Don’t bother checking the calendar. April Fool’s Day is actually tomorrow.
If looking at Sunday’s box scores makes you feel like you’re living in a bizarre world, it’s because you are. Sunday brought the expected big games from old faithfuls like Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Carmelo Anthony, but it also brought some out-of-nowhere performances from guys like Chris Kaman, Paul Pierce, and D.J. Augustin. I don’t know enough about the phases of the moon to know if a big game out of Chris Kaman is enough evidence to point towards a full moon, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that it is. It’s science.
Let’s start with the most April Fool’s Day-like performance first.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $45,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Monday's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Monday. Here's the FanDuel link.
Chris Kam(an) To Bring The Pain
Chris Kaman?!? Yup, Chris Kaman. Kaman shot 13-of-19 from the field on his way to putting up 28 points, 17 boards, and six assists during Sunday’s 115-99 win over the Suns. And this was coming off a two point, one rebound game in which he played six minutes! That six minute outing led to Kaman publically complaining about his minutes and I’m thinking maybe he should do that more often. The Lakers have a nice four-game schedule this week, so Kaman could be a huge difference-maker in both roto and head-to-head leagues, but owners should be aware that Pau Gasol could return and ruin things (more on that below) and there’s always the possibility that Mike D'Antoni could be Mike D’Antoni and start changing his rotation depending on how he feels each morning. Kendall Marshall also had 11 assists to go along with 13 points, three steals and a block in 37 minutes during the Lakers’ win and will be a good source of assists as long as Steve Nash and Jordan Farmer are out.
On the Suns’ side of the ball, Markieff Morris had 16 points, one 3-pointer, 12 rebounds, one assist, three steals, and two blocks in 32 minutes and is quietly finishing strong with averages of 16.4 points, 1.4 3-pointers, 7.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.4 blocks over his last five games. He should be owned in all leagues, but it’s worth double-checking just in case someone was impatient and dropped him.
LA is A-OK
It’s OK, Aldridge owners. It’s safe to come out now. Aldridge scored 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting with four rebounds and one steal in 33 minutes during Sunday’s 105-98 win over Memphis. After missing seven games, it's nice to see LA get back on track after showing some rust in a 2-of-10 performance from the field on Friday. He's averaging 19.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 2.0 steals, and 0.3 blocks in his three games since returning from a back injury (which actually isn't far off his season averages) and it’s now safe for fantasy owners to expect the same stats out of him over his last seven games that they’ve been getting all year. Those seven missed games were rough, but getting a top forward back for the last two weeks should make up for his absence.
Zach Randolph had 21 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals for the Grizzlies in the loss, which is his third consecutive game with more than 20 points. Z-Bo will never get the fantasy credit that he deserves due to his lack of peripheral stats, but he’s still a double-double threat every time he steps on the court.
Durantula Keeps Streaking
31 points. Ho-hum. It says a lot about the magnitude of a player’s season when he scores 31 points and no one bats an eye. Kevin Durant finished the Thunder’s 116-96 win over Utah with 31 points with four 3-pointers, nine rebounds, four assists, and one steal and upped his streak of consecutive games with over 25 points to 38 (two short of Michael Jordan's record). Remember that whole “Is Durant of LeBron the better fantasy player debate from November? Remember that whole MVP debate that’s been happening all year? Durant came into March like a lion and will leave March like a lion with averages of 34.8 points, 3.2 treys, 6.9 boards, 5.7 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.8 blocks. I think the Durant vs. LeBron debate can be put to bed for the 2013-14 season.
Derrick Favors had another rough shooting night in going 3-of-12 from the field, but he at least added 13 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and two blocks to offset his eight points. Favors is still a better option in the Jazz frontcourt than Enes Kanter, but has been seen a dip in his shooting over his last five games (47.2 percent) as compared to his season average (51.9 percent).
Cleveland Guards Rock
Kyrie who? The surging Cavs were led to a 90-76 win over the Pacers by the two guards who have really benefitted from Irving’s absence. Jarrett Jack had 11 points, one 3-pointer, six rebounds, nine assists, one steal, and one block while Dion Waiters added 19 points with one 3-pointer, one rebound, one assist, and two steals. Jack is averaging 16.2 points, 1.0 3-pointer, 4.0 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.0 steals, and 0.6 blocks over his last five games while Waiters has been pouring in 22 points a game with Irving out. Irving had his bicep reexamined on Sunday (more on that below), but both Jack and Waiters are must-own players in all leagues until (if?) Irving returns to the court.
Paul George had a strong fantasy game with 15 points, three 3-pointers, seven rebounds, four assists, and five steals. George's scoring output during the month of March has been down almost a full two points from his season average, but he's still one of the best 10 players to own in fantasy.
Paul Pierce Turns Back The Clock
Forget any bobblehead night. It became Turn Back The Clock Night during Brooklyn’s 114-99 win over the Timberwolves on Sunday. Paul Pierce was efficient during his 26 minutes in Brooklyn's win Sunday and scored 22 points with five three-pointers, five rebounds, and two steals on 8-of-11 shooting. That's back-to-back games now with 22 points for the 36-year-old and he's averaging 18.2 points, 3.0 3-pointers, 3.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.2 blocks over his last five games. He has the potential to be a frustrating player to own, but The Truth is one of the only healthy players the Nets can rely on right now and he could end up be a surprising difference-maker over the last two weeks of the season.
Corey Brewer had the stand-out game for Minnesota with 21 points, three rebounds, two assists, and four steals. He’s stepped up his play over his last three games and is now averaging 16.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 3.0 steals per game during that span. It’s getting to the point where Brewer is worth a long look for owners in standards leagues who need points and steals.
Nikola Vucevic On A Finishing Kick
Nikola Vucevic finished Orlando’s 98-93 loss to Toronto with 22 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two blocks on 10-of-13 shooting. The Magic’s big man has upped the ante as of late and is now averaging 22.7 points, 14.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 1.0 steals over his last three games and is shooting 58.5 percent from the field during that span. The 23-year-old has turned things up a notch after the All-Star break and is averaging 2.6 points and almost a full rebound more than his first half splits. If he keeps up this pace, he could finish the season as a Top 20 C at best and at worst, will help owners in field goal percentage, points, rebounds, and blocks.
DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Raptors with 28 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field to go with one 3-pointer, two rebounds, one assist, and one steal. He also made 15-of-16 from the line and has been attacking the rim more lately, as evidenced by his 33 attempts from the charity stripe over his last three games. DeRozan sits just outside the Top 10 fantasy players in terms of his effect on the free throw percentage category and could find himself breaking into the Top 10 if he keeps up his aggressive play.
Augustin Sets Season-High Against C’s
D.J. Augustin scored a season-high 33 points with one rebound, three assists, and one steal on 10-of-14 shooting. Augustin was also a perfect 10-of-10 from the line as the Bulls beat the Celtics 107-102. He can be a bit inconsistent at times and it would be nice for his fantasy owners to see him start over Kirk Hinrich, but Augustin has been a relatively valuable fantasy player since joining the Bulls after Derrick Rose got injured. The Texas alum averaged over 16 points with almost two 3-pointers per game during the month of March, so most teams in standard leagues should be able to find some use for the 26-year-old. Despite being playing behind Kirk Hinrich, Augustin has become the better player to own of the two.
Rajon Rondo had a double-double for the Celtics with 17 points, two 3-pointers, four rebounds, 11 assists, and two steals. Rondo has averaged 11.6 points, 0.6 3-pointers, 5.4 rebounds, 12.2 assists, and 0.8 steals over his last five, will sit Monday night and join the Celtics broadcast team for the first quarter of action. His absence should open the door for Jerryd Bayless, Avery Bradley, and Phil Pressey to become decent spot-start options Monday night.
Knicks Stayin’ Alive
The Knicks are holding on for dear life in the East, but were able to turn to Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Amare Stoudemire (no, it’s not 2009) to lead the way to a 89-84 win over the Warriors in a game they had to have in order to remain one game behind the Hawks for the East’s final playoff spot. Melo poured in 19 points, nine rebounds, and three assists while Smith led the team with 21 points, three 3-pointers, five rebounds, two assists, and one block. Anthony has become money in the bank this season for somewhere around 27 points, two eight boards, and three assists every time he steps on the floor, while Smith has really stepped his game up as of late with averages of 19.0 points, 3.4 treys, 4.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.4 steals, and 0.6 blocks in 36.4 minutes over his last five games. As long as he stays in Mike Woodson’s good graces, Smith has a chance to help fantasy owners make up some ground over the next two weeks. Amare Stoudemire reminded us over his glory days with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and one assist and has quietly become a dependable player down the home stretch. Over his last 10 games, STAT is averaging 17.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.1 steals, and 0.4 blocks in 29.3 minutes. Those aren’t numbers that will single-handedly win a fantasy league, but Amare deserves to be owned in most leagues as long as he keeps starting.
He didn’t have a triple-double like he did the last time the Warriors played the Knicks, but Stephen Curry had a big game against the Knicks and scored 32 points with six 3-pointers, four rebounds, one assist, and one steal on 10-of-21 shooting. Even though Curry’s assist totals have fallen a bit as of late, he’ll easily finish as one of the Top 5 fantasy players to own this season.
- Blake Griffin’s back spasms are thought to have been triggered by a pre-existing hip injury and Griffin is listed as doubtful for Monday’s game against Minnesota. Glen Davis, Ryan Hollins, Matt Barnes, and Jared Dudley would inherit Griffin’s minutes, but none other than Barnes are worth a look outside of deep leagues. (UPDATE: Blake went through shootaround and is now considered "50-50" to play on Monday. He's a game-time decision.)
- Kyrie Irving (biceps) was examined on Sunday and will undergo more tests this week, but is hoping to be available for Wednesday’s game against Orlando.
- Pau Gasol (vertigo) missed Sunday’s game against the Suns and we’re considering him questionable for Tuesday against Portland. (UPDATE: Pau practiced fully on Monday and is probable to return for Tuesday's game.)
- David Lee (hamstring) missed Sunday’s game against the Knicks and “still can’t run” according to coach Mark Jackson. Jermaine O’Neal will remain the beneficiary of Lee’s absence until the big man is able to return.
- Carmelo Anthony hurt his left hand in the third quarter on Sunday but X-rays were negative. Owners should keep a close eye on Rotoworld's Injury Report in case Melo's hand gives him any trouble, but for now he can be considered 'probable' for Monday.
- Rajon Rondo (knee) will sit on Monday as a rest day and will sit in the Celtics’ broadcast booth during the first quarter of Boston’s matchup against Chicago.
- Reggie Jackson (back) missed Sunday’s game against Utah, but should have plenty of time to recover for Thursday’s showdown with the Spurs.
- Andrew Bynum (knee) remains out indefinitely and it’s looking like we may not see him again until the playoffs.
- Marcus Thornton (back) thinks he rushed himself back and does not have a clear return date. If owners were still hanging onto Thornton, this news should be enough to warrant a drop.
- Wilson Chandler (groin) will sit out again on Monday, allowing Quincy Miller to start at SF.
- Patrick Beverley (torn meniscus) won't require surgery and he's expected to return this season, but he's listed as "week-to-week." Jeremy Lin will start at PG in his absence.
- Dwight Howard (ankle) is officially day-to-day but he's not expected to play until April 7, as he said last week that he'd be out 10 days. He is traveling with the Rockets on their current two-game road trip, but Omer Asik will get the start vs. Toronto on Tuesday with Dwight already ruled out.
- Terrence Jones sat out Monday's practice due to illness and he's questionable to play on Tuesday.
- Danny Green (foot) is "ready to go" for the Spurs on Monday, according to Gregg Popovich.
- Trevor Ariza (groin) felt fine during Monday's shootaround and it sounds like he'll suit up vs. the Bobcats.
- Isaiah Thomas (quad) missed his third straight game on Saturday, despite being a true game-time decision, and he remains day-to-day.
- Kyle Korver (back) and DeMarre Carroll (illness) are both expected to play on Monday.
- Dwyane Wade (hamstring, Achilles), Mario Chalmers (thigh), Ray Allen (illness) and Greg Oden (back) are all doubtful for Monday's game.