NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Dose: Down Goes Kyrie Irving
It all started around 8 p.m. on Monday, just after weekly deadlines were locked in, when guys, including superstar Kyrie Irving, started dropping like flies. Tuesday’s Dose sadly looks at what was supposed to be a quiet seven-game night, but turned into a bloodbath. And if you own Josh Smith, Ersan Ilyasova or Klay Thompson, stick around until the end of the column, as I’ll attempt to talk you off the ledge. I feel like a more appropriate nickname for me would be Dr. Downer after this one.
Monday, Bloody Monday
Kyrie Irving will be out four weeks for the Cavs with a hairline fracture in his left index finger. This is terrible news, especially for those of us stuck with him in a weekly lineup for zero games played. Donald Sloan and Jeremy Pargo will pick up the slack at point guard, while Dion Waiters remains a must-own player. Daniel Gibson is also worth keeping an eye on, but if I had to guess, Sloan is the guy with the experience here for Byron Scott, although I wouldn’t call him a must-own player just yet. Tristan Thompson will play with a mask after suffering a nasal fracture, but is coming off back-to-back double-doubles and should be able to play through it.
Stephen Jackson was a popular pick up with four games for the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard sidelined this week, but lasted just 10 minutes before suffering a broken pinkie finger that will keep him out from four to six weeks. Danny Green is the main beneficiary here.
Stephen Curry hurt his right ankle yet again and was visibly upset just after it happened. Remarkably, the Warriors let him stay in the game and his play actually improved. Hopefully it’s nothing, but if I own Curry, I cross my fingers and plan on spending a lot of time watching the Rotoworld News page over the Thanksgiving break. He finished with 31 points, six rebounds, nine assists, two steals and three 3-pointers, as well as hit all 10 of his free throws. Let’s pray his ankle is fine after he sleeps on it.
James Harden played through the flu on Monday, but didn’t start the second half for Houston due to the illness and never returned to the game. The good news is he just has the same flu bug that is making its way through the league, and owners have to hope he’s ready to roll on Wednesday against the Bulls
Paul Pierce is dealing with a sprained ankle but thinks he’ll be ready to go on Wednesday vs. San Antonio. Consider him a game-time decision for that one, but my guess is he’ll play.
Anthony Davis tweaked his left ankle yet again on Saturday, but says he’s fine. We’ll find out if that’s true on Tuesday when the Hornets play the Knicks, but it sounds like he’ll play.
Dwyane Wade went through a full practice on Monday for the Heat and appears to be on track to play Wednesday against the Bucks. The Heat play just two games this week, so don’t feel bad if you put him on your bench, and consider him a game-time decision for now.
Kyle Lowry is still not participating in Raptors practices and there is no timetable for his return from an ankle injury, other than hoping he’ll be back by the end of the month. Jose Calderon remains a must-own player until further notice.
Brooklyn’s Deron Williams had some dental work done and is dealing with a sore elbow, but appears to be ready to go for Tuesday’s game against the Lakers.
Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki has picked up his “activity level” as he recovers from knee surgery, but we still don’t have a timetable on his return. Hopefully he’s back by Christmas, if not earlier.
Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic is expected to play on Wednesday after missing time with a sprained ankle. Brandon Roy’s seventh knee surgery will keep him out about a month and I see no reason to hold him. J.J. Barea is still not practicing with the Wolves due to a foot injury and he could miss more time. These are just another couple reasons to own Alexey Shved (who is nearly must-own at this point).
Vince Carter went down with a right hamstring injury and went to the Mavs’ locker room, but surprisingly returned to the game in the fourth quarter. This is another one to keep an eye on, as he could miss time if he doesn’t feel great in the morning.
Gerald Henderson’s foot is getting better, but I would be surprised to see him back in action this week for the Bobcats, which means more good things for Ramon Sessions, who had 23 points last night. Ben Gordon went down with a right knee contusion and didn’t return to Monday’s game, which is more good news for Sessions’ owners. Tyrus Thomas will miss a couple months with a serious left calf injury, which shouldn’t affect too many fantasy owners or the Bobcats, but I’m not in the same boat. He was helping to hold down the fort in my 30-team league while I wait for Kevin Love, but now that honor goes to, gulp, Jan Vesely.
Nick Young has been cleared to play on Tuesday after leaving Sunday’s game with an elevated heart rate. This matters because Doug Collins has benched Dorell Wright in order to get Young more minutes for the Sixers. Young’s not a must-own player, but if you’re looking for a reason to dump Wright, this could be it. Just know that Wright will become relevant again quickly if Jason Richardson’s knee acts up.
Caron Butler suffered a right shoulder injury on Monday and didn’t return to the Clippers’ win over the Spurs. Matt Barnes is now worth a close look, as Butler, despite being nicknamed ‘Tough Juice,’ isn’t the fastest of healers. Barnes had 14 points, nine boards and three steals in 35 minutes, and is probably worth grabbing in deeper leagues.
Good News For People Who Like Bad News
Josh Smith hit just 3-of-10 shots for six points, two rebounds, one assist, a steal and a block in 22 minutes in the Hawks win over the Magic. The minutes are a concern. His production, including his free throw and field goal percentage, are a concern and he’s just not very much fun to own in fantasy right now. But he’s a big key to what the Hawks are going to do this year and I’m here to talk you off the ledge. The low-ball offers are coming and you probably want to cut him, despite the fact he was your first-round pick. But he has three more games this week to get it turned around and is healthy. He simply can’t play any worse and the only way to go is up. I’m going to target him in trades if I can find time to do so, and hold onto him where I own him. It’s been a rough ride, but you simply can’t panic, or bench him in a four-game week. But with the Hawks playing just twice in Week 5, I’ve already got him out of my lineup for that one.
Marcin Gortat has really cooled off and is ticked off about losing Steve Nash, as well as his role in the Suns’ offense. “Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m even an option for (Alvin) Gentry,” he said. “He doesn’t even take me into consideration.” Something tells me Mr. Gentry and Goran Dragic aren’t going to love seeing these comments in print, but the hope is they start trying to work him back into the offense. He’s another guy I’m not panicking on…yet.
Ersan Ilyasova played 16 minutes and hit 2-of-5 shots for a measly four points and four rebounds last night. He’s hit rock bottom and Bucks coach Scott Skiles is clearly in his head. I’ve got him on the bench where I own him, and unless I get an offer that knocks my socks off (I won’t), I’m just going to keep benching him until he gets it going. And if he is still sucking wind by Christmas, I will cut the cord. I’m a very impatient fantasy owner and only have him in weekly leagues. In a daily league, where he is hurting you constantly, dropping him is a more valid solution. But I still cannot accept the fact he might be this bad all year. I’m simply not even considering that as a possibility at this point.
The Warriors’ Klay Thompson hit just 2-of-14 shots for seven points, three rebounds, a steal, a block, a 3-pointer and four turnovers in an OT win against the Mavs. His confidence is shot but he said on Monday that the last time he was in a slump like this he just continued to try to shoot his way out of it. He’s doing that right now and it will eventually happen. The minutes are there and he just needs one game where his shot falls. Feel free to trade him, but I’m guessing you’ll regret it if you just cut him. Someone who is not struggling for GSW is Harrison Barnes, who double-doubled for the second time in four games and has scored in double figures in four straight. Don’t look now, but he’s a must-own player at this point.
Gordon Hayward came off the Jazz bench again and played just 19 minutes, finishing with 15 points and a 3-pointer on 5-of-12 shooting. He needs more minutes to be an effective fantasy player, but it’s too early to even think about dropping him.
Andre Iguodala hit 3-of-8 shots for just seven points and not much else in Denver’s win over the Grizzlies. If you’ve had your eye on Iguodala, now is a great time to offer his owner a trade. Danilo Gallinari didn’t hit half his shots, as usual, but was much better with 26 points, five boards, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers. Finally.
Kyle Korver hit just 2-of-11 shots and one 3-pointer for five points on Monday. Korver was a popular pick up with four games and riding a hot streak, but fell on his face last night. He’ll bounce back, but can be dropped in weekly leagues as the Hawks play just two games next week.
Roy Hibbert hit 8-of-10 shots for 20 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and just two turnovers in a win over the Wizards. Hibbert’s owners have been out on the ledge for a couple weeks and he finally got hot tonight, and stopped turning it over. Yes, the Wizards lack of bigs helped his cause, but Hibbert is still a guy I consider a solid buy-low prospect given his dismal play. David West also got on track with 30 points and a huge stat line, as it appears that the Wizards are wonders at helping guys break out of a funk.
Kevin Seraphin started the second half for Emeka Okafor and finished with 13 points and three rebounds in 25 minutes for the Wiz. He keeps teasing us, but hasn’t been a consistent rebounder and hasn’t gotten minutes from Randy Wittman. Maybe that’s all about to change, so keep an eye on him, as usual. A.J. Price had eight points and zero assists on 2-of-8 shooting in 24 minutes, while new acquisition Shaun Livingston also played 24 minutes and had 10 points and four dimes. The timeshare is coming and Price suddenly doesn’t look too promising.
Shawn Marion was 3-of-9 for seven points and Elton Brand was 2-of-6 for five points in just 14 minutes for the Mavs. I’m fine with holding Marion, but have dropped Brand where I owned him. Someone who is not struggling is Chris Kaman, who torched the Warriors for 18 points, 17 boards, a steal and two blocks in an OT loss. Congratulations if you grabbed him off waivers earlier this season. And don’t look now, but Troy Murphy might be more important to Rick Carlisle than Brand, logging 24 minutes for 12 points, four boards, four steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers in 24 minutes. Keep a close eye on him going forward.
Rockets center Omer Asik was 0-for-5 for two points, seven boards and two blocks in a loss to the Jazz, but don’t let it bother you. He should bounce back.
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