a lot of firepower and that’s what Brooks is in a nutshell. With four games next week he looks like a decent pickup in standard formats.
Kenneth Faried (24 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, one block) had a big night as his season has settled in quite nicely, and Timofey Mozgov (14 points, 11 boards, one steal, two blocks) is starting to heat up with nobody to challenge him for center minutes now that J.J. Hickson is out for the year. Mozgov even hit a rare three and his recent uptick makes him a low-level add if you need a center. If he can keep the 30-minute role he’ll be a pretty strong plug-and-play next week.
Randy Foye slowed down with eight points on 4-of-9 shooting with four rebounds, two assists and zero threes, and it would be more concerning if he was the only Denver player to struggle with a contending Spurs team. Darrell Arthur paid off for owners that spot-started him with four steals, three blocks and a trey to go with nine points and four boards in 30 minutes off the bench. He gets an upgrade to low-level add status in 12-team leagues as the Nuggets have shutdown risks at all three starting wing positions.
THE SAN ANTONIO SHUFFLE
The Spurs let their foot off the gas and starters had to re-enter the game to finish off the Nuggets, so there was time for Tim Duncan to rack up 29 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. The top-35 season continues and owners will probably just want to shave a game off next week’s four-game slate and do the same for the subsequent three-gamer when projecting his value.
Tony Parker was a bit off and finished with just 10 points, four rebounds, six assists, one steal and five turnovers, while Kawhi Leonard was quiet offensively with eight points on 3-of-8 shooting and one three but still managed six rebounds, three steals and three blocks to keep his foot on opposing owners’ throats.
Danny Green (16 points, 5-of-9 3PTs, one steal, 17 minutes) is having X-rays taken on his foot and Gregg Popovich said he didn’t know what it was but that he thought it was plantar fasciitis. There’s still a chance that he plays on Friday but some time off would certainly make sense. Manu Ginobili scored 10 points with seven assists, one steal and one block in his 25 minutes, but it will be Patty Mills (seven points, 14 minutes) or Marco Belinelli (seven points, 16 minutes) that will profile as beneficiaries if a Green absence frees up 20 mpg or so within the rotation.
Tiago Splitter scored 10 points with four rebounds, five assists and a steal, and he has six games of mid-round value over the past two weeks so he’s officially worth a hard look if you need a big. He doesn’t profile any better or worse in the world of Pop DNPs, and he has no history of consistency for owners to rely on, but the numbers have been there lately.
NOT GOING AWAY
The Knicks somehow managed to let the Kings back into last night’s game in the second half but still held on for a much-needed win, and with the Hawks losing last night they’re just two games behind for the eighth slot in the East. Offensively they looked great pretty much all night, with special honors going out to Carmelo Anthony (36 points, 12-of-21 FGs, five threes, 7-of-7 FTs, five boards, one steal, one block) for looking unguardable and caring enough to not mail in the season. Credit should actually extend to the entire team in that regard, but I don’t want to go too far since the Kings didn’t really have a legitimate shot at winning if New York showed up.
Raymond Felton was able to get on track with seven rebounds and 10 assists to go with five points on 2-of-7 shooting. Going up against first-time starter Ray McCallum and a team playing plenty of subpar defenders he had the right matchup, and with a four-game week ahead of him in the thick of a playoff chase he’s worth a look. Amare Stoudemire played on the SEGABABA and scored 12 points with six rebounds and a steal, which is just about where he should be as he pushes himself down the stretch. J.R. Smith (29 points, 10-of-19 FGs, four rebounds, four assists, one block) might have led off this recap with his franchise-record tying nine 3-pointers, but we’ve all seen that show before and know that he should be owned and started in all formats right now.
Ray McCallum drew the start for Isaiah Thomas (quad) last night and he had a disaster of a first half, but didn’t fall apart and managed to finish with 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting, six rebounds, five assists and one steal in 43 minutes. Ray Mac really needs to work on his jumper over the summer and add the requisite NBA weight, and if he can do the former then it will be a surprise if he’s not a quality NBA backup with some low-level starter upside in a best-case scenario. It’s unclear if Thomas will sit out another game and that will drive McCallum’s value, but last night was certain a key night for his development as he got knocked around the court. Metta World Peace might say it put some taco meat on his chest.
It was a strange game with the Kings getting down by so much early and also not having a backup point guard behind Ray Mac, so we saw plenty of point guard play out of Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. While Magic Cousins is something of a sore spot locally for the times he grabs a rebound, dribbles down the floor with a crossover or two, and then flings the ball out of bounds – I’m seeing improvement and I’m warming to the idea of seeing where his transition game can go in a rebuilding season. Cousins had eight assists to go with his 32 points (10-of-15 FGs), 15 boards, two steals, two blocks and 12-of-12 makes from the line, and by nurturing his desire to make plays he’s able to improve his vision, albeit in often frustrating fashion for teammates, coaches and fans.
It’s also worth noting that he has kept his cool lately and the quest to keep from getting his 16th technical foul (resulting in a one-game suspension) appears to be important to him. He’s also doing about 5-10 things per night that maybe 1-2 big men in the league can even think about doing. The Kings were raked over the coals for handing him his big deal, but the flashes of his elite future are becoming more frequent and by that measure the team has to be thrilled.
Ben McLemore was given the FARTDOG treatment (Friendly Alliance of Really Terrible Defenders for Opposing Guards) by the Knicks’ backcourt, so he was able to get his feet set and hit 6-of-12 shots (including four threes) for 16 points and a steal in his 31 minutes. The rookie badly needs confidence and the dribbling skills he lacks will have to develop over the summer, but he might be able to make some noise down the stretch if he can continue to keep them feet set. The minute he loses body control he’s going to miss. The Kings wrap up the season with two four-game weeks and there’s enough meat to this bone for a speculative add, but with a very high level of risk. He’ll need one of the Big Three to be out on most nights to give owners confidence to plop him into lineups.