NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Dose: Early Games On MLK Day
My record-keeping skills aren’t great, but I’m pretty sure this is at least my 10th straight season of covering MLK Day hoops for Rotoworld. It’s the best day of the year for fantasy hoops junkies, especially if you’re lucky enough to get the day off. It used to be an automatic sick/personal day for me when I had a “real” job and worked in a cubicle, for a woman who absolutely hated fantasy sports and my involvement with them, even though she also had no idea what fantasy sports were. But she always claimed to be a Packers fan, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she plays in a fantasy football league these days. In one of the last conversations we had before I went all ‘Office Space’ and decided to “stop going” back in 2004, she said “I don’t know what fantasy sports are, and I don’t even want to know what they are.” If anyone reading this knows Corrine, tell her I said hello.
I’ve got a time-crunch situation on Sunday night so this column will focus on Monday’s games, which kick off at 1 p.m. EST. Make sure you get your lineups set ASAP, and check out the Injury Report, the Saturday Dose, Waiver Wired and the news blurbs from the weekend to catch up on anything you missed. And follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
Games Played for Week 13
5 Games – L.A. Clippers
4 Games – Atlanta, Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Golden State, Houston, L.A. Lakers, Memphis, Minnesota, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, Washington.
3 Games – Charlotte, Cleveland, Indiana, Miami, Milwaukee, Orlando, Philadelphia, Toronto, Utah.
2 Games – Dallas, Denver.
MLK Day Schedule & Outlook
Kings @ Hornets – 1 p.m.
Isaiah Thomas teased his owners again on Saturday with 15 points, five boards, seven assists and two steals in a win over the Bobcats, while Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins all played well. I have no idea on what nights IT2 should be started, but he looked good in that one, and is now a decent option in weekly leagues with four games. John Salmons has cooled off and I’d bench him in weekly leagues, while Cousins is officially the only must-start player on the Kings right now.
Greivis Vasquez and Ryan Anderson are must-starts, Anthony Davis broke loose on Saturday and should be in lineups with four games this week, and Eric Gordon is a must-start on nights he’ll play. Gordon has a decent chance of starting all four games this week because none of them are back-to-backs. Al-Farouq Aminu is the hot free agent right now, especially after he had 14 points, 10 boards, two steals and a block on Saturday. Pick him up. Robin Lopez is also a decent center option if you need one.
Pacers @ Grizzlies – 1 p.m. ESPN
Paul George owners only get three games out of their beast this week and he’s coming off another monster game of 31 points, six boards, five steals, a block and seven 3-pointers on 11-of-19 shooting Saturday. Wow. And he even shut down James Harden in that one, to boot. George Hill, David West and Roy Hibbert should be in most lineups, while Lance Stephenson will be worth a deep-league look.
Zach Randolph returned on Saturday from his back injury, so that should mean he’s safe for the week, especially since he had 13 points and 19 boards in that one. Rudy Gay has not been traded and remains a must-start player with four games, while Mike Conley and Marc Gasol should also be in starting lineups. Tony Allen is a possibility in deeper leagues, but the good news is that both of these teams should come in healthy.
Timberwolves @ Hawks 2 p.m.
Speaking of health, the Wolves are failing in that department, with a majority of their players banged up. Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved are out on Monday, while Dante Cunningham is very iffy due to an illness. Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and J.J. Barea are all decent fantasy plays for four games this week, while the unknown Chris Johnson is coming off an incredible game on Saturday when he had 15 points, six boards and a block in just 18 minutes, after being signed that morning. I don’t trust him enough to put him in a lineup, but he’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. And starting C Greg Stiemsma is also worth a look if you need boards and blocks.
The Hawks are a mess right now with Lou Williams out for the season with a knee injury, and Devin Harris a little iffy with a sprained ankle. Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague are four-game must-starts, while Kyle Korver and Harris are pretty close to also being must-plays, if Harris is healthy enough to go. Zaza Pachulia is also worth a look, as he bounces in and out of the starting unit for Larry Drew. Watch for updates on Harris prior to the game.
Rockets @ Bobcats 2 p.m.
With four games, James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik look like must-starts, but keep in mind Lin was benched at the start of the second half on Saturday after ticking off Kevin McHale with poor play. Hopefully that won’t carry over into this week, while Asik was terrible on Saturday after blowing up for a career-high 22 points on Friday. The whole team was pretty awful in Saturday’s loss to the Wolves, so look for them to bounce back against the Cats. Carlos Delfino and Patrick Patterson are also worth a look, but I trust Delfino more than Pat-Pat at this point. If I own Delfino, I’m playing him, and learning to take the good with the bad.
Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Ramon Sessions all look like solid three-game plays, while Hakim Warrick and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are also worth a look. Ben Gordon has cooled off too much to be relied upon, while Bismack Biyombo is not a guy I’d start in a four-game week, let alone a three-gamer. Walker (ankle) and Henderson (back) are both dealing with injury concerns, so watch for news on them Monday morning.
Nets @ Knicks 3:30 p.m. NBATV
With four games, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are your must-starts, while Gerald Wallace, Andray Blatche, Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans are all worth a look, based on your needs. I have a feeling Wallace may be ready for a bounce-back week, so think about running him out there.
The Knicks’ one-game week is mercifully behind us and they go four times this week. Carmelo Anthony’s owners are rejoicing, along with those of J.R. Smith and Tyson Chandler. Amare Stoudemire played well on Thursday with 17 points and four boards in 20 minutes, and is worth a look, despite the obvious playing-time concerns. Jason Kidd is another guy I have no problems with starting this week, while Chris Copeland, Steve Novak and Iman Shumpert might be worth a deep-league flier. Raymond Felton is nearing a return, but isn’t startable yet.
Clippers @ Warriors 4 p.m.
This game will feature a pair of banged up point guards, both of whom played well on Saturday. Keep an eye out for news on Chris Paul’s knee, but with five games, he simply has to be started in weeklies. Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes are also five-game must-starts, while DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler and Lamar Odom are also strong possibilities. Eric Bledsoe actually played well despite the return of Paul, but even with five games, you can probably find a safer option.
Stephen Curry returned after missing a couple games with a sprained ankle on Saturday and went off for 20 points and a full stat line in 38 minutes. He’s a must-start with four games (as long as he’s healthy), along with Klay Thompson. David Lee is banged up with a sprained ankle, but is still hoping to play on Monday after missing Saturday’s game. Watch for news on Curry and Lee Monday morning. Jarrett Jack went off, despite Curry’s return, and had 25 points and 12 dimes on Saturday. He’s risky, but worth a serious look. Harrison Barnes disappeared on Saturday, but is still a decent four-game option, while Carl Landry’s double-double on Saturday was a bit of a fluke with Lee out.
Spurs @ Sixers 7 p.m. TNT
The Spurs have four games, but you just don’t know what you’re going to get, which Tim Duncan’s owners know after his surprise DNP on Saturday in order to rest. Duncan and Tony Parker are must-starts, while Manu Ginobili is out for the week. Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal, Stephen Jackson and Danny Green are all going to help fill in for him, and could trade off productive lines from night to night. Tiago Splitter is playing well enough to be a solid four-game option, while I would lean toward starting Leonard, too.
The Sixers are coming off a two-game week, but Jrue Holiday played well in both of them and looks like a must-start, despite just three games. Thaddeus Young is also a solid option, along with Evan Turner. Jason Richardson didn’t practice on Sunday with his gimpy knee and is always a risky play these days. And Dorell Wright has been quiet, but could get hot if J-Rich misses any time.
Lakers @ Bulls 9:30 p.m. TNT
The Lakers are a mess and lost to the Raptors on Sunday, when Dwight Howard was ejected (when he probably shouldn’t have been). That helped Earl Clark have another big game, and he’s worth a look for four games this week, even with Howard and Pau Gasol both back. Kobe Bryant, Howard, Metta World Peace, Steve Nash and Gasol are all must-starts. Antawn Jamison is probably in the same category as Clark, but the sad truth is that Clark is a more trustworthy player right now.
Luol Deng missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury, making him iffy for Monday. If he’s out, Jimmy Butler should have another opportunity after racking up a career-high 18 points, eight boards and three steals in a start for Deng. Joakim Noah was benched on Saturday, but is a must-start, along with Carlos Boozer. Taj Gibson has played well, but I don’t trust him as long as Noah and Boozer are healthy. It’s fine to throw Kirk Hinrich or Nate Robinson into a lineup in hopes they have some good games this week, but they’re both pretty shaky from night to night. Richard Hamilton has been playing better, and is also worth some deep-league consideration.
Wizards @ Blazers 10 p.m.
With four games John Wall, Bradley Beal and (surprisingly) Emeka Okafor are your only must-start Wizards, while Kevin Seraphin, Nene, Jordan Crawford, Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza may all be worth a look. A.J. Price probably is too, but you also have to think Wall is very close to replacing him at point guard.
With four games, there’s not much to say about the Blazers. The starters are all fantasy money, and the bench is fantasy garbage. That means Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson are all must-start players this week and on Monday. Just keep in mind that Lillard (ankle), Batum (wrist) and Aldridge (wrist) are all worth keeping an eye on for news on their minor injuries Monday morning.
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