Bill Russell, he of 11 rings, once famously said: “Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.” All-Star games completely lack both, which is why I don’t enjoy them. Plus, it’s absurd that Kyle Lowry isn’t playing for the East. But I’ve proven my curmudgeon tendencies in prior Rebound & Rant’s, so let’s just move on to the semi-witty observations.
Marc Gasol Is Back…Whoops, Hold On
Marc Gasol has led a few of my squads to victory, so it pains me to see him struggle with his health this season (kudos to the RotoWire Staff for forecasting potential international-play-could-mean-an-overworked-Gasol back in the summer). Just as he was gradually returning to his multi-category self, he aggravated his left knee during Wednesday’s game in Orlando. This is the same knee that forced him to miss 23 games earlier this year. Gasol left in the third quarter and will have an MRI over the All-Star break. If he’s out, sadly, the additional minutes and shots will once again be spread out evenly between Ed Davis, James Johnson, Kosta Koufas and Jon Leuer. In other words, there is no ideal free agent pick-up if Gasol misses extended time. Call some Russell Westbrook owners to commiserate.
Trevor Ariza, Goodness Gracious!
Did you notice Ariza’s 32-point effort Wednesday night at Houston? He nailed 10 threes. After knee problems forced Ariza to play in only 56 games last year, he's returned stronger this season and locked down the starting small forward position in Washington. His minutes are up from 26 per game last year to 36 per game this season. In fact, his stats are up across the board. Martell Webster, who signed a four-year deal this summer, and Otto Porter (last summer’s third overall draft pick) are spending a lot of pine time watching Ariza’s multi-category production. Ariza is motivated – he’s a free agent at the end of the season – and there is already talk that Washington can’t afford him next season. Knowing the Wizards have depth at the position, I wonder if GM Ernie Grunfield is tempted to sell high and deal Ariza before the deadline? Wait for Ariza to have an off game, then try to trade for the 28-year-old veteran. And if you are in a keeper league, now is the time to get Webster on the (very) cheap.
Why Is Kyle Lowry Not An All-Star?
Can someone please explain this to me? Who would you rather have?
Player A: 16.7 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.6 steals, 80% FT-percentage, 43% FG-percentage
Player B: 15.1 points per game, 3.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 81% FT-percentage, 44% FG-percentage
Player A is Kyle Lowry. Player B is Eastern Conference wildcard All-Star, Joe Johnson. This is just wrong.
Mascot Becomes Less Evil
Early in the season, the Rebound & Rant pointed out the clearly evil design of New Orleans mascot, Pierre The Pelican. I originally wrote that he looked like the hideous result of Hugo The Hornet forcing himself on Tweety Bird, with Pierre as the unfortunate result. (My editor Kyle cleaned up my inappropriate mascot-on-mascot criminal insinuation.) For those of you interested in Pierre’s “injury" and subsequent plastic surgery, click here.
Forget the All-Star Break Dunk Contest and check-out the ridunkulous display LeBron James put on recently after a practice in Phoenix:
San Antonio Shuffle
Coach Greg Popovich is notorious for frustrating fantasy players with his resting of veterans and ever-changing line-ups. Sure, this lowers the values of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker in season-long leagues, but it sure makes from some fun opportunities for Daily Gamers. For instance, Cory Joseph has been a bargain over the past five games, averaging a surprising 11 points, 5 assists and 2+ steals. Check our Daily Lineups each afternoon and see who will shine for the Spurs before submitting your Daily roster. Pop knows what he is doing.
SIDE NOTE: Daily Gamers, have you seen the utterly amazing new Daily Fantasy Value Meter from RotoWire!?! It’s spectacular. Check it out here. (It’s OK, I won’t be offended, leave the Rebound & Rant. But come back.)
Free Agent Pick-Ups?
Kelly Olynyk (BOS ): The rookie is starting to shine, with back-to-back double doubles versus the Bucks and Spurs. The hope in Boston is that GM Danny Ainge can make some deals before the deadline, which should free up playing time for Olynyk just as he’s feeling comfortable playing at this level.
Steve Blake (LAL): Blake has returned (still a little banged up) from an elbow injury and is vulturing quality stats on a pretty ugly Lakers squad. Blake was really productive in November with averages of 32 minutes, 10 points, eight assists, 1+ threes and 82-percent free throw shooting.
Jerryd Bayless (BOS ): Bayless is today’s deep-league special. This Boston squad is BAD. Bayless’ game has plenty of weaknesses, but he can create his own shot, which this team badly needs. Plus he’s averaging 6.4 assists per game over the last five contests.