Andray Blatche is targeting Saturday for his return from a calf strain. The Wizards have two days of practices before they face the Cavs, during which his status will be established definitively. There's a chance that Blatche could be in the mix as the starting center, given that JaVale McGee played 16 minutes on Wednesday (9 points, 6 boards, 1 block), was a team-worst minus-12, and still isn't sure what benching him was intended to accomplish. It's hard to see McGee being a bit player over the next two months in any case, even with his shortcomings, but that's on him - a three-big rotation of Blatche, McGee, and Booker makes the most sense and could actually be effective if all three players were to approximate their potential, but that qualifier is anything but a gimme. Whatever happens with Blatche in terms of minutes, his fantasy impact will rise and fall relative to his long jump-shooting numbers - the attempts and misses were up in the early-going, and the results speak for themselves (38% FG, per-game rank 191). The more looks Randy Wittman and John Wall can get him closer to the rim down the stretch, the better it will be for all parties involved. And before you scoff at Blatche's fantasy potential in general, you should note that he was the only player in the league to average at least 8 boards, 1.5 steals, and 0.8 blocks last season. But as with a number of players on the Wizards' roster, the potential has never been the problem.
• Wednesday was another one of "those" games for Kevin Martin. He was cold early (2-10 FG, 0-4 3PT) and hit the bench in the blowout loss to the Jazz (20 minutes, 6 points). Martin shot 25 percent from the floor (5-25 FG, 1-10 3PT) in the Rockets' back-to-back coming out of the break. Martin's numbers over his past 13 games are depressingly pedestrian: 12.4 points, 36% FG, 1.3 threes, 4.3 FTA, 2 boards, 2.6 assists, 1.9 turnovers, and 0.6 steals in 28 minutes. I do not see a dramatic turnaround on the horizon - the Kevin McHale system is nowhere near as kind to him as the Rick Adelman system was, and the rule change that limits foul calls on rip-through moves has affected Martin as much as any single player. Martin has mixed in some strong games but is rarely aggressive and has yet to show any kind of consistency, and his current per-game rank of 65th could be as good as it gets the rest of the way.
• The Hornets are content to bring Jarrett Jack off the bench for the foreseeable future, in part because it allows Monty Williams to more actively monitor his minutes and in part because his scoring is needed with the team's thin second unit. The past five games should be a good baseline for expectations, during which Jack has averaged 30 minutes (14.6 points, 1.2 threes, 5.2 boards, 5.6 assists) to Greivis Vasquez's 27 minutes (10.6 points, 4.2 assists). That's enough playing for Jack to maintain a per-game rank around 100, obviously a step down from his early statistical output but useful numbers. Vasquez maintaining the starting gig should also mean he's stays relevant in most of the leagues where he's currently rostered (31% owned).
• It was another game and another solid effort for Devin Harris on Wednesday, who went for 19 points (6-11 FG, 6-6 FT, 1 three) in 22 minutes before nausea forced him out of the game in the third quarter. You have to give Harris credit - the scope of his opportunity in the Jazz's offense hasn't necessarily grown or changed, but he's adjusted to what is being asked of him and has been steadily improving from an efficiency standpoint. He's now averaged 13.8 points on 60-percent shooting, 94-percent foul shooting, 1.3 threes, 5.8 assists, and 1.7 steals in 26 minutes over the past six games, and his recent play has his teammates teammates taking notice. A few more games like this and he'll be on the verge of threatening widespread fantasy relevance, and you'll want to be among the earlier adopters if Harris' early struggles are what prove to be the exception.
• Status updates: Kobe Bryant's symptoms after sustaining the hard foul from Dwyane Wade were related to neck trauma and not a concussion, according to his neurologist, and he's not expected to have any lingering issues .. Kevin Love (flu/ribs) will be a game-time decision on Thursday .. Dirk Nowitzki left Wednesday's game with back tightness but anticipates being able to play on Friday. The Mavs are about to begin a brutal stretch of seven games in nine days [schedule] .. Manu Ginobili (oblique) will be a game-time decision on Friday .. Andrew Bynum says rest over the All-Star break and a lubricating injection has his knee feeling fine .. Chris Bosh is out at least Thursday and Friday because of a death in the family .. George Karl hopes to have both Danilo Gallinari (ankle) and Nene Hilario (calf) back on the active roster by Monday .. Andrea Bargnani (calf) still seems to be at least a few games away .. Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) was cleared by a specialist (no structural damage) but he'll continue to sit because of lingering soreness. This will continue to mean good things for Brandon Bass (37 minutes, 16 points, 7 boards on Wednesday), and Doc Rivers said that he likes the smaller starting lineup, with Kevin Garnett at center and Bass at power forward .. Nick Young have an MRI on his right knee on Thursday .. Hornets bigs: Emeka Okafor still has swelling in his knee and remains out indefinitely; Carl Landry (knee) and Jason Smith (concussion) could both return this weekend .. Bismack Biyombo is day-to-day with a left shoulder strain.
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: Steve Novak continues to light it up (17 minutes, 17 points, 5 threes on Wednesday) and has now averaged 12.7 points on 50-percent shooting and 3.4 threes in 22 minutes over the past 12 games. Josh Harrellson was activated on Wednesday but Mike D'Antoni can't take minutes away from Novak while he's on this run. I added Novak to my Friends and Family League roster on Thursday .. You may want to explore the trade market if you are rostering Jordan Crawford but not punting FG%, to see if someone reads too much into his recent string of efficient games (assuming Nick Young's knee injury isn't major). Crawford shot 54 percent from the field from Feb 14-28 but just 36 percent in his other 29 games, and you know he'll keep shooting in any case .. The Bobcats finally had everyone healthy on Wednesday and it resulted in just 19 minutes for Kemba Walker (6 points, 2-8 FG, 5 assists, 2 steals). Walker certainly has been a steady per-minute contributor this season but will struggle to impact standard leagues with Gerald Henderson, Reggie Williams, and Corey Maggette largely limiting his minutes to backup point guard .. Josh Howard has now averaged 13.4 points on 50-percent shooting, 0.6 threes, 5.6 boards, 2.6 assists, and 0.7 steals in his seven starts. There's a chance he'll stick as the starter even after Raja Bell returns from injury, so deep-leaguers should take note .. Tiago Splitter's return from his calf injury means less playing time for DeJaun Blair and Matt Bonner. Blair followed up his 35 minutes, 28 points, and 12 boards in his last game before the break with 23 minutes, nine points, and nine boards on Wednesday, and his season per-game rank (194th) doesn't jibe with his ownership level (48%).