NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Dose: Kyle Lowry's Lament
Six-game nights seem so quiet these days and the past couple of nights of basketball have not been scorching the nets so to speak. There were still plenty of tweaks to player values, though, so without further ado let’s check it out.
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The Hornets were the latest team to go into Philly and leave with a win, as they got strong outings from Greivis Vasquez (23 points, nine assists, three treys, six turnovers) and Eric Gordon (19 points, 7-of-13 FGs, two threes, four assists). Al-Farouq Aminu was quiet with five points, eight rebounds, and no steals or blocks in 23 minutes, showing his stripes as a shaky guy in terms of minutes. Still, though, he had been playing well enough to be owned and owners should probably wait and see if he can get back on track.
Anthony Davis scored 10 points with seven rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in just 21 minutes, and one has to think this is still buy low territory for a guy that could go nuts if and when he is given big minutes. I’ll keep my ear to the ground about any trouble with the ankle, as injury reporting in New Orleans has been shaky in the past.
Andrew Bynum (knees) talked about returning around the All Star break, and while he’s still not doing much of anything physically this qualifies as a decent update. To that end, as long as he’s not filming an action movie with Tom Arnold it’s a decent update these days. As for the game last night, it was another mess for the Sixers but it was a bonanza if you own Jrue Holiday, who put up 29 points with five rebounds, 11 assists, four steals, and four threes.
Jason Richardson was very disappointing with just five points, three rebounds, two assists, and a three in just under 20 minutes, but he had a nice game on Saturday so it’s not out of the question to hold him for another game in a standard league. Dorell Wright scored seven points on 2-of-6 shooting with six rebounds and six assists in 26 minutes off the bench, and he’s worth keeping an eye on but on the whole this is a situation to avoid in general, obviously.
The Pacers walloped the Bobcats and fielded a fairly standard box score last night, with George Hill scoring 16 points with seven rebounds, four assists, and two threes, David West going for 15 and eight, Roy Hibbert scoring a welcoming 18 points with seven rebounds and four blocks, and Paul George being his normal productive self with 16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two triples of his own. In particularly for Hibbert, they’re not going to get the Bobcats every night so there’s not too much to glean from this outcome.
The Five-Guard Lineup
It’s sad to say, but the Bobcats really need Byron Mullens back. Mullens (ankle) has been cleared to do zero-gravity running and that sounds to me like he’s a few weeks off, still. Tyrus Thomas (three minutes) and Hakim Warrick (14 minutes) have been mediocre at best and awful at worst, and while we could sit here and pick apart Mullens’ game on a lot of levels he at least gives them a chance to win. This leaves the five-guard rotation playing way more minutes collectively than anybody would normally want them to, but it’s the only thing the Cats have right now to keep things competitive. Unfortunately, a five-guard rotation between 2-3 slots every night is not what anybody wants in a fantasy league and it’s hurting them all.
Kemba Walker (13 points, one assist) is struggling in the assists department lately (3.4 asts/gm last five), and Gerald Henderson (15 points, 3-of-10 FGs, one three, three assists) is the only player truly worth owning in a standard format. Ben Gordon (seven points, 14 minutes) is much too inconsistent to rely on, Jeff Taylor (five points, 20 minutes) isn’t producing enough to be considered, and Ramon Sessions (13 points, one assist, 28 minutes) has enough holes in his fantasy game to require large-scale production to justify ownership in standard or moderately deep formats. Walker injured his ankle during the first half of the game and returned in the second half, but without a game until Friday we’re guessing he’ll be okay.
The point guard position in Toronto was full of craziness as both Jose Calderon (hip) and Kyle Lowry (ankle) are in the post-game injury report, but both managed to finish last night’s game and Lowry’s situation in particular was peculiar. Lowry left the game early on and was ruled out for the second half, only to come back in the fourth quarter and lead a massive charge. He finished with 21 points on 5-of-7 shooting (including four threes) with one rebound and two assist in just 15 minutes of action, and he’s more than questionable for tonight’s contest.
Calderon (15 points, five assists, three treys, 29 minutes) is a much better bet to play but is also questionable, and in general the Lowry situation didn’t get any clearer. He’s not happy with his role and the best way to sum things up is that neither the player nor the situation is stable. There is also injury risk to go with all that upside. I think it’s best to treat him like an late-early round, early-mid round guy depending on how you feel.
Amir Johnson played through his dual ankle injuries and scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting with six rebounds, one steal, and one block in another solid night. Alan Anderson left the game due to some dental work and did not return, scoring two points in nine minutes. Don’t use tonight’s game in your evaluations, no matter how painful the result was if he was in your active lineup. Terrence Ross had nine rebounds to go with four points on 2-of-9 shooting in 23 minutes. It’s an interesting number on the glass, but as usual we need to see more before getting too excited for the eventual upside play. Landry Fields scored eight points with 11 rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes, and with his current workload I can’t see passing him up in a standard 12-14 team league unless I’m stacked.
The Nets are 9-1 since P.J. Carlesimo took over but in fairness it has been a pretty easy schedule. Still, it has allowed Deron Williams (21 points, seven assists, 6-of-13 FGs) and Joe Johnson (21 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, two threes) to get back on track. I’ve chronicled the holes in Johnson’s fantasy game a whole bunch, so yes, I still consider this sell-high territory for him.
Gerald Wallace (ribs) did not play and that cleared up a few minutes, but none of the power forward crew was able to take advantage last night. Reggie Evans (seven rebounds), Kris Humphries (five minutes), and Andray Blatche (14 points, two rebounds) are players to avoid in standard formats, though Blatche could theoretically have upside assuming his off the court issues don’t preclude him from any chance at it.
Filling the Vortex
Chris Paul (kneecap) did not play again last night and though reports have said the injury isn’t serious, the stock of Eric Bledsoe should be given a bit more credit than just simple ‘spot-starter.’ Bledsoe is already a late round value guy on a standalone basis for the season, and he could squeeze an extra week or so of starter status if for whatever reason the Clippers are underreporting Paul’s injury. I’m not saying they are, but it’s illustrative of some extra upside for Bledsoe that those in competitive situations may want to reach for. The backup PG scored a season-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting (including a three) with seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals, as he and his teammates picked up Paul’s slack.
Jamal Crawford scored a season-high 30 points with five treys, Willie Green scored a season-high 15 points, and Blake Griffin added 19 points, four rebounds, eight assists, one steal, and one block. Matt Barnes scored an empty 18 points with three rebounds, one assist, and one steal, though he did hit three treys to make it an alright night in the win.
Jeremy Lin’s ankle didn’t appear to bother him as he scored 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting with 10 assists, but on an inefficient night for James Harden (23 points, 8-of-20 FGs, 2-of-9 3PTs, five turnovers) there wasn’t enough extra firepower to keep up with the Clippers. Omer Asik (seven points, nine rebounds) is a punt-only guy, and Patrick Patterson (five points, 16 minutes) isn’t worth owning in standard formats right now. Marcus Morris scored 12 points with eight rebounds and three treys and is the player to own right now between the two, though that could change nightly at this time.
From the Depths of the Sea
The Blazers should always struggle against a team with any sort of depth, because they themselves have none, and eventually they gave way to the Nuggets in overtime last night. Wesley Matthews scored 14 points with two threes and a nice line, Damian Lillard hit just 6-of-15 shots but finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal, two blocks, and three treys, and J.J. Hickson went for 19 and 13 with two blocks and a 7-of-8 shooting line (5-of-5 FTs). Nicolas Batum scored 22 points with seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two threes, and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 28 points with eight rebounds, six assists, and one block. Aldridge has turned it on and avoided any immediate issue with his shooting wrist, and the rest of the team is more or less who we thought they were over the past few weeks.
Ty Lawson (24 points, 10-of-19 FGs, 12 assists) and Andre Iguodala (nine points, 4-of-16 FGs, four assists) continue to trade off good games, Kosta Koufos (eight points, five boards) struggled again, Danilo Gallinari got hot with 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting and a solid line, and Kenneth Faried went off for 21 and 11 with two steals and a block. Wilson Chandler has made his way back onto the radar with a tie-breaking three in overtime late, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting, two threes, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 18 minutes. He needs a bigger workload before we’ll remove our skepticism, and he also has plenty of injury risk. He’s a deep league speculative play until he can prove himself.
The Bucks ran into a hungry Lakers team and no player accentuated that more than Brandon Jennings (12 points, 4-of-14 FGs, one assist), who was shut down by Kobe Bryant’s voracious defense. Monta Ellis got his with 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting, six rebounds, four assists, and two threes, Larry Sanders was his typical awesome self with six points, 11 boards, one steal, and three blocks, and Ersan Ilyasova was a quiet but serviceable six-point, seven-rebound, one-steal, one-block shell of his former self. I’d be more inclined to dig into Ilyasova for tonight if the whole team didn’t suck. He’s starting and a much more consistent fantasy play, which I can live with. Will he be worth all of the trouble at the end of the day? He’ll need to pick it up quickly and start tapping into that upside, fast.
Beno Udrih has earned more minutes lately and put up 14 points with seven assists in 26 minutes off the bench last night, but while his five-game average of 10.8 points and 4.6 assists per game looks alright it’s probably his ceiling without an injury in front of him.
Defense Leads to Everything
The Lakers got a much needed win to keep the natives from getting too restless, keyed off of Kobe Bryant’s (31 points, 12-of-19 FGs, six assists) defense and a 31 and 16 night with four blocks out of Dwight Howard. Metta World Peace scored 12 points with six rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and two threes, Steve Nash went for eight and 11, and Earl Clark (six points, nine boards, four assists, one block) made another start. Pau Gasol (concussion) is going for tests with a neurologist today and they’ll be looking for his baselines to be in the right spot and if they’re not his status for Thursday’s game will obviously be in doubt.
News and Notes
Iman Shumpert (knee) could start in London on Thursday. It’s fair not to like his value given the eventual logjam at the guard slots, and also the serious injury he’s returning from, but if he progresses well in his rehab he could be looking at a decent role. It’s something to watch closely and be ready to move on.
Glen Davis’ minutes could rise rapidly as he returns to action according to Jacque Vaughn.
The Sacramento Bee surmised that Aaron Brooks might have a hard time finding minutes with Isaiah Thomas playing well. This is my shocked face.
Jared Dudley (right shooting wrist) practiced in full on Tuesday and is expected to play on Thursday, and like all shooting wrist injuries we should be watching him very closely. He should be owned in all formats after a pretty solid month or so.
Larry Drew promised to make more changes to the lineup after Monday’s embarrassing loss, but we’ve yet to see anything other than minor tinkering from him this year. And he says this every other week or so, too.
Rodney Stuckey (teeth) is expected to play on Thursday in London so use him as you normally would.
Stephen Curry (hyper-extended knee) did not practice yesterday but is expected to play tonight. Plan on using him tonight and hope that he didn’t take on any long-term issues in what looked to be a painful tweak.
Kevin Love (hand) underwent surgery and will be out 8-10 weeks and as we’ve discussed here already owners in playoff leagues have more of a reason to stash than anybody, while the rest need to do a cost/benefit analysis of their league’s format and decide if holding the roster spot is worth the squeeze.
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