NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Dose: Kobe Joins 30,000 Club
With 11 games and so many minor story lines, I’m going to try to stick to the headlines here. Check out the Rotoworld News Page for all the other details.
While it has nothing to do with fantasy, props to Kobe Bryant for scoring his 30,000th point over Robin Lopez last night, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as the only others to do so. He also became the youngest player to hit the mark, beating Wilt by a year. He’s averaging 28 per game, had 29 last night, and is the only thing keeping Lakers fans sane right now. And he’s probably going to go down as the greatest Laker in history, which is really saying something.
Carmelo Anthony left Wednesday’s win over the Bobcats in the final minutes after suffering a laceration on his left ring finger that required six stitches. That may not sound like much, but I’m pretty sure most of us would not be playing tonight against the Heat after taking six stitches to any one of our fingers. Mike Woodson said immediately after the game that Melo was going to play, but Melo didn’t seem to agree with that sentiment. He’ll face LeBron James and Dwyane Wade if he’s able to, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him miss this game. J.R. Smith hit the game-winning shot for the Knicks on a 5-of-15 shooting night, and I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for his South Beach celebration once the plane landed last night. Something tells me Smith could be tired for tonight’s game.
Nicolas Batum left Wednesday’s game with a back injury suffered in the first quarter, but was also seen on the bench with a wrap on his left shoulder. There’s no word yet on the severity of the injury, but given the fact he finished with just five points on 2-of-8 shooting after playing through it for 29 minutes, I’m fairly concerned.
Al Jefferson went down in a heap after a 31-point, 15-rebound performance, and literally had to be carried to the locker room. He was diagnosed with back spasms and has had trouble with them in the past, but says he will play on Friday against the Raptors. I’m going to consider him a game-time decision for that one, as he didn’t look good (at all) during the episode. Derrick Favors plans on doing some work on Friday, but it’s unknown when he’ll be back from his plantar fasciitis. Hopefully he’ll be rolling again by next week. If Jefferson is going to miss time, Enes Kanter would be serviceable fill-in.
Kevin Love’s shooting woes continued when he hit 6-of-15 shots and 6-of-12 free throws last night, finishing with 19 points and 13 boards for the Wolves. His shooting is way down this season (48 to 36 percent in field goals, and 82 to 68 percent in free throws), but if you’ve ever broken your shooting hand, you know it’s going to be painful and awkward for a while for Love. Especially considering he probably rushed back as fast as he could. He’ll get it figured out and be fine, but if you’re in a weekly battle for percentages, Love might not be a must-start in every situation right now.
Roy Hibbert hit just 3-of-13 shots for 10 points, seven boards and three blocks, but has blocked at least two shots in 13 straight games for the Pacers. There is simply no way he shoots it this poorly all season and I would recommend trying to buy low on him. He’s actually shooting a laughable 38 percent on the season, with a huge number of his misses being layups and put-backs. Paul George is hot and I hope you were smarter than me and started him in your weekly league.
Andre Iguodala was terrible with five points on 2-of-10 shooting in 38 minutes for the Nuggets, marking his second straight disaster. If you want to acquire him in a trade (and you should), now is the time to strike. On the flip side, Ty Lawson finally had his breakout game with a season-high 32 points with seven assists, five steals and five 3-pointers. And no, this wasn’t a coincidence.
Brandon Jennings hasn’t looked right since spraining his ankle on Nov. 24, but has played 39 minutes or more in his last three games. He’ll get it worked out. Monta Ellis had 21 points, seven boards, 11 assists, three steals, and a 3-pointer for the Bucks, but hit just 5-of-19 shots. We can’t blame his struggles on an injury (he’s 24-of-73 over his last four games), but I expect both players to break out of the shooting funk soon. Ersan Ilyasova had 17 points in 30 minutes last night, and to be honest, I’m completely confounded by him. His game log is a disaster, but I’m still reluctantly holding onto him where I own him. Larry Sanders got the start, but predictably ended up in foul trouble and played just 17 minutes (of course he did). He still has racked up 23 blocks over his last four games, meaning he should be held in all leagues until we see how this story ends. Unfortunately, Scott Skiles is authoring these Bucks' novels.
DeMarcus Cousins bounced back from an 18-minute game with 25 points, 13 boards and a block for the Kings, and has played well in two of his last three. Hopefully this means he’s back. Jason Thompson has double-doubled in two straight, and Tyreke Evans bounced back with 23 points after missing a couple games with a knee injury. Marcus Thornton gave way to John Salmons (12 points, seven assists) and hit just 1-of-7 shots for three points in 17 minutes, but he should bounce back in the next one. Aaron Brooks wasn't great, but Isaiah Thomas still got a DNP-CD, and it's time to move on.
Byron Mullens played just 19 minutes last night for the Bobcats, but I suspect it was due to matching up with the Knicks. He had to guard Melo, which is not good, and the Knicks play a small lineup, with a dominant Tyson Chandler the only big on the floor for most of the night. So I’m thinking the Cats let Michael Kidd-Gilchrist deal with Melo, Bismack Biyombo (30 minutes, 12 boards) guard Chandler, and then put a bunch of guards in to match up and run with the small Knicks lineup. Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon both played very well, Gerald Henderson looked great, and rookie Jeff Taylor played a ton of minutes. I’m more worried about Ramon Sessions, who played just 14 minutes, than I am about Mullens. If Sessions ends up being the odd man out again on Friday against the Bucks, owners may be forced to cut ties and move on. Walker and Gordon are must-own players, and if Henderson (who had 11 3-pointers last season) continues to knock down treys this year (five in four games), he’ll quickly become a hot pickup as well. Don’t drop Mullens or Sessions, but pay close attention to what happens with them on Friday.
Andre Drummond and Rodney Stuckey both played very well for the Pistons on Wednesday, while Brandon Knight and Kyle Singler were awful. You all know I’ve been high on stashing Drummond all year and his 15 points, 12 boards, two blocks and 31 minutes were fun last night. Of course, Greg Monroe’s foul trouble was a big part of the puzzle, but Lawrence Frank, at some point, has to suck it up and run Drummond out there. Stuckey had 17 points, four boards, nine assists, a steal and a 3-pointer off the bench, but I still think Frank sees him as a shooting guard more than a PG. Knight was in foul trouble and should bounce back, but Stuckey may be a nice player to take a flier on in case this is start of a nice run for him. Singler had just three points and three rebounds in 32 minutes last night, and while I like him, I don’t own him in a single league, and have little interest in doing so. I think we’ve seen his ceiling and I’d rather fly on a guy like Drummond who could be a beast, instead of a serviceable player like Singler at the end of my roster.
Jamal Crawford had 20 points and three more 3-pointers for the Clippers, while Chauncey Billups has been shut down for about a week with ankle swelling. As I’ve been saying, Crawford, and not Billups, is my guy here.
Atlanta’s Lou Williams looks like a must-add for me if he’s available, and San Antonio’s Gary Neal is averaging 17 points and has hit 11 3-pointers over his last five games, making him worth a serious look in all leagues. If you can dump Isaiah Thomas (DNP-CD) for one of them, I’d do it.
Orlando's Nikola Vucevic backed up his season-high 15-rebound game with 16 boards (and just six points) last night, and is averaging 12 points, 12 boards and more than two blocks per game over his last four. If you need a center, this is your sign. Glen Davis is also hot and had 18 points, 12 boards and two blocks for the Magic last night.
Randy Foye was a dud with one 3-pointer for his only points last night on 1-of-7 shooting in 30 minutes, but had scored 19 and 20 points in his previous two. Stick with him. Marvin Williams returned from a three-game absence with a concussion and had eight points for the Jazz, but it was enough to throw Gordon Hayward back into a funk (0-for-6, four points, 23 minutes). I am not much of a Hayward fan as long as Marvin is starting.
Jonas Valanciunas had just three points and three boards in 16 minutes for the Raptors, while Andrea Bargnani was awful with eight points and no 3-pointers on 3-of-14 shooting. Bargs has scored 8, 23, 4, 21 and four points, along with a DNP-ankle over his last six games, and can be benched if you have better options. Mickael Pietrus came out of nowhere in a start at small forward (Linas Kleiza was out with a hip injury) for 21 points in 40 minutes. Keep a close eye on him Friday and think about grabbing Pietrus if he plays well again. Ed Davis had his second double-double of the season, but I’d only move on him if he replaces Valanciunas as a starter. And if you own Valanciunas, stop what you’re doing and drop him for Drummond or Sanders.
Darren Collison gave way to Derek Fisher again and played just 18 minutes for Dallas. Get him on your bench and, sadly, think about dropping him, as it’s going to be a rough ride as long as Fisher (15 points) is starting.
Take a look at Corey Brewer’s game log for the Nuggets and keep an eye on him, as he had 19 points last night and has been playing well.
News and Notes
Andrew Bynum is not expected back until Jan. 1 at the earliest, and while this isn’t exactly a surprise, that date is only about three weeks away. No, I don’t think it’s time to pick up Bynum, but once he is tagged with an actual target date, I might be talked into taking the bait.
Trevor Ariza is expected to miss about three weeks with is calf injury, so look for Jordan Crawford and Martell Webster to step up their game in his absence. Crawford is now a must-own player, while Webster is worth a deep-league look.
Pau Gasol may or may not be ready to play for the Lakers this weekend, but if I had to guess, I’d say he won’t play until next week at the earliest. There was a report on Wednesday that Steve Nash made the Lakers promise not to trade Gasol, but I have a hard time believing that would stop Jimmy Buss from doing so. I have been down on Gasol all season and while it’s true that he might be a decent buy-low candidate, I’m not a fan of trading for rebounders with bad knees who have to play beside Dwight Howard.
Nick Young is hoping to return to the Sixers’ lineup on Friday from his toe injury.
Tony Allen is iffy for the Grizzlies on Friday due to his lingering groin injury.
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