The Hoops Lab
Situations to Watch and Quick Hits
The rebirth of Boris Diaw: Diaw has experienced a fantasy renaissance since being traded to the Bobcats, and his value is starting to approach the lofty peak he set in Phoenix three seasons ago. Diaw is averaging 17.4 points, 7.4 boards, 4.8 assists, 2.0 treys and 1.8 steals per in his last five games. He's a vital cog in both the offense and defense for the Bobcats, and with his versatility and multi-position eligibility he again looks like an impact player you might be able to acquire cheaply since he no longer has a big name.
Redd is done: Michael Redd tore his ACL last weekend, ending his season. This injury opens up opportunities for other players on the Bucks to step into the production gap, and right now Ramon Sessions and Charlie Villanueva look like the biggest recipients. Sessions is starting at shooting guard now, and is averaging 17 points, 3.5 boards, and 2.5 assists in his two starts thus far. Villanueva has joined Richard Jefferson as the main scoring option for the Bucks with Redd and also center Andrew Bogut sidelined, and is averaging 24 ppg over his last five.
Monta's back: The long wait is over for those that drafted the injured Monta Ellis and stashed him until his return. Ellis is back and starting, but he still has a ways to go before he gets into prime game shape. In three games so far he has scored 20, 10, and then seven points on only 34 percent shooting from the field. Ellis' return has moved Corey Maggette to the sixth man role, but thus far Maggette has thrived with averages of 21.3 points and 6.0 boards in only 26 minutes in those three games.
AK47 foot surgery: Andrei Kirilenko will have surgery to remove a bone fragment from his right foot, likely on Friday. Kirilenko had hoped to be able to put-off the surgery until after the season, but after two coritsone shots failing to alleviate his pain, the decision to have surgery was made. There's no exact timetable for his return, but he's likely to be out at least 3-to-4 weeks.
Davis and Camby back: Baron Davis and Marcus Camby returned to the lineup Wednesday night with rather pedestrian efforts in limited minutes, as both will take some time to ramp back up to full speed. Camby's return could mark the beginning of the end for DeAndre' Jordan as a roto prospect, and eventually Davis may cut into Eric Gordon's scoring as well.
Wallace scare: Gerald Wallace suffered a collapsed lung and fractured rib on Tuesday from an Andrew Bynum flagrant foul. His lung has been restored to full capacity, but he'll remain hospitalized for 48 hours. He should be fine in the long run, though he'll miss Charlotte's matchup against Portland on Wednesday and could be iffy against Denver on Friday.
TMac and Artest back: Tracy McGrady (knee) has returned to action again, and has been producing well in his first three games. McGrady had intended to sit out until he could physically play every game, so in theory he should not be skipping random games again anymore. I still don't trust him - been burned too many times. Ron Artest has also returned, but he is coming off the bench behind Shane Battier so his production may continue to be limited. Also, these returns seem to have marked the end of the Von Wafer experiment, as Wafer has averaged only 12 mpg over the last three.
'Melo is cleared to return: Carmelo Anthony has been cleared to return to game action, and is likely to be back in the lineup on Friday. This will likely cut into the production of both J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza, each of whom had become very productive while Anthony was gone.
Blatche out 2 – 4 weeks: Andray Blatche will miss two-to-four weeks with a strained left knee after bumping knees with Shaquille O'Neal on Monday. Darius Songaila started last time Blatche was held out of the lineup by head coach Ed Tapscott, so he'll likely get the first crack at the extra minutes in the coming weeks. JaVale McGee should also see an expanded role in Blatche's absence.
Mason done: Desmond Mason is out for the season after hyperextending his knee during Wednesday's game against Memphis. He'll have surgery to remove the debris caused by the injury in the near future. Not a huge fantasy impact, but Chucky Atkins could see some extra minutes as a result of the injury.
Joakim Noah (39% owned): Noah has been starting and getting more minutes recently, and he is starting to take advantage of it. He has had three double-digit rebound efforts in his last four games, with the lone exception being a game he fouled out in 14 minutes. But in the other three games he has averaged 10.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per in 32 minutes.
Mickael Pietrus (38% owned): Pietrus is back from a broken right wrist that sidelined him for 12 games, and in his first game back he scored 27 points with 10 boards, four assists and three treys off the bench. Obviously you shouldn't expect anything near that from him regularly, but Pietrus is likely to get his starting job back, and should give you decent scoring and three-pointers at the least.
Linas Kleiza (20% owned): Another week, another mention of Kleiza in this space. He continues to score, rebound and knock down treys in Carmelo Anthony's absence. He is a great source of those categories for as long as Anthony remains out of action (17 points, eight boards, 2.5 treys per in last week).
Eddie House (6% owned): House is a very streaky shooter that comes off the bench for the Celtics, so he should not be depended upon regularly. On the other hand, he has 14 games this season with three or more treys made, and in the last week he has had two separate games with seven. If you really need help in that category and have a roster spot, he could be worth an add.
Flip Murray (5% owned): Murray has been getting good minutes off the bench for the last few weeks, and has responded by becoming a fairly consistent scoring/3-point threat. He has scored double-digit points in seven of the last eight games, a stretch over which he has hit nine treys. He's averaging 18 ppg over the last week, and could be worth a spot-start/flex-add in deep leagues.
Professor's Crib Notes: Kobe vs. LeBron by the numbers
"Who is the one and only master?"
- Sho-nuff, Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon, 1985
Instead of going over a new stat this week, I decided instead to show you one of the fun ways these stats can be used: as evidence in an around-the-water-cooler argument. And this year, the most popular water cooler argument has to be Kobe Bryant vs LeBron James. For a more detailed explanation of the comparison, or to weigh in with your opinion, please check out the blog. But let's take a quick look at the numbers to see if anything stands out.
PER: Byant 24.4, James 31.8.
Offense and Defense
Ratings: ORTG: Bryant 116, James 120. DRTG: Bryant 106 (T 5th on Lakers), James 97 (T 1st on Cavs).
Bottom line: As I always emphasize, stats can only answer the specific questions for which they have been designed, so don't make them the whole of your argument. That said, these numbers indicate pretty emphatically that LeBron has been more statistically productive than Kobe, that LeBron has had a larger impact on leading a more successful team (when each are on the floor) with less teammate support, and that LeBron has been both more efficient on offense and a bigger part of a more successful defensive unit than Kobe has. Two counter-arguments could be that there are other stats that we could have used (but I haven't covered yet), or that Kobe might be pacing himself more because he has better teammates (which isn't statistically measurable). But for the things that are measurable, it looks like LeBron is building a commanding lead over Kobe in the "Who's the best?" showdown this season.
Article first appeared 1/29/09