NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
NBA Trade Season Is Here
We went from a slow start to the week to a massive Big Wednesday, with 12 games, a major trade, a major injury in Laker-land, and plenty of fantasy value shifting across the association. The trade deadline is starting to heat up, and we’re probably looking at the beginning of a month-long storm that will decide fantasy leagues. Buckle up.
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The Rudy Gay Trade
Rudy Gay was finally traded and it drew the usual ‘stat guy’ versus ‘eye test’ discussion on the Twitter box, and with stat guy symbol John Hollinger in the mix in Memphis it quickly became a referendum on Gay’s inefficiency, fair or not. He goes to Toronto where Bryan Colangelo is fighting for his job, and this is the cornerstone of his Hail Mary. Gay is great friends with PG Kyle Lowry, and Gay should slip right into things with plenty to prove for everybody and no real competition for minutes. I’m comfortable with saying he has a good shot at added value in Toronto, where he won’t be nearly as prone to grind-it-out games and dump-offs to Zach Randolph. If the Raps play their cards right, they’ll immediately install an up-tempo scheme that relies on their athletes to match up in small lineups against their opponents. If all works well, they’ll have playmakers at multiple positions and everything will click. At worst, the sticky-fingered perimeter players will struggle to find each other off the ball.
I feel like it’s a waste of ink to tell you that Lowry should be owned, since I can’t imagine anybody dropping him with all that upside. DeMar DeRozan and Gay are a mixed pairing, with plenty of athleticism but similarly situated skill-sets that are highlighted by a lack of range. The bottom line for Double D is that he’s probably going to lose touches.
Andrea Bargnani (elbow) is expected to return “later this week or early next week,” and now that the Raptors have acquired Rudy Gay they will be under a good amount of pressure to move Bargnani and the remaining $22 million on his contract over the next two seasons. This means it’s time for an audition, so the stretch big man should be owned in most if not all formats. This isn’t a guarantee that he will be a consistent fantasy asset, as he needs to both do his part and avoid the typical pitfalls of being on the trade market (sudden DNPs, conservative deployment). With Ed Davis gone and Jonas Valanciunas on the mend as well (returning as soon as Feb. 2), there should be ample minutes over the short-term for Bargnani. From there, owners are hoping for a trade into a good situation and prolonged health. There is just enough upside to justify taking on all of that risk, and it’s your job to figure out who at the bottom of your roster you can part with.
Double Double Toil and Trouble, Calderon Burn in Detroit Rubble
Jose Calderon landed with the Pistons’ (theoretically) rebuilding excavation and to me that was a clear sign that the team isn’t comfortable with Brandon Knight (seven points, 3-of-12 FGs, four assists, 28 minutes) running the point full-time. Knight has struggled to run the team, and now that he’s likely to slide over to the two it gives one potential reason for Rodney Stuckey and Lawrence Frank to get into a dust-up. It’s possible the writing on the wall said something like ‘we’re not planning around you.’ I wouldn’t bail on Knight in response to this news just yet, as he has functioned like a shooting guard and held value in the past, and the Pistons probably want to develop him. The key to his value will be how many threes he can hit, and whether or not he can toss in enough assists and points to keep him above the cut line. The good news is that he’ll be playing with a willing passer in Calderon, but the chance a timeshare kills his value is equal or greater news here.
Memphis Clearing Cap Room
Ed Davis was the best piece acquired by the Grizzlies in yesterday’s trade, but his fantasy value took a deadly hit as he’ll play behind Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and also compete against Darrell Arthur. Maybe he can steal some minutes at the ‘3,’ but I doubt it.
Tayshaun Prince also goes to Memphis and profiles as a pretty good fit. He’s old enough to stay in his lane, and his versatility should be a nice compliment to Randolph and Marc Gasol. Austin Daye also came across in the trade, and it’s possible that the Grizzlies decide to use the disappointing youngster more than the hard-nosed Frank did in Detroit. That said, there are way too many players ahead of Daye in the pecking order to get excited. Just watch him from afar. As for Prince, he will need a sizable bump in production from his Detroit days to make any real difference in most leagues. There’s a chance he can do it, but I’d peg it at about 10-30%.
Free Andre Drummond
For the masses out there hoping that Lawrence Frank will free Andre Drummond, the rookie big man saw 24 minutes compared to Jason Maxiell’s 17 minutes and finished with four points, 14 rebounds, two steals, and three blocks. I can’t imagine letting him lay around on the waiver wire in any format, even with low-volume free throw shooting concerns.
Greg Monroe (18 points, nine rebounds, two blocks) took a shot to the head but stayed in the game. Rodney Stuckey started with all the mayhem going on, scoring 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting with two assists and two steals in 34 minutes. I gave up on him recently and I see no reason to get optimistic about his value at this time with Jose Calderon on the way in. Kyle Singler moved over to small forward and with little competition he should stick there. He scored five points on 2-of-6 shooting (including a three) with four rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in 30 minutes, and a change from his overall pedestrian valuation isn’t likely.
Sir Lance or Not
Lance Stephenson was having a career game with his first double-double, including 12 points, a career-high 11 boards, five assists, one steal and one three. He hurt his left ankle, however, and could not finish the game. Given the opponent and his body of work this year, there’s no real reason to add him in most reasonably sized formats while he’s hurt and questionable for Friday’s game. Roy Hibbert (18 points, 11 rebounds, one steal, one block, 7-of-14 FGs) has picked it up lately but owners will want to note the Pistons’ lack of overall defense tonight.
It’s All In The Wrist
Bradley Beal visited a specialist in New York for his ailing shooting wrist and did not play last night. It’s always going to be a tricky maneuver, but if owners can time a sell-high offer at the onset of these injuries they can avoid total loss situations like this. Unless one is stacked they’re looking at an injured fantasy asset playing on a bad team that will likely want to play things safe. When he returns he’ll jump into a crowded backcourt. Even with tremendous upside the temptation to drop Beal will be great, and just weeks ago he probably could have returned a late mid-round value guy fairly easy. There is no exact science to this, but if you can get the right pulse on future situations you can turn a profit.
Jordan Crawford (three points, 17 minutes) is playing like a guy with a really bad ankle injury, though we have no information that the ankle is definitely the culprit. Whatever the case may be, he’s not playing well enough to be owned even with Beal going out. If you want to take a full court shot in hopes that he gets a potential ankle injury under control, just remember that it’s exactly that.
It’s time to give some real love to Emeka Okafor (15 points, 17 rebounds, two blocks), who I have pretty much pooh-poohed all year long. His knee issues and prior inconsistency were the basis for much of my Kevin Seraphin (eight points, two rebounds) love, and I got that all mixed up. I don’t want to say that Okafor’s durability is suddenly a safe bet, but the effectiveness issues can be tabled until he shows signs of slowing down.
Andrew Bynum (knees) could return to practice next week and return as soon as February 20, and with things progressing he should be owned in all formats that permit stashing. In daily leagues without games played limits, the decision to add or not comes down to one’s personal situation, and we’re at the point where somebody in your league will be able to afford the missed games. Jason Richardson traveled to Vail, Colorado to get a second opinion on his knee, which is pretty much as bad as news can get for a player with his history and mileage.
The Richardson news changes my outlook on Nick Young (18 points, 7-of-17 FGs, three treys, four rebounds, four assists, two steals). I’m still not convinced that Young can keep his value above the cut line in standard formats, but a long-term absence for Richardson puts him in that ballpark. Dorell Wright played just 16 minutes but had seven points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a three, but that’s more a function of playing the Wizards than anything. With two DNPs in the two games prior, owners should watch this action from the wire, but Richardson’s absence could theoretically open up some deep league value off the bench. Spencer Hawes hit just 4-of-13 shots but managed 12 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and a three in 38 minutes, so he should be owned in standard formats in my book. Owners should deal with the Bynum issue when it lands on their plates.
Turning the Page in Toronto
As for the actual on-court Raptors action, they lost a tight one in Atlanta by one point. DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points (2-of-3 3PTs, 5-of-6 FTs) with four rebounds and two steal and this would definitely be a sell-high moment for the aforementioned reasons. Kyle Lowry scored 14 points with 10 rebounds, five assists, and two threes, and hopefully owners continued to treat him like the early round asset that he has always been.
Aaron Gray put up eight and 11 with a block and is worth a look if you need a short-term center while the Raptors get their frontcourt in order. Amir Johnson (six points, 3-of-12 FGs, 14 rebounds, four blocks) didn’t shoot well, but he should be locked into lineups at least until Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas return.
Alan Anderson hit just 3-of-12 shots for 15 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal over 35 minutes in the starting small forward slot, and while I generally like what he brings to the table he’s going to have a hard time carving out consistent value in standard formats. If you’re staring at an average to above average free agent, I wouldn’t be afraid to make a move. If the wire is looking bare, maybe you stick around and see if his 3-point shooting can help you. John Lucas (19 points, three treys, 24 minutes) is on the fantasy radar now that he is the backup PG playing behind injury-prone Lowry. He has shown the ability to produce when given the minutes in the past, though we need to see more numbers like this before we’ll assign much standalone value to him.
Smoove on the Move
Trade rumors have picked up for Josh Smith (20 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals, three blocks, one three), who reportedly stands a better chance of being dealt than not. It stands to reason that he will be encouraged to produce, but I’d be prepping my sell-high offers in tandem. If this trade rumor has legs, then Smith would be hard-pressed to land in a situation as wide open as Atlanta’s.
Kyle Korver (17 points, six rebounds, three assists, five threes) has been getting it done all year and he’s going to be a must-start player as long as he is healthy. Devin Harris scored just eight points but managed five assists, two steals, one block, and one trey in 32 minutes. In such a shallow situation, I’m more apt to take a chance on an add of the injury-prone and inconsistent Harris. Al Horford (hamstring) played, as expected, and went off for 22 and 10 with six assists and three blocks.
Disappearing Magic Act
Arron Afflalo (calf, Achilles) was doubtful and did not play, but it was Glen Davis’ broken foot that made big news last night. Unfortunately nobody new stepped up in his absence during his last long-term absence, while Afflalo, J.J. Redick (29 points, four threes, 9-of-14 FGs, 7-of-7 FTs), Jameer Nelson (21 points, nine assists) and Nikola Vucevic (12 points, 11 rebounds, no blocks) all more or less guaranteed to post startable numbers every night.
The same was true last night, as E’Twaun Moore (nine points, zero assists), Maurice Harkless (six points), Hedo Turkoglu (two points, 16 minutes), Gustavo Ayon (zero points, 12 minutes), and Andrew Nicholson (four points, eight minutes) all stunk up the fantasy joint. If I had to scrape the bottom of this barrel I’d be looking at Moore because of Afflalo’s situation, and eventually they’ll need to throw Nicholson into the mix. Al Harrington (out indefinitely) and his trick knee might be a better bet than all of them, and that’s not saying much.
Jason Kidd spurned a ‘probable’ designation and did not play because of his back injury, which wasn’t surprising given the previous day’s reports. He will “probably” be back on Friday, which sounds a lot more likely than the last report if you’re tracking the situation closely. Raymond Felton (15 points, nine assists, three treys) is back on track and should be in most lineups. Tyson Chandler had a massive night with 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting with seven rebounds and five assists but no steals or blocks. If my sell discussion from yesterday carried any weight with you, then this would be one of those moments to try to get an even-money deal for a guy that has a checkered injury history and plenty of need for rest down the stretch.
Today in Coaching, Management, and Ownership Disasters
Tyreke Evans scored 19 points with 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals and a 3-pointer in 41 minutes, and don’t think for a second his teammates aren’t fed up with the ball-hogging. DeMarcus Cousins (13 points, 4-of-12 FGs, six rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block) had everybody in his sights when he teed off on ownership, management, coaching, and teammates in a few succinct statements after the game, and while he has plenty of responsibility in that equation it’s about time somebody on the team said something about the ownership and the poor job by Keith Smart and Geoff Petrie.
Isaiah Thomas has struggled with his shot relatively speaking lately, and hit just 2-of-10 shots for eight points with three rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes. As usual, the game got out of hand when Aaron Brooks was inserted into the lineup, and if you want to point to on-court issues that ruined the team’s season that acquisition would be near the top of the list. The good news for Kings fans and Thomas owners is that he appears to have a nightly role locked up. Whether or not Smart will ever figure out that his point guard needs to facilitate whatever semblance of an offense they can scrape together is doubtful. Inconsistency will be the watchword of every night for the entire team until this happens. Marcus Thornton logged 27 minutes and scored just seven points with one trey and three steals, and he’s in a funk because everybody runs around like it’s the Benny Hill show.
Thomas Robinson scored 11 points with four rebounds and a steal in 21 minutes, and if you’ve watched any Kings game this season you know how bad he has been. He’s plenty athletic and seems to be improving, but I’m not even sure we can say that with any certainty.
Shuffling the Deck
Avery Bradley played 29 minutes against the lowly Kings last night, scoring 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting (1-of-5 3PTs) with five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block. He’s going to have the green light from deep and he looks well positioned for low end value right now. Courtney Lee (nine points, three assists, one three, 26 minutes) isn’t breaking down anybody’s door but he’ll be worth watching as the new look Celtics figure themselves out. Jason Terry (12 points, two threes, four assists) played just 22 minutes, but as you can see there is enough meat to the bone in standard formats to consider an add. Unless he is truly washed up, he should be somebody the Celtics look to for this type of production nightly.
Jared Sullinger left last night’s game in the first quarter due to back spasms. He was supposed to return but didn’t because the Kings are dreadfully coached and were not a threat. That left Brandon Bass free to play 38 minutes off the bench on his way to 12 points, four boards, and three steals. Jeff Green has been on the radar with theories of increased minutes and touches, but managed just 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting with one rebound in 21 minutes. Neither Bass nor Green qualifies as anything better than speculative adds in 14-team standard formats. Leandro Barbosa was the odd man out of the guard situation, playing 15 minutes with seven points and two assists. That action can be watched from the wire.
Chris Paul (knee cap) did not play last night and the same thing from yesterday’s Dose applies here. Consider him questionable for the rest of the now seven-game road trip and hope for the best. Eric Bledsoe (10 points, 10 assists, 3-of-14 FGs, six steals, one block) is the man until further notice. Matt Barnes (six minutes) was ejected for a cheap shot forearm shiver to Greg Stiemsma’s neck area, and while nobody seems to be talking suspension I wouldn’t arbitrarily rule it out, especially if the league wants to get snippy about contact to the head area. With the rotation eventually crowding, I wouldn’t blame owners for moving along (hopefully you sold high weeks ago).
Chauncey Billups (foot) is participating in contact portions of practice, and his eventual return will steal about 15-20 minutes from the rotation in most scenarios. DeAndre Jordan (16 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, 4-of-10 FTs) might be ready to pick it up, though it’s far from a foregone conclusion. If you lost Ed Davis or otherwise need a big man, he’s worth a look.
The Wolves got some firepower back last night in the form of Nikola Pekovic (17 points, 12 boards) and Alexey Shved (12 points, 5-of-13 FGs, two rebounds, three assists, one three, 21 minutes). Pek should be in all lineups and as I mentioned yesterday, I’m evaluating Shved as I was prior to his ankle injury and giving him another game or two to get his feet underneath him. His shooting is an issue and the hope there is that the time off to rest after a heavy workload will help, and the impact of Ricky Rubio will led to better looks. He still plays behind injury prone veterans Luke Ridnour (eight points, two assists, 24 minutes) and J.J. Barea (14 points, four assists, one steal, one block, one three, 24 minutes), and the Wolves have plenty of reasons to give him run down the stretch.
Rubio scored nine points on 4-of-9 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, and two steals as he slowly gets pointed in the right direction. You can count me out of the Derrick Williams (five points, 13 minutes, foul trouble) fan club, as inconsistent players with holes in their fantasy games just don’t do it for me.
The Butler is Doing It
Carlos Boozer (hamstring) did not play and anytime a Bulls player takes a day off I consider it a good thing for their overall fantasy value. Regular readers know what I think about Tom Thibodeau grinding his guys into the ground. Boozer had the hamstring tighten up during Tuesday’s practice and he could be back as soon as Friday, so Taj Gibson (14 points, nine boards, one steal, two blocks) is only on the watch list for Friday if Boozer can’t go. If you want to tack on a week of upside in a speculative short-term add, feel free.
Jimmy Butler (18 points, six rebounds, two steals, one three, 27 minutes) didn’t go away last night even with Luol Deng back, though Boozer’s absence cleared out a solid 30 minutes from the rotation. He has a shot to stick here after turning the corner in Thibodeau’s eyes so I think he should be owned in standard formats more times than not. Nate Robinson went nuts with 24 points, four assists, three steals, and two threes while shooting 9-of-11 from the field. This is what owners were hoping for all year long and while he’s hot he’s worth owning. Just realize that Derrick Rose will eventually return.
Rose (knee surgery) is participating in full contact practices, and it sounds like he’s capable of doing everything he needs to on a basketball floor. Nothing has changed with his post All-Star break timeframe, but it looks like he’ll hit the ground running at that time. It’s hard to imagine him being able to handle full contact right now and not have things put together in three weeks or so. And if anybody profiles in the NBA similarly to Adrian Peterson in the NFL, it is Rose, though I’d recommend against anybody comparing ACL tears in general. Everybody’s knee injury is different.
Tickets to the Show
Larry Sanders did not play last night due to the flu and if you can convince somebody that Samuel Dalembert (14 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks) is getting his groove on, now is the time to get tickets to The Show. I’m still waiting for the rest of the NBA to figure out that this is the Defensive Player of the Year. Brandon Jennings (15 points, eight assists) was ejected at the end of the game for jawing with Nate Robinson, but it was a garden variety ejection and no suspension will be coming. And no, I’m not buying that Dalembert has suddenly figured out how not to do crazy things on the court.
Be Careful For What You Wish For
Reggie Evans got all dumb and talked a boatload of trash about the Heat before last night’s game, so LeBron James promptly laid the wood on his way to 24 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals in a 20-point win. Look for some serious bad blood between these teams after LeBron retorted with accusations that the Nets laid down and got Avery Johnson fired. Chris Bosh (foot) played, as expected, scoring 16 points with four boards and no steals or blocks. Despite the mild rebounding and defensive numbers, his efficiency and overall production have him providing solid early value.
Gerald Wallace’s (six points, two rebounds, three assists, one block, 29 minutes) nightmare season continued last night, and though his contract is going to be an albatross going forward his fantasy value is tanking because of the crowded situation. I added him where he was dropped in one standard league, but I don’t have any ideas that he’s going to be a mid-round guy anytime soon. Deron Williams played through the flu and had just nine points and five assists, but he might have had his feelings hurt more when LeBron ripped him and his teammates for their everything.
When Bad Teams Play Good Teams
The Bobcats have regressed very badly since the beginning of the year and it’s fair to wonder who is playing for what right now. Gerald Henderson played just 17 minutes against the Spurs last night, scoring six points with not much else, and he can be dropped for a hot free agent in 12-team formats even if he will probably be productive in spurts. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored four points with four boards and four steals in his 38 minutes, and I’d hold in most standard league situations for him to get fully back on track. Ramon Sessions won the guard lottery with 20 points and three steals, but outside of Kemba Walker (16 points, six boards, four assists, two steals) there is nobody to get hot and bothered about in the backcourt. I said my piece on Byron Mullens (ankle) yesterday, but the quick and dirty is that he’s worth a hard look as he’s trying to get back on the court during this road trip.
Leonard Living It Up
Tim Duncan (knee) did not play, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the opposition. DeJuan Blair (knee) joined him on the sidelines, and it’s unclear how serious his situation is but with knee issues already his 10-15 mpg might be freed up in the short-term. Manu Ginobili had his hamstring tighten up and that will put his Saturday into question, but he was low-level productive with nine points, five rebounds, six assists, and two steals in just 21 minutes. Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting with four treys, five rebounds, two steals, and one block, giving a glimpse of how fast his value can rise when one or more foundational Spurs players are rested. He has started to turn the corner after a slow return from injury and should be owned in all formats. Hopefully you didn’t give up too quickly. Danny Green (17 points, three treys, three steals, two blocks) and Tony Parker (22 points, seven assists, 9-of-10 FGs) also took advantage of Duncan’s absence and the easy prey in the Bobcats.
I Picked a Pack of Pelicans to Pop Off About
Eric Gordon (knee) did not play last night and back-to-backs will continue to be an issue for him until they’re not, and your guess is as good as mine in that area. One would have to think the Hornets would be willing to trade him but it’s doubtful there are too many takers out there. I’m all about selling him high after his big nights to get out from under that injury risk. Greivis Vasquez had another good news/bad news night with 17 points and 13 assists, but hit just 8-of-21 shots without a three and had four turnovers, too.
Robin Lopez scored 15 points with nine boards, one steal, and four blocks, and as long as Anthony Davis (14 points, seven rebounds, two blocks, 7-of-9 FGs, 22 minutes, five fouls) continues to see limited minutes whether it’s foul trouble like tonight or due to any ankle issues – then Ro Lo has a chance to get back on track. Al-Farouq Aminu bought time with his owners after a disastrous Monday, scoring three points with 13 rebounds in 29 minutes. Nobody will write home about the line, but in general as long as he can stay out of the doghouse he has been worth owning.
After the game beat writer Bill Oram said that Gordon Hayward (shoulder) didn’t know if he would practice today, and then opined that he feels like the injury is “worse than we know.” It’s a fairly broad statement from somebody close to the team, so owners shouldn’t be surprised by more absences if they come down the pipeline. In shallow leagues this could be enough information to drop Hayward with, but I’ll just throw it out there that the trade deadline could work in his favor and he’s picked things up late in the season before. I drafted him with an eye on the second half of the year, so I’ll probably hang on in most formats for now.
Paul Millsap got back on track with 25 and 10 to go with two blocks, and so did most of his teammates including Al Jefferson (22 points), Randy Foye (14 points, eight assists, two threes), and Derrick Favors (15 points, six boards, one block). Foye has inconsistent standard league value for his 3-point shooting, but if he starts to take over point guard duties like he did tonight then he’ll be in most starting lineups. Tonight, with Hayward out he had to take over some of his duties, while Jamaal Tinsley opened the door by struggling to the tune of two points and two assists in 17 minutes.
Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up
The Rockets and Nuggets are always going to be good for a high scoring affair and last night didn’t disappoint with 228 combined points between the teams. Jeremy Lin (22 points, five assists) joined James Harden (21 points, full line), Omer Asik (10 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, seven turnovers) and Chandler Parsons (21 points, full line) on the super-productive side of the ledger. Patrick Patterson (10 points, five boards, two steals, one block, 27 minutes) is putting himself back on the radar but owners in 12-team formats can still probably do better.
Deep League Update in Denver
JaVale McGee (shin) did not play last night, and that meant we expected more out of Kosta Koufos (six points, four rebounds, one steal, two blocks), but playing against Omer Asik can do that. Kenneth Faried bounced back from a slow Monday to post 19 points, nine boards, and two steals, and Wilson Chandler put his name on the deep league radar with seven points, six rebounds, one steal, and one three in 25 minutes. It’s not the greatest line, but in those formats he has the type of upside you’re looking for on the wire, assuming he can stay on the court.
One wants to bemoan the constant Lakers coverage a la the Dallas Cowboys, as an example of a middling team getting way too much attention, but I admittedly can’t look away watching them find new and creative ways to lose every night. Last night’s low point came when Steve Nash (11 points, two assists) returned to Phoenix to a standing ovation and his team dropped another game to a bottom feeding team.
The biggest news came in the form of Dwight Howard’s (nine points, 14 boards, one steal, one block, 29 minutes) shoulder aggravation, and it’s safe to say that surgery isn’t being ruled out at this point but it’s anybody’s guess what will go down. If Howard wants to duck out on a miserable season, I don’t think too many people would be shocked given both the medical realities and his disposition toward running from challenges.
This breathes new life into Pau Gasol’s (14 points, five boards, one steal, one block, 37 minutes) season though he and Mike D’Antoni are trading sweet nothings through the press on a nightly basis now. The big man’s foot injury was bothering him last night but all indications are that he will play through it for now. Though Earl Clark (five points, eight rebounds, one steal) struggled in his 30 minutes tonight, the chance that Howard misses time means that Clark should be owned in all formats.
Kobe Bryant continues to run the team and had another nine assists last night to go with 17 points, five boards, and two steals. I’m down with this approach out of the Lakers if we’re assuming that D’Antoni’s system isn’t going to change. Nash can’t get the corner on defenders and that makes him less of a weapon in a meandering 18 seconds or less offense without any true ‘roll’ threat in the frontcourt. Antawn Jamison played just 13 minutes but scored 13 points with four boards, and if Howard indeed misses serious time then a speculative add could be in order.
It’s clear that Michael Beasley is having fun under new coach Lindsay Hunter, who is giving a prototypical young coach gives troubled player new life by loosening the leash clinic right now. The question with that approach is if the player ever learns their lesson and if down the road the same problems pop back up, but for now Beasley is showing the flashes that have tantalized owners in the past. He scored 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting (including a three) with six rebounds and five steals, while dominating the end of the fourth quarter and doing it with a smile on his face. He’s an inefficient fantasy player with both injury and personality risk, but there’s enough upside here for me to change my apathetic tune to a must-add recommendation. I am concerned, however, that he has been beating up on some pretty horrendous defenses lately. Jared Dudley (11 points, four rebounds, 3-of-10 FGs) is a loser in this high utilization scenario for Beasley, but I’d be a bit more patient with a guy that gets heavy minutes as Dudley does on a shallow team.
Thursday Night Lights
MEM @ OKC: Mike Conley (ankle) participated in the non-contact portion of practice yesterday, making him questionable for tonight’s game. It helps that the team will be under heavy scrutiny against a title contender on national TV following the trade. If Conley can’t go, Jerryd Bayless will be up for a nice night and Tony Wroten might be worth a spot-start in deeper formats. Chris Johnson is the only small forward left on the roster right now, so he could get some starts or at least some semi-substantial minutes, so keep an eye on him or gamble in deep leagues on a spot-start. All of the traded guys need to pass their physicals for any of them to play tonight, so keep that in mind when making decisions. The Thunder will be favored to take advantage of a team that has to wrap their minds around their new situation.
DAL @ GSW: Andrew Bogut “could” begin to play in back to back games after the All Star break, and is expected to play in five of the next seven games. That’s good enough news for owners to hang on if he can keep showing moderately positive returns until then. The MRI on Harrison Barnes’ knee/calf came back “clean,” making him questionable for tonight. If he and/or Carl Landry (shoulder) cannot go, then Draymond Green has some spot-starting appeal in deeper leagues while the usual suspects will all get a bump. Chris Kaman is out indefinitely with a concussion, and it’s worth noting that he was unhappy about playing time prior to being sidelined. If you want to take a 1-2 game plunge on Elton Brand if you’re in need of a big it isn’t the worst move. Just don’t expect miracles.
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