NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Daily Dose: Big Wednesday
Last night was one of those nights where the stat-tracker looked like a slot machine with so many games on and so many big lines. Let’s dig right in after a busy 13-game Wednesday night.
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Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed another game due to a concussion and owners simply have to wait and see how it goes. I think there’s enough upside to hold on here even if he was struggling a bit before going down. The Bobcats will need to develop him. Byron Mullens had another solid night in his second game back from a severe ankle injury, scoring 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting with three treys, seven rebounds, and a block in just 17 minutes. The Bobcats need him and owners need to have him in most lineups.
The Early Returns
Dion Waiters hit 9-of-14 shots for 19 points with five assists and a steal, though he didn’t hit a three in the Cavs’ blowout win over the Bobcats. Wayne Ellington saw extra minutes and scored 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting with a nice line, but owners should make him do it again before blinking in most formats. Marreese Speights scored 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting with 10 boards and a block in 19 minutes, and he likely would have played more if the game wasn’t a blowout. I added him in some big money leagues and I like the early returns. Tyler Zeller scored eight points on 4-of-6 shooting with six rebounds, three assists, and one block in his 22 minutes, and I have him ranked a good amount below Speights. He’s 14-team material at best.
As usual, none of the question marks in Boston were able to step up in last night’s win against the Raptors, but owners of Kevin Garnett (27 points, 10 boards) and Paul Pierce (12 points, 2-of-11 FGs, 11 boards, six assists) have to be thrilled. Both had small issues with last night’s lines, but they’re going to carry so much load that owners should only fear that they break.
Courtney Lee scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting (no threes) with two rebounds, three assists, and no steals or blocks, Avery Bradley scored 11 points with a three, two assists, and a block, Brandon Bass scored 10 points with three boards and a block, Jason Terry barfed up two points in 26 minutes, and Jeff Green scored eight points with six boards, three assists, and a steal in his 27 minutes. Ugly. Leandro Barbosa scored 14 points with a relatively full stat line, but he’s probably the weakest positioned guard on this list. I’m holding Bass for a little while longer, if I owned Green I’d probably view him as a long-term stash, and the guard group doesn’t interest me much unless I’m banking on their threes.
Today in Toronto
It may be a last-chance to show he can make things work, but Bryan Colangelo’s influence in making Rudy Gay the focal point in Toronto is impressive. Gay has come in and averaged 21 shots per game in his three contests for the Raps, and last night he scored 25 points on 8-of-24 shooting with 12 rebounds, three assists, and four steals in 41 minutes. He doesn’t strike me as a guy whose efficiency is going to rise, but even the TV guys are ultra-committed to making the Gay trade look like a success. Whether or not everybody cools it and the touch distribution starts to equalize is a fair question. For now, though, the trade looks like a solid bump to his value.
The other big story was Andrea Bargnani’s return from an elbow injury that has kept him out since Dec. 10, and he did fairly well with 13 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals on 5-of-10 shooting in 24 minutes. I think the Raptors will start to shift some of Rudy’s ridiculous workload onto Bargs once they’re done convincing everybody that trading for Gay was the right move. I think he should be owned in 12-team leagues for the hopes a trade out of Toronto can help him tap back into mid-round upside. Just be cognizant of his inherent risks.
Jonas Valanciunas played just two minutes and will continue to be held back until the deadline. I’ve stashed him in some competitive leagues in which I need big men, but there isn’t a guarantee that he will pan out so owners need to stash at their own risk. Kyle Lowry got back on track with 17 points, seven boards, eight assists, four steals, and three treys. One has to think he’ll get tired of watching Gay chuck up so many shots and tonight might be the first indicator that he’s seeking to achieve balance on his own.
Roy Hibbert feasted on the Sixers’ banged up frontcourt, scoring 18 points on 8-of-20 shooting with 14 rebounds, two steals, and five blocks. I can’t think of a better sell-high moment. After a slow start to the season, the Pacers are 31-19 and challenging for the East’s best record, and though Paul George (4-of-13 FGs, 15 points, full line) struggled with his shot he’s the reason for the surge.
Jason Richardson (knee) could be on his tenth medical opinion by the time I publish this, and the bottom line is that he looks like he’s toast for this year. That makes Nick Young (nine points, 4-of-13 FGs, six boards, three assists, no steals or blocks) a must-own player in my book, even if he stunk like his teammates in their 88-69 loss to the Pacers.
Evan Turner enthusiasts have gotten a cold shower in the past few weeks, and all I know is that it’s going to take a prolonged period of consistency before I get off his back for losing his head. He hit 1-of-10 shots for two points, nine boards, and four assists, and he has scored eight or less in four straight and hit 10-of-36 shots over that time. With holes in his fantasy game, he just can’t have that. And yes, the one place I own him I’m holding.
Lavoy Allen scored 12 points with six rebounds, a steal, and a block in 35 minutes, which may be a typical line and that could give him some low-end value so give him a look if you need a big. Dorell Wright played 30 minutes and scored nine points on 4-of-8 shooting with eight rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two blocks. I’m concerned what Young will do to stagnate the offense and the lack of playmakers in general, which will hold Wright back a bit, but I like his chance of having a 25-30 minute role while everybody is out. I’m considering in add in non-shallow formats.
Everybody (Eventually) Loves Raymond
Raymond Felton hasn’t been great since returning from his pinkie injury, but got back on track last night against the Wiz with 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, three treys, three boards, four assists, and two steals. Yes, there is risk, but the buy low window in the event he returns to form appears to be 1-2 games wide. J.R. Smith (illness) played and he hit 6-of-14 shots for 13 points and not much else, but at least he was on the court.
Bradley Beal missed another game as the shooting wrist struck again, and I’d be willing to stash him for dead weight when it gets announced that he will return and that is about it. John Wall is back as he posted 21 points, five rebounds, nine assists, and a block. Martell Webster scored 19 points with five treys and after his recent production you have to give him a short-term, spot-start look but Beal’s return will probably knock him off the standard league list. Trevor Ariza finally made noise with 20 points, five treys, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal on 7-of-11 shooting in 33 minutes, and he has the same issue with Beal coming back that Webster does.
Taking the Night Off
Chris Paul (knee) and Blake Griffin (hamstring) were scratches and that makes a whole lot of sense when the opposition is a banged up Magic squad. Chauncey Billups (foot) is nearing a return but it’s anybody’s guess when that will be. Jamal Crawford joined the party with a shoulder issue, but it could very well have been a simple maintenance day off. This left Eric Bledsoe free to go nuts with a season-high 27 points, six rebounds, three assists, six steals, three blocks, and two threes on 9-of-21 shooting. Filthy. DeAndre Jordan also took advantage with 13 points and 14 rebounds, as did Lamar Odom (eight points, five boards, four assists, six steals, one three) and Ryan Hollins (13 points, eight boards, two blocks). Owners can safely ignore the Clippers box score for evaluation purposes.
J.J. Redick (shoulder) and Arron Afflalo (calf) were ruled out early yesterday for last night’s game, and the lack of reporting on Afflalo’s injury is a bit unsettling but we still haven’t heard that it’s serious, either. As for Redick, he is day-to-day and an MRI ruled out any structural damage. Jameer Nelson (arm) got back into action and picked up where he left off with 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting, five rebounds, four assists, and three treys.
E’Twaun Moore slid one spot over and hit just 3-of-16 shots for seven points, three boards, five assists, a steal, and a three, but his 35 percent shooting over his last five games is cutting into his value. I wouldn’t break my neck to hold him with his role in question once Redick and Afflalo return. Moe Harkless showed some of what has held him back in general this season, hitting just 2-of-11 shots for six points, nine boards, one steal, and two blocks. The non-scoring numbers are acceptable, but he’s not making the impact he’ll need to make in order to hold his playing time when the Magic get the aforementioned guys back. He has long-term upside, but things might get rough in the short-term.
The Grizzlies are in full-on implosion mode and it’s probably because Robert Pera has come in with John Hollinger and changed everything but the plastic forks in the media room. Lionel Hollins is openly irked right now with the Rudy Gay trade, and with all of that in mind we’re still in the one-week cooling off time frame I discussed yesterday. If the Grizz are still struggling after that, then maybe the issue won’t go away.
Tayshaun Prince scored six points on 3-of-9 shooting with two rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes, and one more of those will be the confirmation that the leopard didn’t get new spots. Jerryd Bayless is clearly taking over some of Gay’s offensive responsibilities and he had another good night, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting with four rebounds, five assists, and a three. I was down on Bayless a week or so ago, mainly because I figured he’d have to share with guys like Darrell Arthur (two points, 15 minutes) and Ed Davis (two points, six boards, nine minutes). To date neither of them has taken food off of Bayless’ plate, and his value proposition will be fully expressed once those guys are fully integrated and Quincy Pondexter returns.
Attack of Teague
Anthony Tolliver got a start for matchup purposes and scored eight points with seven rebounds, a block, and two threes in 28 minutes. If he keeps it up we’ll let you know, but for now he’s only worth a look in very deep leagues. Josh Smith scored 19 points with 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal, a three, and three blocks on 7-of-13 shooting, and Jeff Teague kept his foot heavy on the gas with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 13 rebounds and two threes. It’s going to be fun watching Teague have the backcourt all to himself.
James Harden is absolutely on fire right now, and last night he hit 10-of-16 shots for 36 points with four treys, 12 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals while single-handedly keeping the Rockets in the game against Miami before losing. He has averaged 24 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.2 3-pointers over his last five games, while shooting a nasty 53 percent from the floor, 50 percent from downtown and 80 percent from the line over that stretch.
Kevin Martin is a nice player and Thunder management are scared to tell Kendrick Perkins to stop shooting the ball let alone amnesty the guy, but man I feel like we’re getting robbed of what could have been a special team there if Harden was in play. One look at the Houston box score will let you know that there were no surprises tonight, but Patrick Patterson posted an empty 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting with three rebounds, a three and nothing else, and that probably irked owners recently making an add. I wish I could tell you that the inconsistency was going to stop, as it probably won’t.
Addition by Subtraction
Chris Bosh was a later scratch due to illness last night and that left LeBron James (32 points, full line) and Dwyane Wade (31 points, full line) free to destroy fantasy leagues. Wade is slowly climbing back onto his perch with second round value over the past two weeks and that would fit the ‘old guy takes first half of the season off narrative’ pretty nicely. Ray Allen has been really struggling lately and hit just 1-of-8 shots last night for five points, one three, and not much else. I have no problem dropping him but it wouldn’t be surprising if he rebounds from the low point on his graph.
Reggie Evans Scores 10 Points. No, Really.
Reggie Evans put up a surprising 10 points to go with his not-so-surprising 14 rebounds and one block in 30 minutes, and no, I’m not running to go pick him up. Gerald Wallace scored 14 points with three rebounds, one assist, and two threes in 27 minutes, which means in the one place I added him I’m cautiously optimistic that I earned a late-round value in the Nets’ current roster configuration.
Tailbone’s Connected to Bench, Usually
The Free Andre Drummond train took a small hit when he had to leave last night’s return-game halfway through. He said the issue was his tailbone and not his back, and owners will want to watch this situation closely but in general I’m not panicking at this early stage. Jose Calderon scored eight points with nine assists and two threes as he gets acclimated to his new team, Brandon Knight started putting up his old shooting guard numbers with 12 points, two rebounds, four assists, and two steals on 4-of-10 shooting in 26 minutes, and Rodney Stuckey came off the bench with four points and three rebounds in 23 minutes. Cut Stuckey in 12-14 team formats if you want, and look at Will Bynum (13 points, four rebounds, seven assists, two steals) as an alternative to Knight and/or in general but keep in mind that four’s a crowd in Detroit.
Act Like You’ve Been There Before
Andrew Bogut (ankle) did not play due to the back-to-back, which was expected, and Jarrett Jack (shoulder) did not play, which wasn’t expected. We’re calling him questionable for Friday’s game until we get clarification on the abruptly reported injury. Now that that’s out of the way, I figured it would be a blowout loss for the Dubs in yesterday’s Dose, and it was, and last night’s outing had some added bad taste when Kevin Martin called out GSW’s bench after the game. I’m paraphrasing, but he said the younger guys that haven’t proven anything shouldn’t be talking trash the way they did and he also alluded to a dirty play. This isn’t the first time the Warriors’ bench has been caught acting like they haven’t been there before, as the Lakers were cracking up watching the bench’s reaction to a Blake Griffin 3-pointer that clanked off the side of the backboard. All of it just makes me wonder where the leadership is, as the wrong guys are talking trash and the entire team is complaining about having the score run up on them in a professional game.
At least Klay Thompson got back on track with 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting and three treys, and Stephen Curry had 14 points, eight boards, and 11 assists even if he hit just 5-of-20 shots against a motivated Russell Westbrook. Harrison Barnes hit 7-of-9 shots for 19 points but just one steal to his stat line, and that’s enough to make me write the outing off as a harbinger of things to come with guys out. David Lee put up a typically big line and got worked over inside again. Rinse, lather, repeat.
The Thunder slugged it out with the Clippers and had to turn around and play in Golden State the next day earlier in the year. The Warriors treated the game like a Super Bowl and the Thunder came out flat in a loss, so it made sense that they’d want revenge at home. Serge Ibaka walked over the Warriors’ interior with 15 points, nine boards, four assists, a three, and six blocks, Kevin Durant scored 25 points with a full line, Kevin Martin scored 21 points with three treys, four assists, and two steals, and Russell Westbrook ate up Stephen Curry on both ends and finished with 22 points and a full line.
Same Old Story
Kendall Marshall (zero points, three assists, 20 minutes) flamed out after a mildly interesting Tuesday, and I don’t think he can get his shot together to be an asset this season. Goran Dragic continued to trudge along, scoring 13 points with six assists in 32 minutes. Michael Beasley played just 20 minutes, scoring 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting with five rebounds and no steals or blocks. In other words, he showed why I have no real interest in him. Jared Dudley bounced back from a disaster on Tuesday, scoring 14 points with six rebounds, three assists, and one three in 28 minutes. I put Shannon Brown (six points, 16 minutes) in the same category as Beasley for fantasy purposes as well as the damage they do to the Suns’ offense when they’re making mistakes.
But, How Am I Going To Know It’s The Right Moment?
Eric Gordon didn’t have the game I thought he might after all his rest, hitting just 3-of-14 shots for nine points with no rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 32 minutes. Just try to find your sell-high moment like the slow clap guy from Not Another Teen Movie. In bad news for me, I gave up on Al-Farouq Aminu in a few places and he got back on track, scoring 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting with 11 rebounds and a steal in 30 minutes. I have a feeling he’ll be mostly productive this season but that owners will have a hard time timing when to use him.
Blazers Punch In, Punch Out, Lose
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points with 10 boards in his return to his Dallas hometown, Damian Lillard hit just 6-of-17 shots for 19 points and a full stat line, and Nicolas Batum battled through his shooting wrist injury to score nine points on 3-of-8 shooting with six rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one three in 41 minutes. My guess is that he’s targeting the All Star break as a time he can get some rest. Wesley Matthews scored 21 points with five treys, J.J. Hickson double-doubled with 14 and 10, and the Blazers are who we thought they were before the game started.
Extra Mayo or Other Mayonnaise Pun
Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 points on 7-of-19 shooting with eight rebounds in last night’s win over the Blazers. Shawn Marion added 13 points and 10 boards, and O.J. Mayo got hot hitting 11-of-14 shots for 28 points, four rebounds, five assists, one steal, and three treys. Some of the team-affiliated local talk has been calling for more touches for Mayo, and it’s possible you see the team start to make a more concerted effort to get him the ball now that Dirk has settled in. Vince Carter played through an illness and scored 17 points with three rebounds, three assists, and three treys. He missed Monday’s game and has scored between 17 and 22 points in his last three games. Give him a look, but he’s been up and down in general over the past month.
Tim Duncan (knee, ankle) and Manu Ginobili (hamstring) were both early scratches from last night’s game, and they’re both still day-to-day without any indication of when they’re coming back. That left the usual suspects in place to do their damage. Tony Parker scored 31 points with a full line, Danny Green went nuts with eight 3-pointers on 9-of-14 shooting overall for a career-high 28 points, and Kawhi Leonard went for an ultra-efficient 19 and 10 with two steals, two threes, 7-of-13 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs, and a block. That’s the type of upside I was touting a few weeks back when everybody was hopping off the bandwagon. This trio is going to carry a lot of weight while Ginobili and Duncan profile to be the rest guys at this early junction.
Making Up for AK
Andrei Kirilenko did not play due to his quad injury and it’s unclear when he’ll be coming back, so for last night the Wolves had a nice-sized hole in their rotation against the Spurs. Derrick Williams was able to step into some of that value with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting, 12 rebounds, and two threes, but he had no other stats to illustrate the holes in his fantasy game. Along with his inconsistency, I’m not buying.
Dante Cunningham came in relatively hot and had a pedestrian four-point, six-rebound night with a steal and block, J.J. Barea hung onto his low-end value with 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting and three treys, and Nikola Pekovic went off for 21 and 10 with a 11-of-12 mark from the foul line. Rick Adelman went away from Alexey Shved, who finished with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting (including a three) with four rebounds, two assists, and one block in 18 minutes, but he had been pretty productive coming in and he’s more of a long-term guy playing in an older, injury prone group anyway.
Sammy D Does It Again
X-rays taken on Larry Sanders’ back after Tuesday’s fall returned negative and though he missed last night’s game, he is with the team and could play on Friday. Ersan Ilyasova bounced back from a dud on Tuesday to score 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting with four rebounds and two threes in 30 minutes on Wednesday. He’s not going to blow you away every night, but the consistency of minutes and confidence he’s showing is key to his value right now. Brandon Jennings is in a funk right now and hit just 5-of-16 shots last night, scoring 17 points with five rebounds, four assists, and four steals. He’s shooting 34.9 percent over his last five games and that’s a by-the-book buy low moment.
Perhaps the biggest question, however, is what was Samuel Dalembert going to do after his enormous outing on Tuesday. The answer was pretty good, actually, as he scored 10 points with 11 rebounds, four steals, and four blocks in 26 minutes. The steals and blocks are what caught my eye, but he’s going to have to take minutes from somebody other than Sanders. He’s also going to have to keep his nose clean and not do stupid stuff, which has been a real problem for him. So his long-term value is better today than it was yesterday, but I still have concerns about his ability to keep sustainable production going. He’s worth an add, but I’m not dropping anybody of consistent value to keep him with guys like John Henson, Drew Gooden, and Ekpe Udoh around to give Jim Boylan options.
Jazz Frontcourt Gets Loose
Gordon Hayward (shoulder) did not play and while he didn’t sound sure, he commented that he thinks he’s closer to the end of his injury than the beginning of it. Players can be overoptimistic in their comments, so just keep an open mind here about his timetable. I’m holding him through the trade deadline to see if things shake up in his favor. Earl Watson (leg) did not play, which opened the door for Alec Burks to play 29 minutes, but he didn’t make a huge impact with just eight points, three rebounds, three assists, and two threes.
It’s possible that we’re seeing a shift toward Burks in a 20+ minute role with time at both guard slots, especially if Hayward remains out, but he needs to show more in standard formats before owners should get all hot and bothered. Paul Millsap (19 points, six rebounds, five assists, four blocks, two steals), Al Jefferson (19 and 11 on 8-of-12 FGs), and Derrick Favors (nine points, 11 boards, three steals, three blocks, 22 minutes) all got into the mix. Enes Kanter even gets his name called with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting with nine rebounds and five blocks in just 17 minutes.
Thursday Night Lights
LAL @ BOS: Dwight Howard (shoulder, back) is more drama than anything else these days, and not in the sense you’re probably thinking of initially when I say that. The whispers have been that he bailed on Orlando, but back surgery was good enough to get him out of that rumor and his play upon returning certainly looks like a guy with a bad back. Now his shoulder injury is getting cat-calls from everybody including Kobe Bryant, and Howard has gone public with talk about numbness in his legs and the outside appearance is that he’s not willing to play hurt. On top of that, is he just folding under the pressure in Los Angeles, and is he unwilling to play an intense brand of basketball? Is he trying to distance himself from this year’s disaster? Preserving his career by not risking further injury? So many questions, and I know what my gut tells me but I can’t say with any certainty what the answers are. Howard is questionable for tonight, and in general.
Pau Gasol (torn plantar fascia) is going to be out six weeks to three months, and that’s cuttin’ territory unless you have bench spaces available for guys that may not pan out. Metta World Peace and Earl Clark should already have been owned in most leagues, and I’d be hard-pressed not to add Antawn Jamison now that Mike D’Antoni is officially free to implement his small lineup. MWP will return tonight after serving his one-game suspension on Tuesday. The Lakers are down personnel, but the Celtics could easily struggle on the tail-end of a back-to-back.
CHI @ DEN: Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) was set to practice yesterday but there was no immediate post-practice report. I’ve beaten the horse to death, but he’s a risk to get overused so owners should be hoping he takes it easy. Marco Belinelli (ankle) is a game-time decision after scoring a season-high 24 points on Monday. I’m not really concerned about him and an absence won’t necessarily translate into transferable fantasy value. Carlos Boozer said his hammy didn’t bother him after Monday’s ho-hum return. He’s expected to play tonight and should be in most lineups. The Nuggets come into the game healthy and they need to continue to build continuity on both ends of the floor.
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