Evan Turner (Getty)
• Nene Hilario's debut with the Wizards was a success on every level, as he posted an excellent line (31 minutes, 22 points, 9-13 FG, 10 boards, 1 block) in a 108-89 win over the Nets. Nene is an obvious and immediate upgrade to the team's post offense, which will help make things easier for John Wall and Jordan Crawford, and the transition back to a primary role at center will help Nene improve a great deal on his current per-game rank of 120th. Of particular note is that Crawford was made eight of 10 foul shots in his 27 minuntes (7-13 FG), just the second time he's attempted more than six free throws in a game this season. The more time Crawford spends around the rim, the better it will be for his impact on efficiency.
• J.J. Barea posted a second consecutive double-double on Wednesday (30 minutes, 18 points, 2 threes, 11 assists) and should be in line for surplus minutes for at least as long as Nikola Pekovic is sidelined by ankle problems. We haven't seen a lot of a Barea/Luke Ridnour tandem to this point, at least partially due to Barea's injury problems. He finally looks to be at full strength, so this is the time for the speculative add. Friday's matchup with the Thunder presents a challenge to a small backcourt, so we'll have to see how Rick Adelman deals out the minutes with Pekovic already having been declared out.
• If there's one player that stands to benefit from the Richard Jefferson trade, it's Kawhi Leonard. He's been a stellar per-minute performer but is now starting at his natural small forward position (15 of his starts came at shooting guard), and his numbers over the past eight games include 11 points on 59-percent shooting, 1.3 threes, 6.3 boards, and 1.8 steals in 29 minutes. Gregg Popovich runs a deep rotation but Leonard is firmly entrenched, and his percent-owned number (16%) can stand to come up significantly. The Spurs start a stretch of five games in six days on Friday [schedule], but you can rest assured that Leonard won't be among the players that Pop looks to rest now or during the Spurs' busy April.
• Game four for Ramon Sessions as a Laker went as you likely figured. Steve Blake started and was largely ineffective (17 minutes, 1-6 FG, 2 assists, 2 steals), while Sessions racked up a nice line in his 29 minutes (17 points, 7-8 FG, 3 threes, 9 assists). Blake's minutes came entirely in two stints, at the start of the first and third quarters, and as pointed out by Rob Mahoney, Mike Brown's strategy could remain to hide Blake with the team's starters and let Sessions play the rest of the game. One Laker non-headliner that is already benefitting from Sessions' presence is Matt Barnes, whose spot-up shooting and ability to finish on the break mesh well with the team's new point guard. Deep-leaguers take note: Barnes has averaged 27 minutes, 12 points on 49-percent shooting, 2 threes, 6.3 boards, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.8 blocks in four games with Sessions on board.
• Status updates: LeBron James (neck) is in pain but plans to play on Friday as of today .. Tony Parker's hamstring injury isn't thought to be serious but his status for Friday remains up in the air .. We may have an update on Anderson Varejao this weekend. Byron Scott says he plans to talk to team doctors on Saturday .. Jerryd Bayless (hip) lasted just 90 seconds on Wednesday and is questionable for Friday .. Kevin Martin (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday and is questionable for Thursday .. Caron Butler was rested on Wednesday because of the Clippers' back-to-back-to-back but is expected to be back in the starting five on Thursday .. The Blazers claimed J.J. Hickson off waivers on Wednesday. He could impact some deep leagues with defensive stats in around 20 minutes of playing time, but his offensive limitations are very real.
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: Congrats if you had Ben Gordon in your starting lineup on Wednesday (41 minutes, 45 points, 13-22 FG, 9-9 3pT, 10-11 FT, 8 assists, 2 steals). He may be headed for another start on Friday, depending on Rodney Stuckey's toe injury, but he'll have to contend with Dwyane Wade if Stuckey can't go. Gordon's averages in 11 games prior to Wednesday's outburst included 6.9 points on 39-percent shooting, 0.3 threes, and 2 assists in 24 minutes .. Danny Green has looked good since the Richard Jefferson trade (30 minutes, 17.3 points, 2.7 threes, 4.3 boards, 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks), particularly relative to his percent-owned number (12%). Just don't be surprised if there is some volatility here, with Gregg Popovich needing to find minutes for Manu Ginobili, Stephen Jackson, and Gary Neal .. Zaza Pachulia remains in a position to play as many minutes as he can possibly handle and has now averaged a double-double over his past 13 games (36 minutes, 10.1 points, 10.4 boards, 1.2 steals) .. Tristan Thompson's third start at center was another mixed bag (41 minutes, 13 points, 5-9 FG, 3-6 FT, 5 boards, 5 turnovers, 1 steal, 2 blocks). The Cavs will let him work through his issues for as long as Anderson Varejao remains out, so the minutes are going to be there, but fantasy owners need to keep his limitations in mind as well as his strengths. Up next for Thompson: Friday at Orlando .. Good news for Gordon Hayward: he'll remain in the starting five for now. Strong performances against the Kings on Thursday and the Nuggets on Friday should ensure that the move sticks for the rest of the season, regardless of Raja Bell's availability.
- Evan Turner