One week to go. That’s it. Moves here will make or break your season, but beware the dreaded rest. We had John Wall, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins all sit Wednesday due to the dreaded ‘R’ word, but all that does is open some more opportunities for others. Oh, and yeah, Giannis Antetokounmpo was benched and we still don’t know why. The last week of the season, ladies and gentlemen.
These guys all sat out Wednesday’s action, for one reason or another.
- Kyle Lowry (back)
- Amir Johnson (ankle)
- Al Jefferson (knee)
- Cody Zeller (shoulder)
- Garrett Temple (hamstring)
- Nene (rest)
- John Wall (rest)
- Luke Ridnour (personal)
- Willie Green (knee)
- Pero Antic (arrested)
- Thabo Sefolosha (arrested)
- Paul Millsap (shoulder)
- Alan Anderson (ankle)
- Chris Copeland (abdomen)
- Cleanthony Early (ankle)
- Spencer Dinwiddie (ankle)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (DNP-CD)
- Jrue Holiday (leg)
- Tiago Splitter (calf)
- Marco Belinelli (groin)
- Jordan Hill (DNP-CD)
- Carlos Boozer (DNP-CD)
- Jeremy Lin (knee)
- Jameer Nelson (hip)
- Nik Stauskas (back)
- Rudy Gay (concussion)
- DeMarcus Cousins (foot)
- Alex Len (nose)
- Chandler Parsons (knee)
- Gorgui Dieng (concussion)
FANTASY LINE OF THE NIGHT
It’s usually a case of James Harden, Steph Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook or Anthony Davis garnering this award, but today, I’m going a little off the reservation, giving this illustrious honor to Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets. Faried scored 29 points (10-14 FG, 9-9 FT) with 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks and has improved in the second half of the season, which wasn’t hard, given how disinterested he looked earlier on under Brian Shaw and his maddening coaching. Faried is only a 69 percent shooter from the line this season, so don’t expect that sort of performance again, but his counting stats have been very impressive of late.
ROTATION NOTES AND QUIRKS
For once, it wasn’t just Dwane Casey limiting Jonas Valanciunas, as the big man played just 17 minutes after racking up four fouls. He’ll be back to his usual 26 minutes in the next game, which is still about 10 minutes too few, but it’s all we can hope for.
Mo Williams played just 20 minutes, but the game was a blowout, so there’s not a lot to be concerned about, considering Williams played 28 and 31 minutes in the two preceding games. He scored just 10 points with three assists, but still remains someone to hold onto.
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Ramon Sessions played 29 minutes with John Wall resting, scoring 19 point with seven assists, and while that line is impressive, there is zero long term value unless we hear that Wall is planning on resting some more, which appears unlikely.
Kevin Seraphin, Kris Humphries and Drew Gooden played the frontcourt minutes next to and in place of Marcin Gortat, with Nene out, but given the way Randy Wittman is using these backups, it’s hard to put your finger on one guy to look to add. Seraphin did have 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks Wednesday, but that’s not really replicable.
Nerlens Noel lasted 24 minutes before exiting with an ankle sprain and is already considered doubtful to play Saturday. As hard as it may be, with only two games left after Saturday, Noel is no longer a must hold player, depending on your situation. It’s hard to know exactly how Brett Brown will appropriate the minutes, but my best guess would be a mixture of Henry Sims and Thomas Robinson. T-Rob has a quick-fire double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, but he is very limited in what he can do, and I wouldn’t be looking to scoop up any Sixers with news of this injury.
Derrick Rose returned after his meniscus surgery, started, played 19 minutes and scored nine points. The only reason I see for adding Rose is because the Bulls play THursday, one of only four teams, but after that, there will be better options to use on your wire in standard leagues. Rose’s return will also reduce Joakim Noah‘s assist numbers, Nikola Mirotic‘s scoring punch and all of Aaron Brooks‘ standard league value. After Thursday, Brooks be dropped in most formats.
The Hawks, with incentive to destroy the Nets, ran all of their starter big minutes, but with that out of the way, rest could be coming. With Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic‘s status up in the air after Wednesday morning’s arrest in the Chris Copeland case, Kent Bazemore, Mike Scott, Mike Muscala and Elton Brand could be become awesome stretch plays when the starters sit. For now, with Paul Millsap out, Scott and Muscala are the two main guys. Scott played 31 minutes for 20 points with eight rebounds and if he’s fully healthy after his toe issue, I like him a little more than Muscala for standard leagues.
Roy Hibbert played just 16 minutes because he’s Roy Hibbert, but still had 11 points, 11 rebounds and one block and Paul George played 16 minutes in his second game back, scoring 10 points with two steals. You can still do better than George off the wire with only four games left.
Kelly Olynyk started the second half for the Celtics on Wednesday, scoring 12 points, with four rebounds and two steals, but with four healthy bodies in the frontcourt, I want nothing to do with the Celtics’ big men in leagues of 12 teams or less.
Greg Monroe returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous 11 games, and got straight back into the swing of things with a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds, adding three steals and two blocks. Obviously, he’s a must-own, must-start player. Monroe’s return pushed Anthony Tolliver back to the bench and he can now once again find his way back to the wire.
Timofey Mozgov played just 20 minutes for five points, four rebounds, two steals and one block, while his understudy, Tristan Thompson, played 24 minutes for 11 points and 10 rebounds. In his last five games, Mozgov is averaging just 7.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 0.6 blocks and is not someone you need to own.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, who initially was announced as moving to the bench in favor of Jared Dudley, was actually sat for the entire game for reasons that are as yet unclear. Another bizarre decision in the coaching book of Jason Kidd, I expect Antetokounmpo to return in the next game, but as we have zero idea why he was benched and then a healthy scratch, anything is possible. Even Giannis had no idea why he didn’t play and was not told about it before. The good story of the Bucks is ever so slightly coming undone. As for Antetokounmpo and Dudley, the status quo can remain. Dudley actually dished seven assists, but given he is averaging 2.8 assists per 36 minutes this season, let’s chalk that up to dumb luck.
The Pelicans and Grizzlies treated us to a monstrous blowout, so when you see the sub par lines and small minutes totals, don’t be too disheartened.
Another unexplained coaching decision happened in Houston, as Terrence Jones scored just two points in 17 foul-less minutes. I don’t expect that to be a trend, but Dwight Howard is someone to have a look at now, scoring 16 points with 11 rebounds in 22 minutes. Beware the back to back and if you are going to win your free throw category, do not, I repeat, do not tempt fate and add Howard. It is not worth your while.
Tony Parker played through his sore Achilles, scoring 27 points in just 26 minutes. The Spurs are rolling and while there is always a risk of rest, I don’t actually envisage many DNPs down the stretch. Rather, Gregg Popovich tends to limit minutes when the game is out of hand rather than just sitting guys outright.
Ed Davis and Ryan Kelly got big minutes again with Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill sat down by the all-knowing Byron Scott, and it appears that will be the case moving forward. Kelly is all but locked in, but Davis could succumbing to a “Scott-ing” at any time. Until he does, he’s a nice rebound guy, while Kelly is averaging 9.9 points, 1.3 three-pointers, 3.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.1 blocks in his last eight games, at 36 minutes a game. You can use that in standard leagues.
Ty Lawson returned and resumed his starting point guard role, scoring 16 points with eight assists, while Randy Foye added seven assists with six rebounds, and four three-pointers, starting at the two and playing the backup point as well. Foye is a solid add for 12 team leagues, averaging 3.0 three-pointers in his last six games.
The Kings started Omri Casspi, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Ray McCallum and Ben McLemore, with McLemore the only regular starter. Casspi is worth owing while Gay is out, but the value of the rest of the players, perhaps excluding McCallum, is tenuous and depends entirely on who else is playing. Casspi is probably the only player I’d consider adding and he scored 16 points with three three-pointers, four rebounds and five assists Wednesday.
With Rodney Hood balling, Utah was able to limit Trey Burke to 21 minutes in his return from a back injury. Burke scored 11 points with three three-pointers, but we’ve seen earlier this season when Hood has it going, Quin Snyder uses Dante Exum a lot more than he does Burke, making it hard to recommend adding Burke. Adding Hood, however, is a good move. The rookie had 20 points, three three-pointers and eight rebounds in 33 minutes and now is averaging 20.7 points in his past three-games.
Gerald Green has come out of nowhere to average 23.0 points in his last three games, hitting 3.3 three-pointer per game. That, however, is the extent of his contribution. But while he is getting minutes and taking shots, if you need those categories, Green should be looked at, but he is by no means a must-add player.
BOX SCORE HIGHLIGHTS AND ODDITIES
Bismack Biyombo blocked another three shots and has had at least two blocks in eight straight, of which only three games have been without Al Jefferson. Regardless of big Al’s status, Biyombo is great addition for blocks in particular.
Like Biyombo, Marcin Gortat is on a roll blocking shots, averaging 2.5 in his last six games, as opposed to season average of 1.4. Just at the right time for fantasy owners.
Lord Elfrid Payton almost got his third career triple double, finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and even threw in a couple of three-pointers for good measure. That is notable, because Payton has hit just 11 three-pointers all season.
I didn’t think I’d live to see the day that Brook Lopez averaged double-digit rebounds, but in the last eight games, that is exactly what is happening. He is also putting up 23.9 points and 2.0 blocks and is an absolute monster at this point. Who saw that coming? Lopez had 26 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks against the Hawks, his fifth 20 and 10 game in his last nine appearances.
Reggie Jackson had another big game, ending with 21 points and 15 assists, and he is now averaging 10.4 assists in his last seven games, but the big shock is his shooting, converting at 53 percent from the field and 48 percent from three-point land. Compared with 44 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep over the season, this is a huge hot streak from Jackson.
Michael Carter-Williams hit over 50 percent of his shots from the field and all of his free throws for just the fifth time this season, and when he does that, he’s a fantasy monster. His 30 points and eight assists paced the Bucks.
Kawhi Leonard is tearing the NBA apart, and fantasy matchups for that matter and he had another 20 points with four steals Wednesday. Over the last month, Leonard is averaging a crazy 3.0 steals per game, while shooting at 59 percent from the field and 86 percent from the line, showing himself to be a top level fantasy talent.
- Isaiah Thomas, G, BOS, 34 points
- Michael Carter-Williams, G, PHI, 30 points
- Gerald Green, G, PHX, 30 points
- Tyson Chandler, C, DAL, 23 rebounds
- Andre Drummond, C, DET, 14 rebounds
- LaMarcus Aldridge, F, POR, 13 rebounds
- Zach Randolph, F, MEM, 13 rebounds
- Reggie Jackson, G, DET, 15 assists
- Deron Williams, G, BKN, 13 assists
- Jeff Teague, G, ATL, 12 assists
- Zaza Pachulia, C, MIL, 5 steals
- Chase Budinger, F, MIN, 5 steals
- Jeff Teague, G, ATL, 4 steals
- Kawhi Leonard, F, SAS, 4 steals
- Marcin Gortat, C, WAS, 4 blocks
- Tim Duncan, F, SAS, 4 blocks
- Brook Lopez, C, BKN, 3 blocks
- Derrick Favors, F, UTA, 3 blocks
- Pau Gasol, F, CHI, 3 blocks
- DeMar DeRozan, G, TOR, 3 blocks
- Bismack Biyombo, C, CHA, 3 blocks
- Danilo Gallinari, F, DEN, 7-14 3Pt
- Gerald Green, G, PHX, 5-10 3Pt
- Trevor Ariza, F, HOU, 5-6 3Pt
- Kyrie Irving, G, CLE, 41 minutes
- Victor Oladipo, G, ORL, 41 minutes
- Andrew Wiggins, F, MIN, 41 minutes