This article is part of our NBA Blog series.Week 11 Rebound & Rant: Pick On Cleveland Edition!
Well, well, well. The tankers and playoff hopefuls are really taking shape, which means some rosters are more permanent and others are still in flux. Toronto sees nothing but opportunity in the awful East, making a lineup without Rudy Gay look pretty stable. The same goes for Atlanta, despite the loss of Al Horford. And don't look now, but the Nets are playoff ready, currently ranked 8th with a .405 winning percentage. (Yes, it's time to change the playoff rules).
Out West, Phoenix is trying to weather Eric Bledsoe's injury and is only two games ahead of losing their playoff spot. Memphis still seems oddly fixated on a playoff run, despite their current hole at center. And Denver and Minnesota both seem capable of a meaningful playoff push. Let's discuss the implications.
Gerald Green Starting In Phoenix
As mentioned in the last Rebound & Rant, Green is getting a nice stint in the starting lineup for the run-and-shoot Suns. Bledsoe's ailment has let Goran Dragic take over as the traditional point guard, with Gerald Green hoisting numerous threes from the shooting guard spot. Over Green's last five games, he's averaged 16 points and 2.4 three-pointers in 30.2 minutes. If you need treys, grab him.
Something Smells in Cleveland
Poor, poor Cleveland. Have sports fans in any other city suffered as much? LeBron's Decision, Jose Mesa's Blown Save, Earnest Byner's Fumble – all bitter tragedies. And now, after being one of the few East teams to commit to making the playoffs, they are the rare don't-want-to-tank-but-can't-help-it team in the East. Even the Bynum-for-Deng trade isn't working. Did you see the lowlights of Sunday's 44-point loss in Sacramento? Yes, SACRAMENTO!?! Can we officially call Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett busts yet? Poor Deng. Do you think he's really going to stick around next season and re-sign with Cleveland? Deng is saying the right things but also hedging. If Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau continues to fight with the Bulls' brass, look for him and Deng to reunite in a spot like Washington or New York next year.
Don't remember Byner's fumble, which was one year before The Drive? Relive the misery here and wait for the appropriate deflating horns at the end:
Humphries Starting at Center
Coach Brad Stevens continues to play with Boston's lineup as the losses pile up. The Celtics are in the middle of a brutal west coast road trip, and there is no point in demoralizing struggling rookie Kelly Olynyk or further risking a worsened hand injury to hot-head Jared Sullinger. So Humphries, who has been playing well, has started the last three games at center. Check your league's position eligibility rules. Humphries improved play gives the Celtics versatility and arrives at a good time, as the organization would love to trade him for a long-term asset.
Memphis Not Tanking, Playing Courtney Lee
Despite the injury to Marc Gasol (knee), Memphis continues to push for a playoff spot. Did you notice the Jerryd Bayless for Lee trade? With Tony Allen (hand) out until late January, Lee is starting in Memphis. Lee's first start was a winner, a home victory against Atlanta. He put up 15 points, two blocks, two steals and one trey over 32 minutes of play. The Griz need a spark – if Lee continues to play well, he has the opportunity for a bigger role in Memphis than he had in Boston.
Terrence Jones Getting Comfy in Houston
Did anyone miss Jones' 19-point, 17-rebound, three-block effort in Washington last Saturday? Over the last five games, he's averaged a double-double of 11.6 points and 11.6 rebounds, handy stats for any fantasy squad. I suspect the second-year 22-year-old will only improve as he gets comfortable with Dwight Howard in the frontcourt. But don't get comfortable anywhere near the Rockets' mascot:
Darren Collison (LAC ): Since Chris Paul's injury, Collison has averaged over 33 minutes. This news is a tad late, but if he's available in your league, grab him. Quality point guard play is always valuable, even if Paul returns in early February, as expected.
Iman Shumpert (NY): Shumpert is on fire in the month of January. In his last six games, he's averaged 14.3 points, 3.2 made threes, and 2.2 steals, with quality percentages. He's delivered a surprising Top-10 ranking in turnover leagues over the past 14 days.
Randy Foye (DEN ): Like Shumpert, Foy is also heating up in January. This month, he's averaging 17.7 points, 3.3 treys and 4.7 rebounds, with 92 percent from the free-throw line.
James Anderson (PHI): Anderson just returned to Philly's starting lineup he deserved the promotion. He's this week's Deep League Special, scoring in double-digits in his last four games, while hopefully continuing to produce with a healthy MCW by his side.