THE HIGHS AND THE LOWS
The Warriors arrived in San Antonio on a high after their last-second win against the Mavs the night before, but didn’t have the firepower to keep up with a Spurs team hitting on all cylinders. David Lee (hamstring) and Andrew Bogut (pelvic bruise) did not play and are day-to-day going forward, so Draymond Green (eight points, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks, 32 minutes) got another night of freedom, though this game won’t go in the scrap book.
He’s a strong play while Lee and Bogut are out, but owners can sell on Marreese Speights’ 22 and nine, as well as Jordan Crawford’s 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting. Neither are consistent plays and both of their lines were augmented by garbage time. Jermaine O’Neal entered the game with a minute-limit, and that limit was apparently four minutes which means there could be more to the situation than we currently know.
THAT’S SO POP
The Spurs are reprising their late-season and regular season dominance from years’ past with their 19th straight win, destroying the Warriors by 21 points. The box score was as Spursy as it gets, with production spread out evenly among the entire group. Beat writer Jeff McDonald said on Tuesday that he thought last night’s game would be the one that everybody played, and then left open the possibility for DNPs in tonight’s game against the Thunder on TNT. That’s so Popovich.
RUN OF THE YARD
The Pelicans are a very bad basketball team. Without Anthony Davis (11 minutes) they might be as bad as the Sixers. Davis’ back acted up and he missed the second half of last night’s 30-point loss to the 33-42 Nuggets. It’s going to be a tough last two weeks for Davis’ owners knowing he has no reason to push through injuries right now, though he did say that he was going to try and finish out the year when he returned to action earlier in the week.
Tyreke Evans (27 points, 9-of-17 FGs, 9-of-9 FTs, eight boards, three assists) tweaked an ankle but stayed in the game and has full run of the yard right now. If you squint hard enough Jeff Withey (13 points, five boards, one steal, four blocks, 30 minutes) might be worth a look in deep leagues, and Anthony Morrow is a logical choice to continue posting lines like the 17 points and two threes he had last night. Eric Gordon is day-to-day with his knee injury and there’s also no reason to push him.
FARIED ON FIRE
There aren’t any earth shattering fantasy takes coming out of the Nuggets’ blowout win last night, but it’s good to see Kenneth Faried back in the franchise’s good graces after an uncomfortable start to the year. He scored a career-high 34 points on 14-of-19 shooting with 13 rebounds and three blocks, albeit against zero competition, but he has been putting up must-start numbers for a while and that’ll be the case down the stretch. Timofey Mozgov hit another 3-pointer but had just two rebounds to go with an otherwise serviceable 15 points, one steal and two blocks. He’s worth owning in standard formats.
Aaron Brooks hit 9-of-12 shots for 24 points, six threes, two steals and two blocks, and with the Nuggets running small lineups consistently he is worth an add in standard leagues. Just expect inconsistency from night to night and hope the explosions work out in your favor.
The Lakers are pretty simple right now. You have guys that you’re going to start as long as they’re in the lineup including Pau Gasol (vertigo), Jodie Meeks (21 points, 8-of-15 FGs, two threes, three boards), and maybe Nick Young (17 points, four threes, one steal, 30 minutes).
Kent Bazemore (14 points, 6-of-18 FGs, two threes, seven boards, six assists, two steals) forms a tier of his own as a guy that L.A. seemingly wants on the floor more than the others. Over the last eight games he has averaged 26.8 minutes, 12.8 points, 1.1 threes, 3.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 2.4 turnovers, 47.6 percent field goals and just 68.4 percent shooting from the line. That’s good for top 100-120 value (8/9 cat) in that span and though it’s a bumpy ride there’s enough to hang onto for owners to start him.
Then everything else is a Frank Reynolds game of Russian Roulette.
Ryan Kelly (six points, five boards, two blocks, 28 minutes) looks like one of the team’s better players but he’s not getting the ball with Young and Bazemore shooting at will. Jordan Hill (18 points, 15 boards, four blocks) looks like he should have been playing this way all year, but between his knee and Mike D’Antoni’s disdain for players that can’t shoot or handle the ball it’s a hit-or-miss proposition nightly. Kendall Marshall (seven points, seven rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, one three) could get bumped for Steve Nash whenever the future Hall of Famer feels good enough to play or D’Antoni feels like running Xavier Henry (DNP) at the point. Wesley Johnson (eight points, 12 boards, two threes, one steal) fell out of the rotation before last night’s remember-me-game, and Chris Kaman (whatever) is only worth touching on a game-by-game basis if it’s guaranteed that he’s starting.
The only silver lining when considering these players is that D’Antoni isn’t coaching defense at all right now (I mean at all). On most possessions there are 3-4 guys on the floor aren’t even faking like they’re trying. The garbage-time factor will be strong the rest of the way.
RAY MAC ATTACK
As mentioned a few weeks back the Ray McCallum hype is going to be deafening in Sacramento, which wasn’t all that hard to see coming with a schedule of the Knicks, Thunder, Mavs, Pelicans and Lakers all now in the rear-view window. Ray Mac has done his part to address some early struggles with a solid level of aggression and a neon green light to put his imprint on the game. Playing with that license in the flow of the offense, he has taken what the defense is giving him and made the most of his opportunity – which isn’t too surprising given his solid makeup both on and off the court.
He scored a career-high 27 points on 12-of-22 shooting with four rebounds, five assists, and one three in 46 minutes, and it looks like I didn’t have the right pulse of Isaiah Thomas’ situation as he now looks like a shutdown candidate. I’ll try to do some digging around in Sacto but it’s admittedly a grind right now just keeping up with pre-playoff planning and the like.
McCallum should be owned in all formats for the chance his magical ride continues, though the next five games against Golden State, Dallas, OKC, Portland, and LAC might be a reality check. On the other hand, outside of Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul the other three opposing points are defensive liabilities, though not as bad as Raymond Felton, Jose Calderon, Brian Roberts, and the Kendall Marshall/Jodie Meeks combo he just tore up. It’s going to be a very interesting summer for the Kings, as every McCallum outing like this will make it that much easier to let Thomas walk.
The Clippers rode their starters heavily in a game that meant much more to Phoenix than it did to them, and came back from down 17 points to steal a win on the road. That said, the win did bring them to just 1.5 games behind the Thunder for the No. 2 seed and that could come in handy in late May. Blake Griffin played through his back spasms and showed no signs of slowing down with 23 points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal in 34 minutes. He also hit 9-of-10 free throws and that puts him at 70.7 percent for the year, up nearly five percentage points over last season.
Chris Paul also gave maximum effort in the last game of the Clippers’ road trip, scoring 20 points on 6-of-17 shooting with four threes, nine assists and three steals. Matt Barnes (19 points, two threes, six boards, one steal, one block) continues to roll, as does Darren Collison (23 points, 9-of-16 FGs, two threes, three rebounds, five assists, three steals, one block). Jamal Crawford (Achilles) is already ruled out for tonight’s game against the Mavs, and J.J. Redick (back) is “75 percent” to play according to Doc Rivers, who has reminded everybody at least 1,000 times that he’s not really a real doctor. Other team sources told beat writer Arash Markazi that the plan was for Redick to start. Redick has a lot of rust to knock off and Crawford might have accumulated some, as well. Roll with Barnes and Collison until there are definite signs of fall-off, if they ever come.
As a general note for owners, the Clippers have just two games next week. Since all of last night’s producers are also returning early round value over the last week, it’s hard to summarily tell owners that Barnes or Collison should be benched/dropped for that reason. They have the greatest fall-off potential, though. Two games leave practically no room for error.
PHOENIX FAILS TO FINISH
Aside from a few aberrations here or there, the Suns box score was the same as it ever was in their loss to the Clippers last night. As mentioned a few times, the West is so close at the bottom with Memphis, Phoenix and Dallas in a three-way tie vying for two spots and Golden State still just two games ahead of the pack. Goran Dragic hit just 2-of-11 shots for 15 points and eight assists, but did not have any steals, blocks or threes to go with an otherwise sterling 11-of-12 mark from the foul line. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s running on fumes after carrying so much load this year.
Eric Bledsoe scored 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting with one three, one rebound, three assists, five turnovers and no steals or blocks, and with 4.0 turnovers per game over his last seven contests he has been a bit of a mess. Miles Plumlee scored 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting with seven rebounds and one steal, and he has averaged 10 points with seven rebounds over his last three games but that’s about it. He’s a deep league add with three games next week, and it’s possible having another attacking guard in the backcourt helps him get some offensive boards and easy buckets.
P.J. Tucker went for 10 and 11 with a three and steal as a top-100 value over the last two weeks, and Channing Frye hit four treys to finish with 14 points, three boards and a block. With the Suns going down to the wire both guys are on the fantasy radar in most formats, though Frye is playing at a 14-team level lately. Gerald Green (15 points, two threes, four rebounds, 23 minutes) has been up-and-down as expected, but he has a pretty good chance to play at a mid-to-late round level in 9- and 8-cat leagues, respectively.