Giving Thanks for My League Pass
Last Tuesday, fresh off of a full weekend of watching the NBA and the NFL, I gave my wife a night off from my sports life and watched a movie with her. On Wednesday afternoon I began an experiment that ran for two days and ended early Friday morning. Friday night I got on the road to bring my kids back to my hometown to see the grandparents, and for the last few days I have been at my wife's parents' house. They don't have the NBA League Pass. For those keeping track at home, that makes an entire WEEK that I have been unable to watch any NBA action.
I am going out of my MIND here.
And it's not just the enjoyment of watching the games, it's that I almost feel disconnected from the sport. Normally I'm so submersed in basketball by this time of year I barely even think about my fantasy football teams outside of a few hours on Sunday. But this week, since football is all I've been able to watch, I have a much better feel for how the Bengals gave the game away to the Raiders than I do about Kevin Garnett's buzzer beater to win in overtime on Sunday. One I watched live action, the other I saw in a 30-second highlight blurb on Sportscenter.
They say that you don't really appreciate what you have until it is gone. Well, right now I am beyond appreciating my League Pass. I miss my League Pass like a cherished family member. In the words of 50 Cent, I love my League Pass like a fat kid loves cake. When I break the wishbone from the Thanksgiving turkey, instead of wishing for world peace I will instead be wishing for my next opportunity to overdose on several hours of NBA basketball.
Situations to Watch and Quick Hits
Pau has entered the building: Pau Gasol has returned from the hamstring injury that kept him out for the first month of the season. He doesn't seem to have missed a beat, averaging 19.5 points, 10 boards and 4.5 assists in his first two games. The biggest potential loser with Gasol's return is Andrew Bynum, who no longer has the paint to himself. Bynum has averaged 18 and eight in the two games since Gasol returned after being more of a 20 and 12 guy through the first few weeks. Bynum owners might want to sell high as his numbers could drop even further.
Jamison back in the Nation's capital: Antawn Jamison has returned from his shoulder injury with a bang, averaging 22.7 points and 9.7 boards through his first three games back. The biggest loser in Jamison's return is Andray Blatche, who has gone from a viable fantasy flex play to a 5.3 point/1.3 rebound player in the last three games.
Redd back with a whisper: Michael Redd (knee) returned Monday to play his first game in weeks, but saw only 11 minutes and scored only four points. He will obviously be eased back into action, so he should remain benched in fantasy leagues until he shows signs of a return to normal.
Is Brand finally back? Elton Brand has been turning back the clock this week, averaging 20 points, 10 boards, four blocks and three steals through three straight games. In fact, he is the number one player in the Yahoo! Player rater over the last week. While one or two good games might be a fluke, three games suggests a trend so perhaps Brand has finally turned the corner.
Nets Still O-frah Winfrey, CDR and Harris have arrived: The Nets have begun the season 0 – 13, and now find themselves only four losses shy of tying the worst start in NBA history. Their next four games are at Denver, at Portland, at Sacramento, and at the Lakers - in other words, if they want to avoid a record that nobody wants they better hope they can sneak a win in Sac-town. But in better news, Devin Harris has returned from a sprained ankle that kept him out the previous two weeks and Chris Douglas-Roberts has separated himself from the other Nets swingmen to step into a primary role in the offense. He's averaging 27 points, nine boards, two assists and two steals over the last week.
Bibby injury…Crawford a starter? Mike Bibby sprained his ankle on Saturday and is listed as day-to-day. If he misses any time super-sub Jamal Crawford could move into the starting lineup. Crawford is already averaging 16.7 points and 2.6 assists in a bit less than 30 minutes per game, but if he moves into the starting lineup he could bump those up to closer to 20 and five in the short term.
Collison doing best Paul imitation: I said in this space last week that nobody could replace Chris Paul (ankle), but in the last week Darren Collison is doing his best to prove me wrong. He has averaged 15 points, seven assists and four boards for the week including a 22-point/11-assist performance in a win over the Hawks Saturday. He has proven himself to be a viable spot-starter until Paul returns.
The Butler is hurting again: Caron Butler sat out of practice on Monday with a sore foot and is questionable for Tuesday's game, but an MRI on his right ankle showed no structural damage. He is day-to-day for now, but Butler owners can't feel comfortable with him having health difficulties already. That makes him an interesting trade target, as he could be undervalued should his owners panic.
Derrick Rose and Greg Oden heating up: The #1 overall picks in 2007 and 08 both had big weeks after disappointing starts to the season. Rose is averaging 20.7 points, 4.7 assists and 3.3 boards over the last week after having topped 20 points only once in his first 10 games while battling an ankle injury. Meanwhile, after I praised his defense last week, Oden has been getting his offensive game together with averages of 18.7 points on 80 percent shooting from the field over his last three games.
Trailblazers line-up shake-up: The Trailblazers have tabled the three-guard lineup that they were running and moved back to a traditional one with Martell Webster replacing Andre Miller. Webster is an inconsistent performer even as a starter, but Miller is the big loser here as he goes from solid flex play to only-in-deep-leagues consideration.
Parker and Duncan recovering at different speeds: Tim Duncan and Tony Parker both sprained their ankles a couple of weeks ago, but they are recovering at different paces. Duncan has been channeling his inner Kevin Garnett with a 20-10-5 stat line over the past week, while Parker has been in and out of the line-up and is averaging 11.5 points on 40.9 percent FG as he continues to battle the injury.
Big Al showing signs: Al Jefferson went to his grandmother's funeral last week, then returned with his game face on. Big Al has turned in three straight double-doubles after having only one in the first few weeks of the year, and his 17.7 point/11-rebound averages over the past three games are a lot closer to what Jefferson owners expected when they drafted him in the first two rounds.
Lou the man: With the departure of Andre Miller, Lou Williams moved into the starting lineup for the 76ers this season, and he has become a primary scorer in a breakout year. Williams is averaging 24 points, five assists and two steals over the last week.
TMac back at practice: Tracy McGrady practiced on Monday for the first time since undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee, but the team still doesn't expect him back for several weeks. Meanwhile, as we wonder whether McGrady will ever be an impact player again, I had to reminisce for a minute about just how great he used to be. In fact, was McGrady ever as good as MVP LeBron was last year?
Anthony Morrow (50% owned): Morrow is among the leaders in the NBA with an absurd 67 percent true shooting percentage because he is knocking down more than 50 percent of his treys. In the last week he is posting 15 points and four boards with 2.7 treys on 57 percent shooting from the field. He is playing big minutes now in the Nelly offense, which makes him worth a starting flex slot in most leagues.
Dahntay Jones (48% owned): For a defensive stopper, Jones has been showing an awful lot of offense lately. Jones has averaged 19.5 points on 51 percent FG and 2.8 assists to go with his 4.5 boards, 2.0 steals and 1.8 blocks in the last week.
James Harden (37 %): Harden has started slower than some of his rookie classmates, but in the past week he has averaged 16 points, 3.0 boards, 2.8 treys, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals to get himself back into fantasy consideration.
Ersan Ilyasova (24% owned): Ilyasova is in this space for the second week in a row after he has started showing some consistency. He is averaging 15 points, 7.8 boards, 1.5 treys and 1.3 steals over the last week and has become a relied upon member of the Bucks offense.
Marcus Thornton (9% owned): Thornton is still coming off the bench in New Orleans, but since Byron Scott was fired Thornton has been scoring at a starter's clip. He is averaging 19 points with 3.0 boards and 2.8 treys over the past week, and could be worth taking a flyer on in deeper leagues.
Article first appeared 11/24/09