NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
James Harden Explosion
We had 11 games last night and a trade deadline to get ready for, so I’m jumping right into this. Follow me on Twitter for all of the breaking news, and go to our NBA home page and follow the whole crew. I’ll be publishing the trade deadline preview in a few hours here, and after it’s all done I’ll eventually get some sleep. It’s time to dig deep and get ready for the day that fantasy fortunes can change.
Brandon Knight left last night’s game after hyper-extending his right knee. He returned for a moment and then left, and he’ll likely get an MRI to determine the extent of the injury. He was joking around after the game, so if I’m ‘guessing’ then I’ll call this a day-to-day type thing rather than a week-to-week issue. Rodney Stuckey scored 12 points with seven rebounds, three assists, and a steal, and could be worth a speculative look with the hopes that Knight’s injury is more serious than it seems. Will Bynum will be worth a look in deeper formats if that is the case, and he put up eight points and seven assists in 27 minutes last night. Charlie Villanueva scored seven points with nine rebounds, two blocks, and a three, and is also worth an add in deeper leagues right now.
HENDERSON IS IN SESSION
Gerald Henderson (13 points, seven rebounds, five assists, one three) seems like a good candidate to be traded, and that makes him a sell-high candidate right now since he probably won’t land in as good of a spot as he is in right now. Ramon Sessions scored 18 points with six rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two threes, and I think he’s worth a hard look in standard formats, especially with Henderson possibly on the way out. I’d have a hard time letting him pass by me unless I am stacked. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finally got back on track with 11 points, six boards, three assists, and three blocks, and I think he should be owned in all 12-team leagues and possibly some 10-teamers with the hopes he gets loose down the stretch.
The Grizzlies won the Rudy Gay Bowl, despite a real slow night from Marc Gasol (five points, three boards, four assists, four blocks). Tony Allen scored 12 points with eight rebounds, three steals, and one block in 35 minutes, and he’s worth a look for the hopes the Grizz don’t add another wing. He and his teammates have a friendly schedule the rest of the way.
LAST, BEST OFFER
The Toronto wing attack is going to be interesting to watch, as it doesn’t exactly lend itself to balanced production when they dominate the shot attempts. DeMar DeRozan hit just 1-of-9 shots for seven points, three boards, and five assists, and Rudy Gay hit just 5-of-15 shots for 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and five turnovers against his old squad. Amir Johnson did get going with 16 points, five rebounds, a steal, and two blocks, while Jonas Valanciunas (six points, six boards, no steals or blocks, 18 minutes) struggled.
Andrea Bargnani made his last, best offer to the rest of the league with zero points on 0-for-4 shooting, two boards, one steal, and one block in 22 minutes. In fairness, the wings have dominated the touches so much that it’s been hard for anybody else to get a rhythm. Alan Anderson has also been firing away, and he got hot last night with 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting, four treys, and two boards in 19 foul-plagued minutes. I can’t bring myself to trust Anderson in standard formats and expect inconsistency. As for JV, owners will want to treat him as a stash until he can get his act together, and if Bargnani doesn’t get traded then he’ll be droppable depending on one’s options.
SIR TALKS A LOT
J.R. Smith got ejected after Lance Stephenson got in his head, and finished with just five points on 1-of-7 shooting. Those two have some history so it wasn’t too surprising to see, though that’s not necessarily paying the bills for his owners. Carmelo Anthony hit just 7-of-21 shots for 15 points, six boards, and one assist, and now would be the time to make your best play for him, as his schedule is great down the stretch and he will definitely turn things around.
Lance Stephenson scored 14 points with five boards, three assists, and two steals in last night’s blowout win over the Knicks, and as mentioned he got into J.R. Smith’s head which led to his ejection. Especially with Danny Granger (knee) eventually returning, there’s not a whole lot to see here in standard formats. David West returned from his eye injury and stepped right into an 18-point, nine-rebound night that included a full stat line. Paul George was his typical productive self with 27 points, eight rebounds, a steal and two blocks in the win.
YOUNG AT HEART
Nick Young was somehow dropped in one of my deeper big money leagues and I had to decide if I wanted to put in a big bid when I didn’t really need his stat-sets. I let somebody else bid heavy for him and I’m feeling good temporarily, as Young hit 1-of-7 shots for six points, five rebounds, and three assists. I doubt he will continue to struggle like this, and unless the Sixers add somebody in what seems like an unlikely transaction then this is a buy low moment, and he’s certainly worth picking up if somebody in your league is impatient. Spencer Hawes scored nine points with eight rebounds and a block, and though his name has been popping up I think owners can wait-and-see how things go since the Sixers seem ready to stand pat. Andrew Bynum’s return isn’t something to worry about at this point, either.
PEK WILL BREAK YOU
Nikola Pekovic is a dark horse to get traded and had a monster night with 27 points, 18 rebounds, a steal and two blocks. The word on the street is that the Wolves aren’t sure about his long-term status with the team, and if they wander into a big deal he could be a pretty enticing piece. I’d say the chances of a trade are less than 20 percent, so owners should weight that accordingly, but a careful sell-high offer could end up looking genius if Pek lands in a less friendly system than the one he is in.
Andrei Kirilenko (quad) returned and wasted no time putting up 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, and three blocks. The Wolves have an awesome schedule down the stretch, which owners will want to make sure they account for when making a deal of any type. Derrick Williams stayed hot with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, eight rebounds, a steal, and two threes. This is his ceiling for the most part, and he’s doing his part to market himself for a potential trade out of Minny. I’ve been pretty harsh on Williams and I’m not running to the streets to sing his praises just yet – I think his margin for error is too slim with his peripherals – but there’s enough to hold onto here to justify an add in standards. Just realize a trade elsewhere will be an unknown quantity.
Thabo Sefolosha did not care that James Harden was running all over the Thunder last night, as he posted a career-high 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting with five rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and six threes. He has been a solid mid-to-late round value this year and should be owned in most formats. Kevin Durant triple-doubled with 16 points, 12 boards, 11 assists, two steals and one block, and Russell Westbrook added 28 points, 10 boards, and eight assists in an up-and-down game against the Rockets. Unfortunately for owners, the Thunder don’t have the greatest schedule down the stretch but owners will more than likely just choose to live with it. Kendrick Perkins (knee) did not play last night and hopes to play on Friday.
APPARENTLY JAMES HARDEN ‘IS’ BETTER THAN KENDRICK PERKINS
James Harden should not have been traded out of OKC, and that point became evident when he touched up his former team for a career-high 46 points on 14-of-19 shooting (11-of-12 FTs) with eight boards, six assists, one steal, one block, and seven 3-pointers. It’s the best fantasy line of the year and we’re guessing if you had the choice between keeping him and amnestying Kendrick Perkins you’d know what to do. Jeremy Lin (hand) was overshadowed by Harden’s big night, but 29 points, six rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and three treys are nothing to shake a stick at.
Carlos Delfino (nine points, 3-of-12 FGs, six rebounds, five assists, four steals, three treys) played 42 minutes last night, and with both power forwards leaving in exchange for Thomas Robinson he could be looking at a consistent workload if he can stay healthy. Chandler Parsons put a scare into owners after being carried off the floor due to an ankle injury, and in Paul Pierce fashion he returned to finish with 17 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two threes. His ankle could swell up overnight but the performance underscores what a year this guy is having.
HOW BOUT NOW BROW COW?
Al-Farouq Aminu has been productive for a week or two now, and put up four points, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two blocks. I mentioned this two weeks ago when he was struggling and he bounced back – by the time you feel comfortable enough to put him in a lineup he might land back in the doghouse. But for now he’s worth owning even if he’s not a must-own player. Brian Roberts scored 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting with three treys and not much else, and he does this every once in a while and then goes back to being irrelevant.
Ryan Anderson’s cold streak continued as he hit just 3-of-11 shots for seven points, three boards and one three. I’m zero percent concerned about him and this is a buy low moment. Anthony Davis’ see-saw ride is getting old, as he scored 12 points on 2-of-7 shooting with four rebounds and two blocks. Despite what many would call an underwhelming year, he has still posted third and fifth round value on a per-game basis in 9- and 8-cat leagues, respectively. A few weeks back I backed off my buy low recommendations because of concerns over his ankle, and now that we haven’t heard anything about it for a while I’m ready to turn the buy low switch back on.
Robin Lopez got into foul trouble and finished with 15 points and three boards in 16 minutes, which sad to say qualifies as a good night for him lately. I think the guy to watch for Lopez’s value is Davis, and if he’s not struggling mightily then Lopez will be better left on the wire in 12-14 team formats.
SOMEBODY GOT THE MEMO
Kyrie Irving scored 20 points in the fourth quarter of last night’s win over the Hornets, finishing with 35 points, five boards, seven assists, two steals and two threes. This just in – he’s good. Tristan Thompson trudged along on his ‘prove me wrong’ tour with nine points, 13 rebounds, one steal, and one block, while Dion Waiters has slowly gotten the memo about taking the ball to the rim. He hit 6-of-10 shots for 16 points, three assists, one steal, and one block, and is shooting 51 percent in the month of February. He should be owned in all formats.
Tyler Zeller’s struggles continued as the rookie scored 10 points with just two rebounds in 22 minutes, which didn’t translate into a good night for Marreese Speights (four points, six boards, 18 minutes), either. I’m disappointed that Speights hasn’t worked out, and also wondering if the standard fare of bad decision-making and lack of effort have reared their face here for Speights. No matter how bad Zeller plays, Speights isn’t given the reins to run with. He’s also popping up in trade rumors, so I think owners can definitely drop him for a better free agent if they’re so inclined.
TWO SIDES TO EVERY COIN
Deron Williams scored 23 points with eight assists in last night’s win over the Bucks, and he said he feels good after the PRP treatment on his ankle. I think owners can approach this from both sides. If you’re down and you want to gamble consider floating a buy low offer to his owners, hoping that this is a sign of things to come, and if you’re afraid of the risk for games off to prepare for the playoffs then right now is a pretty good time to sell.
Joe Johnson hit just 3-of-14 shots for eight points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals, and after his big game the night before I hope some of you were able to sell high. Andray Blatche double-doubled with 12 and 12, a steal, and two blocks in 25 minutes, and he’ll need a trade of Kris Humphries with no big men returning before owners can feel good about an add in standards. He also appears to have gained weight throughout the season, for whatever that is worth.
The Larry Sanders show has picked back up where it left off and he put up another 12 points, 13 boards, three assists, and five blocks. Defensive. Player. Of. The. Year. And like I’ve said a million times, I’d almost be willing to bet that the voters can’t figure it out. Brandon Jennings scored 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting with 11 assists and four threes, and I hope you were able to buy low last week.
Monta Ellis (5-of-15 FGs, 14 points, four boards, five assists, two steals) is the guy that’s heading out if either guard gets moved, with Atlanta in the lead, and I think he’ll be fine there but if he gets moved anywhere else then owners will wish they had sold high. He isn’t going to be recruited to be a No. 1 scorer or even No. 2 scorer on anything but a really bad team. The Warriors’ addition by subtraction (relative) success and the shooting competition in Milwaukee in the backcourt have pretty much soured everybody on turning the ball over to Ellis.
ALL STAR HANGOVER
Chris Bosh’s struggles continued last night, as he hit just 2-of-10 shots for six points, six rebounds and zero blocks. Maybe getting clowned during All Star weekend has had a carryover effect, and now is owners’ best chance to snag him from an impatient owner. Shane Battier hit 5-of-8 shots (all threes) to score 17 points, but one look at his game log will show that he can be safely ignored. Ray Allen has picked it back up and scored 15 points with four boards and two threes in last night’s win over the Hawks.
END OF AN ILL-ADVISED ERA
Al Horford did what good bigs do to the Heat, scoring 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting with nine boards and two blocks. We’ve been talking a ton about Josh Smith, who might have played his last game in a Hawks uniform last night. He put up 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting (0-for-4 from deep) with nine rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. Right now it feels like the Bucks have the inside track to land him, but regardless I think he’s a sell-high player knowing that there is a percentage chance he is leaving and nowhere else profiles quite as well as Atlanta for his fantasy value.
Kyle Korver came off the bench again and finished with 12 points, seven boards, three assists, and four treys in 26 minutes. Others are concerned about whether or not he starts, and I could frankly care less. I bet he puts up the same numbers in either role, even if the bench role is disconcerting.
Moe Harkless flip-flopped with Andrew Nicholson last night as the rookie to own, as he put up 20 points, eight boards, one steal, one block, and one three. Nicholson scored 10 points with seven rebounds and two assists, and I think both guys should be owned in 12-team formats. It doesn’t hurt that the Magic have a good schedule and will be looking to develop their youth.
Jameer Nelson hurt his left knee last night, and despite saying he’s “okay” he’s going to get an MRI on it. E’Twaun Moore played well early in the year, but he hasn’t been a lock to produce when Nelson has missed time recently. He scored five points with one assist in 12 minutes last night, and he’s best left as a speculative add in deeper formats unless we get unexpected bad news on Nelson.
Al Harrington (knee) did not make his debut and that should tell you all you need to know about his health, as he could have helped his own cause getting traded out of Orlando. Now, he admits that teams won’t trade for him not knowing if he’s healthy. I’ve covered J.J. Redick in detail in our trade deadline pieces, and he was rattled a bit by the trade rumors on his way to 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting and an otherwise normal line. I think he has a 40-70% chance of leaving, and he’ll struggle to get as many looks as he can get in Orlando, making this a sell-high moment.
Vince Carter kept his foot on the gas with 14 points, four treys and a season-high eight assists, and while consistency is always a concern when a guy is averaging 24 minutes per game like he has over his last five – he’s certainly worth a look if you’re in a pinch. Darren Collison scored nine points with nine assists and two steals, and is a decent sell-high candidate with the Mavs looking to improve at the PG position. Just realize that nothing has developed on that end so far and the trade deadline could be quiet. O.J. Mayo played through his ankle injury and scored 13 points with four rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and three treys in 37 minutes. Consider him good to go. Elton Brand scored 17 points with five rebounds and two blocks, but his consistency is a problem and he’s only worth a look if you’re desperate for a big.
MORE MAGIC FROM DRAGIC
I’ll admit that I’ve been bumming out about Goran Dragic all year. I had him ranked very highly in my 150 and seeing him held back so guys like Michael Beasley and Shannon Brown could chuck up ridiculous shots has been a buzz-kill. Maybe Lindsay Hunter is figuring it out, though, as Dragic followed up his monster Tuesday with 20 points, four rebounds, 10 assists, and a career-high five steals last night. You can certainly sell-high and try to get an early round stud if you’re not feeling Dragic, but I’m going to hang on and see how it goes.
Jared Dudley scored 15 points with five assists, a steal, and three treys and could be back in favor in Phoenix, but as a trade candidate he could land in a place with much more depth and that makes his already tenuous value that much more shaky.
Marcin Gortat has also been a disappointment after a blistering start to the season, and was once again outplayed by Jermaine O’Neal despite getting three blocks to go with eight points and four rebounds. There have definitely been extenuating circumstances lately with the Suns trying to trade O’Neal, who put up a huge 17-point, 12-rebound, two-block effort in just 23 minutes. O’Neal was definitely out to make a statement last night, and it sure sounds like he’ll find his way to a contender. Either way, don’t panic on Gortat, who is also in diminishing trade rumors. He has enough value to be held in all formats.
The Warriors finally won a game, which I’ll take even if it was a struggle at home against the Suns. Klay Thompson took the ridiculous Eric Gordon trade rumors to heart with 28 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and a block. The Warriors schedule is a mess down the stretch, so owners may want to trade into better situations where they can.
Andrew Bogut backed up his 15-minute outing from Tuesday with seven points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and three blocks in a season-high 29 minutes, as you can bet Mark Jackson and the Warriors brass urged him to have a big night needing a win. He should be owned in all formats for the chance he can keep it up, but expectations need to be in check. Jarrett Jack was his typical solid self with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, four assists, and three treys. I have no idea where the Dubs would be without the guy, and while I speculated the Warriors could move away from their three-guard lineup it won’t happen if they keep winning, and even then it’s not all that likely with the way Jack is playing.
Avery Bradley scored just six points on 2-of-7 shooting, but managed four rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block, and a three to salvage his night. Courtney Lee has been playing well enough to consider an add, as he scored 20 points with two threes last night to keep things moving in the right direction. Still, I’m not breaking down any doors to get at either of them.
TRIBUTE TO A LEGEND
In a bit of random scheduling luck, the first game since Dr. Jerry Buss’ death was at home against the Celtics, and the Lakers delivered a win after an emotional speech by Kobe Bryant to start the game. Lakers ops lit up Buss’ seat in the owner box, and for one night everything was alright despite the air of sadness that hung over the game.
Steve Nash scored 14 points with four boards and seven assists, and passed Magic Johnson for No. 4 on the all-time assists list. Dwight Howard scored 24 points with 12 boards, a steal, and a block, Earl Clark posted 14 points, a career-high 16 boards, a steal, and a block, Antawn Jamison had 15 points, five boards, and a three in 22 minutes, and Kobe finished with 16 points on 5-of-15 shooting (no threes), four rebounds, and seven assists. It’s possible that the passing of a legend could bring this team together, and that would be a fitting tribute.
BASKETBALL REASONS (OR LACK THEREOF)
I got a call from a source moments before the deal went down, saying “you’re not going to believe this.” Indeed, this year’s No. 5 overall pick that could have gone as high as No. 2 -- Thomas Robinson -- was getting traded for Patrick Patterson and spare parts. This was a straight-up salary dump, and sources painted the picture of a win-win deal for the Seattle ownership group and the Maloof family. The Maloofs would save approximately $3 million this year and also steal back the narrative that the family and Seattle were in control of the team, despite reports that Sacramento is surging in their efforts to keep the team.
As one source with intimate knowledge of the situation put it, “Why in the world would Seattle want to trade away a lottery pick to save money down the road, and why would the Maloofs have any say over the decision as lame duck owners?”
I said, “Win-Win?” They said, “You got it.”
Let’s break this thing down….
Thomas Robinson (to HOU): I think he’s a strong speculative add, if anything because you’re looking for upside in a pickup. The Rockets are suddenly shallow at power forward and banking on Royce White isn’t wise from anybody’s perspective. This would theoretically make him a no-brainer, must-add player, and he could certainly benefit from the wheeling and dealing style of the Rockets, but owners have to realize this dude has some major issues on the court. Namely, he has no clue what he is doing. Kevin McHale isn’t the type to put up with that, so Robinson will either have to cut it out or ride the pine. Examples include not giving the ball to a guard – ever – taking ridiculously bad shots, having no jumpshot, turnovers, and some absolutely awful defense. He can jump though, even if he has a hard time converting on his dunks. We can blame a lot on Keith Smart, but at some point it’s on Robinson to stay in his lane and try to learn the game.
Marcus Morris (to PHO): This is just weird. The Suns will have to either have the guys both wear just ‘Morris’ on their jerseys, or they’re going to have to go with ‘Mark. Morris’ and ‘Marc. Morris,’ or they’re going to have to list their full names out. And then you have the fact that they’re twins and play a similar game. This could also lend itself to some awesome synergies, unless we’re missing something, as the brothers probably know where each other are on the court at all times. The Suns are a total mess and anybody that shows a pulse will find their way on the court. For now things will be tight, and owners may want to take a wait-and-see with both brothers, but don’t be surprised if they start to elbow others out or benefit from later trades sending guys out.
Patrick Patterson (to SAC): I had to remind the Sacramento media that Patterson has struggled this year, save for some strong games recently, but there is definitely some optimism that he can come in and help. I can’t help but think that anybody from another team or system would be welcomed like a guy pulling up his boat to a bunch of stranded island-goers. Owners need to remember one thing – Keith Smart isn’t going anywhere. He could decide to plug in Patterson at point guard or he could run with Jason Thompson and give Patterson the backup minutes. There are still lingering concerns about his foot, but in general, I’d expect Patterson to play 20-27 minutes when he’s up to speed. He’s friends with DeMarcus Cousins and that could actually be useful keeping the big man in line on the court, and in general enhance his chance to play. Just don’t go thinking that it will automatically supersede Thompson’s role on the squad, which has been earned in everybody’s eyes except for Smart.
Toney Douglas (to SAC): No joke, Isaiah Thomas owners shouldn’t be panicking, but Smart could easily decide it’s fair to give Douglas minutes and take them from Thomas’ bucket. I’m not saying he’ll do it, but that it’s on the table. Kings fans might riot.
Cole Aldrich (to SAC): The Kings actually need a big man that can take up space, but that doesn’t mean that Aldrich is the guy they would want or that this deal isn’t laughable on every level.
Francisco Garcia (to HOU): I actually wouldn’t rule Garcia out to have some value, as he can climb the charts quickly with his ability to steal, block, and hit the three, but again, you’ll want to wait and see how things go in reasonably sized formats. On a team with proper talent and coaching, he could actually do some damage if a few things break his way.
Tyler Honeycutt (to HOU): Likely headed for the D-League, there’s not much to see here even if a change of scenery is probably best for him at this stage of his career.
NEWS AND NOTES
Eric Gordon will be dealing with hand pain for “a while” and any analyst or executive that doesn’t laugh his contract out of the room I’m giving the side-eye to. Wesley Matthews (ankle, elbow) won’t attempt to practice until Friday’s shootaround. The Blazers need him back to form a competitive team, but they’re not going to let him run head first into the shredder.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
MIA @ CHI: Derrick Rose (knee) scrimmaged yet again and everybody says he looks like he can play, but strangeness is afoot in Chicago. I think you hold the guy out if he’s not ready, and you get him back on the court if he can go. As long as there are no funky marketing concerns, I think the Bulls would be wise to get him on the floor and see what they can do in the playoffs. Stranger things have happened, and the experience of a deep run will carry over into future years.
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