Players Have Personal Lives, Too
I've had on the same clothes for the last 40 hours.
My son got his tonsils taken out, you see, and I've been staying with him in the hospital. The doctor originally told us that this was so minor of a surgery that it would be an outpatient procedure. The nurse, on the other hand, told us that for a 3-year old with sleep apnea, there was no way he wouldn't have to stay overnight to recover.
The nurse was right.
In fact, she was so right that the hospital decided to keep him a second night to make sure that he was recovered enough before coming home. My wife has to go home at nights to take care of our daughter, so I'm the one who stays at the hospital with our son. We hadn't really planned for the hospital stay to be that long, so I only came with the clothes on my back.
On the bright side, my wife just brought me a change of clothes so I'll be able to wash up in the sink and change clothes soon. But the clothes are really just a symbol for how much this surgery has affected my life this week. First of all, I don't care how "minor" a surgery is, as a parent I've been quietly freaking out about someone cutting on my son. As such, I haven't been able to concentrate on anything except for my son all week.
Did I mention that I have three jobs?
And while my bosses are all understanding and gave me Wednesday off, they all expected that I would still be able to be productive by Thursday. They had meetings, deadlines and production expectations for me. A lot of my work is time sensitive, so I understand their needs from me. But I've honestly had a lot of trouble getting to my meetings or hitting my deadlines. This week, everything has just revolved around my son.
I tell you all of this, because this week Lamar Odom left the Mavericks to end a season that can only be described as bizarre. Odom, who in my opinion was extremely important to the Lakers' success of the last four years, was a complete no-show for this entire season. Some players had some rust to start the season after the lockout but eventually worked through it, but not Odom. If anything, as the season went along he seemed to get worse. From the outside he seemed listless and uninterested, and apparently it seemed the same way in the Mavericks' clubhouse as recent articles have suggested that everyone from Mavs coach Rick Carlisle to owner Mark Cuban, to superstar Dirk Nowitzki had gotten fed up with waiting for Odom to get his head into the game. And it all came to a head this week, with Odom and the Mavs mutually agreeing that he remain inactive for the rest of the season.
When I first heard this, I was incredulous. My friends and I all had jokes - just today, my friend Ivy e-mailed me "What's up with Lamar Odom, he'll just chill out and cash his check this year?" It seemed like the most ridiculous thing in the world, that this star player getting paid millions of dollars could just completely check out from his profession like this. There have been rumors that Odom was having marital problems, perhaps tied into his move to Dallas, and that there had been even more major issues in his personal life before that during the lockout that all combined to keep Odom out of shape or a playing mindset. But frankly I didn't have much sympathy for him.
Until now, when I see just how much my personal life is affecting my professional life.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not equating our circumstances. All I'm saying is that NBA players have personal lives, too that we don't necessarily know about, and that their personal lives can bleed over into their ability to produce on the court. Even ultra-professional Hall of Fame caliber players can be affected - like when Ray Allen averaged 9.3 points on 33% shooting from the field against the Cavaliers in the 2008 playoffs. Allen's struggles from the field set the stage for that championship-level Celtics team to almost lose in the second round of the playoffs to the Cavs. This is the same Cavaliers team against which Allen averaged 23.8 points on 52% from the field during the 2008 seasons. So, what happened? Well, it later came out that this was the exact time period that Allen was learning that his son had diabetes and was helping his family cope with it.
I don't know for sure what's going on with Odom this year, any more than I know for sure that Allen's struggles in those playoffs were due to his son's illness. But what I do know is that players aren't machines, and that like anyone else their personal life can affect their professional life. And if that IS what has happened with Odom, I'm not quite as eager right now to make fun of him for it as I was even as recently as this morning.
Around the League:
• Small injury = season-ender: This late in the season, every injury is a potential season-ender. This is especially true for great players on poor teams, as they have little impetus to return, and the team has little impetus to risk their future for no gain in the present. I was reminded of this on Wednesday as I watched the Trail Blazers play on ESPN, with the announcers suggesting that LaMarcus Aldridge could be shut down for the season with a hip injury that at the time was listed as "day-to-day". The next day the announcers were proven correct, as Aldridge was officially shut down on Thursday. Watch out for these situations, and try to be the first to pick up the key backups for players in these situations.
• Watch out for the in-and-outs: I've mentioned it before as have other Rotowire columnists like Kevin Payne, but this is the time of year where you really can't afford to have zeros in your lineup. As such, when dealing with players like Dwight Howard or Kobe Bryant who have nagging injuries, it's important you check in about 30 minutes before each game to see if they're active. This is also true for the vets on the Spurs, and perhaps soon the Celtics, as coaches of playoff-bound vets are already starting to give them whole games off to prepare.
Big Movers in the Rotowire Fantasy Basketball Cheat sheet
• Aldridge's hip and Hickson's opportunity: As mentioned above, Aldridge is done for the year and thus falls out of the rankings. In the meantime, J.J. Hickson is starting in Aldridge's place and moves way up the rankings into startable territory as a legit double-double threat.
• Wall, Evans and Holiday down more: The young lead guards really let me down this season, as I really thought that John Wall, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday would all be better. And even after I downgraded them about a month ago, they've still been underperforming. Now it's the end of the year, but in the words of Michael Jackson it's time to look in the mirror and make a change. All three fall about 30 - 40 slots in the rankings for the final stretch.
• Bargnani out again: Andrea Bargnani has aggravated the calf injury that sidelined him for such a large part of the year. He has missed the last two games, and is in that Aldridge situation of best young player on a poor team that could lead to a shutdown at any time. Thus, he falls about 50 slots in the rankings until official word is given, and if he does get shut down, he obviously falls further.
• Allen's ankle, Bradley and Pietrus: Ray Allen lost his starting job to Avery Bradley, but was still playing heavy minutes off the bench. Now, though, he's again struggling with an ankle injury and must also compete with newly returned Mickael Pietrus for minutes upon his return. Thus, Allen falls about 30 slots in the rankings.
• Lowry and Dragic swap: Despite how well Goran Dragic had played the last few weeks in Kyle Lowry's absence, I had still expected Lowry to regain the starting job upon his return because he was playing so well this season. Apparently I was wrong, as Dragic has continued to start and lead the team even though Lowry has been back for three games now. Lowry is back to playing well, but only getting about 20 minutes per game, so he drops in the rankings while Dragic moves into the top-50.
• Jack, Lopez and Odom done: Jarrett Jack (fractured foot), Brook Lopez (ankle), and Lamar Odom (personal issues?) are all done for the season, and thus fall completely out of the rankings.
• J.J. Hickson (45% owned): As mentioned above, Hickson has a great opportunity to put up some big numbers down the stretch with LaMarcus Aldridge done. In his spot start on Wednesday, Hickson scored 23 points with 13 boards and three assists. He definitely could average a double-double from here on out.
• Glen Davis (40% owned): After struggling for most of the season, Davis has shown new life over the past couple of weeks as Dwight Howard has shuffled in and out with back issues. Davis has three straight double-doubles and five double-doubles in his last six outings, and the most important point is that in that stretch he produced whether Howard was on the court or not.
• Kevin Seraphin (38% owned): Seraphin is getting starter minutes in Washington, and responding with a solid 15-and-7 average with almost two blocks and two assists over the past two weeks.
• Lester Hudson (31% owned): Hudson has stepped in for Kyrie Irving (shoulder) over the past five games to average 20.4 points, 5.0 boards, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals and close to two 3-pointers per game. Irving could be back as soon as this weekend, but the Cavs aren't going anywhere this season and have no reason to risk their young franchise cornerstone, making Hudson a nice potential snag even if Irving tries to play soon.
• Metta World Peace (15% owned): World Peace (it's still so hard not to call him by his old name) has scored 19 or more points in three of his last four games, stepping up with Kobe Bryant sidelined. Bryant is expected back soon, so World Peace may not continue to score at this rate, but he has seemingly found his 3-point shot of late, and that is useful whether Bryant plays or not.
• Sebastian Telfair (1% owned): Telfair has had three consecutive solid games as Steve Nash's backup (11.3 points, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.3 treys in 19 minutes over last three games). But also worth keeping an eye on, the Suns are two full games out of the playoffs right now and in 10th place in the Western Conference. If they lose a couple games over the next few days to completely fall out of the hunt, it's reasonable to think that the elder statesman Nash could be shut down, and Telfair could get starter minutes down the stretch.
• Anthony Randolph (6% owned): Garbage time of the season, Randolph produces. That is becoming a law in fantasy basketball, and this year is no different. With Kevin Love down with a concussion, Randolph has stepped up with averages of 22 points, 7.5 boards and 4.0 assists in 29 minutes in his last two outings. Love's concussion is considered "minor", but again, Love is a young franchise player on a team going nowhere. Randolph is an interesting pick-up with upside.
Keeping up with the Professor
If you're interested in my takes throughout the week, you can follow me on Twitter @ProfessorDrz. Also, don't forget that you can catch me on the radio on Rotowire Fantasy Sports Today with Chris Liss and Jeff Erickson on XM 87, Sirius 210.