NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Jeremy Spoke In New York Today
Monday night was a little strange, with solid fantasy veterans like Carmelo Anthony, Manu Ginobili and Rodney Stuckey out with injuries, and guys that many casual fans have never heard of having big nights.
Houston’s Jeremy Lin isn’t exactly an unknown in the NBA universe, but after exploding onto the scene last season in New York, has seen his numbers fall in Houston this year. But right on cue, he blew up against his former team for 22 points and eight assists, all while handing the Melo-less Knicks their first loss at home this season. Lin is returning sixth- or seventh-round value in nine-category leagues, but has also played better recently, dropping 38 points and seven assists against the Spurs on Dec. 7. But he scored a total of 22 points in the following three games before tonight’s explosion against his former team, and it’s important to remember that James Harden was out the night he lit up the Spurs. He’s still a solid fantasy point guard, but it’s becoming clear that nights like this one are not going to be the norm for him in Houston.
Chris Copeland, who does qualify as true “unknown” for the Knicks, started in place of the injured Anthony (ankle) and exploded for a career-high 29 points along with three 3-pointers, five rebounds, two assists and a block as the Knicks lost at home for the first time in 11 games. Just how obscure is Copeland? Well, the rookie is owned in just one percent of Yahoo! Leagues (it could have been zero before tonight’s game), but is owned by Rotoworld’s own Ethan Norof in our 30-team league. Unfortunately for Ethan, he was on his bench last night in the weekly league, and I doubt he was in anyone’s lineup last night. Would I pick up Copeland in that league if he were available? Sure. But with Melo targeting a return from his injury on Wednesday, this looks more like a fluke than anything else. Keep an eye on Copeland going forward, but you’d be better off picking up a guy like…
Shannon Brown. Brown is hot for the Suns, averaging nearly 16 points, three rebounds, a steal and 1.4 3-pointers over his last five games, including a line of 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting, five rebounds, a steal and two 3-pointers in a win over the Kings last night. He’s starting at shooting guard for the Suns and has hit double figures in eight of his last nine games, and it’s time to pick him up. In fact, I’m a little mad at myself for not including him in this week’s edition of Waiver Wired. Luis Scola nearly triple-doubled against the hapless Kings, but the minutes are up and he should be owned in all leagues after a brief benching. And Markieff Morris, who played 15 minutes, can be dumped. Jared Dudley had 20 points and four more 3-pointers, and should now be owned in all leagues, while center Marcin Gortat is out of his funk and had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in the win.
Jimmer Fredette hit 7-of-13 shots and 5-of-5 3-pointers off the bench in the Kings’ loss to the Suns in 22 minutes of action. Aaron Brooks isn’t exactly killing it and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jimmer or Isaiah Thomas (who cooled off with six points on 3-of-10 shooting) moves into the starting lineup soon. But again, Fredette’s not a guy I’m rushing to pick up. It’s also worth noting that Marcus Thornton missed another game to be with his sick mother, his fifth straight missed game, but is expected back for Wednesday against the Warriors. James Johnson had 11 points, three rebounds, two steals and three blocks off the Kings’ bench. This was the type of line he was posting regularly in Toronto last season, but we’ll have to see him start doing this on a regular basis before moving on him. Francisco Garcia started in place of Tyreke Evans (knee), so I threw him in my 30-team lineup. Garcia had just six points in 19 minutes, and starting him in a 30-team league might even be a stretch at this point. As for Evans, he’s day-to-day, but I get the sense he’s going to miss time after possibly rushing back too early from his initial injury.
Pablo Prigioni came off the Knicks bench and hit 5-of-10 shots and two 3-pointers for a career-high 14 points, five assists and two steals. His strong play might have limited Jason Kidd tonight, who cooled off with five points on 2-of-9 shooting, but Kidd should bounce back in the next one. Prigioni looked good in his limited run tonight, but there’s no reason to take a flier on him in most leagues.
Lamar Odom is suddenly starting to look like a basketball player again and had six points, 11 rebounds, two assists and a two blocks in 29 minutes off the Clippers bench. His minutes have been on the rise and he’s hit double-digits in scoring in two straight games for the first time since January of last year. He’s not a player I’m ready to pick up yet, but given his recent play, he’s at least worth putting on your radar. Matt Barnes had 10 points, four rebounds, two assists, a block and two 3-pointers on the night, and I picked him up and stuck him in a few lineups this week, as he’s doing similar things on a nightly basis.
Marco Belinelli should be moving from obscurity to household name in fantasy after scoring 13 points to go along with four rebounds, two steals and two 3-pointers in Monday’s loss to the Grizzlies. He’s now scored 13 or more points in seven straight games, knocking down 17 3-pointers over that stretch. I’ve got him on several teams and in several lineups, and I plan on riding him until Richard Hamilton returns from his foot injury, and maybe even after that if Belinelli keeps the starting SG job for the Bulls. He’s earned it, in my opinion.
Nando De Colo played 23 minutes off the Spurs’ bench and the backup point guard had 14 points, six assists and a steal on 6-of-9 shooting. De Colo isn’t going to be consistent enough to own in most leagues as long as Tony Parker is healthy, but is another guy worth a look in dynasty leagues, and could become a must-own player if Parker goes down with an injury at some point. It’s also worth noting that Gary Neal struggled (3-of-11 shooting) and Manu Ginobili was out with a thigh injury.
Marcus Morris is starting for the Rockets with Patrick Patterson out indefinitely with a foot injury and had 13 points, three rebounds and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes last night. He’s averaging 16 points, 4.5 rebounds and two 3-pointers in his two recent starts for Patterson, and is worth a look if Patterson is going to miss a lot of time with his injury. Greg Smith had eight points, eight boards, a steal and a block in 18 minutes, and is another guy who will benefit if Patterson’s out for an extended period. Carlos Delfino was a staple in almost all my lineups last week, as he was heating up coming into that one. Of course, he fell off the face of the earth last week and had me hating life in fantasyland, but decided to make a comeback last night now that I’ve dropped him across the board. He hit 6-of-9 shots and four 3-pointers for 16 points and five rebounds, and he could be ready to start playing well again. I no longer trust him and am not taking the bait, but I will be keeping an eye on him.
Monday’s News and Notes
Russell Westbrook went down hard on his left wrist and left the arena in a brace after beating the Spurs. He says he’s fine and he’s yet to miss an NBA game, so expect to see him out there on Wednesday at Atlanta. Serge Ibaka tied a career high with 25 points to go along with a season-high 17 boards and three blocks, and was, of course, on my bench in a weekly league (3 games) where we start six players. That’s kind of the way my year has gone in that one.
Amare Stoudemire is expected to practice for the Knicks this week and could return as soon as Friday or Sunday from his knee injury. He’s projected to come off the bench, but I’d still be up for cutting a player like Patrick Patterson in order to pick up Amare.
Steve Nash is targeting a return on Saturday after missing all but two games this season with a broken leg. I’m not expecting him to be an immediate savior for fantasy teams or the Lakers, but once he’s back and playing near 100 percent, he’ll once again become a must-start point guard. Pau Gasol practiced on Monday and is a game-time decision for Tuesday’s meeting with the Bobcats. He’s missed eight straight games with bum knees, but appears to be close. And given the way Antawn Jamison has fallen on his face, and an injury to Jordan Hill’s back, Pau should again be picked up in all leagues. Just don’t expect a 20-20 line any time soon, if at all.
Ricky Rubio played just 16 minutes with zero points and four assists on Monday, and will sit out on Tuesday as a precaution with his surgically repaired knee. He’s still not 100 percent, but is worth hanging onto in all leagues until he gets there. Even with Rubio back, Luke Ridnour (11 points, three assists, two 3-pointers) and J.J. Barea (10 points, six assists) are probably worth keeping around in many leagues. Alexey Shved fizzled tonight, hitting just 1-of-8 shots in another start at shooting guard. But if he keeps the job, he’ll be worth hanging onto in most formats. Kevin Love bounced back with 23 points, 15 boards, three steals and two 3-pointers on 10-of-20 shooting last night, and is too good to bench, even when slumping and dealing with a sore right hand and thumb contusion. Nikola Pekovic stayed hot with 19 points and 12 boards, and is averaging 23 points and nine boards over his last four games.
Sixers’ starting point guard Jrue Holiday is hoping to play through his foot injury on Tuesday against the Mavs after missing his last three games. Once he’s back, it will be interesting to see if Nick Young’s suddenly high minutes will continue.
Here’s what we know about John Wall and his mysterious knee injury. He’s hoping to start increasing his activity soon and doesn’t expect to miss the entire season, but still has no idea when he’ll play again. He duped us after early reports had him missing minimal time, and it’s anyone’s guess when he’ll play again. Jordan Crawford and Bradley Beal should be held in most leagues until further notice.
Glen Davis hit 13-of-17 shots for 28 points, five boards and two steals, and has now hit 20-of-28 shots over his last two games. If you recently bought low on him, he’s paying off. Arron Afflalo played through a sore knee on Monday and had 13 points and a full stat line in 31 minutes. It looks like he’s good to go.
Eric Gordon is wrapping up his rehab in L.A., but his return date for the Hornets is still unknown. I’m not touching him, as he just feels like fantasy poison at this point, but if you have room to stash him and have needs at shooting guard, feel free.
Wesley Matthews is iffy for the Blazers on Thursday with his lingering hip injury. Don’t put him back in your lineup until he’s officially cleared to play, and until proves he can make it through a couple games. LaMarcus Aldridge is also iffy for with a sprained left ankle and was seen on crutches earlier in the week.
Mavs’ center Chris Kaman missed Monday’s practice for a funeral, but should be in the starting lineup on Tuesday against the Sixers.
Roy Hibbert is expected to play on Tuesday against the Bucks after leaving his last game with a bruised thigh. Maybe he found his shot while he was taking care of his thigh. Maybe.
Dion Waiters is expected back for the Cavaliers on Tuesday after missing eight games with a sprained ankle, but it’s unclear as to whether or not he’ll start. That means C.J. Miles may still have some life left after playing so well over the past week, but I dropped him for Shannon Brown in one league today, as Brown’s job is much more secure.
Mike Dunleavy could return from his knee injury on Tuesday, but as long as he’s playing for Scott Skiles and the Bucks, he’s not to be fully trusted.
Stephen Jackson, who was “in” on Monday morning, “out” in the afternoon and then “available” just before the game, returned from a 14-game absence with a broken right pinkie finger and had five points in 19 minutes. Jackson will have the occasional big game, but as long as he’s playing for Gregg Popovich and the Spurs, he’ll struggle to do enough consistently to be used in most fantasy leagues. Kawhi Leonard isn’t back from his quad injury just yet, but is getting close, while Manu Ginobili could return on Tuesday from his quad injury.
Kirk Hinrich returned from his knee injury and had four points, five assists and two steals in 31 minutes. As long as he’s healthy, he’s at least worth a deep-league look by owners who need help at point guard.
Kyle Singler finally had a decent game for Detroit with 11 points in 39 minutes, but it can likely be directly traced to the absence of Rodney Stuckey, who was out with back spasms. Once Stuckey is back, look for Singler to return to his frustrating self.
There are reports that Orlando’s Al Harrington will miss the entire season with his knee injury, and he isn’t worth holding, even in deep leagues.
5 x 5
Take a look at the 5x5 games in NBA history (which doesn't include five 3-pointers) on the heels of Nicolas Batum's line Sunday. Hakeem Olajuwon was a monster.
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