I try not to spend too much time in this space talking about the Knicks - really, I do. But this season, it has been more or less impossible.
The Knicks are back in the news this week because of injuries to Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin. Stoudemire's is the more serious of the two; according to preliminary reports, STAT has a bulging disc in his lower back that could force him to the sidelines for the rest of the regular season.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson moved Iman Shumpert into the starting lineup for Monday's game against the Bucks, sliding Landry Fields to small forward and Carmelo Anthony to Stoudemire's usual power forward spot. Shumpert had 11 points, six boards, three assists and a steal, and made Monta Ellis (2-14 from the floor) look thoroughly ordinary. 'Melo had a big game at the four, scoring 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Don't be surprised if Woodson sticks with the small lineup for a while, though things could change when Jared Jeffries (knee) returns in a week to ten days.
With Lin (knee) hurting, Baron Davis played a season-high 34 minutes against Milwaukee. His numbers were fairly impressive -13 points, seven assists, five rebounds - so long as you don't look at shooting percentages (3-12 from the floor, 1-5 from three) or turnovers (nine). I'm going to take that as further proof that Lin will continue to be the starter when he returns - which could be as soon as Wednesday's game against Orlando.
Players in deep leagues might want to take a look at rookie Josh Harrellson, who will get playing time with Stoudemire and Jeffries out of the mix.
Tim Duncan sat out Sunday's game against the Sixers. The official reason? He's old.
No, really. Gregg Popovic, in a refreshing show of honesty, didn't dress Duncan for the game, and wrote "old" on the lineup card as his official explanation.
That's sort of awesome... though Duncan's fantasy owners may disagree.
As the calendar turns to April, lots of coaches will look for opportunities to rest key players, especially when they hit back-to-backs. Popovic is notorious for this, but don't be surprised when others follow suit, especially as teams like the Lakers, Heat and Bulls lock up playoff spots and seeds.
Picks for the Week:
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who may be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers.
I'll give percent owned stats for both Yahoo! and ESPN/NBA.com leagues with each pick - first number is Yahoo, ESPN/NBA is second. If you play some other league/format, let me know in the comments and I'll do what I can to accommodate.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. (46%/83.6%) - The addition of Monta Ellis hasn't hurt Dunleavy's numbers any. In fact, the veteran swingman has been red-hot, carrying the Bucks with his scoring (26 points on 10-of-14 against the Knicks on Monday).
James Johnson (44%/30.2%) - He's inconsistent, sure. But he's also managed to block four shots in a game - twice - in his last eight contests.
Kawhi Leonard (25%/14.4%) - Rookie has been hard at work on his three-point shot. If he starts hitting it with any consistency, he'll get a lot more run.
Brandon Rush (24%/15.1%) - Getting significant minutes off the bench, especially with Dorrell Wright slumping.
Gustavo Ayon (8%/1.3%) - Could be forced to log heavy minutes, as both Emeka Okafor and Chris Kaman are hurting.
Kevin Seraphin (6%/3.1%) - Trevor Booker is battling plantar fasciitis, and the Wizards have little to lose by taking an extended look at their rookie big.
Charles Jenkins (5%/1.6%) - The Warriors could shut Steph Curry down for the season, which would be a perfect excuse to see what Jenkins can do at this level.
Gary Forbes (2%/0.3%) -Jerryd Bayless aggravated a hip injury on Monday, and DeMar DeRozan is battling a bum ankle; Forbes might be Toronto's only option at the two for a while.
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