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Hoops Lab: The Professor Talks Hoop

Andre' Snellings

Andre' Snellings is a Neural Engineer by day, and RotoWire's senior basketball columnist by night. He's a two-time winner of the Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Social Network II

At the start of the season I made what I thought was an incredibly bold move: I joined the Twitterverse (@ProfessorDrz). I had never had any desire to Tweet, but I thought it'd be a good way to stay connected with you guys during the week between articles. Plus, I tested it out on the first night of the year, and I found the little impressions I got and Tweeted while watching games turned out to be useful later on once I had some time to reflect on them (I'm still feeling proud of Tweeting that Rajon Rondo would lead the NBA in assists on the first day of the season). All in all, I thought Twitter would be a handy tool for me this year.

Unfortunately, at the time I still didn't really immerse myself in it or, as I later found out, take full advantage of Twitter's potential. First of all, I didn't follow anyone... "Why should I?" I figured, "I'm trying to dispense info not wade through it myself." Yeah, wrong move number one. Then, I was approaching it incorrectly... I thought of each Tweet like a mini-blog, so I was putting way too much thought into everything I wrote and not enough time just going from the gut. As a result, I found myself Tweeting less and less as the season progressed and instead just putting my impressions back in this article like I always have.

But no more. In a one week period I watched "The Social Network", and also saw a Grey's Anatomy episode (don't judge me, my wife gets to control the remote on Thursday nights) where the stodgy old head surgeon was suspicious of Twitter before witnessing just how useful it could be as a way to exchange info. And based on that, I re-entered the Twitterverse last week for the first time since my "Merry New Year!" tweet on January 1. But this time, I tried to do it right.

The first thing I did was follow about 150 NBA teams, players and writers. I started with other Rotowire writers, then added from there. This was huge, as all of a sudden I was getting inundated with large quantities of surprisingly useful info. Now, during the work day I hardly ever even have to go to major sports websites to stay caught up... instead, I just reload my Twitter feed every half hour or so, and I stay up-to-the-minute.

Actually, I stay ahead of the minute now. Because about 10 NBA big-wigs all sent "Jerry Sloan is stepping down?" Tweets the night of the Sloan/Deron Williams argument, I knew the longest tenured coach in the NBA was stepping down a full day before it hit the sports websites. For all the regular fantasy news, I'll check out the RotoWire latest news page because, of course, our breaking news crew is also scouring Twitter (as well as the usual local papers, team web sites, local radio and television), but the Twitter sources I'm following add a good variety of analysis and perspectives as well.

I'm doing it right this time, people. I may never get as into Twitter as Chad Johnson (err, Ocho-Cinco? Or has he changed it back now? Anyone know? Care? I digress.) is, but I think I'm getting the hang of this Social Networking thing now. Now, if only I can figure out some way for it to make me a billionaire the way it did the guys in the movie...

Around the League

All Star break: The NBA All-Star break begins after Thursday's games, marking a key milestone in the season. As I've pointed out before, the 82 game schedule is a marathon in which hardly anyone has the stamina to sprint for the entire year. You see random things like the Lakers getting curb-stomped by the Bobcats and hardly bat an eye, because the league has been in the Dog Days for a month or two now. That culminates in the break, which is the last extended period that the players have to rest and re-group before making that final push for the playoffs (or the next contract, depending on the situation). As such, expect any player that's dinged up to miss time Wednesday or Thursday to get that extra rest in before the break. Also, coming out of the break expect for some of the "Dog days" stuff to end. The veteran teams that need to play for position will likely start to pick it up, the veterans still stuck on lottery-bound squads after the trade deadline may start to pack it in, and the young guys and/or expiring contracts are about to rev it up as well. The season is about to get interesting again.

Evans' foot: I've been writing about Tyreke Evans' foot issues for awhile now, so I hope that you guys have been listening. He's still dealing with plantar fasciitis, sat out Tuesday and is likely to sit out on Tuesday as well. Evans has been putting up great numbers since I first pointed this out, but again, if you can please consider moving him for value because there's little-to-no incentive for the Kings to risk their prize player making his injury worse when there's no chance they make the postseason. Especially in light of...

Roy's continued tragedy: Another story I've been following for awhile now, Brandon Roy's knee situation just continues to get worse. An unnamed surgeon that consulted with Roy on his knee problems believes Roy only has one or two seasons remaining in his career…and that's if the Rockets limit his practice reps to "virtually nothing" and only play him in 65 – 75 games per year. Roy is 26 years old. He should be approaching his playing peak, instead he's already well into Penny Hardaway territory. For what it's worth, Roy still plans to return to the court soon. He was targeting Wednesday as a return date, but the team wants to play it safe, so perhaps he'll come back soon after the break.

Gay's shoulder: Rudy Gay partially dislocated his non-shooting shoulder on Monday and will have an MRI on Thursday. The break could be enough time for him to heal, but more will be known after the MRI. In the meantime Tony Allen and Sam Young both get a boost in value, and even O.J. Mayo could see the light of day again now that his drug suspension is over.

Pierce's aches: For the second year in a row Paul Pierce shot the lights out for the first half of the season, but has started to wear down with nagging injuries of late. Pierce had been shooting over 50% from the field this season, but in his last five games he is shooting only 33% (20-for-60 FG) including an 0-for-10 night in his last outing against the Heat. Pierce is dealing with a sore foot (MRI negative), a sore hand, and the lingering effects of the flu. The break will help him, but he plans to play in both the All Star game itself as well as defending his title in the 3-point Contest, so he won't get as much rest as some. Keep an eye on this moving forward.

Seriously, Wade hates Boston: I mentioned in a Lab back in early November how badly Dwyane Wade had played in his first two games against the Celtics this year, but I thought it was more fluke than anything else. But Wade just compounded it with another awful game against the Celtics this past weekend, making this his stat-line through three Celtics games this year: 12.3 PPG, 12-for-45 FG (27% FG%), 2-for-10 3-pointers, 3.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, and a whopping 6.0 TOs/game. Wade has exploded against the Celtics in the past (including huge games in last year's playoffs), but I wonder if this is a complication of the LeBron James situation. The Heat seem to have settled their power struggle by running more iso and fast breaks, but Boston is murder against the iso and is excellent at slowing the fastbreak (usually sending Kevin Garnett back to guard the rim instead of going for offensive boards). I don't know, but I'm very curious to see what happens when the Heat meet the Celtics again in April. I expect Wade either to get shut down again, or else explode for 50 points and 10 assists. No middle ground. In the meantime, against everyone else Wade continues to make mind-boggling plays like this on a fairly regular basis.

Does end of Sloan era affect anything? One of the first things I wondered after Jerry Sloan ended his 23-year tenure in Utah was whether it would have any effect on the Jazz offense, and thus their fantasy prospects. Sloan has run pick-and-roll relentlessly through two-plus decades, starting with Stockton and Malone and ending with Deron Williams and Paul Millsap. The Jazz promoted from within, making long-time assistant Tyrone Corbin the head coach, so likely in the short term things stay similar. But I'm still forced to wonder - their prize offseason acquisition Al Jefferson just simply isn't a great P-N-R player. He prefers to post more and go 1-on-1 instead of letting Williams set him up. If the Jazz continue to struggle will Corbin be as steadfast in maintaining status quo, or will he eventually be willing to switch things up a bit?

Cousins off the bench for now: DeMarcus Cousins sat out one game for his role in a fight with Donte Green this weekend, but after meeting with Kings' brass he won't be suspended any further for the incident. He will come off the bench, though, up through the All-Star break. The current expectation is he'll eventually resume his starting role after the break, but continue to monitor the situation. Cousins has now had several run-ins that have required disciplinary action from his team, and at some point it could start to make a more lasting impact on his playing time.

New Additions

Samuel Dalembert (47% owned): Dalembert's minutes continue to fluctuate, but with Cousins expected to come off the bench for at least the short term Dalembert should get enough time to produce in the interim. And if Cousins continues to do stupid things, Dalembert could play himself into more time down the stretch.

Rudy Fernandez (24% owned): I didn't recommend Fernandez in this space last week despite his strong recent play because of the news that Brandon Roy would be back soon. But as the bad news about Roy's knees continues to come in, I just don't trust that he'll be back for long. Which makes Fernandez, with his 15 points and 3.3 made threes over the last week still worth a roster spot.

Rodrigue Beaubois (9% owned): Beaubois is expected to make his season debut on Wednesday night. Beaubois was a bench player last season, but all summer the expectation was that he would take on an expanded role with the Mavericks this season until an injury wiped out the first four months of the year for him. I don't know what to expect from him now, but Beaubois was one of my sleeper candidates this offseason so I'll be paying attention.

Shaun Livingston (7% owned): Livingston has been quietly productive this past week, averaging almost 15 points, 4.3 assists and three boards in his last three games. Livingston has never fully recovered the explosiveness that once made him a prized recruit before a horrific knee injury, but he's still 6-7 and has shown signs of productivity when he gets the minutes. D.J. Augustin is still the lead guard in Charlotte, but he has been banged up of late and allowed Livingston to get a foothold. We'll see if Livingston's game is strong enough to expand that hold.

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 every Friday afternoon at 12:30 PM EST on Rotowire Fantasy Sports Today with Chris Liss and Jeff Erickson on XM 147, Sirius 211.