Thursday’s two-game night was an interesting one for me, as I hit for second place in a $10 daily tournament and won $450. I’ve been treading water for what seems like forever, but my patience finally paid off. And you know how it goes, if you play regularly. You set a lineup (or two, or three) and you have this feeling that none of them can lose, right? And then one (or more) of your players stinks, and then at the end of the night, you look back and think, “Why didn’t I take so-and-so? It was so obvious!” In any case, patience is a virtue, and I can’t wait to try to turn it into some real cash. Baby needs a new pair of shoes.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $400,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday’s NBA games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $40,000. Starts at 7:00pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.
But my personal entertainment doesn’t matter, as Portland’s Wesley Matthews (who was in my lineup) suffered a ruptured left Achilles tendon. My tiny payday doesn’t compare to what kind of deal Matthews, who is nicknamed ‘Ironman,’ was set to sign this summer as a free agent, nor what kind of rehab he’s going to have to deal with over the next year. It’s just a really sad story. And props to WM, who actually talked to reporters after the game, on the worst night of his life. You have to love rooting for the good guys, and Matthews is clearly one of them. Get well soon, Wesley.
But since this is a fantasy hoops column, you just want to hear whom you should pick up in his absence, and I get that. The short answer is Arron Afflalo. So go do it.
Blazers 94, Mavericks 75
The Blazers rolled the Mavs, despite the injury to Matthews, and had a weird box score. LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 17 points, 12 boards and a 3-pointer, Nicolas Batum came through with 15 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, a block and two 3-pointers on 6-of-12 shooting, and Damian Lillard added 14 points, six boards, five assists, two steals and two 3-pointers on 4-of-10 shooting. Robin Lopez added 13 points, seven rebounds, a steal and three blocks on 5-of-10 shooting. Batum is finally cooking and I hope I never get another “should I cut him?” question on Twitter.
I would probably be higher on Afflalo, but despite Matthews not playing in the second half, Afflalo finished with just six points, three boards and two assists on 2-of-9 shooting. Yes, I like the thought of picking up Afflalo. But I’m still not sure he’ll end up being a better pick-and-play than Tony Snell (who stunk last night) and Nikola Mirotic (who went off for the Bulls for the third straight game). Keep reading for more on them later.
Dorell Wright added eight points and two 3-pointers off the bench, but played just 13 minutes. Keep an eye on him, but know that Afflalo is the guy you want to grab here. I was asked on Twitter about C.J. McCollum in the absence of Matthews, and while I could see him getting loose for a big game or two, he played just eight minutes and had one point on Thursday.
The Mavericks also had a mediocre box score, led by Monta Ellis and Amare Stoudemire with 12 points a piece. Rajon Rondo flirted with a triple-double (and helped me win) with 10 points, seven boards, nine assists and a steal on 5-of-13 shooting, and Tyson Chandler returned from a hip injury and had four points, 14 rebounds, a steal and a block on 1-of-4 shooting in 34 minutes. Get him back into your lineup. Stoudemire played just 14 minutes, but hit 5-of-7 shots for his 12 points, but also had just one rebound. I still see no reason to pick him up, especially now that Chandler is back.
Devin Harris played 28 minutes (Rondo played 29), but had just seven points and zero assists on 3-of-8 shooting. In other words, despite his horrid play this season, Rondo is still the point guard to use in Dallas. It’s also worth noting that Harris suffered a thumb injury and was having X-rays after the game. He couldn’t move his right thumb after the game, which should mean even more minutes for Rondo going forward. J.J. Barea would also see an uptick in minutes if Harris is going to miss time. Al-Farouq Aminu proved that he is completely unreliable, coming off the bench for just five points and three rebounds in 19 minutes. Chandler Parsons (ankle) will miss at least one more game, and Richard Jefferson is the guy you should be targeting if you’re swinging for the fences. He had nine points, six boards, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in 33 minutes on Thursday.
Bulls 108, Thunder 105
The Bulls got 26 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two 3-pointers on 5-of-15 shooting from Nikola Mirotic, who came off the bench. He also hit 14-of-16 free throws for one of the lines of the night. Mirotic has scored 26, 23 and 29 points in each of his last three games, and is averaging 26.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks and 2.3 3-pointers on 43 percent shooting over those three games. While Tony Snell looked like the pick up with Jimmy Butler hurt, Mirotic is the guy killing it right now. He should be owned in all leagues. Snell had just four points, three rebounds, one assist and a steal on 2-of-7 shooting, but still played 29 minutes.
Mike Dunleavy, who might be the most hit-or-miss player in the league right now, got loose for 21 points, four rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers on 8-of-17 shooting. I’d love to tell you to pick him up, but he’s just as likely to score three points in his next game, as he is matching Thursday’s effort. And had Dunleavy struggled, Snell would have probably been much better. Pau Gasol had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Joakim Noah added four points, 12 rebounds, nine assists and a steal, despite shooting the ball just four times.
Aaron Brooks was the hot pickup when Derrick Rose went down, but he failed to meet expectations once again with six points and seven assists on 2-of-8 shooting in 24 minutes. Chicago’s hero tonight was E’Twaun Moore, who somehow hit 9-of-10 shots and a 3-pointer for a career-high 19 points, four rebounds, zero assists, two steals and a block in 22 minutes. He also hit the game-clinching 3-pointer, and got himself interviewed on TNT after the game. Again, he hit 9-of-10 shots and scored a career high, so I’m not excited by him, at all. Brooks, Snell and (mostly) Mirotic are the hot pickups in Chicago.
The Thunder got ‘just’ 43 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and three 3-pointers from Russell Westbrook, who saw his triple-double streak end at four games with last night’s ‘lackluster line.’ I’m kidding, of course, as he is simply killing it for his fantasy owners. He’s averaging a ridiculous 42.8 points, 12.8 rebounds, 9.8 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.3 3-pointers on 42 percent shooting over his last five games. The longer Kevin Durant sits, the better things look for Westbrook, who is a one-man wrecking machine right now. Durant is still without a timetable for a return from his foot injury, but has looked better in shootarounds lately. Consider him day-to-day.
Serge Ibaka had 25 points, nine boards, three assists, a steal and three blocks, and reserve guard D.J. Augustin was the only other Thunder player in double figures, with 10 points and two 3-pointers in just 19 minutes. The Thunder miss Durant dearly, but just have no one to fill his shoes, outside of Westbrook. Enes Kanter had just six points, six rebounds, a steal and a block, but is still a player to be owned going forward.
And in case you’re wondering (or if you’re not), here’s my winning lineup from Thursday night: If you follow me on Twitter, you know which website I was playing on. Westbrook (62.1), Rondo (29.9), Matthews (11.7), Monta Ellis (26.7), Batum (37.4), Jefferson (19.2), Mirotic (40.1), Ibaka (46.3) and Noah (33.9). And the winner of $3,000 didn’t have Matthews, and beat me/us by just 0.4 points, so if Matthews wouldn’t have gotten hurt, I would have been splitting the winner’s pot, instead of the second-place pot. Such is the life of a DFS junkie.
News & Notes
Houston’s Terrence Jones is iffy for Friday with a lower back injury. The same goes for Patrick Beverley, who is dealing with a right foot sprain. If they’re out, Donatas Motiejunas and Jason Terry (and possibly Corey Brewer) are the main beneficiaries.
Toronto’s Kyle Lowry says he’s “close” to a return from resting, although he’s also dealing with a hand injury. Either way, it sounds like he might play on Friday night against the Hornets. If he plays, forget about Greivis Vasquez.
The Pacers’ Paul George isn’t sure when he’ll be ready to play. "I didn't set any deadline," said George. "I said I was hopeful after two weeks of working out that I'd be in game-playing shape, but there's still no deadline." He’s going to be back soon, but we just don’t know when.