Week 3 is underway and the fantasy season has officially begun to take shape, which means owners can now start making longer-term plans while still having plenty of opportunity out there on speculative transactions and the like.
And with four games to recap but more importantly a full review of Big Wednesday on the docket, we’re going to jump right into the action.
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The Bucks’ season has taken a sharp turn toward craptastic with the Larry Sanders news (out an estimated six weeks for bar fighting), and on a serious note it’s not going to help them curry local support to build an arena. Seattle is licking its wounds and has serious questions about their own arena plans, but they have big-time support from the same power brokers that pushed so hard to make it seem like the Kings were indeed moving to the Pacific Northwest.
Milwaukee might be the one city with a losing squad that wasn’t salivating in Chicago last night, where college superstars took turns ratcheting up the tanking talk.
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It was telling that Ersan Ilyasova (ankle) was ruled out so quickly for the team’s three-game road trip, as Zaza Pachulia (18 minutes, three points, five rebounds) is still dealing with his offseason Achilles’ injury and the Bucks could really use him. They’re either trying to prep him for life without Larry or he had no business returning so early. Chances are reality lies somewhere in the middle.
I added Pachulia in the spot I autodrafted Sanders and he’ll need to really nosedive for me to consider a drop with all the minutes he’s about to get. John Henson (18 points, three rebounds, one steal) is positioned to earn at least late-round fantasy value on the season as long as he meets modest expectations, so owners should buckle down and hang tight if he falters in games when the Bucks struggle as they did last night.
Khris Middleton is somebody to watch in deeper leagues until Ilyasova returns, even though he was not all that inspiring with just seven points, seven rebounds and a three last night. Caron Butler (4-of-15 FGs, 10 points, two threes) is no spring chicken and Giannis Antetokounmpo (11 points, four rebounds, three treys) is still extremely raw. Mpo certainly has Dynasty league appeal given his chance at multi-category productivity, but he needs a few more dominos to fall before he sniffs rosters in most redraft formats for the foreseeable future.
While Brandon Knight’s (six points, six assists, 0-for-2 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs, 24 minutes) eventual return to 100 percent health is bound to end runs for Gary Neal (18 points, three treys, three boards, four assists) and Nate Wolters (nine points, three boards, three assists, three steals, 24 minutes), I can’t help but wonder if Wolters is going to be a thorn in Knight’s side all year. It’s early, but the Bucks run much more smoothly with Wolters calling the shots than they do with Knight, and it’s possible he’s just not pure point guard material.
Milwaukee certainly wants Knight to be the man and they’ll give him every chance to do so – and this is certainly the time for owners to let him heal and see how things play out – but point guard is a position in which teams typically roll with the hot hand. So we’ll watch.
The Heat cut through the Bucks very quickly with Mario Chalmers (15 points, four rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one trey) leading the way and doing his damage in just 25 minutes. Chalmers was one of the easier guys to project this season given his consistency from year-to-year, and knowing the Heat were likely to shift some of the overall responsibility to his younger legs, it’s not out-of-this-world crazy to see him rocking the early round value. I had him at No. 85 in the Bruski 150 and if he continues to take the full-step forward he has been showing and not the incremental one that I was willing to give him credit for, he might perch himself in the top half of the middle rounds. I doubt you can beat that calculus in a sell-high deal.
Michael Beasley was the other guy to make some noise for Miami last night, scoring 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting (including two threes) with one rebound and three assists in 20 minutes. No, this is not a run-to-the-wire moment, especially with Ray Allen and Udonis Haslem out, but I have no idea why folks were summarily writing him off. The Heat are paper thin, old, injury prone and they could really stand to develop another scorer for the playoffs. Beasley will need to overcome the inherent flaws in his fantasy game (among other things) to join the standard league or even deep league discussion. Just don’t be surprised if we’re talking about him after the ball drops in Times Square.
The Wizards fell flat after a tough game against the Thunder, getting handled by the Mavs in a 105-95 loss last night. John Wall (14 points, 10 assists, one three) and Marcin Gortat (12 points, 12 boards, one steal, four blocks) continued to roll along, but the fantasy story of the night was Trevor Ariza continuing to blast away expectations. Ariza poured in 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting with five triples, seven boards and four steals in 37 minutes. He’s an early round value averaging 37.7 minutes per game, which is a neon-red sign to sell-high given his injury history. A durable mid-round value should be considered a prudent return.
Bradley Beal followed up his career-best scoring night with a 2-of-10 dud to finish with nine points, three rebounds and seven assists. For all of the great things he has done (19.3 points, 2.9 threes, 3.9 boards, 3.6 assists per game), he has absolutely torpedoed his value with 39.8 percent field goal shooting, 70.8 percent foul shooting (on 3.4 attempts per game), and just 1.0 combined steals and blocks per contest. Beal is going to improve in each of those deficient areas at least incrementally, but he needs to take the proverbial step forward in 1-2 of those areas and also expand in the areas he’s proficient in to become a rock solid early round play.
The Mavs’ box score was entirely predictable last night, with just Samuel Dalembert (15 points, five boards, two steals) and Vince Carter (16 points, four treys, three rebounds, three assists) standing out in any capacity. Monta Ellis (19 points, four rebounds, seven assists, one three) was singled out by Rick Carlisle for bothering Bradley Beal into his 2-of-10 shooting night, and Dirk Nowitzki passed Jerry West to land at No. 16 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 19 points, eight rebounds, two threes, two steals and a block. Everybody in Dallas is rolling along and the injury bug has stayed away.
FLY PELICAN FLY!
The Pelicans are still a mess and it has been really hard to watch Tyreke Evans lately, who was a game-time decision and played after a seven-minute outing the last time out. Evans hit just 4-of-13 shots for 11 points, four rebounds, six assists and a steal in 31 minutes last night, and owners should thank their lucky stars that he was able to produce that with the way he was playing. These aren’t ankle issues, either. He was terrible on defense and on offense he played the way he was accustom to playing in Sacramento – which meant plenty of predetermined drives to the hoop into thick traffic – but Monty Williams was content to let him do his thing so he accumulated some garbage time stats.
This might be Williams’ biggest coaching challenge to date, and fans can’t be happy with Evans being slotted into a pure backup role and also being terrible while he’s at it. Fortunately for fantasy owners he won’t continue to shoot 32.5 percent from the field and 60 percent from the line all year, and likewise he’ll gain some explosion and also get with the program (slowly) as the season rolls on. He’s a stat magnet even when he’s playing bad, and the Pelicans’ depth issues go hand-in-hand with Evans’ contract to give natural incentive for him to stay on the court.
His basketball IQ issues aren’t going away without some serious mentoring, and those issues will only be magnified if the Pelicans continue to play at the league’s ninth slowest pace while carrying three guards that need the ball in their hands to be effective. More possessions can be a band-aid to help that along.
I’d hold onto Evans unless you’re in a shallow league and even then I’d do what I can to make space for the guy. He has mid-round upside and it’s way too early to call it a season.
Jrue Holiday (seven points, five assists, 2-of-11 FGs) is still struggling, and again, he could really benefit from a system change by Monty. Aside from ball stoppers in Evans and Eric Gordon (17 points, 5-of-13 FGs, three steals, no threes), the Pelicans offense has no direction in general and Holiday is standing and watching the action way too much.
Gordon has been a pleasant surprise so far and that deserves mention. He is playing at about a mid-round level and his lateral quickness has been impressive, though his leaping ability has declined as expected and it’s anybody’s guess how long he can keep this up. Advances in knee treatments have created surprise recoveries in the past, but forgive me if I don’t give Gordon the benefit of the doubt right now. If I can get a positively situated mid-round value in return right now I make that deal in a second.
Perhaps the most consequential Pelicans news of the night, though, was the knee injury suffered by Greg Stiemsma. Injury updates are bound to be sparse as usual coming out of New Orleans, but he had to be carried off the court and X-rays have already shown that he has a sprained knee. He’ll get an MRI today and who knows what that will bring. Even though Stiemsma doesn’t play much, this just piles onto the reasoning that made me put Anthony Davis (15 points, five boards, two steals, no blocks) so high in my preseason rankings.
Williams spent most of last year logjamming Davis and Ryan Anderson into mostly just one bucket of minutes at power forward. This year, only injury prone Jason Smith (eight points, three boards, two steals) and Stiemsma have stood in-between those two fantasy starters and an unchallenged stake at not one, but two buckets of minutes for both of them in the frontcourt.
Lou Amundson has been signed and I actually think Williams will use him more than most people might think for a guy that played without a name stitched on his jersey last night. Regardless, it has become all-but clear that Davis isn’t just going to justify my preseason ranking – but he’s going to wedge himself into the discussion for top fantasy player honors this season. I’ll go as far as to guarantee that barring injury he will join the top tier of players including Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Chris Paul.
And if the Pelicans can ever start clicking, it’s possible we’ll get a preview of what could be fantasy’s best player for years to come. He’s that dynamic.
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The Lakers ran over the Pelicans and maybe Jordan Hill’s career-high 21 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and a block over 26 minutes will wake Mike D’Antoni up. He has three big men in Pau Gasol (14 points, eight boards, one block), Chris Kaman (eight points, nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, 21 minutes) and Hill that are clearly among the top 6-7 players on the team. Up until now they’ve all been sharing center minutes with small spillovers into the power forward bucket.
That’s because D’Antoni is fascinated with playing small and though the Lakers should be running and gunning with their roster, these guys give the Lakers a fighting chance in the paint and they shouldn’t be sharing the slop out of one trough.
In Hill’s case, he has an underrated fantasy game in terms of potency. In fact, he was in early versions of the Bruski 150 before his disastrous preseason and Mike D’s attitude toward him scratched him from consideration. His blend of double-double potential and passable defensive numbers make him a guy with mid-round upside if he ever had a full-time role, which he won’t have in L.A. whether it’s due to D’Antoni or Hill’s own durability issues. I’d be all about adding him if I have dead weight and I’m in a competitive 12-14 team league with nothing compelling on the wire, but beyond that I’m not cutting a player with solid late-round value to get him.
The rest of the Lakers’ box is what you might expect in a blowout win. Steve Blake (five points, 10 assists, one triple) remains a solid late-round value on the year as the starting point guard, and his value isn’t exactly going to evaporate if/when Steve Nash plays again. When Kobe returns, that’s another story and that will be a theme for everybody on the roster.
Jodie Meeks is a D’Antoni favorite and he’s going to be on the floor whenever he’s not ice cold, and he hit another three treys on his way to 15 points in a typically empty stat line. He’s still a solid mid-round value on the year and I don’t see why he can’t hold bumpy late-round value in standard formats while Kobe is out. Nick Young scored 17 points with one three and one assist and that’s it, highlighting why he can’t get out of the 14-16 team range.
Xavier Henry (15 points, three treys) made me look rather psychic when I commented that Jeff Withey looked like a Mozgovian dunking prop only to see Henry brutalize him just five minutes later. Henry doesn’t even rank in the top-250 this season because all he can do is score and hit threes in moderate amounts.
Wesley Johnson both started and got the garbage time minutes, scoring five points with five rebounds and that’s it in his 21 minutes. He’s a late-round value on the year but I wouldn’t deal with his sporadic use until I’m in the 14-16 team range.
Kaman has been clinging to late-round value on the year but unlike some of his teammates I’d be more willing to put up with his inconsistency, particularly in leagues where big men are scarce. It was also just reported that Gasol had an MRI on his left foot last week that revealed a strain. He said it’s “feeling a little better,” but it wouldn’t be surprising at all for him to start breaking down at some point for a team out of championship contention. None of the big men group is durable, but Kaman might be the most durable at this point – as scary as that sounds – and unlike the bulk of the team his role is less impacted by Kobe’s eventual return.
GRAB SOME PINE
The Pistons won’t tell their children about last night’s spanking at the hands of the Warriors, and though Mo Cheeks said the opposite after the game he was certainly sending Josh Smith (1-of-6 FGs, two points, two rebounds, one steal, 16 minutes) a message when he benched him. It was a convenient time to do so and Smoove will get a chance to redeem himself on Friday against the Kings, and while I think he’ll do that owners should know that Sacramento will be breaking the Guinness record for indoor crowd noise on that night.
Andre Drummond survived an ankle scare and finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and three blocks, while Chauncey Billups’ (six minutes) knee situation is foreshadowing the phasing out of his role. Rodney Stuckey (seven points, 2-of-9 FGs, 28 minutes) has already laid claim to a sizeable stake of minutes, but his consistency is going to be an issue while he’s surrounded by Brandon Jennings (13 points, 5-of-14 FGs), Smoove, and Greg Monroe (15 points, five boards, two steals). Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (nine points, two steals, one three) is in and out of the rotation and he saw 24 minutes of garbage time last night, and he will complicate Stuckey’s life if he can handle the NBA learning curve.
GOLDEN STATE OF MIND
What can you say about the Warriors except for the fact that they’re beating up on bad teams and all of their main fantasy guys are on the right track. Stephen Curry (25 points, eight assists) shook off any knee concerns, Klay Thompson (6-of-9 FGs, 14 points, two threes) probably disappointed owners with this solid line with the way he’s been playing, Andrew Bogut (eight points, nine boards, one steal, two blocks) is still standing, Andre Iguodala (eight points, 11 assists, two threes) is still humming along as backup quarterback, and David Lee (17 points, nine boards) hasn’t slowed down from last season.
If we go by early returns Harrison Barnes is falling into his role from last season as fantasy afterthought, as he scored just eight points with not much else in 26 minutes. My fear from his perspective is that he missed his window to establish himself in the pecking order, and that the injury moved him from a mostly sure bet to take a step forward into a somewhat hazy future.
I do think he will take that step forward, even if I’m not sure he can improve in enough deficient fantasy areas to make an impact for owners. When he does take that step forward he’s going to steal a little bit from each of the aforementioned not named Curry or Bogut. And that’s a good segue into my only fear for the whole lot of Warriors, individual risks aside, which is that they run themselves into the ground in the hunt for seeding. Getting Barnes on track would go a long way toward mitigating that risk.
NEWS AND NOTES
Derrick Rose didn’t need an MRI on his hamstring, which would seem compulsory if there was any real concern there. He expects to play on Friday against the Raptors. Speaking of the team that allows their wings to convert like light-hitting second baseman, or your buddy that thinks three 3s make a 10, Rudy Gay’s ankle injury appears to be in the same boat.
Danny Granger (calf) returned to practice yesterday and we have yet to hear about how it went, and he is in the last week of an announced three-week layoff. Frank Vogel said he is pain free but this is action that owners can watch from the wire. Granger needs to prove himself before anybody should project an impact to Lance Stephenson, and to a lesser extent Paul George.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
HOU @ PHI: James Harden (foot, wrist, back) said that he may sit out one of the Rockets’ next two games and fantasy owners may just want to root for that to boost his season-long durability. Francisco Garcia (flu) didn’t practice yesterday but he hopes to return for tonight’s game, which would knock the rotation back to the tune of about 20 minutes. Terrence Jones took his minutes the last time out, so he’ll be the guy you want to downgrade a bit if the Thong Song can go.
Of course, this preview wouldn’t be complete without some mention of Patrick Beverley’s flop from Monday, which got him dropped in some places and surely many of you are feeling the heat even though he showed his potential in the prior game. Let’s give the youngster some time on the floor after returning early from a rib injury before we write the whole story, and independent of Beverley’s progress we should all note that Jeremy Lin is going to be in lineups for most, if not all of the year.
Michael Carter-Williams missed Tuesday’s practice with a sore foot and like his teammates, the only thing that is going to slow his usage will be wearing down from so much usage. Tonight’s track meet could produce some stellar fantasy lines so get your guys fired up in FanDuel and the like.
MIL @ ORL: Even though the Bucks are hurting and playing for the second straight night, this is a good spot for them to get on track as Orlando has been playing loose basketball all year long. Likewise, a guy like Victor Oladipo could mow down the Nate Wolters, Gary Neal, O.J. Mayo, Brandon Knight backcourt, as could his starting teammates Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo.
Tobias Harris has one helluva ankle sprain and is still without a timetable to return. You can count Orlando in the list of markets that could use some beefing up on the injury reporting front.
It’s good news that Glen Davis (foot) feels good enough to fling a hotel computer keyboard all over the place (as caught on security tape), and it’s bad news that he’s feeling good enough to fling a hotel computer keyboard all over the place. Then again, maybe the keyboard malfunctioned and selected Glen Davis in a fantasy draft.
One of the main drivers of Harris’ preseason rankings, aside from his own potential, was the chance the Magic were ready to turn the page on Baby. This type of behavior only solidifies that line of reasoning, even if Harris is starting to get dropped in fantasy leagues. I’ll be holding on in any format in which you can stash players, but I will be keeping an eye on the situation closely to see if we don’t have the full story on his ankle here.
CHA @ BOS: While potential for injury and incremental declines in explosion were factors in my super low ranking of Al Jefferson, I don’t feel it’s truly fair to measure his season based on its first three weeks. We’ll learn over this next week how much his teammates will defer to him, and if it’s up to Josh McRoberts AKA Charlie Day it will be complete subordination, as Charlie Work called him the world’s best post player.
It makes sense for a deferential player like McRoberts to say that, but the jury is still out on how Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson feel about that. And from there it will all come down to Big Al’s ability to play at the already declining level he showed last year, and we’ll have to see if Steve Clifford will support Jefferson in the unwavering way that Ty Corbin did. Grab a seat and we’ll watch how it goes.
Kemba Walker has hit just 33 percent of his shots since taking a shot to his left (non-shooting) shoulder, and his volume decreased big time in Jefferson’s return the other night. Teams are going to single up Jefferson for the most part, so if the offense does flow through him for 15-19 FGAs per game I’m a bit concerned about Walker being easily defended off the ball. I obviously don’t think he deserves to take a hit, and Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and McRoberts will all be first in line for those honors, but it’s something to watch out for nonetheless.
Jared Sullinger had been slowly climbing his way onto the standard league radar but an MRI revealed a bone bruise in his right knee and he’s listed as day-to-day. Injuries have always been the concern for him and while this is being reported as minor, bone bruises aren’t bruises in the sense that they can’t have ongoing consequences. For what it’s worth I’m more inclined to believe this is minor, but I’m still adjusting his short-term value incrementally until we see what direction this goes.
Jordan Crawford got some high praise from Brad Stevens on Tuesday, and while it’s all deserved we should all be on hot air alert as Stevens is looking for all the silver linings he can find these days. Crawford has done all the right things since taking over the team, a move that should have happened since day one, but if he gets a little too comfortable we’ve all seen how that story ends. I like him to hold the starting job with consistent minutes until Rajon Rondo returns, but efficiency can dampen his value rather quickly if he’s not producing elsewhere at an optimal level.
Kelly Olynyk will seek to prove his consistency tonight, but getting beat up by Jefferson while on defense isn’t exactly a recipe for success. As long as he can stay out of foul trouble, he could expose Jefferson badly on the other end from the perimeter. Avery Bradley is primed for a letdown playing across from Henderson.
NY @ ATL: J.R. Smith may start tonight, which is funny because he is getting rewarded for his crappy performance the other night with a promotion, and that flies in the face of everything Mike Woodson has been preaching about the so-called competition at shooting guard between he and Iman Shumpert.
Their values won’t hinge so much on whether they start or not, and instead on what they do in their relatively stable allotment of minutes going forward. Both guys are going to get significant run on a team forced to play small.
Andrea Bargnani will be under a microscope after predictably crashing to earth with just one rebound on Sunday. Already poised to play fast, if brittle Bargnani goes down the Knicks may start looking like the Sixers in a more ways than one.
Lou Williams (knee) went through some contact drills and he’ll soon be cleared for five-on-five, but he’s probably about a month away from any normal level of strength and conditioning. Depending on your format, you’ll want to take a stab at his potential mid-to-late round value sometime in the next few weeks. The Hawks are insanely shallow in the backcourt after Jeff Teague.
Tonight shapes up to be a good game for pace and production on both sides.
CLE @ MIN: Andrew Bynum will miss the Cavs’ next two games to attend to a family matter, and it might as well go down as prescribed rest in the grand scheme of things. If you are in a format that gives you flexibility with daily roster changes, bump his value up into the standard league discussion since he looks to have maintained some semblance of his prior skill level, even if the explosion isn’t there and his durability issues aren’t going away all year.
Look for Anthony Bennett (shoulder) to get some time in the rotation and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him have an ‘arrival’ at any time now. I say that with tongue in cheek because his fantasy value is deservedly in the tank and who knows if he’s conditioned well enough to play, but it’s just not that realistic that he goes 0-for-the-season.
On a greater level, I’ll be looking to see how the Cavs react on defense and to Mike Brown in general. It’s well past excuse-making time for Kyrie Irving’s bad defense and Dion Waiters has also worn out his welcome in that regard. If they don’t start doing the little things the season could easily take on a negative tone.
The Wolves are going to be a blast to watch this year and their key guys are locked into serious fantasy value. The key is their defined and complementary roles with Ricky Rubio poised to set a decades-best steals mark, and Kevin Love threatening to crack the truly elite tier of fantasy players including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis (you read that right, Paul George and James Harden are not on that list right now, a conversation for another time).
I don’t think Love’s assists will hold up but everything else is fair game. Kevin Martin is the team’s pure scorer and Nikola Pekovic delivers body blows down low. Sprinkle in Rick Adelman’s tutelage and it’s a dynamic setup. Enjoy.
TOR @ MEM: As mentioned Rudy Gay (ankle) will likely play but tonight’s action focuses on Dwane Casey to see if he has any say in what goes on for the Raptors on the court. Gay and DeMar DeRozan are out of control right now with the shot selection while the guy they need to develop in Jonas Valanciunas stands and watches the action. With much of the nation finally catching on to Casey’s bad judgment here, if nothing changes tonight then it will be a somewhat awesome indictment (unless you own JV).
Jerryd Bayless (knee) is listed as day-to-day and details are scarce, which is why Mike Miller was picked up in many leagues for his four-game week and current late-round production. Neither he nor Tony Allen truly took advantage of Bayless’ absence against the Pacers, which isn’t an indictment, and now Quincy Pondexter is also questionable after breaking his nose on Monday. We should also be watching to see if Marc Gasol can get his rebounding on track. Slight declines in his productivity last season and capable backups were two reasons I had him lower in my preseason rankings than most.
WAS @ SA: The Wizards got up for the Thunder and then rolled over for the Mavs last night, so by that logic they’ll be ready to play the Spurs tonight. As covered, from a fantasy perspective they’re mostly rolling but the Spurs have a way of dismantling inexperienced teams.
Kawhi Leonard started slow but is already making his way through the middle rounds and into the early rounds for per-game value. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, if he takes a step backward from last season’s No. 40 and 25 per-game ranks (8/9 cat) it would be a shock. I don’t expect him to move to my lofty preseason rank overnight, but the typically slow starter hasn’t even scratched the surface.
It seems logical that Tim Duncan plays after resting against the Sixers, but owners will want to be glued to the updates, per usual. Don’t look now but Danny Green is a top 45-65 play this year, proving why you don’t panic over one of the league’s best 3-point shooters two weeks into the season.
LAL @ DEN: I’d automatically be worried about the Lakers having a letdown traveling to the thin air of Denver, but Brian Shaw is hell-bent on making his running team a post-heavy team that doesn’t have much post presence. Wilson Chandler (hamstring) said he felt good in practice yesterday and he’s confident that he’ll make his season debut tonight. He should be owned in all formats for the chance he takes on a significant role for the Nugs. Jordan Hamilton and Anthony Randolph turn back into pumpkins tonight.
Owners should also be monitoring the JaVale McGee fallout, even if he wasn’t playing a ton of minutes. This the push that J.J. Hickson and Kenneth Faried’s owners needed to get them on track, in particular for Faried. No matter how much they paid Timofey Mozgov and no matter what his nominal offense could bring to Shaw’s post attack, it’s going to be hard to take Hickson off the court now as the team’s only reliable inside scorer.
Darrell Arthur could theoretically step up here, too, but we haven’t seen any signs of it so far. This shakeup has helped to free up Andre Miller, who is playing some small forward believe it or not, but Chandler’s return will put the lid on any real value there.
NO @ UTA: The Pelicans may be fired up after losing in a higher profile game against the Lakers, but either way they’re going to run into a buzzsaw in Utah. The Jazz aren’t as bad as their record suggests and after an 0-8 start they’re going to be plenty motivated to win at home. Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors have all shown their fantasy potential but their values have been depressed by inefficiency, as well as outliers that aren’t in their favor. Buying low is still a possibility for Kanter, while the other two will be a tougher lift but given their year-to-date rankings this might be the best chance owners get.
PHO @ POR: Goran Dragic is traveling to Portland for tonight’s game and the time away from the team has also served as nominal rest for his ankle, and if he can go it will be yet another test for Gerald Green’s staying power. It’s not out of the question for Jeff Hornacek to keep Dragic on the second unit with the same amount of minutes to offset his time spent playing next to Eric Bledsoe, and that could actually benefit everybody’s per-minute production if everything falls into place.
Speaking of falling into place, Markieff Morris is breaking out before our eyes and now he just needs to prove his consistency, which has been his undoing in the past. The system is the key here for him and Miles Plumlee, as well as their teammates obviously, but for Markieff it truly plays to his strengths and I actually like him coming off the bench against inferior competition.
LaMarcus Aldridge is currently ranked at No. 45/34 (8/9 cat) on a per-game basis. My Bruski 150 projections cumulatively: No. 52/39. So far so good on both he and Al Jefferson, AKA the source of most of my hate mail for the week prior to Opening Night.
BKY @ SAC: Andrei Kirilenko (back) will not join the Nets on their west coast road trip, and it may have slipped under the radar in this space but I’ve long given up on stashing him for the time-being in 12-14 team formats. I do think there will be a time this season in which he’s worth picking up, but the risk-reward quotient will start to make sense once he’s flashed some potential in a 15-20 minute outing – not before.
It’s fine to be patient with the whole team as they take time to heal and gel, but regular readers know I wasn’t overly high on any one of them except for Brook Lopez. It should be noted, however, that slow starts for Kirilenko and Kevin Garnett have allowed Paul Pierce to keep his membership in the old guys that won’t go away club.
Look for Sacramento to make at least one big change tonight, and maybe more, as Mike Malone isn’t messing around. He’s pissed and he has the full support of ownership as they collectively sort through the wreckage of Maloof’s past.
Marcus Thornton’s role could be on the chopping block, Ben McLemore is a prime target to get moved into the starting lineup, and sources have told me that it wouldn’t be shocking to see Isaiah Thomas moved into the starting lineup whenever McLemore is promoted. That doesn’t mean that’s the way it will go, but that’s the general feel for some folks in the know.
Patrick Patterson for Jason Thompson is also on the table. I’m adding McLemore where possible in competitive 12-14 team leagues and I’ll be doing it with an eye for the future, while IT2 is already a must-own player as he continues to smoke Greivis Vasquez, much to the chagrin of some in the press that used stereotypical reasoning to pigeon-hole the two players into cookie cutter evaluations.
Thompson and Patterson need to separate from one another before there is any great revelation in value, and if you want to get the jump on dumping MT23 I wouldn’t call you crazy.
OKC @ LAC: Scott Brooks is at it again giving six minutes per game to Derek Fisher when he shouldn’t be on the floor and those minutes should be going to Reggie Jackson. Jackson appears to be slotted into an 18-22 minute role (enhanced by overtime in his last game), and the hope here is that it’s related to his hip contusion but I don’t have to remind you of what we’re dealing with in Brooks.
For Jackson, my evaluation and many others’ evaluations included the notion that he would be the team’s sixth man when Russell Westbrook returns and hopefully that will still be the case, but he needs those six little minutes to form a foundation he can build on. If Brooks can’t quit Fisher then all bets are off.
There was a huge rush to pick up Steven Adams and he got Brooks’d in his first game post-rush, logging equal minutes with Kendrick “I dare you to bench me” Perkins while finishing with just two blocks to show for his effort. I hate to say it but it’s going to take an injury to Perkins for him to lose his 20 minutes per game, which means that Adams will struggle for consistency for the foreseeable future. Brooks and Sam Presti’s albatross will go down swinging all the way until the end, which is good for him and bad for them.
If you hadn’t noticed, too, Serge Ibaka is getting back on track and owners spending a high draft pick were all sorts of freaked out. The buy low window is ever-so-slightly ajar.
The Clippers will come in all sorts of fired up in this marquee matchup and there have been fireworks between the squads in the past, so it’s a perfect finale for Big Wednesday. We’ll want to watch to see if Matt Barnes’ return coincides with another off-night for J.J. Redick or if last game’s numbers were merely a coincidence. I think both of them and Jamal Crawford can all eat as long as Jared Dudley is stuck at the kiddie table.