Jonas Nader

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: PG Reinforcements

Friday, December 29, 2017


Jason Kidd went rogue, Ish Smith and Tyus Jones look like great pickups and Aaron Gordon made his long-awaited return for the Magic. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!

 

 

Jeff Teague (knee) out 2-4 weeks

 

After undergoing an MRI on Thursday morning, Jeff Teague has been officially diagnosed with a grade one MCL sprain to his left knee. The Wolves aren’t putting a timetable on his return just yet, but this is great news considering how bad Teague was limping when he suffered the injury. A Grade 1 sprain is the least severe, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that there is "optimism" that Teague could return "within two-to-four weeks.” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau also sounded encouraged after the update. 

 

“It was about as good as you could have hoped for," Thibodeau said. "He didn't have much swelling, and he was walking around today. He had this injury once before, so I think he understands what he has to go through.” Teague has top-70 value in standard 9-category leagues this season, so his fantasy owners should stash him unless you’re struggling in the standings and can’t afford to waste a roster spot. Jimmy Butler has been a top-5 player for the past month and is going to a stud in Teague’s absence, as he’ll run some point with Tyus Jones playing off the ball at times. I’ll discuss Jones in the pickups section later in the article, but make sure he’s not on the wire. 

 

Editor’s Note: Nobody hit FanDuel’s Golden 5 jackpot this season, meaning the prize has grown to a massive $340,000. And this week, regardless of whether or not someone hits a perfect lineup, they’re giving away that $340K to whoever wins this week’s final contest. Play FREE for your shot at $340,000!

 

Aaron Gordon looks great in return

 

After sitting out seven of the past eight games due to a concussion and a calf strain, Gordon returned on Thursday and was effective, scoring 14 points on 6-of-12 shots with seven rebounds, two assists, two triples and one block in 30 minutes. He did have five turnovers, but he looked explosive and came away from the game unscathed. Gordon has been a top-30 player in standard leagues on a per-game basis, but I still think he has room to grow, especially with Nikola Vucevic (hand) out at least six weeks. 

 

Gordon’s usage rate climbs from 21.2 to 23.2 when Vucevic is off the court, and he should see a good chunk of Vucevic’s 15 shots per game. Evan Fournier also looked healthy after popping up on the injury report with right foot soreness, scoring 17 points with five assists, three rebounds, two steals and three 3-pointers.

 

Some of my followers have asked me if I’m still stashing Jonathan Isaac after he suffered a second setback with his lingering ankle issue, and while my answer is yes, that’s only if you have an I.R. spot because it sounds like he could miss quite a bit of time. I love his upside, but it’s going to be a while before he’s ready for a full workload. 

 

 

Jason Kidd goes rogue 

 

Bucks Coach Jason Kidd was full of himself on Thursday and was benching players left and right. That included Giannis Antetokounmpo getting pulled two minutes into the third quarter, Eric Bledsoe getting pulled three minutes after tip-off and Malcolm Brogdon playing just three first-half minutes. As much as fantasy owners hate to see stuff like this, Kidd may have been right this time as the Bucks climbed all the way back from 20 points down to win. He also drew praise from his players after the game for holding them accountable. 

 

“I love it," Antetokounmpo said. "If you’re not doing the right thing, you’ve got to sit your butt on the bench. I think Coach did a great job pulling guys out and teaching them a lesson. I was one of them. He pulled me out and he told me, ‘You’ve got to play harder.’ I came back in, played harder. I love that. (For) a coach to do that, that means he really wants to win and he really cares about his team. We’ve got to appreciate that as players.” I’m one of Kidd’s biggest critics, but I guess he wins this round. 

 

 

Damian Lillard sits again

 

I’ll admit, I was not expecting Damian Lillard (hamstring) to miss his third straight game Thursday — the Blazers completely removed him from the injury report on Wednesday and he said two days before Christmas that he would “definitely” play. 

 

The Blazers gave him the questionable tag on Thursday morning and then he was deemed a game-time call by coach Terry Stotts. Lillard did take the floor for warmups, but he was eventually ruled out a little over an hour before tip-off. Maybe he suffered a setback or maybe he didn’t progress as quickly as he was hoping, but now he’s in danger of missing Saturday’s game vs. the tanking Hawks which puts Shabazz Napier firmly on the pickup radar (more on him later). 

 

 

Rudy Gay leaves game with possible Achilles injury

 

Late in the third quarter of Thursday’s game vs. the Knicks, Rudy Gay picked up a right heel injury and intentionally fouled to get himself out of the game. He hobbled to the locker room and looked devastated, and the Spurs didn’t waste any time and quickly ruled him out. The Spurs called the injury “right heel soreness,” but he left the arena in a walking boot and we won’t know more until he undergoes an MRI on Friday morning. This means we can’t rule out a serious injury yet, but if there’s any good news at all, it’s that this is not the same foot as the torn Achilles he suffered back in January. 

 

 

 

Fantasy Pickups from Thursday (In order of how I’d pick them up)

 

Ish Smith- Smith is my favorite point guard to pick up from the waiver wire this week, as he gets an edge over Tyus Jones and Shabazz Napier because Reggie Jackson (ankle) will be out much longer (6-8 weeks) than Jeff Teague (2-4 weeks) and Damian Lillard (day-to-day). Smith looked fantastic on Thursday and was carving up Orlando’s defense every chance he got, scoring a season-high 18 points with seven rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block in 32 minutes. His backup, Langston Galloway, was pretty awful, so Smith’s minutes might be closer to 35 going forward. We have a big sample size of Smith as a starter because he made 32 of them last season, posting averages of 12.3 points, 6.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.5 triples. 

 

Tyus Jones- Jones may have more value in the short term than Smith, but as I pointed out above, Smith will likely have a few more weeks to produce. Jones only attempted five shots on Thursday and had six points, but he got the job done in other categories with five assists, four rebounds, five steals and one turnover in 35 minutes. He now has a ridiculous 17 steals in four total starts this season, giving him averages of 10.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 steals(!), 1.3 triples and 0.5 turnovers on 51.7 percent shooting. The steal rate isn’t sustainable at all, but I expect Jones to flirt with mid-round value over the next 2-4 weeks (or however long Teague sits out).

 

Bismack Biyombo- Nikola Vucevic (hand) is expected to miss about 6-8 weeks, and with Orlando thin up front, that locks Biyombo into a role with minutes in the 30s. He’s been solid in his first two starts, averaging 7.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 0.5 steals in 31.5 minutes per game. He won’t win any free throw contests, but Biyombo is going to be a great source of rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage for the foreseeable future. This is also a good audition for Biyombo to prove he’s worth his bloated contract because Vucevic could be a popular name at the trade deadline. 

 

Frank Ntilikina- The Frenchise has now played 27+ minutes in three straight games, averaging 6.3 points, 3.3 assists, 6.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 turnovers in that span. He also played nearly 15 minutes next to Jarrett Jack on Thursday — that’s unusual as Ntilikina and Jack are only averaging 3.3 minutes together on the season. Regardless of whether or not this trend continues, it’s just a matter of time before Ntilikina replaces Jack as the full-time starter, allowing him to become a consistent source of steals and dimes. Still only 19 years old, he’s quickly going to become one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA and is averaging 2.2 steals per 36 minutes. 

 

Michael Beasley- Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek doesn’t play Michael Beasley too much when Kristaps Porzingis is active (they average 6.5 minutes on the floor together in just 11 games this season), but that changed Thursday night. Beasley logged nearly 19 of his 33 minutes next to Porzingis vs. the Spurs, scoring 23 points on 9-of-13 shots with 12 rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block. Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn combined for seven fouls, but Beasley proved that he can coexist next to Porzingis and I’m curious to see if Hornacek will continue to look at this combo. Add Beasley to your watch list and let’s find out. 

 

Shabazz Napier- I’d like Napier a whole lot more if I knew Damian Lillard’s status, but I don’t. I can only assume that he’s day-to-day, but if he does miss more time I’ll be really excited to stream Napier again. He hit 7-of-14 shots and 7-of-9 free throws for a season-high 23 points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals and two triples in 34 minutes against the 76ers, with 22 points coming after halftime (he started slow and missed his first five shots of the night).  Napier was also terrific in his previous start with 21 points with three rebounds, five assists, three steals and four 3-pointers in 35 minutes, so don’t hesitate to pick him up if Lillard sits again. 

 

Kyle Anderson- With Rudy Gay’s (heel) status up in the air going forward and Kawhi Leonard still being eased back into action, Anderson becomes an interesting pickup in deeper leagues. 

He had 16 points (-of-4 FGs, 8-of-8 FTs), eight rebounds and a steal in 29 minutes on Thursday, and could settle into a role with minutes in the mid-20s if Gay misses time. 

 

 

Quick Notes

 

 

Chris Paul (adductor) could play as soon as Friday’s game vs. the Wizards, but if he remains sidelined, coach Mike D’Antoni said he would expect him back on Sunday vs. the Lakers. 

 

 

Blake Griffin (left knee MCL sprain) is officially questionable for Friday's game vs. the Lakers, but coach Doc Rivers hinted pretty strongly that we could see him. My guess is he plays, but expect him to have heavy restrictions. 

 

 

Isaiah Thomas (hip) is expected to scrimmage with the Cavaliers on Friday, but he’s not expected to debut on Saturday vs. the Jazz. This makes sense because the Cavs probably want to see how his hip responds to Friday’s scrimmage. If his timetable holds, we should see him in the first week of January.




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