NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Dose: Rondo Doin' The Humph
There wasn’t a lot of earth-shattering fantasy news in the association last night, but it was certainly an eventful 11-game slate that jam-packed my Dose. So let’s get right to it.
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In case you were living under a rock last night you got to see the slap-push fight between Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries, which occurred after Kevin Garnett took a somewhat hard foul by Humphries that Rondo took exception to. The ordeal was classic Rondo, who overreacted and gave up his chase of Magic Johnson’s double-digit assist streak with his early ejection. The action spilled over into the stands and that’s a sensitive area for the league, so anything from a game or two suspension to 10 games has been floated by various media voices. As usual, the reality will likely be toward the middle or lower end of that range. This makes Leandro Barbosa (two points, 13 minutes) worth a look as a short-term pickup, and everybody in the backcourt stands to benefit. That’s nice for them, since Avery Bradley (shoulders) is “very close” to returning to practice. Humphries and Gerald Wallace were ejected after the brouhaha and the duo, along with Garnett, are candidates for suspension, though none of them are a lock in that regard.
Beyond the fight there was a game that the Nets won with no real surprises. Joe Johnson got back on track with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting, four rebounds, six assists, and three treys, and regular readers know how I feel about his status this year so consider this a sell-high moment. Deron Williams hit just 3-of-12 shots and that’s going to be a red flag for his sore right (shooting) wrist, but as we said in our blurb it’s just one game and we need to see much more before getting in a tizzy. Brook Lopez dealt with foul trouble but still managed nine points with 10 boards in 17 minutes. Andray Blatche picked up the slack for Humphries with 17 points, 13 boards, and two steals in 29 minutes, but I doubt he’s going to do anything but gain incremental minutes after Humphries was dragged into a fight for no reason.
The Celtics saw Garnett score 16 points with 10 boards before his ejection, Paul Pierce had 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting with nine boards, seven assists, and two steals, Brandon Bass scored 16 points with just three rebounds to go with two blocks, and Jason Terry had 13 points with a three, a steal, and a 6-of-7 mark from the foul line in the Celtics' forgettable loss.
It’s About Time
It was the moment many of you were waiting for – Josh Smith busted up the box score last night, scoring 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting with 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals, and five blocks in a tight win over the Bobcats. The buy low window is slammed shut and owners can think about selling high, but I doubt you’re going to get ample value in return. This is still a guy with first round upside, and even with his slow start he’s performing at a mid-round level. I’d gamble on Smith rather than take an early-to-mid round guy back in a trade.
Kyle Korver (eight points, four rebounds, two threes) has been dealing with a back issue and exited stage right after playing 23 minutes last night. He has easily played well enough to be held in 8- and 9-cat formats unless news gets truly bad. Al Horford had a nice night with 17 points, 11 boards, six assists, one steal, and three blocks, and he needs more of these to move his mid-round value back toward his early round ADP. Lou Williams has been fairly quiet lately, but had a nice night with 17 points, three treys, and five assists in what should look like a relatively normal good night going forward.
The Bobcats got a chance to bounce back from their record-breaking blowout loss to the Thunder on Monday, and got back to their competitive ways in their three-point loss to the Hawks. Kemba Walker hit just 4-of-15 shots, but after Monday’s rock-bottom effort the 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two threes were a welcome sight. Jeff Taylor continued to do a little bit of everything with six points, two threes, two steals, two boards, and one assist in his 22 minutes. Eventually his mid-round production will cease, but he could end up being a steal if we learn that Gerald Henderson’s mysterious foot injury is more serious than anybody is letting on. Ramon Sessions scored 18 points with eight assists and two steals, and Ben Gordon had a 20-point fourth quarter to finish with 26 points, seven threes, four rebounds, three assists, one steal, and a perfect five makes from the line. By now you know the story with Gordon – he’s going to go off every once in a while and is certainly worth a look to see if you can catch him while he’s hot, but I wouldn’t get rid of a safe play or upside guy to add him.
Abortion Reference of the Day
I mentioned this yesterday, but something is very wrong in Phoenix and a blowout loss to the Pistons last night should have had local press reaching for the panic button. Instead, Alvin Gentry called the effort a “total abortion” and nobody talked about Gentry’s decision to bench everybody but the water boys. Goran Dragic, who has played well all season by most folks’ standards, saw just 16 minutes and still managed 10 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one three. Marcin Gortat played just 20 minutes and had six points on 1-of-6 shooting, four rebounds, and three turnovers to go with zeroes in the steals and blocks columns. One just had to know that Michael Beasley would hit 1-of-6 shots for a hollow two points in his 18 minutes, and you get the idea about the rest of the box.
Outside of Dragic and Gortat, nobody else in the Suns' rotation is truly a must-own player, and I could provide competing arguments to add or drop Luis Scola, Markieff Morris, Shannon Brown, Michael Beasley and Jared Dudley. The bottom line for the entire bunch is that until Gentry gives in on whatever it is he is mad about, or the team gives in and gives him whatever he is looking for – they’re going to look like the Milwaukee Bucks of the West. And yes, a 40-point loss to the Pistons and a disheveled team should have a beat writer or two writing more than sweet nothings about the coach in their gamers.
The Pistons stuck to their recent game plan in last night's win, which incidentally gave elephant in the room Charlie Villanueva another shot at relevance and he responded with 19 points, six boards, four threes, and a block. While he is the new official backup power forward, I need to see more to get excited about a guy that is one defensive disaster away from being benched.
Rodney Stuckey had his first real good night in recent memory and has taken to the backup point guard minutes he is getting. He finished with 18 points on 4-of-8 shooting (10-of-11 FTs) with five rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block in 25 minutes. I practically begged folks to hang tight with Stuckey in our blurbs and felt like I was making excuses, but he should be owned in most leagues in my book as he’ll eventually figure things out.
Kyle Singler scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting with four rebounds, one assist, one three, and two steals in 32 minutes, and this is a good representation of what to expect on most nights in his current role. Brandon Knight hit three treys and had two steals to go with his 19 points and six assists, and if he can keep that sort of thing up then he’ll be able to loosen the cap on his upside. Andre Drummond saw 25 minutes off the bench, scoring six points with nine boards, one steal, and two blocks. For the millionth time, he’s a high profile stash I happily own in a few 12-team leagues.
Moments of Divergence
Chauncey Billups (19 minutes, seven points, three assists, one steal, 1-of-5 FGs) returned to action after nearly a year off in last night’s win over the Wolves, and Doc’s greatest fears about Jamal Crawford (2-of-10 FGs, 11 points, 27 minutes) may start coming true. If you don’t recall, I had Crawford as a sell-high guy after his blistering start and Doc wanted all the sell-high offers to come his way. It’s crazy how little we disagree on player values so these moments of divergence can be big for us. I think I’m going to propose we count them all up and the loser has to buy the winner this day of the week clock. Thinking that Friday is Tuesday and vice-versa is a serious problem we have.
I do think we’re in a trough for Crawford’s value and that independently of Billups’ status, he would have been due for a bounce-back stretch. He’ll probably have that anytime now, but an overlay to that will be Billups’ newfound 19-25 minute role as the starting shooting guard going forward.
Caron Butler backed up his franchise-record performance from Monday from behind the arc with just two points on 1-of-8 shooting. What goes up must come down. He’s performing in the 16-18 team range on the year. DeAndre Jordan got back on track with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, six boards, two steals, and two blocks. I think the takeaway from his body of work thus far is that Vinny Del Negro will still jerk him around, but with less frequency than last season as Jordan produces at a late-mid round level. As for Billups, there’s no need for owners to be in a hurry to add him in most standard formats with such limited upside. There are simply too many guys at the wings, and he’ll have plenty of rest and injury risk.
I’d much rather gamble on Alexey Shved than take a low-upside player like Billups, even if Shved is going to be a tough guy to roster as things get crowded. The Russian rookie scored 17 points with three treys in an otherwise hollow effort that included four turnovers, and his 36-minute usage was a byproduct of Andrei Kirilenko’s absence in last night's loss to the Clips. He just oozes playmaking ability and has the young legs that will stand out as the season progresses. Like I said, owning him in a 12-team league is going to be tough as these nights will come sporadically, but if you have a solid starting lineup and can afford to give him a long-term tryout it could pay dividends down the road.
Kirilenko was a semi-late scratch for his recurring back injury, and as Jazz radio man David Locke said this is the same pattern he showed in Utah. That pattern is to play in about 10-15 games and then sit out a few. Owners knew this was the deal when they drafted him, so just hang tight and plan for a sell-high moment down the road if it presents itself. Chances are you’re just going to have to grin and bear it. Josh Howard started for him and played 26 minutes, scoring seven points with three boards, two blocks, and a three, but owners need to wait until he proves himself a few times before plunging into that whirlpool.
Luke Ridnour scored 13 points with seven assists in 32 minutes last night, but Rick Adelman said that his back injury has him at less than 100 percent and one of two things are going to happen. One, Ricky Rubio will return and give Adelman the green light to give Ridnour a blow. Or two, he will move Ridnour to shooting guard when Rubio is ready to start and Rid will have about a 50/50 shot at holding some late round value. Either way, owners should ride this ride until the wheels fall off or thereabouts. Kevin Love (19 points, 12 boards, 12-of-16 FTs, three assists, one three, one block) was seen flexing his previously injured right (shooting) hand all night, so it’s something we’ll watch like a hawk, obviously.
J.R. Smith found the side of a milk carton so far this week with his second straight stinker in last night’s win over the Bucks, scoring two points on 1-of-5 shooting in 18 minutes. He had five fouls and the game was a blowout late, and I’m having a hard time getting too worked up about a streak shooter that was due for a regression, anyway. What I was worked up about was choosing to ignore Jason Kidd in last week’s Dose, as he was fittin’ to make me look real bad as an apparent 5x5 threat every night. His back injury is an unknown quantity at this point, and his age and injury risk was a part of my thinking. Just being honest, I didn’t think he had it in him to produce like that, healthy or not.
Steve Novak got on the right side of the shooting ledger with a season-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and five threes in a whopping 40 minutes. His solid shooting, the lopsided score, and Smith’s issues all came into play here, and since he’s a strong bet to move this year’s 40.7 percent field goal percentage back toward his 47.8 mark from last year – owners hunting threes will want to sit on their boards and be ready to paddle.
Don’t Try This At Home
I mentioned last week how I was tied to Ersan Ilyasova’s anchor and I was heading to the ocean floor. Well, then Monday’s building block game happened and I thought to myself, ‘that came about two weeks early.’ Of course, the party was short-lived as Scott Skiles played him 13 minutes last night, though there was a pregame Bucks TV report that he was sick that none of the beat writers knew about.
I wasn’t going to advise anybody with great fervor (or vigor) to hold Ilyasova, but two weeks from now has been my personal threshold based on my belief of how long a) it can take a player to get back on track before they’re without hope and b) how long I think Skiles can get away with not playing him 25-32 minutes before he c) kills all of Ilyasova’s confidence and d) makes his general manager look like an ass for paying big bucks for a benchwarmer. Regardless, I was neither high nor low after Monday’s game simply because I figure Ilyasova had a ways to go no matter what, and last night’s disaster outing at worst and flu-game at best isn’t moving the needle with me much, either. What is moving the needle for me is the fact that Ilyasova expressed displeasure about his playing time after the game, and longtime Bucks beat writer Gery Woelfel was fairly heated on Twitter. For some reason the added fire represents a speeding up of the process for me, since I’m basically committed for another two weeks to Ilyasova’s elusive upside, anyway.
If that gushing recommendation wasn’t enough to endear you to your Bucks assets, then Skiles benching the whole damn team for the second straight game in the fourth quarter is right up your alley. Brandon Jennings is relatively back on track following his ankle injury, scoring 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting with three rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes, though his lack of a steal is a sign he’s still limited. He and Monta Ellis (27 minutes, 17 points, 6-of-11 FGs, seven assists, three steals) left without talking to the media after the game, and that’s probably because they don’t have anything great to say right now. They’re the team’s two best players and both could be gone next year, so they’ll be the first guys to flip out if Skiles gets too heavy-handed. The rest of the box score was a wasteland with the exception of Mike Dunleavy (eight points, nine boards, one three) and Beno Udrih (18 points, one assist). Of course, owners will want to be vigilant about reading Skiles’ patterns so they can move on-and-off assets accordingly, but this might not be the best game to measure with. I’m holding Dunleavy’s mid-round value tightly and I’m fine with dropping Larry Sanders (14 minutes) for anything with upside.
Oh, and in breaking news, Skiles says he’s looking at lineup changes for Friday’s game against the Wolves.
Carry on My Wayward Son
Anthony Davis (ankle) could be out up to two weeks and is still wearing a walking boot, and by virtue of that the deep, underachieving Jazz were able to waltz into the Hive and take an easy win last night. Mo Williams (foot) dressed but did not play, leaving Jamaal Tinsley (zero points, two boards, five assists, two steals) free to post one of his patented scoreless, assist-powered lines for the point guard desperate. Paul Millsap (16 points, 10-of-12 FTs, eight boards, four assists, one steal, 31 minutes) was able to get back on track and he continues to share the power forward minutes with Derrick Favors (nine points, eight boards, one block, 17 minutes) without spilling into any other positional buckets.
The Jazz have looked awful recently, so owners of both power forwards can only hope that defensive sieve Al Jefferson (19 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals, two blocks) takes a haircut and Millsap gets some run at small forward to open things up a bit. I’m not panicking on Millsap by any means, but keeping both guys in the power forward bucket has made Millsap a streaky and sometimes disengaged player. Overall, the Jazz need to stop relying on Jefferson as a crutch, as guys are standing around and watching him operate only to see his feet in cement on defense. It’s not a good mix.
Gordon Hayward is starting to fill up my timeline with questions about whether or not to drop him, and it’s worth noting that I’m the resident optimist for Hayward around here. The bandwagon is getting mighty light. It almost got set on fire with Hayward sitting on two points entering the fourth quarter. He went on to rattle off 13 points and finish with 15 points, two rebounds, two assists, and two threes in 23 minutes. The Butler product has been in a vicious shooting slump since hitting a game-winner against the Kings over the weekend, but he still has late-round value on the year and I’m nowhere near giving up.
I think he’ll go back and forth between mid- and late-round value and eventually climb into the top-75 by the All Star break, with the early inconsistencies being mostly the byproduct of an offense that revolves so much around Jefferson, who rarely creates good looks for teammates in the post. The Jazz love to run offense through Hayward, but they simply don’t have the touches to give him in their crowded group. With an eyeball toward the trade deadline, the subtraction of one player (Millsap?) or an injury could return Hayward to last season’s late top-40 run. Marvin Williams (16 points) was concussed and any absence will certainly help Hayward’s situation, though I’m not putting a ton of stock on his impact other than to free up a few touches here and there.
What’s In a Name?
There were no revelations on the Hornets’ side of the box last night. Greivis Vasquez scored 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting with three rebounds, eight assists, and one three, as he is returning late-round value in 9-cat leagues and mid-round value in 8-cat formats on the year. Robin Lopez had one of his ‘good’ nights with 18 points and seven boards but he didn’t have a block. He’ll probably return to borderline status in 12-14 team leagues when Davis returns, but for now owners can keep the mid-round value locked into lineups.
Ryan Anderson had an off-night with seven points on 2-of-8 shooting and eight boards. I don’t think his production will budge at all when Davis returns as they’re only competing touches in the superficial overall sense. Al-Farouq Aminu had a devilish line of six points, six boards, and six turnovers to go with three steals, and he’s another guy I have very little concern about right now. The Hornets are going to lean on him nightly unless he falls off a cliff. Jason Smith hit just 1-of-7 shots and had five turnovers, but finished with seven points (5-of-6 FTs) and nine rebounds in 29 minutes. Deep league owners should give him a look while Unibrow is out. Austin Rivers (two points, 22 minutes) came into the league as a scorer-only and he can’t even do that these days. I think he’ll get that turned around, but had his last name been Dungworth I doubt he gets drafted where he did.
Mike Conley is a common thread among my fantasy teams this season, as I had him ranked at an aggressive No. 13 overall. Last night was one of those nights that made me wonder if I could have gone a few slots higher, as he posted 16 points, five assists, four threes, two steals, and two blocks all while looking less than 100 percent according to both teams’ beat writers. He shoots at a high clip and his usage could still go up as the big men wear down later in the year. Joining him with good outings in last night’s win over the Raptors was Zach Randolph (17 points, 13 boards, six assists, one steal) and Rudy Gay (14 points, three treys, six boards, two assists, two steals, one block). Tony Allen (nine points, four boards, three steals, one block, 28 minutes) has slowly crawled his way back onto the 12-team radar, and beat writers are encouraged by his recent play. There was a Marreese Speights sighting, as the backup big scored 18 points with 12 boards, one steal, one block, and an unlikely triple in 24 minutes aided by the blowout. I’m filing that under ‘fluke’ and moving on.
A Tale of Two Ankles
Andrea Bargnani did not play in last night’s loss due to an ankle issue, while Kyle Lowry continued to gimp along with his ankle issue with low-end results. Lowry scored 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting with four rebounds, four assists, and one trey in a rematch with former Grizzlies teammate Conley. As long as he doesn’t overdo things, he’ll get back on track. Jonas Valanciunas had one of his backseat nights, scoring just two points with two boards, but he did add three blocks in his 28 minutes to keep the night from being a total wash. These are the breaks with the youngster, and a bad night against the Grizzlies frontcourt is not something to get worked up about. Everybody in Toronto loves him and so do we.
Ed Davis drew a start in Bargnani’s place, but failed to have a breakthrough moment with 10 points, six boards, one block, and four turnovers in 28 minutes. Davis has good talent and is somebody to watch closely while it appears he is in favor, but he’ll eventually go back to a low-minute bench role. Linas Kleiza drew the start at small forward instead of Dominic McGuire, scoring 11 points on a high-volume 15 shot attempts to go with three rebounds and one assist in 25 minutes. He’s a decent desperation spot-play on nights when owners know he’ll be getting minutes but that’s about it. Terrence Ross saw another big helping of minutes off the bench, playing 30 minutes en route to eight points on 4-of-13 shooting (0-for-6 3PTs), two boards, two assists, and three steals. It was a messy effort and the team keeps talking about free agent small forwards in the press, but Ross is well worth a look as a stash in a mediocre wing corps.
Darren Collison was a surprise scratch due to a sprained right middle finger so Dominique Jones got another start at the point, and the Mavs got run out of the United Center in a 23-point loss to the Bulls. Derek Fisher’s signing was announced during the game, as the team is clearly not happy with Collison’s play and wants to add some veteran leadership. Now anybody that watched Fisher play in last year’s playoffs will question whether or not he’s capable of making good decisions on the floor anymore, but he should be able to give Collison enough pointers to make the decision worthwhile on the whole for the Mavs.
Now the kicker here is that Rick Carlisle has said that Fisher will start, and whether that’s another motivational ploy or not I don’t think it impacts Collison’s calculus too much. Fisher is going to be one of the worst defensive point guards in the league and provides little to nothing on offense, so Carlisle would have to make a Scott Brooks-level mistake to play him anything more than 15-22 minutes per game. That leaves plenty of time for Collison to make whatever mark he’s capable of making.
Jones scored 10 points with five assists in 24 minutes, but is on the shortlist of players that could be cut to make room for Fisher and isn’t worth a look. O.J. Mayo is clearly struggling with his ankle issues (one for each foot), as he posted another slow and somewhat passive line of four points on 2-of-9 shooting, five rebounds, four assists, three steals, and one block. With some owners uneasy about Dirk Nowitzki’s return (myself not included) this is a nice buy low moment. Shawn Marion had just three boards but scored a season-high 18 points with two blocks in 23 minutes before the game got out of hand, and is good to go for most lineups. Jae Crowder started again and managed seven shot attempts, but only made one of them to finish with two points, three boards, two steals, and one block in 26 minutes. This could be seen as a baby step forward but the blowout and body of work suggest otherwise. Elton Brand came crashing back to Earth more or less with four points, six boards, four assists, and a steal in 25 minutes. No surprise there.
The Bulls were embarrassed a few nights ago and clearly had their focus tonight, but unlike Monday’s home loss Tom Thibodeau rode the bench instead of ignoring them. As a result, Kirk Hinrich had one of his typical really bad nights with six points and three assists, while Nate Robinson scored 14 points with a team-high six assists, two steals, and two threes. I’ve said this a million times, but Robinson has low end value for 12-team leagues right now and is one Hinrich injury from expanding upon that. It’s low-risk upside. Richard Hamilton predictably slowed down after a pair of season-high scoring efforts with just four points, four assists, and five turnovers, proving why owners should simply ignore the periodic fireworks. Joakim Noah continues to fly underneath the radar with 13 points, 10 boards, five assists, and three blocks to further enhance his first round value.
Shock and Awe
The Thunder easily dispatched the Rockets in James Harden’s return game, and as usual there were no real revelations, unless you want to count Scott Brooks finally figuring out that Serge Ibaka can play this season. Ibaka scored 23 points on 11-of-13 shooting with nine rebounds, six blocks, and a three in 29 minutes. We here at Rotoworld are just shocked about this development. Shocked. Kevin Durant had 37 points with a fat line, Kevin Martin continued his return to form with 17 points and three treys, and Russell Westbrook scored 14 points with five boards, nine assists, three steals, and a block in the win.
Bigger Than Basketball
Chandler Parsons (shoulder) did not play in last night’s loss to the Thunder, but the on-court story of the night was definitely James Harden’s return to OKC. Wouldn’t you know the Thunder game-planned to shut him down and that’s exactly what happened, as Harden hit just 3-of-16 shots (2-of-5 3PTs, 9-of-11 FTs) with two rebounds, three assists, and one steal to go with seven blocks against. Sure, Harden was pressing, but you just had to know that Sam Presti ordered up an extra nice pre- and post-game spread for the fellas last night.
Daequan Cook started in Parsons’ place and put up a fluky 18 points, seven boards, four assists, three treys, one steal, and one block in 38 minutes. If you saw that coming, you’re playing the wrong game. If Parsons and Carlos Delfino (groin) remain out, give him a look for a spot-start, but keep your expectations firmly in check. Patrick Patterson also picked up the slack with 27 points, six boards, two threes, two assists, and one steal in 38 minutes. The going is pretty good right now so consider including him as the second part of a deal while his value is on the rise. As for Harden, look for him and the entire Rockets organization to get some much needed rest after an emotional week. If you hadn’t heard, Kevin McHale lost his 23-year old daughter, Sasha. Send your karmic thoughts and prayers to Houston this week.
The Spurs throttled the Magic last night with predictable results. Gary Neal had a nice night scoring 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting (including a three) with four rebounds, two assists, and three steals, but owners should know better than to expect that on most nights. DeJuan Blair showed signs of life with 11 points, six boards, and a steal, but he could disappear on a moment’s notice. Danny Green hit three treys for nine points, five rebounds, and two blocks in a typical successful outing for him.
Tim Duncan had just four rebounds, but scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting with two steals, five blocks, and a rare three. His approximate top-5 value is unsustainable over the long haul, as he’ll see at least three minutes per game shaved off of his current 31 mpg mark and we haven’t even hit DNP season yet. If I can get solid early round value in return for Duncan, I don’t think twice about taking it.
I have no idea why folks wanted to drop Manu Ginobili, as his early season struggles and eventual return to form seemed elementary. But alas, he is back and scored 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting (all threes) with four rebounds, five assists, and a steal in 23 minutes. Tiago Splitter followed up his near triple-double with a more palatable nine points, four rebounds, one steal, and one block in 16 minutes. This is probably more like it.
Figuring It Out
I was pinged on Twitter by @Papiraps with a simple comment that Arron Afflalo (16 points, 8-of-16 FGs, five boards, two steals) isn’t the beast many thought he would be. I had him at about 80 in my Top 150 list, and currently he is a 100-120 ranked play in 8- and 9-cat formats, respectively. The Magic are still trying to forge an identity, and while they lack talent and direction things are going to be choppy. I think once his 43.3 percent field goal percentage moves back toward his 46.4 career mark then his value will land more or less where I had him originally.
Jameer Nelson posted a ho-hum 14 points with five boards, three assists, two steals, and no 3-pointers, Glen Davis scored 12 points on 6-of-16 shooting with five rebounds and one block, and J.J. Redick went quiet with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting, four assists, and a trey in just 22 minutes. It looks like Redick got some extra rest in the blowout loss, and I’m not concerned about him on the whole. This has been a real bad week or so after he got devastated by the flu bug. Nikola Vucevic had his second straight absentee act with two points, five boards, one steal, and one block in 16 minutes, and owners will want to stay open to the idea of dropping him for average to above-average free agents if he struggles again on Friday.
The Hip Bone’s Connected to the Back Bone
I should have gone with my gut when assessing LaMarcus Aldridge this year. His game has never been predicated on tremendous athleticism and his lack of toughness down low makes everything harder for him. Following hip surgery, I was concerned about his ability to get rehabilitated and then retain his limited athleticism so he could continue to get his shot off and rebound at a first round rate. But all of the reports regarding his health were positive this offseason, so I thought I was being overly skeptical and backed off. Well, the athleticism doesn’t appear to be there and the numbers haven’t been, either, as he’s returning just fourth round value because of his seven point decrease in shooting from the field over last season’s 51 percent mark.
What’s worse are all of the small ailments, with the most recent one being an aggravation of his back injury in last night’s game. He still played a whopping 41 minutes and scored 17 points on 8-of-19 shooting with seven boards, three assists, and a steal, but the questions about his game are going to linger until he has a significant stretch of high-percentage results. If he’s going to become a perimeter player only, then he’s going to post shooting numbers like a perimeter player. The physical issues just compound that issue and add risk to a situation that gains a new little red flag seemingly every week.
J.J. Hickson took my low-upside comments from yesterday to heart and put up 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting with 19 rebounds, one steal, and one block, but beyond Hickson and Aldridge it was an ugly night for a Blazers squad that gave the lowly Wizards their first win. Damian Lillard hit just 6-of-21 shots for 20 points with four threes, five assists, and two steals, Wes Matthews (thumb) hit just 2-of-10 shots for six points, and Nicolas Batum hit just 6-of-15 attempts for 20 points with five threes and a fairly full line. Batum may still be dealing with the flu and Matthews’ thumb deserves some attention, but along with Lillard I’m not worried about any of them. They’re simply trying to figure out how to play through a decreasingly effective Aldridge while teams begin to game plan around Lillard and Batum.
The Wizards got their first win last night and hopefully it will bring some stability to their rotations, and that was actually a complaint of the players as they met with Randy Wittman before the game to clear the air. Whatever they said worked as everybody pitched in a little bit to eke out a win over the Blazers. Jordan Crawford scored 19 points off the bench, but as usual his poor peripherals make him a hard guy to own unless you punt in his deficient areas. Kevin Seraphin double-doubled with 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting, 10 rebounds, three assists, and one block. I’ve been banging that drum so this is obviously a good look for many of my teams.
Nene played and his 19-minute workload is a lot more realistic approach than the 29 minutes he played the other night. Let’s see him keep up 25 minutes per night before we get too excited about his standard league prospects. Trevor Ariza had a ‘good’ night with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting (including two threes) with five rebounds and a steal. It’s anybody’s guess what he does the next time out. Bradley Beal played just 16 minutes and it’s possible he could have been some of the source of his teammates’ frustrations, as getting a win started to override developing the young talent. He’s still a worthy stash any way one slices it. A.J. Price hit just 1-of-7 shots for three points, three rebounds, and six assists, and may have felt the footsteps from Shaun Livingston (17 minutes) tonight. Either way, it’s a situation to avoid in most standard formats unless you’re desperate.
News and Notes
Andrew Bogut (ankle) doesn’t sound like he’s returning anytime soon and we’re beginning to hear talk that he’s hopeful to play this year, as the Warriors continue to pad their stats as one of the league’s worst at handling injuries. John Wall (knee) doesn’t sound like he’s in Bogut’s boat, but he still doesn’t have a timetable and the Wiz aren’t going to rush him back for this year’s train wreck. Gerald Henderson (foot) is starting to creep into questionable territory after seemingly missing his original 1-2 week timeframe for return. I’ve still held him in a deeper 12-team big money league since he could be nice if the light bulb turned on, though he’ll be on my cut list this week if we don’t get some good news soon.
Carl Landry (oral surgery) returned to practice yesterday and is a must-own player in my book, especially with Bogut being a total mess. Trevor Booker (knee) still operates without a time-frame, but if he can get healthy he’ll be a threat to steal 15-25 minutes from the frontcourt, at least. Ricky Rubio (knee) is back to full-contact practice and he should be owned in all formats. Beat writer Jerry Zgoda has predicted a December 12 return and he’s probably most qualified to venture a guess in the media.
Steve Blake (abdomen) is out for two weeks and Steve Nash (leg) is still out for the proverbial week. Kawhi Leonard (quad) is aiming to return on Dec. 1, and should be owned in all 8- and 9-cat formats by my measure. He has some flop potential, but his upside is immense and he still profiles as a guy the Spurs will lean on. Stephen Jackson (finger) can return in a little over two weeks, but is apparently going to try to beat that timeline. His return will steal about 20-24 mpg from the overall bucket. Dion Waiter’s finger MRI came back clean and he should be ready to go for Friday’s game against the Hawks. Daniel Gibson’s elbow MRI confirmed a bruise but the sense out of Cleveland was that this isn’t a serious injury. We’ll see.
Thursday Night Chat
I’ll be chatting tonight at 9 p.m. ET so get your questions ready.
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