NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Daily Dose: Return of Pau
This Dose is jam-packed with 10 games from last night and 11 games tomorrow night, so we’re getting right into it.
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Point Guard Controversy in Toronto?
Jose Calderon is on fire right now and helped power the Raptors to a much-needed win over the Cavs last night. He scored 23 points with five rebounds, six assists, three treys, and two steals and also prompted beat writer Ryan Wolstat to call into a question a starting point guard controversy based on post-game comments made by Dwane Casey. This doesn’t mean that there is a controversy, but Lowry’s attitude and defense have been issues and the team has been playing more cohesively under Calderon right now. My gut tells me that there will be some hand-wringing and motivational ploys to send a message to Lowry, but that all that we’ve seen here is a cracking of the door for the idea of a battle to take shape.
Ed Davis (four points, four rebounds, three assists) plunged further into the scenario I outlined in a few places last week, which is that place in which Amir Johnson (17 points, six rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block) shows up at his house and eats everything in the fridge. I think both are likely to trade off good nights while Casey rides the hot hand, but with Johnson having a bit better fantasy game he’d be the guy I want after he took the lead in the position battle. Terrence Ross continued to be a mess with just three points and one rebound in 15 minutes, so once again owners can clear the board and consider him a low-priority stash.
Alan Anderson played well enough last night to deserve his own paragraph, scoring 18 points with five treys, six rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 32 minutes off the bench. He is a prime example of a player that the media hasn’t caught up with yet, as he put up numbers at the end of last season that many wrote off because the Raps were fully tanking. One beat writer called him “Scotty Pippen lite” last night, and more accurately he’s a guy that is doing many different things correctly and he has forced his way into minutes. I just dropped Davis to add him in a shallow 12-team league, and while I’m not sure he can fend off the Raps’ mediocre but Bryan Colangelo-approved wing corps it’s worth betting that he can.
Wait on Waiters
The Cavs were ripped by the local media and Byron Scott for their defense and the only two players that got average marks were Kyrie Irving (23 points, full line) and Anderson Varejao (22 points, 10 boards, one steal, one block). Varejao knocked knees during the game and though the whirling dervish finished with 39 minutes, he’s not doing owners any favors with the in-game injuries this week. It’s acceptable if you want to call him a mild sell-high candidate, but I’m not giving more than a one-round discount in a deal at this time.
Dion Waiters (ankle) started in his return to action last night, and was predictably rusty hitting just 4-of-13 shots for eight points, four rebounds and one block in 28 minutes. When Scott is talking about defense, he’s taking about Waiters and C.J. Miles the most and tonight was no exception. The difference between the two players is that Waiters has a future with the Cavs and Miles is a body at this point. Miles logged 30 minutes and scored 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting with four rebounds, two threes, and one assist, but the minute his offense isn’t above average his minutes will be replaced, if possible. With Daniel Gibson (leg) leaving last night’s game with yet another injury, it would appear that Miles will have every opportunity to stick in the lineup for now – so ride him until the wheels fall off or a hot free agent hits your radar. As for Waiters, I benched him where I could for the rust factor and will do so until he puts up startable numbers once again.
The Kyle File
The Hawks wandered into an overtime game against the Wizards and eventually won, with typical results. Jeff Teague scored 13 points with a normal stat line, and Al Horford hit just 2-of-11 shots for five points, but had 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a block. Kyle Korver wasn’t hyped as much as I would have liked in his return, and he has wasted no time picking up where he left off with 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting (including three treys), seven rebounds, two assists, and one block in 39 minutes. He’s a vital part of what the Hawks are doing and will be a mid-to-late round value when on the court. Devin Harris left during the second quarter with a foot injury and did not return, which will help clear up minutes for guys like Lou Williams (24 points, 40 minutes). Josh Smith backed up his 1-of-10 shooting effort from Saturday with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 13 rebounds, three steals, and five blocks.
The Washington Injections
John Wall’s knee situation took a turn toward cloudy when he contradicted reports by saying he had a stress fracture, and the team came out later and emphatically called it a stress reaction. The difference is that a break more or less occured in the former whereas the latter indicates the patellas are 'about' to crack. It feels like this situation could turn in any direction, but we’ll get an update in a few days when his Synvisc injection wears off and he can test his knee on the court.
Even if we had news to suggest that Wall was going to return tomorrow, owners should still be clinging to Jordan Crawford tightly after his 27-point, 11-rebound, 11-assist triple-double from last night. Yes, he has problems with his shot selection, field goal shooting, and turnovers, but there’s too much upside to be concerned with what Wall is doing. When you factor in the mystery surrounding Wall’s injury, there is no decision to be made. Bradley Beal can be considered a poor man’s Crawford right now, and he posted another inefficient but productive night with 17 points on 8-of-22 shooting, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He’s a must-own player right now based on the same principles.
Last night Randy Wittman ran with yet another weird lineup, playing Earl Barron significantly down the stretch despite a 2-of-10 shooting mark and plenty of mistakes with the game on the line. Barron did grab 14 rebounds with a steal and four blocks, but his four turnovers were a mess and he looked like a D-league guy trying to make a name for himself on a 10-day contract. Part of Barron’s usage was due to Kevin Seraphin’s (four points, five rebounds, 20 minutes) foul trouble, and it’s pretty clear that Seraphin is in Wittman’s doghouse at least a little bit.
It’s an odd situation because Emeka Okafor (25 minutes, six points, two rebounds) is awful on most nights and Nene (18 points, four rebounds, six assists, three steals, one block, 24 minutes) is on his last legs. It would make sense for the Wizards to setup a consistent arrangement with Seraphin to give him starter’s minutes in exchange for a focus on rebounding and high-percentage shots. But instead they toy with his minutes and he naturally tries too hard to make an impact, with the kicker being that this aggression is taunted when the Wizards call his number repeatedly when they need an inside bucket or the outside shooters go cold.
Trevor Booker (strained knee) received a platelet rich plasma shot on Monday and he expects to begin “ramping up his rehab” in one week. I’m not concerning myself with Booker in the places that I own Seraphin, because Booker needs to prove he can stay on the court still, and I’m still holding Seraphin with an eye on the second half of the season. Assuming Wittman is still around, Seraphin still profiles as the healthiest of the bunch and eventually Wittman is going to have to stop toying with the lineup. The players already pushed back on him once. As for Nene, he’s still suited for deep leagues until he can get a handful of games under his belt with increasing minutes.
No Love Lost
Ricky Rubio (knee) took a night off for prescribed rest and the Wolves ran into a rejuvenated Heat team in a 103-92 loss. Nikola Pekovic didn’t look like a guy with back issues in his 18-point, 12-rebound effort, though he did have six turnovers. Just keep an eye on him as you normally would for injury updates. Kevin Love’s shooting woes continued with just 2-of-10 makes from the field, but the 11 points, 18 rebounds, and three assists are enough to keep owners at the pump. There were also reports of arm and shoulder tweaks from last night, and Love is a bit dinged up to say the least.
Alexey Shved got the Dwyane Wade treatment and had his second straight stinker with two points on 1-of-7 shooting, though he did have eight assists in his 31 minutes. Since I’ve already penciled in a 2-3 week period of struggling while Ricky Rubio gets back on his feet, with an expected emergence that may or may not coincide with an injury to one of his injury-prone backcourt teammates – any struggles are already built into my equation. Looking at his struggles in a vacuum though, he’s had his hands full lately defensively and it has broken his rhythm on the other end. He’s still a dynamic talent that’s learning his way so better days are ahead. The idea of he and Rubio terrorizing defenses is tantalizing.
Dwyane Wade continues to show flashes of that situation we see every season in which a superstar takes the first two months of the year to rest or get in shape. He scored 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks in 27 minutes, as reporters continue to talk about the explosion still being there. He’s sitting at third round value in the games he plays, and he’ll need to turn some of that talk into consistent action before he makes a move back up the rankings.
Spreading the Floor
Gordon Hayward (seven points, four rebounds, five assists, two blocks, 21 minutes) is working hard for his numbers so far this season. He gets benched when he misses five or more shots in a row, which is understandable for a player if he’s not contributing in other ways but right now he’s splitting minutes with 3-point specialist Randy Foye. Foye hit 3-of-7 shots for eight points with one rebound and three assists in 27 minutes during last night’s win over the Nets, and his 42.3 percent 3-point percentage is the only reason he is winning the battle for minutes lately.
It’s yet another example of the Jazz being over-reliant on Al Jefferson (16 points, 11 rebounds, 8-of-15 FGs, no steals or blocks) for their offense. They pound the rock every night and the ball rarely comes out, so Ty Corbin wants to space the floor because defenses are already diving in with reckless abandon. Hayward shoots just 34 percent from distance on the year, and he’s four points under his 45.3 percent career mark from the field, and in this philosophy that's all enough to make his versatility a moot point.
I obviously don’t agree with the decision to use Jefferson so heavily if he’s not willing to pass out of double teams, especially when his defense is crippling the team on the other end, but it’s only going to change with an extended losing streak. All is not lost for Hayward owners, though, as he is likely to revert back toward his career shooting numbers and sooner or later questions will arise about the core player’s utilization.
Marvin Williams’ (11 points, 10 rebounds, 30 minutes) return isn’t helping Hayward as our blurber noted, but he’s operating in a small forward bucket with DeMarre Carroll (two points, three rebounds, 18 minutes). The real issue here is that if Hayward is losing the position battle with Foye, and there are no small forward minutes for him to spill into then the inconsistency starts to creep in. I have always owned Hayward with an eye toward the second half of the season. A trade, an injury to the injury prone group of Mo Williams, Marvin, and Al Jefferson, or the organization's desire to develop their core can all be reasons Hayward duplicates last year’s late-season run.
My Porridge Is Too Cold
Deron Williams went from one of the league’s most enjoyable players to one of the association’s more difficult players in just under three years. He ran Jerry Sloan out of Utah and his time with the Nets has been bumpy to put it nicely. He complained in the last 24 hours about Avery Johnson’s offense having too much one-on-one, just a few years after complaining that Sloan’s flex offense didn’t have enough one-on-one play. I couldn’t help but believe that this complaint is a reflection of Joe Johnson’s arrival, which ironically was a massive blunder of an acquisition done to appease Williams. For his part, Williams looks a bit out-of-shape and he’s the one initiating the offense improperly at times, and once again the squeaky wheel is looking to get greased.
So it’s fitting that he struggled once again last night, scoring 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting with just five assists while getting handled by Mo Williams. Joe Johnson (21 points, 7-of-15 FGs, four rebounds, two assists, three treys, two steals) has been the beneficiary of these struggles, and I’m still keeping with my sell-high recommendations. Williams will improve, at least a little bit, and that will come out of Johnson’s bucket. When one factors in that Johnson is hovering around a top-100 value in 8- and 9-cat leagues, he still has way more name value and his poor peripherals are why I am just as down on him as I was to start the year.
Andray Blatche’s (eight points, four rebounds, 16 minutes) party appears to be over, while Kris Humphries (eight points, 11 boards, 28 minutes) is back in the starting lineup. Frankly, if I had to choose between the two I’d rather own and bench Blatche than deal with Humphries at all this season. At least Blatche has upside, while Humphries will be a mess all year long. If you have to drop Blatche, it’s understandable because he’s likely to be inconsistent until further notice.
The Indy offense stagnated against the Bucks last night, who boast a number of effective defenders to throw at main cogs George Hill (18 points, 6-of-16 FGs, two assists), Roy Hibbert (eight points, 10 boards, no blocks, 4-of-10 FGs), Paul George (16 points, 6-of-15 FGs, 10 boards, five assists, one steal, one block), and David West (12 points, 5-of-14 FGs, six rebounds). The good news is that the fantasy pecking order has been fleshed out and there shouldn’t be too much ambiguity about that from night-to-night, and George has gotten back on track after a difficult start.
Stay of Execution
If you’ve been following, I gave Ersan Ilyasova a stay of execution early last week so I’m not going to drop him over last night’s two points on 1-of-7 shooting with four rebounds, three assists, and one steal in 14 minutes. It is definitely annoying that Scott Skiles BFF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (10 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, one block, 34 minutes) is back in the mix, but his knee is holding on by a thread and he’s playing a bit over his head right now. If Ilyasova has a nightmare week the guillotine will move back into position for the following seven-day period.
Mike Dunleavy (knee) returned and picked up where he left off, scoring 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting with three treys, six rebounds, and two blocks. He tailed off a bit before going down, but at a mid-round value I’d be hard-pressed not to pick him up in any 8- or 9-cat format. Brandon Jennings scored 34 points on 13-of-22 shooting with a full stat line, and if anybody is whining about his field goal shooting do them a favor and take the top-24 player off their hands.
I’m not quite sure who is more smitten with Larry Sanders, Skiles or yours truly, but he had another five blocks last night and he’s a must-start player in 8- and 9-cat formats until further notice.
The Celtics got run by the Bulls last night and the only notable achievement was Rajon Rondo’s season-high 26 points. Courtney Lee scored 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting with no threes, and with Avery Bradley (shoulders) likely to return to a starting role in early January there is no real fantasy appeal. Jason Terry scored just two points on 1-of-2 shooting and it’s going to be tough but seeing out his late-round value is recommended until we learn for sure that it’s going away due to the shooting guard jam.
The Bulls, on the other hand, were full of notable achievements as Joakim Noah triple-doubled with 11 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, and three blocks, Luol Deng bounced back from a terrible Monday with 21 points (11-of-12 FTs), four rebounds, and three blocks, and Carlos Boozer went for 21 and 12 with a steal and two blocks. Marco Belinelli slowed up with 10 points, one block, and zero threes in his 34 minutes, and he deserves some slack if you’ve been relying on him – at least until Richard Hamilton returns. Kirk Hinrich is useless in most 8- and 9-cat leagues and last night was a prime example, as he scored zero points with two rebounds, two assists, and one block in 24 minutes.
Nate Robinson finally busted out of his slump, scoring 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting with five threes, three boards, and four assists in 22 minutes off the bench, so naturally a report emerged early this morning that his roster spot is in jeopardy. We’ll pretend that didn’t happen here for a second and come around to that afterward. His 12-16 team value in fantasy leagues hasn’t changed too much all season despite the ups and downs, but missing his window to produce with Kirk Hinrich out has cooled his overall value proposition. If he’s going to be a stash he needs to turn it on when given the opportunity. I think he can, but it might take a long-term injury to Hinrich before Tom Thibodeau will turn a blind eye to the defensive and basketball IQ issues.
As for this report, I find it interesting on a few levels, but mostly because rookie Marquis Teague hasn’t shown much if anything in real game action this season. The Bulls can cut Robinson before January 10 without paying the rest of his $1.1 million salary, which isn’t a lot of money. This means one of three things. 1) The Bulls have seen enough of Teague in practice to make a call, which isn’t likely. 2) They have an idea of when Derrick Rose will return, which is exciting but not exactly something you bank on to save chump change. 3) They want to put a charge in Robinson to get him to defend and get with the program. Keep in mind that Hinrich could dissolve on the court, and the Bulls probably still want to make a playoff run. Maybe the situation is a confluence of all three things, or none of this, but I don’t see giving this threat much credence until we learn more about its real reasons.
Taj Gibson scored 13 points with five rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block, but these numbers are fluky and he has a right ankle injury to play through. Moving along.
Holiday Season Blues
Jrue Holiday (foot) did not play last night and the Sixers fell one game below .500 with their 107-100 loss to the Mavs. Evan Turner did his thing with 17 points, five boards, five assists, one steal, one block, and three 3-point shots, and he has moved into a top-65 position on the year. It feels like he’s more valuable than that, but he’ll need to continue this deep-shooting trend and also improve on his defensive numbers to gain much more ground. With upside that appears to be capped in that respect, this certainly feels like a sell-high moment to me.
Our game blurber said that Jason Richardson should be ‘held in deep leagues,’ but for a guy with mid-round value on the year that’s been struggling I’d say a high-volume 5-of-14 shooting night is just what the doctor ordered. He finished with 11 points, six rebounds, four rebounds, and three steals, and I’m calling him a must-own player in 12-team formats and the only thing keeping me from being more aggressive is his injury risk. When he goes back to his early season form I’ll feel dumb for not going with my gut here. Nick Young scored eight points and hasn’t been worth owners’ time unless you count one empty 30-point outburst in a sea of McDonald’s fish fillets a haul.
Dorell Wright nabbed all the headlines on the Philly side last night, with a season-high 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting, seven 3-pointers, five rebounds, and two assists in 30 minutes off the bench. It feels like he should have been more of a factor this season and it’s still possible the team or player has been covering up an injury, but whatever the case may be he needs to do it again in a crowded wing situation before owners in regular formats consider an add. Spencer Hawes picked up the pace yet again with 18 points, seven rebounds, and a block in 27 minutes off the bench, and if you need a big man you should go ahead and make the add.
The Mavs’ Derek Fisher experiment hit a snag when he left last night’s game with a right knee strain and did not return, so Darren Collison (12 points, 2-of-7 FGs, 7-of-8 FTs, two assists, two steals, 31 minutes) is going to get a crack at resuscitating his fantasy value. Collison has been providing low-end value coming off the bench, and I’d caution owners not to get too high or low here. He is what he is and Dirk’s return will more or less cap any upside.
O.J. Mayo did his thing with 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting (2-of-2 3PTs, 8-of-9 FTs), three rebounds, eight assists, and three steals, as his top 15-20 season continues to roll onward. Chris Kaman will be worth starting anytime he is healthy, as evidenced by his 20 points, seven rebounds, and one block last night. Shawn Marion should be back in lineups, too, as he had another nice night with 14 points, nine boards, two steals, and one block. Vince Carter (three points, two blocks) has been struggling lately and belongs on the wire when he’s not getting it done.
What else can we say about Tim Duncan that we haven’t already said? He bombed on the Nuggets for 31 points, 18 rebounds, six assists, two steals, five blocks, though it wasn’t enough to secure a road win. He’s a top 5-10 fantasy play in 9- and 8-cat formats, respectively, and yes those are sell-high numbers with the various risks we’ve discussed around here a million times. I’d probably limit any deal to top-30 value with no major red flags. Danny Green hit just 1-of-10 shots for three points in last night’s loss to the Nuggets, and with Kawhi Leonard (quad) coming back soon things could get tight for Green. He’s still posting mid-to-late round value on the year in 8- and 9-cat formats, though, so owners will probably want to limit any drops to above average free agents unless they don’t need Green’s peripheral stats. Leonard needs practice time before playing according to Pop, which sounds like a championship contender not taking any chances with a guy they plan to ride heavy.
Manu Ginobili (quad) returned to action last night, scoring 16 points on 5-of-15 shooting (including two threes) with six rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one block in 30 minutes. He should be in most lineups when healthy. Tiago Splitter continued to solidify his role with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block over 23 minutes in another start at center, and there’s enough upside to go with his season-long late-round value to consider an add. Yes, Pop is a mess and he could demote Splitter at a moment’s notice, but Splitter has the chance to be a nice player and if he’s making inroads on that then Pop is going to reward it.
Ty Lawson (12 points, 4-of-15 FGs, five assists) and Andre Iguodala (14 points, nine boards, six assists, two steals, one block, two threes) continued to see-saw, and I’m kicking myself for letting the chorus saying that wouldn’t happen get to me. Danilo Gallinari’s shooting woes continued as he hit just 9-of-21 shots, but the 28 points and nine boards with an otherwise full line are a good look.
Kosta Koufos had 14 rebounds and four blocks and is a pretty underrated center. He’s averaging seven points, eight boards, and 2.4 blocks over his last five games, and is worth a look in deeper center leagues. JaVale McGee played just 11 minutes and still had 10 points and three blocks, as owners continue to tap their fingers waiting for the breakout. Corey Brewer may have staved off the grim reaper with 16 points, two threes, and four boards, but owners shouldn’t feel connected at the hip for the low-upside player. Kenneth Faried beasted with 19 and 11 and apparently yacked on the bench. Hey-O!
Make Your Layups
The Bobcats always play the Lakers tough and they would have stolen a road win had Gerald Henderson (19 points, nine boards, four assists, three treys) not missed a layup off a rebound in the game’s final seconds. Henderson should be added in all formats now that he’s putting up numbers like this in the starting lineup. Kemba Walker continued to silence doubters like me with 28 points on 12-of-25 shooting, five rebounds, seven assists, and three treys, and Bismack Biyombo continued to make his case for ownership with eight points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks in 33 minutes.
Byron Mullens would have had a huge night if not for his 5-of-19 shooting mark, finishing with 13 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, one steal, four blocks, and three treys in 44 minutes. If he can ever put it all together he could do some serious damage, but for now he’ll be in inconsistent player that has leveled out with solid late round value this season. Ramon Sessions scored 20 points with four rebounds and six assists against his old squad, and is worth a look now that he’s somewhat turned the page from a very cold stretch.
Run Old Guys, Run
For once in Pau Gasol’s career it felt like Staples Center was fully on his side, as he represents everything that is wrong with Mike D’Antoni right now. The Lakers have personnel to play a big, beat-you-up lineup, but D’Antoni is hell-bent on running with his slow, aging team. So when Pau got into the game there were big cheers anytime he did anything good and real anxiety when the rust showed itself. For his part, Pau had a nice game with 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting, nine rebounds, five assists, and four blocks, but he was benched down the stretch and finished with just 29 minutes while being separated from Dwight Howard (16 points, 18 rebounds, four blocks) as much as possible.
Ironically, it is Howard that benefits from high-low passes from Gasol as much as anybody, but D’Antoni is already making small overtures towards running the small lineup that minimizes Pau’s role. He moved Metta World Peace (17 points, seven rebounds, 6-of-18 FGs, two threes, four steals, one block) into a bench role to maximize his ability to play power forward and is going to start Jodie Meeks (17 points, five threes) at shooting guard according to recent reports. Kobe Bryant (30 points, full line) is going to start at small forward, and both he and World Peace are going to play as many minutes as they can handle. Meeks saw 39 minutes last night and D’Antoni can’t get enough of a one-center and four-shooters lineup, so Gasol isn’t in the clear after everybody in America including Kobe has talked about the need to go to Pau down low.
I talked about the risk-reward of buying Pau low in last week’s Dose, but seeing D’Antoni so committed to rooting him out I’d just suggest holding steady after one game back. I think D’Antoni might experience some massive blowback if he doesn’t change his ways, but it’s a tricky situation right now that demands a day-to-day outlook from fantasy owners. As for Meeks, he’s a must-add player in 12-team leagues with a starting job in tow, but it’s worth noting that the Lakers could change things up frequently if the losing continues.
Steve Nash is now “50-50” to play on Saturday against the Warriors, but that could be expectation management after the reliable Marc Spears broke news of his return earlier this week.
Nothing with Eric Gordon (knee) surprises me. So when a report came out from Ken Berger of CBS well over a month ago pointing toward January 15 for Gordon’s return because he would be eligible to be traded – I took a mental note. He didn’t want to be in New Orleans as recently as this summer, and he pulled the same sort of injury behavior last season when he saved his knee strength for late-season auditions in order to get paid. Wouldn’t you know the talk surrounding his return has picked up just weeks before that magical deadline. I’m not saying he’s getting traded or that I know for sure that this is what he’s up to, but I am saying he should be owned in almost every league for the chance he rolls up on the battlefield like Commodus.
As for the game, the Pelicans ran into Golden State and gave them a game, which caused national columnists with no business commenting on NBA basketball to have to quickly re-write their ‘Warriors are a well-oiled machine’ stories by the end of the night. Anthony Davis returned to the starting lineup and had a bit of a concussion scare, but he stayed in the game and finished with 15 points, 16 boards, four steals, one block, and a perfect 7-of-7 mark from the foul line. It’s been a rough start, but the returns should be plentiful as long as he stays on the floor.
Ryan Anderson scored 28 points on 8-of-22 shooting with four threes and a steal, but somehow managed to go without a rebound in 41 minutes of action. Other than to condemn the act, I’m just going to say it’s weird and move on. Austin Rivers scored 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting with no threes, two rebounds, four assists, and no steals or blocks. Unless you’re in a format where peripherals don’t matter, I still need to see way more especially when Monty Williams almost killed him tonight for his effort on the defensive end. And despite the assists he has been getting, he is still one of the league’s worst passers at the guard positions. Al-Farouq Aminu played three minutes and is living in the dog’s doghouse nowadays.
As I alluded to above, the praise of the Warriors is silly after such an easy schedule and we’re seeing early signs that they were playing over their heads. Of course, as a browbeaten Warriors fan I hope I’m wrong, but we’ll see. David Lee scored 26 points with nine rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block, and Carl Landry (16 points, nine boards) stole a few minutes out of Harrison Barnes’ (zero points, 19 minutes) bucket tonight. I’ve been talking about the Warriors’ need for better interior defense when the schedule tightens, but it might take Mark Jackson a few losses to get off the Lee train. Jarrett Jack scored 16 points with 10 assists in 34 minutes, and while his role looks stable now just be careful that my prediction of GSW struggles doesn’t knock him off his perch.
Who Cares What You Guys Want
I’m working on a story for PBT along the same lines, but I pledge my allegiance to you guys first and them second but I’ll break the news here (and bury it in the middle of my column). Sources close to the Kings players told me a few days ago that most of Isaiah Thomas’ teammates want him to be starting and playing heavy minutes. According to the source, “they don’t have any idea what Keith Smart is doing” and they wonder if he is even making the call.
This of course, begs the question of whether Geoff Petrie has issued the directive to play Aaron Brooks, and multiple sources have told me that Jimmer is getting additional playing time for marketing reasons. The source tells me that the frustration amongst the players over this playing time issue is palpable, and one of the reasons that DeMarcus Cousins came out wearing an IT jersey after his big game. The situation in Sacramento is coming to a head, as local blogs and media outlets that aren’t the Sac Bee or team-sponsored radio station are going in heavy on the decision to play Brooks and/or Jimmer at the expense of IT.
How this all plays out in the short or long-term is anybody’s guess, but this is Isaiah’s team inside the confines of the locker room as far as the point guard position goes. I added IT as a flier in one deeper big money league that operates like a 14-teamer, and I wrote the blurb that said he was a unique stash for those with an iron clad stomach. For a team that needs a solid on- and off-the-court persona to rally around, and a playmaking presence that can distribute the ball in Smart’s no-concept offense – Thomas could be the guy that brings it all together for the fans, the players, and an abused city.
News and Notes
LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) did not practice yesterday and he’s a game-time decision for Thursday’s national TV game. He is no longer using crutches, but he hasn’t been a picture of health so far this season and I don’t have a strong sense of whether he’ll play or not. Wes Matthews (hip) did not practice and I have him in the same boat as Aldridge. Sasha Pavlovic (butt strain) missed time, too, which is what happens when you go from bench warmer to heavy minute guy so fast.
Wednesday Night Lights
BKY @ NYK: Carmelo Anthony (ankle) is a game-time decision but a rivalry game should up the ante a bit. The Knicks’ defense really fell apart without him on Monday and I can’t believe I’m writing that. Raymond Felton has bone bruises on both hands but isn’t expected to miss any time. Rasheed Wallace (foot) is questionable and is not a fantasy factor right now.
DET @ TOR: Rodney Stuckey (back spasms) practiced yesterday and his status is going right down to the wire by the morning report. Kyle Singler slowed down right after convincing owners to pick him up, and failed to take advantage of Stuckey’s absence on Monday. The most interesting news for the Raptors might happen off the court, as we’ll be following up on Dwane Casey’s comments from last night about the point guard position.
WAS @ ORL: We’ll be watching to see how Kevin Seraphin bounces back from last night, but otherwise these two teams don’t have a lot of fantasy question marks in standard formats right now.
OKC @ ATL: Russell Westbrook took a hard spill in Monday’s game and left with a brace on his left wrist, but we’ve heard nothing about an injury and that’s probably good news.
CLE @ BOS: Both teams’ fantasy players are well-defined right now, with Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles just outside of must-start status for the Cavs and the Celtics’ roles practically etched into stone.
PHI @ HOU: It sounds like Jrue Holiday (foot) will miss tonight’s game if I had to guess, but he’ll be a game-time decision after a report emerged that the team is going to play it safe (duh). The Rockets are buzzing after their win in New York and we’ll be watching to see if Marcus Morris can take advantage of Patrick Patterson’s (foot) absence. Omer Asik could use a bounce back game and he should get it against the Sixers.
CHA @ PHO: Look for a Bobcats letdown after the big game in L.A., though they could come out fired up to get a win after their close loss. Gerald Henderson, Bismack Biyombo, and Byron Mullens are still under the microscope, as is Ramon Sessions after his big night. Marcin Gortat has built some slight momentum the past few games, and Jared Dudley is one game away from being a must-own player. Shannon Brown is hot and so it’s probably time to let owners down again. Luis Scola got numbers against the Kings but he needs to follow that up with a few good games and if he can’t keep it up against the Cats coming away from Staples Center that will be a bad sign.
GSW @ SAC: Keith Smart basically put Tyreke Evans’ (knee) future on Evans and the team trainers, which is another way of saying that the Kings aren’t going to interfere with the player during his contract year. My gut tells me that if they had to decide today the Kings would re-sign him, and it doesn’t hurt them if he hurts his own market value by taking games off. Either way, team sources tell me that he could take games off down the road, and owners need to evaluate the situation accordingly. This improves the outlooks of virtually everybody on the squad, and as I said on Twitter I have nothing to do with any advice one sees here about dropping Marcus Thornton. Thornton will return tonight after being with his ill mother, and that along with the dysfunction in Sacto are explainable reasons for his slump. He is one of the league’s better scorers and with Evans’ issues, a turnaround is more likely than not. Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette get a small bump in their outlooks while Evans’ issue isn’t technically serious, but the whole team will operate much better when Evans is not the featured player. This isn’t to say Evans can’t be a positive influence, but that he needs much better coaching and development to tie it all together and that’s obviously not happening under the current regime.
NO @ LAC: The Clippers are still without Chauncey Billups, and we’ll get an update on his status tonight. Owners will be watching to see if Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe can keep up their productive ways in their bench roles.
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