While Tuesday was chalk full of big lines, last night was a handful of steps down from that but like the flu I’m rocking it still had plenty of punch. If anything, we got the best dunk/block highlight combo from any one night in recent memory.
So in honor of my absurdly clogged sinuses we’re going to cut to the chase, but before we do regular readers are going to a big kick out of this. It looks like I'm a Pizza Guy too.
For all of your NBA and fantasy news, as well as plenty of fun like that, you can click here to follow me on Twitter.
DOWN IN DETROIT
It’s pretty amazing to see how far Joe Dumars has fallen in Detroit, and this most recent roster including sticky-fingered Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings was an intriguing, but fairly predictable disaster. The same old problems lingered last night in their 21-point loss to the Raptors, with Brandon Jennings hitting just 6-of-19 shots for 22 points, three treys and nine assists, Josh Smith hitting 5-of-12 shots for 13 points and a full line, and Greg Monroe hitting 5-of-12 shots as well for 11 and 11 with just one assist.
Those aren’t horrible fantasy lines but the offense has no identity and fantasy owners can expect the same up and down performances for the rest of the year.
Rodney Stuckey returned from his shoulder injury to score 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting with two assists and a block in 20 minutes. It’s a pretty good return game for a very consistent late-round value when he was healthy, so owners needing a steady contributor in 12-team leagues should give him a look. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made some noise with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting, one three and four steals, but I need to see him do much, much more on a unit like this to give him much consideration outside of 16-team formats.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $400,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday night's games. It's $100 to join and first prize is $60,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.
BIG MAN BOUNCE BACK
After face-planting the night before in Indiana, the Toronto bigs appeared to be in for another tough night against Andre Drummond and Co. but they all did well en route to a blowout win. Jonas Valanciunas went for 16 and 11 with two blocks on 7-of-9 shooting, Amir Johnson hit just 4-of-13 shots but managed 10 points, 11 boards, one steal and four blocks, and Patrick Patterson predictably stood down with just eight points, three rebounds and four blocks in 18 minutes. This is the proper pecking order for the foreseeable future in Toronto.
Kyle Lowry had a big night with 21 points, five boards, nine assists, one steal and four treys, with the corresponding sound you hear being the giggles of general manager Masai Ujiri, who is getting to sell Lowry high after setting him free via the Gay trade. DeMar DeRozan hit just 3-of-15 shots on the night but backed that crooked shooting number up with 19 points, 13-of-16 freebies, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. Not bad. Terrence Ross hit five treys for 17 points and three boards and as has been said a bunch here owners just need to ride the waves for the must-own player in standard 12-team formats.
Like many teams, the Mavs simply crumbled against the Spurs even without Manu Ginobili (hamstring), with only Monta Ellis truly showing up in the box with 21 points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block. Jose Calderon hit just 2-of-11 shots for five points, two assists and a three, Dirk Nowitzki hit just 3-of-14 shots for eight points, five boards, one steal and one block, and Vince Carter picked up Shawn Marion’s (shoulder) slack (somewhat) with 14 points, two triples, three assists and a steal.
DeJuan Blair returned to San Antonio and got a mixed welcome from the crowd, and posted a barely respectable six points, six rebounds, two steals and one block in his 23 minutes. Brandan Wright has struggled to get acclimated and he went without a block yet again, finishing with nine points, two rebounds and one steal in 20 minutes. He’s morphed into a low-to-mid level stash with the hopes that Rick Carlisle can find an arrangement that Wright gets comfortable in.
Samuel Dalembert was the lowest man on this three-person Totem pole with three points and five boards in 11 minutes, but he could be thrust into the starting lineup at any time. All in all, this is a three-man timeshare to be avoided in 12-team leagues until owners some clarity can be established.
NEXT MAN UP
Tony Parker took over the third quarter and finished with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting and seven assists in the Spurs’ win over the Mavs, and with quiet but strong performances down the line they made it look easy. Manu Ginobili’s (hamstring) absence brought Danny Green into the starting lineup and he was (shocker) frustrating with seven points, nine rebounds and one three but no steals or blocks, but as we discuss every single time the numbers still come in at a late-round value so impatient owners would essentially be dropping a guy that is productive and also has upside if he can ever bust a little bit loose.
Marco Belinelli got a lot of attention after the Ginobili news and his problem is the opposite of Green’s, and that is that he averages just 0.7 combined steals and blocks per game on the year. Never mind that he’s shooting an unsustainable 51.4 percent from the field on the season, but even when he’s doing that and putting up something like last night’s 17 points, two threes and three assists he’s still returning just late round value and working hard to do it. I’d still prefer to take Green’s ugly stat lines since a small drop of mojo in his morning coffee can return him to mid-round value, whereas I’m not even sure that Bello could get there in a best-case scenario because of the aforementioned deficiencies.
Boris Diaw posted an understated yet effective line of six points, five boards, six assists, one steal and one block in his 29 minutes. As a late-round value over the last two weeks and with Tiago Splitter out for a handful of weeks, I can’t see passing him up if I need a big man. Kawhi Leonard put up 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting (including a three) with eight rebounds and a steal in 26 minutes, and that’s actually not too bad in a game that was over at the end of three quarters.
It’s unclear when Ginobili is coming back but there haven’t been any indications that the injury is overly serious.
THE LONG ROAD BACK
Don’t look now but Danny Granger is producing like the Granger of old. Well, not really, but he did start for Lance Stephenson (knee) in last night’s loss to the Hawks and put up 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting with five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in 32 minutes. Granger has 14-team value on a per-game basis this season in 24 minutes per game, a pretty good target for considering his value when Stephenson returns, but that valuation includes plenty of rust games so if we’re going strictly on performance he’s well worth a look in 12-team formats. Just factor in his injury risk when making your drop decisions, but on the whole this looks like a situation where being extra cautious the way Indy was could end up paying (mild) dividends.
Paul George predictably bounced back from a slow set of outings with 28 points, 12 boards, three assists, two steals and three treys, while Roy Hibbert was dominated by (double-take) Pero Antic and finished with two points on 1-of-8 shooting, four rebounds and one block. Owners just need to dust themselves off and move on.
David West briefly left the game due to a shooting hand injury, and those are always worth watching, but he still managed a solid eight points, 11 boards, three assists, one steal and one block. George Hill’s confidence is still on the side of a milk carton, but he sort of bounced back from a really bad game on Tuesday to score 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting with two threes, three assists and one steal. If there is any silver lining to him running away from the ball it’s that he has just one turnover in four games, and in general he’s worth holding as a low-end value with job security in 12-team formats.
The Hawks somehow beat the Pacers with Paul Millsap (four points, six boards, five assists, one steal, one block) hitting just 1-of-10 shots, and they can thank Kyle Korver and Pero Antic for picking up the slack. Antic contained Roy Hibbert and also added 16 points, three triples, four rebounds and a block in his 27 minutes, and he’s a must-own player in standard 12-team formats with mid-to-late round value over the last 1-2 weeks. Korver ran around the pattern and hit 6-of-8 shots (including a streak-extending three treys) for 17 points to go with two rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Jeff Teague is wasting his season away with a wide-open opportunity but no peripheral stats to speak of. He hit just 5-of-14 shots (5-of-6 FTs) to score 15 points with five rebounds and six assists – a fairly normal sight – but he had no threes, one steal and zero blocks. He’s upped his shooting to 42 percent on the season, but with just 0.7 triples per game and 1.5 combined steals and blocks he’s only a top 55-105 value in 8- and 9-cat leagues, respectively.
DeMarre Carroll scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting with one three, four rebounds, four assists and three steals to bolster his must-own status in standard formats, and Lou Williams’ recent free-fall continued as he scored just six points on 2-of-6 shooting with one trey, two boards, four assists and one steal in 21 minutes. This actually isn’t the worst line for the minutes, but with just borderline 12-team value over the last month and plenty of dips below that line he’s not a must-own player in those formats. Whether it’s his knee or not he has to continuously improve for owners to justifiably stay on that ride, though the fit is right in Atlanta where there is no real depth.
Shelvin Mack did well to score five points with three rebounds, three assists and a triple in his 13 minutes, but the deep league pickup probably hit a lot of wires after that low-minute total. He’s worth a look in 14-team leagues but 16 teams and beyond is probably where you want to make that add. Mike Scott scored 15 points with four rebounds and one three in his 17 minutes, and with Pero Antic taking beneficiary status from the Al Horford injury it’s going to make life difficult on him. It’s interesting that he’s taking threes now, and while that will help offset his total lack of defensive stats he still needs to do more. Take a look at him in 14-16 team leagues and that’s about it for now.
OUT OF GAS
The Warriors ran out of gas last night against a Nets team that now has the longest winning streak in the NBA at four games. It’s a sign of a good team that they’re winning with what I’ve thought is mostly ugly play by their standards, and especially in the case of guys like Andre Iguodala (three points, 1-of-5 FGs, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, 30 minutes) it will be good to get back home and get some rest. He has still been a top-90 value over the past two weeks despite some truly slow lines, with averages of 1.4 threes, 5.0 boards, 4.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 53.7 percent field goal shooting to offset his 7.8 points per game.
The Warriors desperately need him to get back to handling the ball while also looking for his shot, because Stephen Curry is carrying way too much load for this team when we’re only in January. In 9-cat leagues where his 5.9 turnovers per game over the last eight contests are simply unacceptable, he’s also shooting 40.8 percent over that span for a very un-Curry-like top-35 valuation. I don’t know if it’s possible to buy low in those formats, but sell your first newborn child to do it if you can (just not LeBron or KD).
Klay Thompson hit four triples for 14 points, five boards and three assists, Andrew Bogut went for 10 and nine with a steal and two blocks, David Lee kept his foot on the gas with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting, seven boards, three assists, one steal and one block, and Harrison Barnes remained awful with six points, two threes and that’s it.
RIGHTING THE SHIP
Don’t look now but the Nets have won four in a row with Deron Williams out indefinitely with ankle issues and there was even a Kevin Garnett sighting last night. The team is still a mess for fantasy purposes, but if any team would profile to be one that wakes up in January or February it would be the old-ass Nets.
Shaun Livingston stepped in for Williams and scored 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting with four rebounds, four steals, one block and just one assist, and over his last four games he has been a solid late-round value with averages of 9.0 points, 4.3 boards, 2.8 assists, 2.3 steals and 0.8 blocks in 34.3 minutes. Those defensive numbers are high, but the rest of his numbers are low enough to where he could theoretically offset the likely regression in his defensive stats. It’s hard to say how long Williams will be out, but one has to think they’re tired of watching him constantly hurt himself. Livingston isn’t a must-add player as a result, but he’s worth a solid short-term look in 12-team formats.
Garnett scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting with five boards, four steals and one block in his 23 minutes, which is one of his best lines of the year and I’d have to be in a 20-team league to take a chance here until he proves himself beyond that.
Joe Johnson is going to be relied upon for his scoring whenever the Nets are without Williams, but even with 27 points, two threes and 9-of-11 free throws he just doesn’t do enough elsewhere as evidenced by his three boards, two assists and one steal to go with that. He’s just a 14-team value in his last four games and if there is any silver lining for his value it’s that he is a late-round value on the year, and the key to his value is always going to be having Williams off the floor. He should be owned in all 12-team formats at least until D-Will returns.
Paul Pierce has been a top 60-85 play over his last 15 games so owners can be annoyed by his 11 points, five boards and one assist last night but they should hang on in all formats. Perhaps Andrei Kirilenko (eight points, six boards, two assists, one steal, 18 minutes) will be a thorn in his side, but my sense is that the Nets need Pierce to be a productive everyday player for them to go anywhere. If you’re wondering about Kirilenko the next 1-3 weeks are going to be his pickup zone, and while I’m nowhere near sold on his ability to stay on the floor I’m equally not sold on the idea that he’s washed up. Nowhere near a must-pickup, I’d call him a low-level bordering on mid-level speculative add in 12-14 team standards right now.
Andray Blatche got back on track with 17 points, five boards, three assists and a steal, and I can’t see passing him up in 12-team formats and I’d probably take a chance on him in 10-teamers, too. Mirza Teletovic (eight points, 10 boards, two threes) has been all over the place, both up and down on any given night, but Blatche has already produced late-round value in limited minutes this season and it’s hard to see him losing value as the result of Brook Lopez’s season-ending injury.
Even with the ups and downs Teletovic has must-own value in standard leagues over the last two weeks, and with absolutely no conscience when it comes to shooting the ball I’d consider him a mid-level pickup in 12-teamers. He’s got plenty of risk but nice upside and the ability to make things happen in limited minutes. That may just work.
A broken-down Lakers team playing in Houston with the Rockets trying to get Dwight Howard a revenge win is a recipe for an easy loss and that’s what happened to L.A. last night. Kendall Marshall hit just 2-of-13 shots for five points, five boards, one three, eight assists, six turnovers and one assist, and folks proclaiming that he is anything but what we think he is might have gotten overexcited on Day 1. Still, what he is returns top 50-90 value in 8- and 9-cat leagues respectively over the last two weeks. The only thing owners have to watch out for here is a total faceplant, and if I had to guess that’s not going to happen but he’ll have to keep this type of outing to a minimum.
Jodie Meeks is Mr. Consistent now for the Lakers and put up another 21-point night with two treys, 9-of-10 free throws, three boards, two assists and two steals on 5-of-13 shooting. He’s an early round value with no signs of slowing down until the reinforcements arrive. Pau Gasol scored 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting with 12 boards, three assists and two blocks and he has been old Pau over the last two weeks with solid second round value to go with early round value over the last month. Life without Kobe is pretty good for him right now.
Wesley Johnson has been a recommended add/hold in this space and he had another solid night despite hitting just 4-of-13 shots, with 10 points, two threes, four boards, three assists and three steals in his 31 minutes. He has late round value on the year and late round value over the last week, and I like his chances to maintain that production over the next couple of weeks while the Lakers are thin.
Nick Young got back on track following a small dip due to his back injury, scoring 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting with two threes, six boards and one assist. He’s another late-round value guy for the Lakers, and he’s well worth a pickup in 12-team leagues if he has been dropped.
Jordan Hill showed signs of life with 10 points, eight boards and a block in 22 minutes off the bench, and perhaps it’s a sign that his health is increasing or maybe Mike D’Antoni is simply ready to play him more again. With some mid-round upside in a best-case scenario, he’s a low-to-mid level 12-team add with a good amount of risk. Robert Sacre started but lasted just 14 minutes before being yanked, providing just two blocks and three boards on the night. As mentioned yesterday I like him as a speculative add in deeper leagues for those desperate at center with the hope he can luck into a regular role if Pau gets traded.
Ryan Kelly didn’t improve on a mildly interesting outing on Tuesday, with just two points and one rebound in 13 minutes. He’s not ready for fantasy leagues just yet and if he’s going to make noise I’d guess it happens in the last month of the season.
With Chandler Parsons (knee) out last night it quickly became a James Harden night for the Rockets, and he put up 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting with two threes, 8-of-11 free throws, four boards, four assists and five steals. With relatively disappointing top 8-12 value on the season (8/9 cat) on a per-game basis, this might be a good time to float an unconventional buy low offer to his owner for a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge, who is tearing it up but has a fantasy game that doesn’t translate to the upside that Harden has.
Dwight Howard went for 20 and 13 with four steals and a block against his old team, but hit just 10-of-24 free throws as the Lakers intentionally fouled him all night. Terrence Jones went for 15 and 13 but I’d rather see him with lower popcorn numbers rather than goose-eggs across the peripheral categories as was the case last night. Slowly but surely he is living up to some degree of the hype, with top 50-70 value in 9- and 8-cat leagues respectively over the past two weeks.
There were no winners in Parsons’ stead, as starter Ronnie Brewer was predictably impotent in his 23 minutes with just two rebounds and a steal, Francisco Garcia flamed out with three points and a steal in 22 minutes, Omri Casspi was mostly pedestrian with nine points, six boards and four assists and that’s it, and Aaron Brooks scored nine points with three triples in 15 minutes.
I wrote yesterday about how Nene’s (11 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block) low minute totals might have been affecting the wing group, as the team plays much better with him in the lineup, and at least one wing got his groove back in Trevor Ariza. Ariza scored 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting with two threes, 10 boards and two assists to bust out of a somewhat worrying slump in last night’s road win over the Pelicans. Bradley Beal turned in a solid 17-point, four-assist performance with three treys, but Martell Webster still trolled the ocean floor with just six points, two boards and two threes in 21 minutes.
Webster has actually produced late-round value in 9-cat leagues over the last four games with averages of 9.8 points, 1.8 treys, 3.3 boards, and just 0.5 turnovers per game, but when you expand the sample to the last two weeks or month he’s been a deep league guy and owners in standard leagues will want to make him show a lot more before making a pickup. Nene has fallen off the map over the last few weeks but this could be a sign that he’s ready to get going again and owners should give him a hard look. He’s a late-round value on the year and has typically been productive when on the floor.
THE FULL MONTY
Monty Williams is a bit of a lightning rod in New Orleans right now and he even spoke out against the fans, calling on them to support the team instead of what I’m guessing is a bunch of people yelling at him about his rotations.
Offensively-minded Brian Roberts (11 points, two threes, two boards, three assists, one steal, 19 minutes) was the target of fans’ ire last night, as he was brought in to replace slumping Jrue Holiday (eight points, three boards, three assists, three steals, 29 minutes) in the fourth quarter. The Pellies lost to the Wizards at home and that decision will likely be a source of consternation among fans, but in general fantasy owners of New Orleans players should remain mostly calm when any of the established guys go through slumps.
Tyreke Evans and his three points, five assists, and two steals on 0-for-5 field goal shooting fits in that category, and to a lesser degree so does Al-Farouq Aminu (four points, five boards, three blocks). Until Williams can settle on a rotation and approach, consistency will be a team-wide issue but there simply aren’t enough able bodies to knock these guys off their season-long valuations. If you want to ditch Aminu after a slow week I wouldn’t laugh you out of the room, but he has had late-round value over the past two weeks and 14-team value in his last four games.
Eric Gordon scored 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and one three, and without any major injury episodes this season that’s a great line to sell the notorious injury-risk with.
GREEN WITH ENVY
Yesterday I alluded to the fact that the Suns were playing like an underrated team but given the wonders of the Internet that they might in fact be overrated because so many folks are jumping on that bandwagon. After a comeback win last night over the Wolves without one of their best players in Eric Bledsoe, and his replacement Gerald Green hitting the game-winner, I find myself asking if the Suns were that good or the Wolves are that bad. I’m not going to sit here and make the Wolves their measuring stick, not when the Suns are 4.5 games ahead of them in the West and in the No. 7 playoff spot. But I am going to both wonder aloud how much longer they can keep this up and simultaneously point out that everybody is doing their job right now from starter to bench player to coach.
Green’s game-winner will cover up an otherwise empty 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting with two triples and one block and that’s just about it. Bledsoe could return at some point during the road trip including games on Friday, Saturday and Monday, which will be the easy barometer of Green’s value in standard leagues.
As mentioned yesterday the Suns are predictable and the rest of the box was pretty standard fare. Channing Frye got hot and hit 8-of-17 shots with five threes for 22 points, five boards and a block, Miles Plumlee went for 11 and nine with one steal, P.J. Tucker scored four points with 10 rebounds and one steal, Marcus Morris went for 10 and five with two threes and a steal in 24 minutes, and Markieff Morris struggled with just eight points on 3-of-10 shooting, five boards, and two steals in 16 foul-plagued minutes. Plumlee and Frye should be owned in most if not all formats, Markieff is a borderline 10-team guy, and Marcus and Tucker are borderline 12-team guys best suited for deeper formats.
The Wolves just can’t seem to build any momentum this year and outside of Kevin Love’s statistical glory they seem to be either holding steady or regressing up and down the roster. Ricky Rubio (seven points, 2-of-6 FGs, eight boards, eight assists, zero steals, 35 minutes) has been in and out of the fourth quarter lineup and hasn’t been able to figure out how to shoot, Kevin Martin (20 points, 6-of-16 FGs, two threes, 6-of-6 FTs, five boards) and Nikola Pekovic (17 and 12, one steal, two blocks) have been solid but not spectacular, Corey Brewer has been on and off, and the bench has been mostly a disaster. But it’s not like they don’t have talented players with plenty of upside – it’s just not coming together for whatever reason and with one of the best coaches in the league in Rick Adelman it’s all a bit befuddling.
Regardless, they gave this game away at the end after allowing a 9-1 run behind three ugly turnovers with two from Rubio. Love hit just 4-of-20 shots on the night for 15 points, 12 boards, one three and a 6-of-6 mark from the line, and when guys this talented are having trouble gaining momentum it speaks to some sort of leadership issue at some level. I’m sure there are some folks that are closer to the team that would know better, but with J.J. Barea (eight points, two assists, 13 minutes) and Dante Cunningham (three points, 11 minutes) getting headlines for sulking at the end of the bench days after Love called the bench out – something is up and the sooner the Wolves figure out the better for their playoff chances in a tough Western Conference.
Corey Brewer is hot again and scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting with one three, four boards, one steal and one block in his 37 minutes, and he probably has about 1-2 weeks to really dig in and protect his current mid-round value over the past two weeks. With late-round value on the year once again following his swoon from about 3-4 weeks back, he’s a pretty safe pickup but without much upside he’s a better fit for a team trying to plug holes.
EVERYBODY TAKE ONE STEP TO YOUR RIGHT
The Magic didn’t have much of a chance on the road against a Blazers squad that had just lost to the Kings, especially without Nikola Vucevic (concussion), but they stayed in the game early while the team returning home from the road had the proverbial slow start. Vucevic will reportedly miss at least 7-10 days and judging by the sounds of things this is anywhere from a medium-to-high level concussion, and there’s not much owners can do but cross their fingers and hope for the best. It doesn’t help that Vucevic doesn’t have some obviously compelling reason to push a return, nor does the team, and likewise the Magic have guys that they can make happy with Vucevic’s minutes. I’m not saying this is the time to panic, but especially in Orlando where the reporting is light it’s all just food for thought.
The big man’s absence essentially slides everybody over one spot, which given the versatility of the roster is actually a pretty seamless switch for all these guys. It makes Glen Davis (16 points, six rebounds, 7-of-18 FGs, no steals or blocks) an easier start, even if he’s still not a must-start guy by any stretch, and it’s great news for Tobias Harris (11 points, 5-of-12 FGs, one three, eight boards, one steal, one block). Harris needs to log minutes to knock the rust off and start making some forward progress, as sub-40 percent shooting and 63.6 percent foul shooting over his last six games have held his value beneath 12-team levels. He got 37 minutes last night and owners need to be holding tight or buying low at least until Vucevic returns and probably then some.
Victor Oladipo was one of two big highlight makers last night with a signature block on a Damian Lillard breakaway dunk attempt. It was so nice that we’ll show it to you again from another angle. He hasn’t broken out like everybody has hoped, but it’s still early and this was mostly expected early on in the year. He scored 14 points on 3-of-8 shooting with one three, 7-of-8 FTs, four boards, two assists, two steals and the one block, and at 38 minutes last night he’s the likely starting shooting guard until Vucevic returns.
Since he has moved in and out of the starting lineup all season owners might not be making a huge deal about this development, but I’d give it about another 20 games or so before the Magic are probable to turn the team over to him. That should correspond with the team finding a taker for Jameer Nelson, and when he’s putting up 17 points, five boards, 10 assists, three treys and a steal he’s doing his part to help along that transaction. Either way I can’t see the Magic not turning him loose, so buy low now while you can.
LIKE TAKING CANDY FROM A BABY
Defending LaMarcus Aldridge with Big Baby was never going to be easy and last night Aldridge took advantage of an overmatched Magic team with 36 points on 16-of-25 shooting, nine boards, one steal and three blocks. The opponent should be noted but he’s having his cake and eating it too on most nights, and every time he shows signs of slowing he comes back even stronger in subsequent games.
Damian Lillard was actually struggling through three quarters in Tuesday’s game before his 26-point fourth quarter, and those relative struggles continued again last night as he hit just 4-of-12 shots with three treys, seven boards, one block and just two assists. It was a night of heavy utilization for Aldridge, which helps explain the assist total, but after stellar play this year owners can let a small speed-bump like this go by with little fanfare.
Wesley Matthews got back on track with 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting, three triples, five boards and four assists, Robin Lopez went for seven and seven with two blocks, and Nicolas Batum answered any questions about the splint on his left hand with a triple-double including 14 points, 10 boards, 14 assists, two threes, one steal and one block. C.J. McCollum made his NBA debut with four points on 2-of-5 shooting in 14 minutes, and even if he can hold down a rotation spot he’ll need an injury or two in front of him before he matters in most leagues.
While Kris Humphries became the talk of the town last night, there was actually a basketball game and the Celtics had plenty of issues last night but at least they kept things close in their road loss to the Clippers last night. Humphries might also be the biggest fantasy story after moving into the starting lineup for a banged-up Jared Sullinger (left hand/wrist), despite a relatively pedestrian six points on 3-of-5 shooting, eight rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes before fouling out.
Sullinger’s injury limited him to just 12 minutes and that trend has been apparent for two weeks, and this looks like a great time for Boston to both rest Sully and showcase the Humph. He has played at a mid-round level in 25 minutes per game over the last six contests, but looking at his numbers he’s well over his head in that sample in terms of efficiency (51.0 FG%, 87.5 FT%) and I’m not sure that any amount of counting stat increase could offset the mandatory decrease he’s about to get hit with.
Altogether that makes Humphries a mid-to-late round value as long as he holds the edge in this position battle, making him a must-own player in 12-team formats at this time. As for Sully, there’s not enough upside for owners to ride this out in 12-team formats, so feel free to drop him for a hot free agent. He also added another Flagrant-1 foul after having one of his prior flagrants rescinded, so he’s in the same boat now with another one being a suspension.
The rest of the box brought good news in general for owners as the whole team bounced back from Tuesday’s stinker. Jordan Crawford hit 7-of-17 shots for 24 points, eight assists and two steals to go with a 10-of-11 mark from the line, and most importantly he didn’t lose any minutes to Jerryd Bayless, who also improved on his decent debut with 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting, two threes, three rebounds, five assists and two steals in just 20 minutes. Owners that were starting to get uneasy about Crawford can regain their confidence that he’ll hold up until Rajon Rondo returns, and deep league owners should put Bayless on their radar until we can see where this is heading.
Avery Bradley’s solid campaign got back on track with 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting, one three, four boards and two steals, Jeff Green got his first double-double of the year with 15 and 11 but only added one three to his peripheral stats, and Brandon Bass was serviceable with 14 points, five boards, one steal and one block. I’ve already expressed regret about not going with my gut on Green’s preseason ranking, as this is the same thing we saw in Oklahoma City with him as a heavy-minute player and he’s a borderline asset in 12-team standard leagues because of mediocre production everywhere but points and 3-pointers.
AS IN, YOU GOT HUMPED
As mentioned, one thunderous dunk by the Poster Child (still shot) will dominate the highlights, but this was an all-around solid performance in fantasy leagues for the Clips in their win over the Celtics. Blake Griffin scored 29 points on 9-of-14 shooting with six rebounds, eight assists and two steals but he hit just 11-of-17 freebies on the night. At 70.2 percent on the season he’s still four percent over last year and eight percent over his career marks. While a regression is probable he’s still a solid bet to maintain at least an incremental improvement in that department on the year.
Jamal Crawford hit just 8-of-26 shots but still managed 26 points, three treys, six assists, two steals and a perfect seven foul shots. Shooting has been a problem for him over the past few weeks, with a 35 percent mark from the field that has held him down as just a late-round value despite averaging 17.5 points, 2.1 triples, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals in his last eight games. It’s a typical volume-efficiency hit and I’d actually look to the return of J.J. Redick on Friday as a good thing. There will be more than enough touches to go around and if J. Crossover can get that crooked shooting number up over 40 percent he’ll have some mid-round upside over the next few weeks.
There was a Jared Dudley sighting as he put up 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting with four treys, two rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocks. Against a low-level team and with his body of work, not to mention Redick’s return, there is ample reason to ignore the night.
I don’t know that there’s anything to say here but adding Darren Collison after a Chris Paul injury is just weird, almost giving credence to the idea of a fantasy basketball handcuff, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Collison scored 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting with two threes, five boards, six assists and a steal, DeAndre Jordan went for 11 and 13 with one block and yet another hilarious on-court reaction after Griffin’s dunk, and Matt Barnes has yet to regain any of the fantasy cred from last year with five points on 1-of-3 shooting, one three, eight boards and no steals or blocks in 22 minutes.