• Chris Paul(notes) missed a portion of the Hornets' 104-93 loss to the Thunder Wednesday after tweaking his left ankle in the first half but still turned in a decent line (32 minutes, 15 points, 5 assists, 2 steals). That's been the story with Paul for much of the season - bumps, bruises, tweaks, strains, and fantastic production. He wears a knee brace to protect his surgically-repaired left knee, he wears a left elbow sleeve to protect his funny bone, and he's now tweaked his ankle twice since first rolling it on January 14. There is clearly risk here, given Paul's pain threshold and how completely dependent the Hornets are on him for their success. He isn't going to miss any time unless something major leaves him with no other choice, particularly since the team is currently operating without both Emeka Okafor(notes) and Trevor Ariza(notes).
Fantasy owners are obviously and rightfully concerned about the status of their top player - Paul is highly-ranked on both fantasy MVPs lists for a reason. Paul remains the top-ranked player in per-game rank on the season, but his numbers are down a bit since first hurting his ankle (per-game rank of seventh since Jan 14). The schedule hasn't been kind to Paul lately, as the Hornets have played four sets of back-to-backs during the past three weeks alone. Two notable facts about the schedule, while we're on the subject: the Hornets' 50 games between Weeks 4-17 are the most in the league, and their 24 games from Week 18 forward (starting on Feb 21) are the least. That means you can't really blame him for being a bit run down right now, but the drop-off in frequency of games could actually help him get some rest and make him more likely to stay on the court.
So what to do? You should obviously have or be actively seeking solid depth behind Paul, as his loss would leave gaping hole in steals, assists, and free throw percentage. In roto and deep h2h leagues, a Jarrett Jack(notes) handcuff makes a lot of sense. The last thing I'm going to do is tell you to trade Paul because he's dealing with some injuries, but you can consider adding him to your trade block if you are the nervous type. Just don't settle for anything less than what top-two production warrants when it comes to trade offers. What you'll more likely have to do is resign yourself to not getting "fair value" in a trade for Paul right now unless he actually does go on to miss games down the line. And you certainly know what you are going to get if you don't trade him and he doesn't miss any time.
• Deron Williams(notes) is officially being called a game-time decision but said himself that he will play against the Nuggets on Friday. D-Will participated in the Friday morning shootaround and had more range on his jumper thanks to a bit less pain in his wrist. Get him in your lineups, but keep expectations in check … Andrei Kirilenko(notes) (ankle) will not be active for the Jazz.
• Here's a mildly-entertaining quick read: one writer's opinion of the top 25 free agents of 2011, a number of which should also be in play at this season's trade deadline.
• Status updates: Danny Granger(notes) is officially day-to-day because of a sinus infection … Mo Williams(notes) is probably a week away from returning to the lineup … Daniel Gibson(notes) (quad) is questionable for Friday … Leandro Barbosa(notes) (hamstring) practiced Thursday and could be back on the active roster for the Raptors Friday. Barbosa has missed the past 11 games.
• Friday's notable matchups: There should be plenty of positive numbers to go around in MIN@TOR, CLE@MEM, and OKC@PHO … The Frank Vogel Pacers get their first legitimate defensive test (POR) … Friday's clash of styles include ORL@WAS, LAC@ATL, and NYK@PHI … The night's defensive battle will be DAL@BOS.
These and many more topics will be discussed in the Friday live blog, so stop by and participate in the discussion or just lurk and take it all in. We'll get started at 7pm PT/10pm ET.
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