Fellow Fantasy Fanatics,
If I seem a bit scattered today, it is because I am still reeling from the Rudy Gay trade. I have many thoughts, ranging from the fantasy fallout, to how it feels as a Raptors fan. So many thoughts, that they required their own column. Some other things actually happened this weekend, believe it or not. This weekend saw Dwight Howard turning back the clock, the long-awaited return of Kobe Bryant and somehow, many more injuries. Let’s get to it.
- Kobe Bryant played 28 minutes in his first game of the season, and posted 9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, on 2/9 FG and 5/7 FT. The biggest take away for me is that Steve Blake was held to only 4 assists. Hope you sold high while you had a chance. Rough night for Kobe, but great to have him back in the NBA. There will be some rust, but he’s so good that you can play him with confidence this week.
- Otto Porter Jr. made his career debut. Unfortunately, it was not an impressive one. Producing a whopping 0 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in 14 minutes, the 3rd draft pick made little impact on the game. That said, he can only improve from here. Trey Burke achieved simliar mediocrity in his first few games, and look how he has blossomed. Plus, Otto may be given more minutes than originally thought with Martell Webster succumbing to injury.
GET WELL SOON…
- Nene Hilario has been dealing with a barrage of injuries, and wants to take some time off to heal. From this point forward, he will officially be known as ‘Day-to-Day Nene’
- Martell Webster left Friday’s game with an ankle injury. He was held out of practice on Saturday. There are much better and safer options at SF this week.
- Tyler Hansbrough injured his shoulder on Friday against the Suns. It ended his brief reign as starting PF for the Raptors. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the job long-term between him, Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson.
- Nikola Vucevic has been out since Tuesday with an ankle injury. It doesn’t sound serious, but it bears mentioning that tanking teams like Orlando are always more cautious when injured players than competing teams.
- Tyreke Evans re-sprained left left ankle Friday against the Thunder. It’s always bad when the prefix ‘re’ is involved in injuries. Too bad, because he’s been playing great.
- Derrick Favors missed Saturday’s game with a sore lower back. It sounds mild, but the same caveat about tanking teams being cautious applies to Favors.
- Ty Lawson sat out on Saturday with a hamstring injury. He should be considered day-to-day for now.
- Luol Deng had an MRI on his injured calf, which came back negative. He’s hopeful he can play on Tuesday, but that seems a bit optimistic to me.
- Michael Beasley is day-to-day with a hamstring injury. Hopefully he’s back soon, and can continue that positive momentum he had going.
- Jeff Taylor is starting for the injured Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and had 20 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal and 2 threes on Friday. His shooting ability fits well in the Bobcats’ starting lineup along with Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. I’d say there’s a chance he keeps the role, even when MKG returns.
- Amir Johnson “won” his starting role back, after Hansbrough got hurt. The question is, will it last? He’s been playing great, but Hansbrough will be back soon and now Patrick Patterson is in the mix.
- Andre Miller, and not Nate Robinson, started in place of the injured Ty Lawson. The bump in minutes is enough to make both players fantasy worthy should Lawson end up missing extended time.
- Taj Gibson actually started at SF on Saturday, filling in for Luol Deng. This seems odd until you realize they played the Pistons, and he could match-up against fellow PF Josh Smith.
- Ekpe Udoh replaced Ersan Ilyasova in the Bucks’ starting lineup on Saturday. He played so poorly that I’d be surprised if Ersan wasn’t starting again next game.
- Jeremy Evans started on Saturday for the injured Derrick Favors. Is one of my lottery tickets already cashing in?
- Sacramento Kings – Just save yourselves the trouble and remove all stat sheets before Rudy shows up.
THE STARTING 5
PG – Tony Wroten (Friday) – 21 PTS, 9 AST, 8 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 10/22 FG, 1/4 FT, 2 TO, 35 MIN
I’m not sure many people realize just how valuable a commodity Tony Wroten is right now. When Wroten gets at least 30 minutes of action, he is averaging 19.8 points, 5.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals. The problem is that Wroten doesn’t see anywhere near 30 minutes unless Michael Carter-Williams doesn’t play. Is that really a problem though? MCW is currently out of the lineup, and has no timetable for his return. He has already missed 6 games this season. I’m sure he will return at some point, but would it really shock anyone if MCW is shut down at some point this season? Tony Wroten needs to be owned in all leagues right now.
SG – James Harden (Friday) – 34 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 1 THREE, 13/22 FG, 7/9 FT, 4 TO, 40 MIN
The choice for top SG of the weekend came down to James Harden on Friday night and James Harden on Sunday night. This is another way of saying that James Harden is by far the best SG in fantasy basketball. I wonder if Kobe is up to the challenge of contesting that position. I’m not suggesting that Harden is a sell high, but I do want to reiterate that his recent assist bump is likely temporary due to the impending return of Jeremy Lin and the (hopefully) improving health of Chandler Parsons.
SF – Trevor Ariza (Friday) – 22 PTS, 12 REB, 4 AST, 4 STL, 2 BLK, 5 THREES, 6/12 FG, 5/6 FT, 3 TO, 46 MIN
Ok I give! I’m sorry that I ever suggested that Martell Webster is better than you! You’ve made your point! Trevor Ariza looked like a more-efficient Paul George on Friday. Let’s just leave it at that, before we all realize just how foolish fantasy basketball can be sometimes.
PF – Amir Johnson (Sunday) – 32 PTS, 10 REB, 1 AST, 2 BLK, 2 STL, 14/17 FG, 4/4 FT, 3 TO, 32 MIN
Possibly the best sell high opportunity of the season so far. Over his past three games, Amir is averaging 23.3 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, while shooting 71.4% FG and 100% FT. If you own Amir, you could sell him to your league by claiming that his huge night was a result of Rudy being gone. It simply wouldn’t be true. The Raptors had three active bigs on the roster last night, and that includes Steve Novak. Tyler Hansbrough will be back soon, and now Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes are in the fold. I think Amir has more uselessness in his future, so strike while the iron is hot.
C – Dwight Howard (Sunday) – 20 PTS, 22 REB, 3 AST, 3 BLK, 2 STL, 6/12 FG, 8/14 FT, 4 TO, 34 MIN
Over his past three games, Dwight is averaging 19 points and 19 rebounds per game. Reminiscent of his Orlando Magic days, has Dwight found the fountain of youth? Did he take an unreported trip to Germany? Doesn’t seem too likely to me. The slight bump in scoring can be explained by the free throw line. Over those three games, Dwight attempted 43 FTs and hit a respectable 63% of them. The rebounds just seem like a short-term variance (remember Timofey Mozgov?). If you own Dwight, and the opposing owners in your league see this as a trend, you’ve found yourself another sell-high candidate right here.
Russell Westbrook (Sunday) – 26 PTS, 13 AST, 7 REB, 1 STL, 1 THREE, 11/17 FG, 3/3 FT, 5 TO, 32 MIN
Westbrook put up an impressive all-around performance against the tough Pacer defense. Since returning from his injury, Russell has only continued to astound. His 5 TO leave a bit to be desired, but that comes with the territory. One thing I want to note with Russell is that he is slightly, slightly, underperforming thus far. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that he will improve over the course of the season. His FG% is depressed, as he is attempting two more shots per game than his career average, yet he is making only .5 of them, on average. He is down 1.5 APG from last season, and his turnovers have increased. As such, he is posting a middling 1.5 AST:TO ratio, compared to last season’s notable 2.2. As he grows more comfortable with his knee, Russell will return to form, and hopefully build on last season’s performances. It’s hard to consider him a “buy-low” candidate due to his name-brand/superstar recognition, but if you can swipe him away from another owner in 3-for-2, Westbrook will not disappoint.
BE LIKE MIKE
Should I trade my Wes Matthews for Brad Beal? I’m in 4th place of my 10-team, 9-cat H2H league. – Alex
I received this particular question nearly a week ago. I don’t usually go back so far for questions, but I’m afraid I may have given Alex some poor advice. At the time, I reasoned that if the two were healthy, I’d prefer Beal, and it didn’t sound like Beal’s injury was too serious. The initial prognosis I read was this: ‘Beal will miss at least two weeks with a stress injury in his right leg’. Doesn’t sound too bad, until you read on and see that Beal will only be re-evaluated after those two weeks. At that point, it could be deemed that he’s still far from returning. It’s very unclear right now.
I then asked myself, is Beal really a better player even if both were healthy? Beal is averaging more points and assists than Matthews is, but Matthews has a huge edge in FG%. Even if you think it will regress from the 53% it’s at now (and I do), it surely won’t fall near the 41% that Beal is shooting. Also, the Wizards have been playing so well that I read an article suggesting that they may be better off without him (I’d link to it, but it’s ‘Insider’ protected). I don’t agree, but it could be possible he’s demoted to 6th man once he returns, just to keep the chemistry in check.
Alex, you’ve probably already done this trade, so I must apologize. I wish I could have this one back. Given everything we know now, I would rather own ‘Ballot’ than Brad Beal over the rest of the season.
- Sadly, I’ve been under the weather this weekend, so I couldn’t co-host the Fantasy Basketball Afrodisiac last night. I did however muster up the strength for a quick interview, giving my thoughts on Kobe’s return and the Rudy Gay trade. Click here to listen!
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If you still haven’t checked out my Rudy Gay trade breakdown, click here to read it. Remember, I was born and raised in Toronto and am I die-hard Raptor fan. You’re not going to want to miss this one, so make sure you check back in a short while.
Photo from Wikipedia Commons user Mike. All stats from ESPN.com