The Hawks moved to 7-3 in Kirk Hinrich's 10 starts with a win over the Cavs on Sunday and Larry Drew understandably likes the three-guard look for the team. Hinrich over Marvin Williams in the starting five has coincided with a rise in the Hawks' offensive efficiency, and the numbers are climbing for the team's notables. Joe Johnson has been on fire at small forward, averaging 25.7 points on 54-percent shooting, 3.3 threes, 4.7 assists, and 1.7 steals in 38 minutes over his past six games. The health of Johnson's knee is a primary concern, but his production since returning provides some optimism that two weeks of downtime around the All-Star break were just what his tendinitis needed. The truest test of his stamina will come when the Hawks play seven games over the final nine days of March [schedule]. Josh Smith has been an absolute monster in March (23.4 points, 48% FG, 1.3 threes, 9.3 boards, 4.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.5 blocks) and we're all familiar with his history of strong finishes. Replacing Williams' spot-up game with Hinrich's more varied skills has only helped Smith's upward trend.
Jeff Teague's offensive game remains inconsistent, although his steals totals have remained strong. Drew's hope is that adding Hinrich's distributing skills to the starting unit will free up Teague's score-first mentality and help lift his entire game, but that has yet to be fully realized. Frustration with Teague's play is completely understandable, but a bit more patience is advised if you are considering a drop in h2h leagues, given that the Hawks are one of three teams with nine games over the next two weeks (5-4) and the minutes will certainly remain plentiful while both Willie Green and Jannero Pargo are sidelined by injuries. Yes, there is still hope for Teague to finish this campaign on a high note. Hinrich himself has done enough with heavy minutes over the past five games to warrant deep-league attention (39 minutes, 11.4 points, 51% FG, 1.6 threes, 3.2 assists), particularly with Drew thinking the lineup change can and should stick.
• Mike Brown said that Steve Blake is his starting point guard "for the foreseeable future" following Sunday's loss to the Jazz. That's a head-scratching proclamation given that Blake scored a grand total of zero points in his two starts since the Derek Fisher trade (55 total minutes, 0-3 FG, 0-3 3PT, 0-0 FT, 8 assists, 2 turnovers, -12). The Lakers are off Monday and then play three games in four days (Tues @HOU, Wed @DAL, Fri POR) - avoid the knee-jerk reaction to Brown's statement until Sessions, Blake, and the team gets a few more games under their belts with the current arrangement. The expectation remains that Sessions will eventually be seeing the lion's share of the point guard minutes, but Brown's immediate plans are an unexpected setback for Sessions optimists.
• Nick Young debuted with the Clippers on Sunday without much prep and it showed (1-6 FG), but what is most notable is that his 29 minutes were second to Chris Paul among Clippers guards (Paul 44, Randy Foye 25, Mo Williams 24). Young was on the court for 11 of the fourth quarter's 12 minutes and all of overtime, and nine of his total minutes came in a three-guard arrangement. The upshot here remains that the Clippers want Young acclimated, starting at shooting guard, and playing as much as possible as soon as possible. Foye can make his way off anything but the deepest-league rosters, and Williams and Caron Butler's minutes could come down to matchups and who has the hotter hand on a given night. That's anything but what fantasy owners want to be dealing with during a potential title run, and both of these players are rostered in the vast majority of leagues (Butler 72%, Williams 71%).
• All systems are go for Zach Randolph after two games off the bench (averages of 24 minutes, 19 points, and 9 boards) and he'll rejoin the team's starting lineup on Tuesday. You deep-leaguers that have been giving Marreese Speights some run over the past few weeks need to look elsewhere, despite the Grizzlies' very friendly playoff schedule (3-5-5), as he's totaled five points and seven fouls in 25 minutes since Z-Bo was activated.
• J.J. Hickson has completed a buyout with the Kings and will be free to sign with any team. An ideal scenario would be the Celtics, who are desperate for FC depth, and he could certainly have some deep-league relevance with 20-plus minutes as the team's third big. Another possibility is the Heat and a reunion with LeBron James, who helped bring out his best in 2009-10. Signing with the Heat would keep his fantasy potential at a minimum, however, with few minutes available behind Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, and Joel Anthony.
• Status updates: Derrick Rose (groin) is out again Monday and remains without a specific timetable. Saturday against the Raptors seems like an earliest possible return as it current stands [schedule]. C.J. Watson is an excellent short-term add while Rose sits .. Ersan Ilyasova (illness) practiced Sunday and looks like he'll be good to go on Tuesday .. Nikola Pekovic (foot) will be a game-time decision Monday .. Jose Calderon (ankle) will return to the Raptors' starting lineup on Tuesday. Jerryd Bayless should continue to play plenty as first guard off the bench .. Kevin Martin (shoulder) did not practice Monday and appears questionable for Tuesday .. Shawn Marion will undergo a thorough examination of his knee Monday, with the team hoping that his injury is merely a short-term concern. Rodrigue Beaubois will continue to start while Marion is sidelined (Vince Carter to small forward) .. Rodney Stuckey isn't concerned that his toe injury will be a long-term concern .. Anderson Varejao (wrist) will have his wrist examined sometime this week. Keep holding if you can until we get definite word on his status .. Corey Maggette (back) is out Monday .. Brook Lopez (ankle) is approaching the end of his announced three-week timetable and is scheduled for a re-evaluation on Friday. The Nets may be a bit more inclined to get Lopez back in the mix in the wake of Dwight Howard's opting in with the Magic for next season - they are going to try everything possible in an attempt to convince Deron Williams to re-sign with the team.
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: Jason Thompson posted his third straight double-double Sunday (27 minutes, 13 points, 5-6 FG, 10 boards) and the three games happen to coincide with his parents, who live in New Jersey, being in attendance for the games. He's a low-risk add and the Kings have a great playoff schedule, but we'll see how well he performs on Tuesday, as his parents returned home after Sunday's game .. MarShon Brooks briefly appeared to be heading for a strong second half following Brook Lopez's ankle injury. The Nets' revamped depth chart now includes Gerald Wallace and an apparently rejuvenated Gerald Green, however, and there's no way around the mash-up of minutes that will also include Anthony Morrow and Jordan Farmar. A bit of deep-league relevance is the best we can expect for Brooks the rest of the way .. .. Derrick Favors is clearly going to be a fantasy heavyweight at some point in his career. He averaged 17.5 points on 13.5 boards over the past two games while starting in place of Al Jefferson (personal) and his season per-36s include 15.3 points, 10.2 boards, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks. Jefferson will be back on Tuesday and push Favors to the bench, once again limiting his relevance. It does seem likely that the Jazz will look to trade one of Jefferson or Paul Millsap this off-season in order to make room for Favors and Enes Kanter moving forward .. Keep an eye on Raja Bell's groin injury and its possible affect on Gordon Hayward and C.J. Miles' minutes. Both players have been inconsistent but stand to gain relevance if Bell's 20-plus minutes become available long-term.