My biggest questions for All-Star Weekend are simple:
"Is there an average NBA fan that can name - without prompting - more than one participant in the Slam Dunk Contest? And if so, does he or she win a prize?"
"Will the notoriously long-winded Alicia Keys finish her halftime performance in less than 60 minutes? Because I sort of suspect that she'll still be singing in the middle of the third quarter."
My questions for the second half of the season are a bit more complex, starting with ...
Which NBA superstar is fading fastest?
For years, I've been avoiding Dwyane Wade in the first round of fantasy drafts, reasoning that, given his injury history, his production will inevitably drop off a cliff. It seems I've been fading the wrong All-Star guard.
It wasn't long ago that Deron Williams was just a hair behind Chris Paul in the fantasy point guard rankings. But we haven't seen him produce at that level for years now. There have been plenty of plausible reasons for his sub-par numbers. He was unhappy in Utah, and then he was playing for an awful Nets team. This year he's surrounded by talent, but didn't like Avery Johnson's offense ... and he has dealt with a variety of injuries.
The injuries are most concerning, as they're really starting to add up. Williams received platelet-rich plasma treatments on both ankles last week, which could indicate that his leg problems are both worse than we thought and not really getting better.
It will be very interesting to see how he plays for the rest of this season and in the playoffs, but as things stand, I won't be in any rush to draft Williams next year.
How long does an ACL take to heal fully?
Adrian Peterson's remarkable season - just months removed from a torn ACL - may have given us some funny ideas about how long it takes to recover from that injury. Iman Shumpert's unimpressive return, and Derrick Rose's struggles in rehab - should be major reality checks.
As a rookie, Shumpert impressed NBA fans with his quickness, perimeter defense, and ability to get to the rack off the dribble. Since his return from injury, though, he's been more tentative on both ends of the floor. (I'd argue that Mike Woodson's awkward three-guard lineup, which puts Shump on the floor with both Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, is part of the problem, but that's an argument for another column.) Is he completely healthy? Is he having trouble trusting the knee? Or did we overrate him based on an impressive debut in a big media market?
(I know, that never happens with Knicks players. Hang on, I have to go get my Landry Fields jersey out of the dryer.)
Of course, Shump is a marginal fantasy prospect in most formats, unlike Derrick Rose.
Like Shumpert, Rose tore an ACL during the first round of the playoffs, but the Bulls' All-Star guard has yet to make an appearance this season, and recently told reporters that he isn't close to a return.
Rose has even suggested that he'll sit out the entire season to get the knee back to full strength.
What does this tell us?
1) If you're one of the players holding on to Rose in a non-keeper league - Rose is 83% owned, so there are a lot of you out there - you might want to consider the possibility of using that roster spot more productively.
2) You'll also want to be very conservative when considering players like Rajon Rondo or likely lottery pick Nerlens Noel in next year's drafts.
Where will the next roster shakeup take place?
Will we see another major roster shakeup before the trade deadline? Possibly, and Phoenix could be the team doing the shaking.
As my colleague Shannon McKeown pointed out in this week's RotoWire Barometer, new Suns coach Lindsey Hunter has been playing a very deep rotation since taking over the team. But why? Could be he prefers to go 10 deep to keep his players fresh? Or it could be that, as a guy who came up through the organization in a player development role, he wants to take an extended look at players who weren't getting much run under Alvin Gentry?
Or maybe he's showcasing guys for potential trades?
Who gets dealt? There have been a lot of rumors about Jared Dudley - including one which had him headed to the Knicks in exchange for Shumpert. And Marcin Gortat has dropped several pretty aggressive hints about wanting out. Maybe the team will accommodate his wishes.
Picks for the Week
All percent-owned stats are from Yahoo! Your league’s mileage may vary.
Kawhi Leonard (63%) - Leonard is quietly developing into one of the league's top "all category" players.
Nate Robinson (55%) - Robinson becomes a much better option if Rose really does sit out for the rest of the year... or even a substantial portion of it.
Earl Clark (51%) - Poor shooting going into the break may have cooled some people on Clark, but he was playing through a minor foot injury. He'll keep the starting job for the foreseeable future, and should be healthy when play resumes.
Luke Ridnour (49%) - Ridnour is stuck in a deep guard rotation in Minnesota, but he could be dealt before the deadline.
Martell Webster (21%) - Matell has carved out a nice role for himself as a three-point specialist.
Kyle Singler (13%) - As expected, Singler has been putting up better numbers since the Tayshaun Prince trade allowed him to shift back to small forward.