To quote the great Doctor A, “ding, dong, the witch is dead.”
That of course is a tongue-in-cheek tweet from Doc about the Brian Shaw firing, which was probably a full season too late if money wasn’t a factor. It started with wanting to make his uptempo parts play a slow game last year (didn’t work), and this year it was just full-on Armageddon as he never really connected with the players.
This, of course, unlocks all sorts of potential for struggling players like Kenneth Faried and in general it will be the rising tide to lift all boats and I’ll detail it below. Otherwise, there are a ton of big name injuries and fantasy issues to roll through so let’s do this.
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THE BIG NUMBERS
|Jeremy Lin||23||3||6||8||2||1||3||56.3%||Lakers finally running pick-and-roll with Lin.|
|LeBron James||27||0||3||5||3||1||1||52.2%||Good to see him topping charts in down year.|
|Derrick Favors||21||0||6||3||2||3||1||57.1%||He enjoyed being Gobert's weakside help.|
|Gerald Henderson||21||2||2||5||3||0||0||53.3%||Early round value this past week.|
|Danilo Gallinari||26||4||7||0||1||1||3||50.0%||He's back and the coaching change should help.|
|Pau Gasol||20||0||10||0||1||2||3||72.7%||The Bulls will need to rely on him even more.|
|Khris Middleton||20||3||7||6||2||1||0||30.0%||Finally getting rewarded for two good seasons.|
|Ty Lawson||16||2||2||10||2||0||1||50.0%||Look for everybody to ride the Denver bump.|
|Ersan Ilyasova||21||3||3||2||1||1||1||60.0%||See below for the full scoop.|
|Kyrie Irving||18||2||2||5||2||0||2||60.0%||A pleasant surprise in fantasy leagues this year.|
|Donatas Motiejunas||14||3||8||7||3||0||0||35.7%||The guy gets no respect, see below.|
|Gordon Hayward||21||0||8||6||3||0||2||47.4%||A top 20-35 producer on the season.|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||19||1||11||2||1||3||5||70.0%||Mid-round value over the last two months now.|
|Kyle Korver||5||1||1||2||0||1||0||33.3%||He's primed to go on a tear so be ready.|
|Mike Conley||11||0||1||4||1||1||2||36.4%||Durability could be a concern if seed locked up.|
|Tyler Zeller||4||0||3||1||0||0||0||66.7%||Blowout blues.|
|Trevor Ariza||9||1||5||2||1||0||2||33.3%||Nobody complaining about 3rd round returns.|
|Marcus Smart||2||0||5||2||1||0||2||0.0%||Blowout blues.|
|Avery Bradley||7||1||1||1||0||0||1||33.3%||Blowout blues.|
|Isaiah Thomas||11||0||2||2||0||0||3||30.8%||Blowout blues.|
|Trey Burke||4||0||0||3||0||0||1||18.2%||Inconsistent, but floating late-round value.|
I had a chance to speak with Bulls insider Sean Highkin and you may want to take a listen to that here.
The Bulls have given Jimmy Butler (elbow) a 3-6 week timetable for his return, which comes after a report that indicated he would be checked weekly. There’s nothing really here for owners to do but hope, and I don’t think you can drop him just yet unless your season is imminently about to end. Along with the absence of Derrick Rose, which unlike Butler’s absence might go all the way down to the wire this regular season, major minutes have opened up for Aaron Brooks and Tony Snell.
Brooks wasn’t going to shoot terribly forever and though he was still inefficient he finally busted loose with 22 points on 8-of-23 shooting, two threes, two boards, eight assists and a steal over 35 minutes in last night’s win over the Wizards. He’s a must-own player probably for the rest of the season. I’ve written about Snell (11 points, 4-of-12 FGs, three treys, three boards, two assists, one steal, 40 minutes) in a number of places and the shooting regression I mentioned then is probably starting right now.
Including last night’s game Snell has hit 54.1 percent from the field and whether you want to look at this year’s numbers (46.3 percent) or his career numbers (41.5 percent) that regression could sit in the 30-40 percent range. Will he have enough volume to offset it? I’m betting that he stays out of the top-125 while Butler and Rose are out.
The injury news doesn’t stop with Butler and Rose now that Taj Gibson is out for up to two weeks with his ankle in a walking boot. Enter Nikola Mirotic, who wasted no time with 23 points, eight rebounds, three treys, one block and an 8-of-11 mark from the line last night. There’s not much to analyze here as he’s a must-own player with no guarantees once Gibson is back, with the Bulls likely to revert to old patterns once folks get healthy.
Anthony Davis (shoulder) has been upgraded to questionable for tonight’s game against the Pistons. My sense is that he is improving and it wouldn’t be a shock if they get him on the floor as they cling to the playoff chase.
Russell Westbrook could play on Wednesday against the Sixers but Kevin Durant (foot) has already been ruled out. Durant is one of the more disappointing fantasy plays of the season considering his steep price and ongoing frustration, but the hope is that he gets things figured out in time for your fantasy playoffs.
Goran Dragic said that he is still experiencing pain in his right shoulder from the flagrant foul he took in Monday’s slugfest against his old squad. His back injury is also on the radar and along with Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng I’d be concerned about a shutdown if/when the Heat fall out of contention for a playoff slot.
Darren Collison will miss (airquote) “approximately” (/airquote) six weeks after having surgery on a core muscle, and I hope I’ve laid enough breadcrumbs for you guys about the Kings’ tanking situation that this doesn’t come as a surprise. I’m also concerned about sporadic absences to Rudy Gay (Achilles) and/or DeMarcus Cousins (ankle), too. Last night’s laugher win over the Knicks isn’t a good game to measure Kings values off of, but there is no real fantasy beneficiary for owners to look at other than to hope Ray McCallum (six points, three rebounds, four assists, 2-of-7 FGs) can finally start making shots. In case you’re wondering both Gay and Cousins played last night.
Zach Randolph (illness) and Tony Allen (suspension) did not play last night, so Courtney Lee (18 points, two threes, five boards, one steal, two threes) scored a bit more than usual and Kosta Koufos (six points, 10 boards) got a start. Not much to see here from a fantasy perspective.
Since we’re also shoehorning suspensions in the injury section, James Harden was out last night after kicking LeBron James in his nether regions. Jason Terry got after it with 21 points, four rebounds, four threes and two assists in 28 minutes, but that’s a one-game shot for all intents and purposes.
Chandler Parsons (ankle) and Tyson Chandler (hip) are traveling with the Mavs on their three-game road trip and a national TV game against the Blazers on Thursday seems like a good time for them to return. They’re questionable at this time and though Al-Farouq Aminu struggled on Monday, he has two full months of startable fantasy value under his belt and it hasn’t been tied to any one particular injury. I’d care less about the return of Chandler Parsons and more about Aminu’s play when he is on the floor.
Nikola Pekovic is questionable for tonight and as I’ve said a million times I’m not concerned about Gorgui Dieng’s value. Yes, it’ll be nicer if Pek shuts it down at some point and that’s likely to happen, but I’m not trying to get off that ride at all.
For more injury news check out our injury page.
Kyrie Irving (shoulder) returned to action and got to coast through a laugher win over the Celtics, scoring 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting with two threes, two boards, five assists and two steals in 26 minutes.
Al Horford, DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Teague returned to the lineup after taking a maintenance day on Saturday. Along with Paul Millsap all four of them played well in their win over the visiting Rockets, with Teague’s 25 and six leading the way. Millsap went for 16 and 14 with four assists, two steals and one block, Carroll scored 11 points with five boards, one block and one three, Horford went for 18 and eight with three blocks, and Kyle Korver was the odd man out with just five points and not much else.
I’m going to put all of the Denver Nuggets in the Welcome Back section, because frankly, they didn’t exist this season until Brian Shaw was fired yesterday. This arrangement showed signs of being dysfunctional last season and the fact it was allowed to play out this long was a major mistake by the organization. The fact they let George Karl go to see what they had on the open market looks pretty bad, too.
Some guys like Ty Lawson (16 points, 10 assists) have survived this season but mostly everybody has struggled due to the coaching issue, and last night (surprise) they were able to get on the board with a win over the Bucks. This breathes new life into Kenneth Faried (14 points, 14 boards, two blocks) and Wilson Chandler (12 points, three rebounds, three assists, two threes, one steal, 30 minutes), who should both be owned in standard formats.
Danilo Gallinari (26 points, four treys, seven boards, one steal, one block) was coming along just fine but now he can start to stretch his legs a bit, and I think the main takeaway will be that some normalcy will return to the lineup. This could be bad news for somebody like Will Barton (two points, three boards, three assists, two steals, one block, 22 minutes), who was thriving on the fact he was one of the few players giving it his all lately. It also could mean that Randy Foye (nine points, five assists, three treys, 28 minutes) gets extra consideration as new coach Melvin Hunt tries to stabilize things.
There’s still no update on Jusuf Nurkic’s ankle injury and my guess is that now that the coaching issue has been dealt with the small market media will turn to getting an update on that.
Jeremy Lin shouldn’t have been available but if he is stop what you’re doing and pick him up. He scored 23 points with six rebounds, eight assists, two steals and one block in 30 minutes, and don’t look now but my Bruski 150 rankings of No. 45/63 (8/9 cat) might be in play. He’s currently ranked at No. 75/105 and a hot finish might do the trick, even if I still don’t trust Byron Scott to run pick-and-roll with Lin the rest of the way.
Ersan Ilyasova will never be approached by owners with anything but caution but he’s still making noise after a 21-point, three-trey effort last night against the Nuggets. He has two weeks of startable fantasy value with averages of 13.3 points, 1.5 treys, 6.8 boards and decent percentages in his 27.7 mpg. It’s good enough for top 60-90 value (9/8 cat) over that span and none of those numbers are terribly out of place except for the volume of 3-pointers he’s making for that many mpg.
Normalizing for that you could shave a round or two off those valuations but the bigger questions here are whether or not he can stay healthy, continue playing this much, and continue producing when he gets the minutes. I think to accommodate for that risk owners need to consider him a late-round value with some upside. He’ll exceed that mark if he works out but with the bust potential owners will want to make their add/drop decisions accordingly.
Donatas Motiejunas scored 14 points with three 3-pointers, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals, and once Dwight Howard went out he has been a must-own player for the duration. He doesn’t get a lot of respect but his valuations have fallen no lower than the top-135 in 9-cat leagues over the last month, with strong top-85 value over the last two months and similar numbers over the last two weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was on wires given that lack of respect, but as you can see that never should have happened in all but the shallowest formats.
Trey Burke hit just 2-of-11 shots for four points and three assists in 22 minutes last night against the Grizzlies, but he has been performing at a solid late-round level for a few weeks and owners should simply hold.
A lot of Lakers belong here in The Middle, or the drop section below, but one guy that has stayed above the fray for a while has been Wayne Ellington (seven points, 37 minutes). But his shooting slump has knocked him below the cut line in terms of production over the past month, despite his status as one of Byron Scott’s only trusted players. I don’t see why he can’t keep his minutes up, and chances are he’ll have an associated hot streak to balance things out if that’s the case. This would make him a late-round value but I couldn’t blame anybody for not wanting to invest a roster spot on such limited upside. Even when he was producing he wasn’t getting out of the top-100 very often.
The Knicks play five times next week so the savvy owner won’t care about lackluster production on a per-game basis. Consider adding Jason Smith (13 points, four rebounds, three blocks, 22 minutes), Andrea Bargnani (three points, three assists, zero rebounds), Alexey Shved (15 points, seven boards, three dimes, one steal), Tim Hardaway (16 minutes, seven points, two assists) or even Shane Larkin (13 points) despite getting embarrassed by the Kings last night.
Ben McLemore (20 points, 24 minutes) gets put in the corner by his teammates quite often but he has had a fantastic season and he’s somebody to watch down the road when his handles improve. His athleticism is top-notch and he has shown a good feel for the game so when the total package comes together it’s going to be nice. Since we’re talking Kings … Derrick Williams (17 points, three treys, three boards, 28 minutes) just isn’t any good and George Karl might pull his remaining hair out before just blindly giving him minutes.
Brandon Bass (15 points, five boards) has been a top-100 guy for the last two weeks so hang onto him and see where this goes. The Celtics got run out of Cleveland last night and their box score reflected it, so I think a minimum one-game pass is in order for guys like Jae Crowder (four points, two boards, two assists), Tyler Zeller (12 minutes) and Marcus Smart (two points, five boards, two assists). The Celtics are incredibly small right now and the Cavs simply exploited them with their abundance of size, and they’ll be much better when not also having to deal with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
His fantasy value hasn’t been great because he doesn’t do much besides score, hit threes and make free throws, but if/when the Kings start fully tanking to keep their draft pick it’s going to McLemore that picks up most of the slack. The Kings also have a nice schedule down the stretch.
Jared Dudley was a drop candidate as soon as he started getting his knee evaluated, which is the same knee that basically made him a fantasy corpse last season. He played 20 minutes last night and had just two points with five boards and one assist. He might have some good games here or there but there’s not enough meat to the bone for owners to deal with that noise.
Nene wasn’t worth owning before last night’s 20-minute outing but if you were holding onto hope you can probably move on, even with Kris Humphries missing the game due to a groin injury. He’s just not the fantasy producer he once was.